How to save money with an annual Delta companion ticket
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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.
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.
Which Delta cards have a companion ticket?
Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Reserve consumer and small-business cardholders receive an annual companion ticket at each renewal of the card. This includes:
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Earn 90,000 bonus miles, 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/21.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $200 statement credit after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/21.
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.
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+).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
Featured photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.
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Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
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- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
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- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
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