A helping hand toward Delta status: Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card review

Oct 14, 2019

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The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express can help travelers achieve elite status with Delta. Plus, cardholders get a domestic companion pass each year after renewing their card and can purchase Sky Club access on a per-visit basis. The card will get some updates in early 2020 that include trip-delay protection, improved earnings and a credit for an Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Elite status can make flying easier and more comfortable, but it can be difficult to hit the mileage and spending requirements imposed by some airlines. You could do a mileage run, but a better method for some travelers is to simply get a credit card, such as the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, that can boost your progress toward elite status.

The Platinum Delta Amex currently has a $195 annual fee, but this fee will increase to $250 for renewals and new applications on or after Jan. 30, 2020 (see rates & fees). The card offers a set of attractive perks such as an annual companion certificate, a Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver and a Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) boost. Let’s take a deeper dive so you can determine if it’s a good fit for you.

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Who is this card for?

Although it’s always a good idea to diversify your loyalty portfolio, the Platinum Delta Amex makes the most sense for those who regularly fly Delta, since the majority of its perks are specific to Delta.

This card is an especially good fit if you’re chasing Delta elite status but usually come up short on MQMs or MQDs. This is because the card provides bonus MQMs and MQD waivers for all status tiers when you hit specific spending thresholds on the card within a calendar year.

The MQD waiver for top-tier Diamond status isn’t cheap though, as it requires you to spend $250,000 on your card within a calendar year.

If you’re only after essentials such as priority boarding and free checked bags, you may be better off with the Platinum Delta Amex’s less-expensive sibling, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. And if you have a business, you may prefer the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, which offers many of the same perks as the personal version.

Further reading: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Welcome bonus:

The current welcome bonus of the Platinum Delta Amex is three different bonuses in one. You’ll earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first three months. Plus, you’ll earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first three months.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Snag the Platinum Delta Amex during its limited time elevated welcome offer. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.)

TPG’s latest valuations peg the value of Delta miles at 1.2 cents each, which means the 35,000 bonus miles are worth about $420. Assuming you make a purchase with Delta within the first three months, the value of the welcome bonus jumps to $520 — and this is excluding the value you may get from the bonus MQMs.

Main benefits and perks

Cardholders who are chasing Delta elite status will benefit the most from the Platinum Delta Amex because the card offers the potential to earn MQMs as well as an MQD waiver if you hit spending thresholds on your card within a calendar year.

The MQD waiver will help if you’ve accumulated the required MQMs or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) for a particular status tier but haven’t reached the required MQD threshold. To get an MQD waiver, you’ll need to spend $25,000 on your card during the calendar year for Silver, Gold or Platinum status. And if you’re working to get Diamond status, you’ll need to spend a massive $250,000 on your card during the calendar year to get the MQD waiver.

If you’re looking to earn some extra MQMs, the card’s Miles Boost perk may also help. Miles Boost will currently allow you to earn 10,000 bonus redeemable miles and 10,000 bonus MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year and another 10,000 redeemable miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in the same year. But, starting Jan. 30, 2020, this perk will be renamed to Status Boost and the bonus redeemable miles will no longer be offered.

The other main benefit offered by this card is an annual companion certificate. You’ll receive a companion certificate each year after your account renewal. The certificate is good for round-trip, main-cabin domestic travel, and is free except for taxes and fees.

(Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy)
Bring a companion on a domestic round-trip for almost free with your annual companion certificate. (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy.)

The Platinum Delta Amex also offers some other benefits that you may find useful:

  • First checked bag free — Get the first checked bag free on Delta flights for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation, even when flying on a basic economy ticket.
  • Priority boarding — Get Main Cabin 1 priority boarding for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation on Delta flights, even when flying on a basic economy ticket.
  • Inflight savings — Get 20% back in the form of a statement credit when you use your card to pre-purchase eligible meals and for inflight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights.
  • Ability to purchase Sky Club access — Although Delta eliminated single-visit passes, cardholders and up to two companions can still get club access on a $29 per-person, per-visit basis flying on a Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight the same day. Note that the cost per-person, per-visit will increase to $39 on Jan. 30, 2020.

Fortunately, benefits such as the checked baggage allowance and priority boarding are tied to your Delta SkyMiles account, so you don’t even need to book your flights with the card to use them.

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
You don’t have to pay for your flights with your Platinum Delta Amex in order to get your first checked bag free and priority boarding. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.)

In addition to Delta-specific benefits, the card also carries travel protections that include a secondary collision damage waiver on car rentals and lost-baggage reimbursement, as well as shopping benefits like extended warranty, purchase protection and return protection.

And for travel purchases made on or after Jan. 1, 2020, with the card, you’ll get trip delay protection that may reimburse up to $300 of necessary expenses if your travel is delayed by more than 12 hours due to a covered reason. The card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).

Plus, as of Jan. 30, 2020, cardholders will get a new benefit: a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit. You’ll be able to get a statement credit to reimburse a Global Entry application fee every four years or a statement credit to reimburse a TSA PreCheck application fee every 4.5 years.

Further reading: Delta Amex cards adding major new benefits, changing others in 2020

How to earn miles

The Platinum Delta Amex currently has the same earning rates as its lower-fee sibling, the Gold Delta Amex: 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases with Delta and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. However, both cards will see enhanced earning rates starting on Jan. 30, 2020.

In particular,  the Platinum Delta Amex will earn 3 miles per dollar spent on purchases with Delta and at hotels, 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1 miles per dollar spent on everything else.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Soon the Platinum Delta Amex will earn 3 miles per dollar spent with Delta and on hotels. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.)

Even with the bump to earning 3x miles on purchases with Delta, this still only equates to a 3.6% return. So, if you have a card that provides a better return on airfare, you’ll likely want to use it. One better option is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare purchases — and you can then transfer these points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio.

Likewise, you can get a better return for the card’s other current and future bonus categories: hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and everyday spending. However, if you’re spending on the card to hit MQM or MQD waiver thresholds, you’ll appreciate the improved earnings while spending toward your goal.

Further reading: How to earn miles in the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program

How to redeem miles

Delta’s SkyMiles program doesn’t have the best reputation among points-and-miles buffs because of its many devaluations and lack of transparency with award ticket costs, but there are still some great ways to get value out of the program.

For example, Delta has pretty frequent flash sales, offering deals like domestic awards from 9,000 SkyMiles round-trip, transcontinental awards from 10,000 SkyMiles round-trip and flights to Europe from 22,000 SkyMiles round-trip. You can also use Delta miles to upgrade to the next class of service.

(Photo by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy)
You could use your Delta miles to book a Delta flash sale to Europe. (Photo by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy)

There are also great sweet spots for flying international partner airlines with SkyMiles. All SkyTeam partners, such as Air France and Korean Air, are available for award redemptions, as well as some non-alliance partners like Virgin Australia and Air Tahiti Nui.

Just note that a number of partner awards don’t show on Delta’s website, especially for mixed-cabin itineraries or when there are also Delta-operated options. So, you’ll want to use ExpertFlyer or another SkyTeam website such as Flying Blue to find availability and then call to book if the flights you want aren’t bookable on Delta’s website.

Further reading: How to redeem miles with the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program and The advanced guide to maximizing Delta SkyMiles award tickets

Which cards compete with the Platinum Delta Amex?

The most direct competitor of the Platinum Delta Amex is the Gold Delta Amex. It offers some of the same Delta perks and has a lower annual fee of $95 (going to $99 on Jan. 30, 2020) that’s waived the first year (see rates & fees). The biggest differences between the two cards are that the Gold Delta Amex doesn’t come with a companion certificate or the shortcuts to elite status.

Plus, starting on Jan. 1, 2020, the Platinum Delta Amex will offer trip delay protection when you purchase flights with the card whereas the Gold Delta Amex won’t offer this benefit. See our full card review for the Gold Delta Amex for more details.

If it’s a high return on Delta spend that you’re after, you’ll want to consider The Platinum Card from American Express. As previously mentioned, the card earns 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare purchases, which can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio.

The Amex Platinum grants you free access into Delta Sky Clubs when traveling with Delta in addition to providing many other perks. It won’t help you earn elite status and will require you to fork over a $550 annual fee (see rates & fees), although the effective annual fee is much less for most cardholders, thanks to annual perks such as the $200 airline-fee credit, $200 Uber credit and $100 Saks Fifth credit. See our full card review for the Amex Platinum Card to learn more.

If the $550 annual fee (see rates & fees) on the Amex Platinum is a bit much to handle but you like the idea of earning transferable American Express Membership Rewards points instead of Delta miles, the American Express® Gold Card may be a good fit for you.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy.)

The Amex Gold Card earns 3x points on airfare purchases, plus 4x points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets. Although the Amex Gold Card has a $250 annual fee (see rates & fees), the card offers annual credits, including a $120 dining credit and a $100 airline-fee credit, that can decrease your effective annual fee if those are expenses you’d already be incurring. See our full card review for the Amex Gold Card for more details.

Further reading: Choosing the best American Express card for you

Bottom line

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express can be a great addition to your wallet if Delta is your carrier of choice. Its $195 annual fee ($250 for renewal or new applications received on or after Jan. 30, 2020) may seem high when compared to the fairly similar and cheaper Gold Delta Amex card, but you get more benefits in return.

I think the ability to fast-track Delta elite status is where the Platinum Delta Amex shines the brightest, but the annual companion certificate is also valuable and can help you more than offset the card’s higher annual fee. Just remember that to maximize your earning strategy, you’ll probably want to pair this card with some other cards that offer higher bonus spending categories.

Apply here for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.

For rates and fees of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Gold card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

This card comes with several great perks for Delta flyers like a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year, first checked bag free, priority boarding and discounted Delta Sky Club access for you and up to 2 guests.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on other purchases. Miles don’t expire.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights – that’s a savings of up to $240 roundtrip for a family of four.
  • Receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on your Delta flights, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner.
  • Enjoy 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit with the American Express Delta Card.
  • $195 Annual Fee ($250 if application received on or after 1/30/2020).
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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