How to save money with an annual Delta companion ticket

Feb 3, 2020

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Families need as many miles, points and bonuses as possible to get everyone where they want to be. One way our family increases our mileage balances is by pulling the trigger on increased card welcome bonus offers a few times a year. Another part of our travel-for-less strategy is to ensure we have access to some valuable airline companion certificates for when we do need to buy tickets.

The lineup of Delta Amex cards currently has increased offers with a nice payload of bonus miles through April 1. That makes now a perfect time to consider whether a new Delta card should be in your family’s future — especially if you have your eye on a card that will ultimately award a companion ticket, too.

Right now with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, you can earn up to 100,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles — 80,000 when you spend $3,000 in the first three months and 20,000 after your first account anniversary (offer ends 4/1/2020). The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card also comes with an annual companion certificate and also has a bonus of up to 100,000 total points — 80,000 miles and 20,000 elite MQMs when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and 20,000 bonus miles after your first account (offer ends 4/1/2020).

Related: Best credit cards for flying Delta

But aside from the bonus miles you’ll receive, the cards come with some great benefits. One of my favorite benefits of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is the yearly companion ticket you receive on each cardmember anniversary. I have kept my Delta Platinum Amex around year after year in large part because of this benefit.

Since families often travel with more than just one person, this is a card perk that can more than pay for itself.

Flying for the first time
Fly with your favorite companion for less. (Image courtesy of Granger Wootz/Getty Images)

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Which Delta cards have a companion ticket?

Platinum and Delta Reserve SkyMiles consumer and small business cardholders both receive an annual companion ticket at each renewal of the card. Since this benefit is extended to both the consumer and business versions of the card, you can earn more than one if you have multiple eligible 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 United States. (You must have an eligible address on file with SkyMiles.)

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

Related: Credit cards with an anniversary bonus

First class seating aboard Delta
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 annual fee, and it’s valid for a year from the date of issuance. 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 Platinum Delta 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 that 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 as well as in I and Z (first class) and W (Comfort+).

Related: Every Delta premium seat ranked best to worst

Save hundreds of dollars with Delta companion ticket

To show you the value of the Delta companion ticket, I priced out a New York City trip for spring break. This round-trip nonstop flight from Houston to LaGuardia was pricing out at about $446 on Delta. That isn’t a very good deal, but tickets to fly during school breaks can be pricier than you wish at times.

The Delta companion ticket is a great way to save money when prices are expensive, as one round-trip ticket would have cost me $446, but the second ticket only costs an additional $28 in taxes/fees when using the companion ticket (this total will be higher with connecting flights).

Getting spring break tickets from Houston to New York City for two passengers for $475 + the companion voucher is a much better overall deal than one ticket for $446.

Using the Delta companion ticket is thankfully pretty simple. Log in to your online Delta SkyMiles account, and under the “More” option, you should see “Certificates & eCredits.”

Once you log in that screen with your SkyMiles number, you can select to use the certificate and search for eligible Delta flights. You can only search for the two people who are 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 1-800-221-1212 or reaching out to @Delta on Twitter.

If you used the Delta companion ticket in a similar manner, as shown above, it can easily be worth more than the $250 annual fee it costs to keep the Delta Platinum Amex. The Delta Reserve has a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) but comes with a variety of additional benefits including Sky Club access, bonus elite miles, Sky Club guest passes and the companion ticket can be used in first class. Presuming you utilize the Sky Club benefits and place an increased value on sitting in first class, the math likely checks out for that card, too.

Another cool feature of the Delta companion ticket is that it’s transferable. If you can’t personally use it, 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. The tickets are eligible for upgrades consistent with the SkyMiles program. However, keep in mind that if you cancel your itinerary after purchasing, you won’t be able to reuse your companion certificate.

Earn bonus Delta SkyMiles with increased offers

The three consumer versions of the Delta SkyMiles cards are offering some nice increased welcome bonuses through April 1:

Those offers all end on April 1, 2020.

According to TPG‘s current valuations, 100,000 Delta SkyMiles are worth $1,200 and 70,000 Delta SkyMiles are worth $840 — and there are lots of ways to put SkyMiles to great use.

Bottom line

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

Does your family make use of Delta’s companion certificate to save money on flights?

If you’re new to The Points Guy, check out our Beginner’s Guide to learn more.

Featured image courtesy of Delta Air Lines

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