How to save your family money with an annual Delta companion ticket
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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 Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
Families need as many miles, points and bonuses as possible to get everyone where they want to be, so one way our family increases our mileage balances is to pull the trigger on increased card 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 miles through Oct. 30. That makes now a potentially 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, you earn up to 75,000 bonus miles when hitting the spending requirements on the lineup of consumer Delta credit cards. For example, with the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express you can earn 75,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles and get a $100 statement credit on Delta purchases. You can read more about these limited-time offers valid through Oct. 30.
But aside from the miles and statement credits you’ll receive, the cards come with some great benefits. One of my favorite benefits of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card, Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex or Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express is the yearly companion ticket you receive on each cardmember anniversary. I personally 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 perk that can more than pay for itself.
Annual Delta companion ticket available via Platinum or Delta Reserve Amex
Platinum and Delta Reserve SkyMiles cardholders both receive an annual companion ticket at each renewal of the card. This benefit is extended to both the consumer and business versions of the card (so 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 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.) 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.
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 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+).
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 $195 annual fee ($250 annual fee upon renewal or new account opening on or after Jan. 30) (see rates & fees) you pay each year to keep the Delta Platinum Amex. The Delta Reserve has a $450 annual fee ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (see rates & fees) but comes with additional benefits including Sky Club access and the companion ticket can be in first class, so that math can potentially work in your favor, too.
Another really cool feature of the Delta companion ticket is that it is transferable. 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/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 will not 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 Oct 30:
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in the first three months. Terms apply.
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 75,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in the first three months. Terms apply.
- Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 75,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Terms apply.
According to TPG‘s current valuations 75,000 Delta SkyMiles are worth $900 and 60,000 Delta SkyMiles are worth $720 — and there are lots of ways for families to use those miles. Then of course on top of that are the statement credits you can trigger with an eligible Delta purchase. For subsequent years, you’ll then receive the money-saving Delta companion certificate on the Platinum and Reserve versions of the card.
On an ongoing basis, having one of these cards provides a free checked bag on Delta flights (for the cardholder and up to eight companions), 20% off in-flight Delta purchases and of course the very valuable companion certificate beginning at the first cardmember anniversary on Platinum and Reserve. The Reserve version can also get you into the Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta.
Do know that the fees and benefits for the Delta lineup of cards is changing on Jan. 30, 2020, but the companion certificate won’t be impacted. Getting the cards before then locks in current perks from Jan. 30 and a year at the current annual fee rates.
I personally 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 ago, but I keep it in my wallet for the annual companion ticket.
Does your family make use of Delta’s companion certificate to save money on flights?
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For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card, please click here.
Featured image courtesy of Delta Air Lines