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How to save money with an annual Delta companion ticket

June 28, 2021
10 min read
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With vaccines being rolled out across the country, a growing number of travelers are returning to the skies.

However, we're not fully back to normal yet. And while every domestic airline has its own take on COVID-19-era rules and regulations designed to keep travelers safe, Delta Air Lines consistently comes out at the top of the pack for its cleaning procedures and as the carrier who had blocked middle seats for the longest time among U.S. airlines.

If your family is looking to book an upcoming trip with Delta, it makes sense to get the best deal you can on flights. One way our family saves money on travel is by pulling the trigger on increased card welcome offers a few times a year. But another important part of our travel-for-less strategy is to ensure we have access to valuable airline companion certificates for when we need to buy tickets with cash.

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The lineup of Delta American Express cards includes several that come with an annual companion certificate at each renewal. And, right now, you may have more of these Delta companion certificates at your disposal than normal as the expiration dates have been extended on those that would have normally expired since the onset of the pandemic.

In fact, this is exactly how we booked a national park trip out west in late 2020 for our family of four.

We used the Delta companion certificate that had just been awarded with the renewal of my Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, as well as 2019's companion certificate that was extended past its typical August expiration date.

Essentially, my family of four flew Delta for the price of two thanks to these valuable certificates.

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Related: Best credit cards for flying Delta

Each year you renew your eligible Delta Amex credit cards, you'll receive a companion ticket on your cardmember anniversary. This is why I have kept my Delta Platinum Amex around year after year. Since families often travel with more than just one person, this is a card perk that can quickly pay for itself.

And if you don't already have a Delta credit card, now is a great time to get one as the cards are offering increased welcome bonuses.

(Photo courtesy of Delta)

Which Delta cards have a companion ticket?

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Reserve consumer and small-business cardholders receive an annual companion ticket at each renewal of the card. This includes:

Since this companion voucher benefit is extended to both the consumer and business versions of the card, you can earn more than one voucher if you have multiple eligible Delta cards.

The companion ticket can be used on certain round-trip tickets within the contiguous United States. Residents of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands can originate from those destinations to travel to the 48 contiguous states. You must have an eligible address on file with SkyMiles.

If you have the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex, the companion ticket is only eligible for economy-class flights, while the Reserve companion ticket can be used for first class, Comfort+ or the main cabin.

First-class seating aboard Delta's A220. (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

This annual award is automatically deposited into your SkyMiles account the month you pay the card's annual fee, and it's typically valid for a year from the date it was issued. The ticket must be booked and the trip must be taken before the certificate expires. You still need to pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket, but otherwise, this can result in a buy one, get one flight deal.

The Delta companion ticket award you receive by renewing your Delta Platinum Amex is valid in the Delta economy L, U, T, X and V fare classes. This excludes Delta’s basic economy fares (E class) and some higher coach fare classes. In my experience, this means you can use the Delta companion ticket on a wide variety of dates and routes, but certainly not on every single flight.

The companion certificate on the Delta Reserve Amex is valid in all those economy fare classes listed above and in I and Z (first class) and W (Comfort+).

Related: Every Delta premium seat ranked best to worst

How to use the Delta companion ticket

To show you the value of the Delta companion ticket, let's use my trip to national parks in Utah as an example.

This round-trip, nonstop flight from Houston (IAH) to Salt Lake City (SLC) costs about $466 on Delta. That isn't a great deal, but tickets to fly during holiday breaks can be more expensive than you want, even during a pandemic.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The Delta companion certificate is a great way to save money when prices are high, as one round-trip ticket costs $466. Still, the second ticket only costs an additional $20 in taxes and fees when using the companion certificate (this total will be higher with connecting flights).

Traveling from Houston to Salt Lake City for two passengers for $486 with the companion voucher is a much better deal than one ticket for $466. Multiply that number for the other two members of our family and we saved around $900 on the trip, thanks to these companion vouchers.

Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com
(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

Using the Delta companion ticket is thankfully pretty simple. First, log in to your online Delta SkyMiles account, and after you select "Profile" you'll find your companion certificates listed in the "Certificates, eCredits & Vouchers" section.

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

From there, you can select a certificate to use and then proceed to search for eligible Delta flights by hitting "Continue" at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com
(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

You can only search for flights for the two people on the trip using the certificate, so additional children or travelers may have to be booked separately. You can then have their itineraries linked to yours by calling Delta at 1-800-221-1212.

Related: What it's like to fly in a pandemic

(Photo by QualityHD/Shutterstock)

Saving hundreds of dollars with the Delta companion ticket

If you use the Delta companion ticket in a similar manner as we did, it can easily be worth more than the $250 annual fee it costs to keep the Delta Platinum Amex in your wallet (see rates and fees).

The Delta Reserve consumer card has a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) but comes with a variety of additional benefits, including Sky Club access, American Express Centurion Lounge access on same-day flights, bonus elite miles, Sky Club guest passes and a companion ticket eligible for first-class flights. So presuming you use the Sky Club benefits and place an increased value on sitting in first class, the math can check out for that card, too.

Another cool feature of the Delta companion ticket is that it's transferable. So if you can't personally use the voucher, you can let someone else benefit from the savings. That makes it flexible for families who don't always travel together, as the cardholder doesn't have to be on the flight.

The primary (paid) ticket on the reservation using the Delta companion ticket will accrue SkyMiles, but the companion ticket won't. Therefore, the tickets are eligible for upgrades consistent with the SkyMiles program. However, keep in mind that if you cancel your itinerary after purchasing your ticket, you usually won't be able to reuse your companion certificate. However, there's been more flexibility than normal during the pandemic with the certificates if your travel plans need to change.

Bottom line

I have the Delta Platinum SkyMiles Card, which I'd rank as one of the best travel credit cards for my family. I got it for its increased welcome bonus at one point many years ago. Still, I keep it in my wallet for the annual companion ticket and other perks that make flying Delta more comfortable and affordable.

If you're new to The Points Guy, check out our beginner's guide to learn more.

For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

Featured image by This undated file photo shows a Delta Air Lines Airbus A320. (Courtesy of Delta Air Lines)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees