Skip to content

How to save money with an annual Delta companion ticket

June 28, 2021
10 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.


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.

For more TPG news and travel tips delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

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:

According to TPG's current valuations, 60,000 Delta SkyMiles are worth $846; 50,000 Delta SkyMiles are worth $705; — and there are lots of ways to put SkyMiles to great use when you travel.

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.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023