Why the Amex Platinum might just be the best card for Delta flyers

Dec 27, 2019

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit cards information and benefits. It was originally published on Feb. 24, 2018.

Official Application Link: The Platinum Card® from American Express (60,000-point bonus offer)

Back in late 2016, The Platinum Card® from American Express became much more appealing to award travelers with the addition of a 5x category for airfare purchased directly from the carrier (or with American Express travel) and an annual up-to-$200 Uber credit. Based on TPG’s valuations, 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar equals a return of 9.5% — even stronger than the 6.3% you’ll get with the ultra-popular Chase Sapphire Reserve.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

The card’s currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, although it charges a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). Even with this fee, this card presents a strong value proposition thanks to the 5x points offered on airfare booked directly with airlines or at American Express travel, along with prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, the $200 Uber credit, up to a $100 Global Entry fee credit and more.

The 5x bonus category makes the Amex Platinum a great choice for anyone purchasing airfare, but it’s a particularly strong option for some travelers in particular. Thanks to Delta’s close partnership with Amex, those who frequently travel on the carrier have more reason than most to consider adding this card to their wallet.

Below are three reasons why the Amex Platinum is worth an especially close look for frequent Delta flyers:

Get an Unbeatable Return on Airfare Purchases

As mentioned above, the Amex Platinum simply can’t be beat when it comes to the return you’ll get on airfare spending. Even though TPG values American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, thanks to the Platinum card’s 5x category you’ll still come out ahead of earning 3x points on travel with the Sapphire Reserve. Compared to the measly 3x miles you’ll get with Delta co-branded cards (equal to just a 3.6% return based on TPG’s valuations), the Platinum’s 5x earning rate looks even better.

Transfer Points to Delta

Delta 757 back 1
Not only do you earn 5x points on airfare with the Amex Platinum, but you can also transfer those rewards to Delta. (Photo by The Points Guy)

American Express is Delta’s partner for its lineup of cobranded credit cards, including the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.

Not only that, but you can also transfer the Membership Rewards points you earn with the Amex Platinum (and other eligible cards) to Delta instantly at a 1:1 ratio. So if you book flights with the Platinum card to earn 5x points, you’d have enough points for a one-way domestic Delta flight in economy after spending as little as $900.

Access Sky Clubs, Plus Centurion and other Lounges

You can access Sky Clubs, like the new lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), with the Amex Platinum and a Delta ticket. (Photo by The Points Guy)

If Delta Sky Club access is a priority, you could fork over $450 a year; ($550 if the application is received on or after 1/30/2020) for the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express (see rates and fees) to enjoy the airport lounges when you’re traveling on a Delta-operated or Delta-coded flight.However, the Amex Platinum gets you Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta, plus access to the luxurious Centurion Lounges at a handful of airports across the U.S. (and an international location in Hong Kong).

Centurion lounges are generally superior options in terms of food, beverages and overall comfort. When you’re traveling through airports that don’t have a Centurion Lounge or Sky Club, the Amex Platinum’s Priority Pass Select membership, along with Airspace and Escape lounges, have you covered.

It’s also worth nothing another amazing feature of the Amex Platinum: you can add up to three authorized users for a total of $175 per year (see rates and fees). This means that each authorized user can get access to both Delta’s Sky Clubs and Centurion lounges for just $58.33 per year.

One Reason to Still Consider Delta CoBranded Cards

While the Amex Platinum is a no-brainer for Delta flyers thanks to the 5x points they’ll earn on all airfare spending (which can then be transferred to Delta to book award travel) and the various lounge options they’ll have at the airport, there’s one area where two Delta cobranded cards have the advantage. If you’re working toward Delta Medallion elite status, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card and the Delta Reserve Card could come in handy, thanks to the Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) cardholders can earn both through the welcome bonuses and by meeting certain spending thresholds.

The Platinum Delta Sky Miles Amex

With the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card ($195 annual fee), new cardholders can earn 5,000 MQMs and 35,000 bonus miles after they spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months. (They can also earn a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase with the card in the first three months.)

If you spend $25,000 on the card, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs, and you’ll earn another 10,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs if you spend $50,000 in the same calendar year. If you were to max out the MQM earnings by spending $50,000 and earning the sign-up bonus, you’d have 25,000 MQMs — enough for Silver Medallion status. That’s certainly a lot to spend, but it’s definitely an option to keep in mind, especially if you’re in between status levels and earning the extra MQMs will mean the difference between two Medallion tiers.–>

The Delta Reserve Amex

The previously mentioned Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express offers a welcome bonus of 10,000 MQMs and 40,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. However, keep in mind that this card has a $450 annual fee ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020; see rates and fees), and you’ll get Sky Club access with the Amex Platinum card. The Reserve does offer the opportunity to earn extra MQMs through spending; you’ll get 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year, plus another 15,000 MQMs each time you hit subsequent thresholds of  $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 in the same year.

But Not If You’re Going for Diamond Status…

All that said, Delta credit cards are no longer an attractive option if you’re working toward top-tier Diamond Medallion status and hoping to earn an MQD waiver by putting spending on the cards. You’re no longer able to waive the $15,000 MQD requirement for Diamond status by spending $25,000 on the co-branded Delta Amex cards in a year. Instead, you’ll have to spend a stratospheric $250,000 on the cards in a calendar year to get the MQD requirement for Diamond status waived.

Note that this tenfold increase for the MQD waiver only applies if you’re going for Diamond status; the $25,000 amount will still apply for lower status tiers. Even if you can spend $250,000 on Delta cards in a calendar year, you’d be much better off meeting the $15,000 MQD requirement through spending on Delta flights and charging your airfare to the Amex Platinum to earn a much more lucrative 5x points (vs 3x miles on the Delta cards).

Bottom Line

The Amex Platinum earned a spot on our list of the best cards for Delta flyers thanks to benefits like Sky Club access. Now that you’ll earn 5x points on all airfare purchases, it’s an even better pick for those who frequently fly with the airline. If you want to earn MQMs toward elite status through spending and a welcome bonus, you’ll still want to consider the other cobranded options, but the Amex Platinum could definitely be worth it if you’re looking to earn transferable points that can be redeemed for Delta award flights.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Card, please click here.

Featured photo by Shutterstock.com

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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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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