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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American ExpressPlatinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Families need as many miles as possible to get everyone where they want to be, so part of our strategy to increase our mileage balances is to pull the trigger on increased card offers a few times a year. The line-up of Delta Amex cards has increased offers as high as 70,000 miles right now through September 19. That makes this a perfect time to consider whether a new Delta card should be in your family’s future.

I’ve kept the Delta Amex that I have held for over a year in large part because it comes with a companion ticket at each anniversary. Since families often travel with more than just one person, this is a perk that can more than pay for itself.

Earn 70,000 Delta SkyMiles With the Increased Offer Until Sept. 19

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express currently has an increased welcome bonus of 70,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs (elite miles) after you make $3,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months. The 70,000 SkyMiles are worth $840 according to current TPG calculations — and there are lots of ways for families to use those miles. That’s a fantastic bonus that makes the $195 annual fee easily worth it to me in the first year, but what happens in subsequent years?

On an ongoing basis, having the Platinum Delta Amex provides a free checked bag on Delta flights (for the cardholder and up to 8 companions), 20% off in-flight Delta purchases and awards the very valuable companion certificate beginning at the first cardmember anniversary.

Annual Delta Companion Ticket Available via Platinum Delta Amex

Platinum Delta SkyMiles cardholders receive an annual coach companion ticket at each renewal of the card. This companion ticket can be used on certain round-trip economy tickets within the contiguous United States. Residents of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the US 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). This annual award is automatically deposited into your SkyMiles account the month you pay the annual fee, and it is 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 BOGO flight deal.

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

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 not on every single flight. For example, when I checked for eligible flights during our Thanksgiving and spring break dates, I could not use the Delta companion ticket as the lower eligible fare classes were not available for sale on those dates. If you want to use the companion ticket, your best bet is to book well in advance and don’t plan on using it on the most peak travel dates.

Save Hundreds of Dollars With the Delta Companion Ticket

To show you the value of the Delta companion ticket, on a spring weekend round-trip nonstop flights from Houston to LaGuardia are currently pricing at $420 on Delta. That isn’t a very good deal, but some Friday to Sunday trips are simply pricey. The Delta companion ticket is a great way to save money when prices are expensive, as one round-trip ticket would cost me $420, but the second ticket only costs an additional $28 in taxes/fees when using the companion ticket. Getting two round-trip weekend tickets from Houston to New York City for $448 + the companion voucher is a much better overall deal.

Using the Delta companion ticket is thankfully pretty simple. Log in to your online Delta SkyMiles account, and if you have a companion ticket available, you should see it listed on your profile under the “My Wallet” section as a credit/certificate.

From there, you can select to use the certificate and search for eligible Delta flights. You can only search for the 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 itinerary 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 $195 annual fee you pay each year to keep the Delta Platinum Amex.

Another really cool feature of the Delta companion ticket is that it is transferrable, so if you can’t use it, you can let someone else in the family benefit from the savings. That makes it flexible for families who don’t always travel together since the cardholder doesn’t have to be on the flight.

The primary ticket on the reservation using the Delta companion ticket will accrue miles, but the companion ticket will not accrue miles. The tickets are eligible for upgrades consistent with the SkyMiles program. However, keep in mind that if you cancel your itinerary after purchasing, you will not be able to reuse your companion certificate.

Bottom Line

I personally got the Platinum Delta Amex for its 70,000-mile welcome bonus, but I’m keeping it in my wallet for the annual companion ticket. If you want a big Delta welcome bonus but don’t think you will make use of an annual economy companion ticket, then the 60,000 bonus miles you can earn on the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express until September 19 may be a better choice.

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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