How to save money with an annual Delta companion ticket
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Everyone loves a BOGO deal (aka buy one, get one) and believe it or not, you can sometimes get those deals on airline tickets if you hold the right credit cards.
Several credit cards in my wallet are there because they offer some form of an airline companion certificate for when we need to buy tickets with cash and want to ensure a good deal.
For example, the lineup of Delta American Express cards includes several that come with an annual companion certificate at each renewal. On top of that, these cards are offer solid welcome bonuses — making this the perfect time to learn what they can do to help you travel more for less.
Related: Best credit cards for flying Delta
Which Delta cards have a companion ticket?
Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Reserve consumer and small-business cardholders receive an annual Delta companion ticket at each renewal of the card.
Here's the full line-up of cards and their current welcome bonuses:
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of account opening.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of account opening.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your card in the first three months of card membership.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $5,000 in purchases on your card in the first three months of card membership.
Since this companion voucher benefit is extended to both the consumer and small business versions of the card, you can earn more than one companion voucher if you have multiple eligible Delta cards.
However, it's worth noting that these companion tickets are not granted in the first year. You must renew your card (and pay the annual fee) to get the perk.
Delta companion ticket rules
Of course, there are a few rules and restrictions when it comes to using these Delta companion tickets. For example, companion tickets can only 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, but you can't live in the lower 48 and use the tickets to get a flight to Alaska or Hawaii, sadly. You must have an eligible address on file with SkyMiles in those locations to use the vouchers in that way.
If you have the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex, the companion ticket is only eligible for economy-class flights, while the Reserve companion ticket can actually be used for first class, Comfort+ or the main cabin.
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. And the more you plan in advance, the better.
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+).
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, it's a buy one, get one flight deal.
Related: Every Delta premium seat ranked best to worst
How to use the Delta companion ticket
The mechanics of how to use a Delta companion ticket are thankfully pretty simple.
First, log in to your online Delta SkyMiles account, and after you select “Profile” (located as a drop-down when you click on your name on the upper right hand side), 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 who are using the certificate, so any 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.
Saving hundreds of dollars with the Delta companion ticket
To show you the real value of the Delta companion ticket, let’s use a real-world example of a national parks-focused trip we took to Utah as an example.
The round-trip, nonstop flights from Houston (IAH) to Salt Lake City (SLC) cost about $466 on Delta. That wasn't a great deal, but it was during a school break so deals were hard to come by.
The Delta companion certificate is a great way to save money when prices are high, as one round-trip ticket costs $466 but you'll get the second for only 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 was a much better deal than one ticket for $466. Multiply that number for the other two members of our family because we had two eligible vouchers, and we saved around $900 on the trip, thanks to these Delta companion vouchers from our Amex cards.
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 beyond the companion ticket, including Sky Club access, American Express Centurion Lounge access on same-day Delta flights paid for with the card and a pair of Sky Club guest passes. So presuming you use the Sky Club benefits and place an increased value on sitting in first class with the companion ticket, 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.
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 beginners guide to learn more.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex, click here.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.