4 reasons the Amex Platinum might just be the best card for Delta flyers

Aug 30, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information. For more about limited-time card benefits during the pandemic, read our guide to temporary perks and bonuses

Back in 2016, The Platinum Card® from American Express became more lucrative to frequent flyers with the addition of a 5x category for airfare purchased directly from the carrier (or through American Express travel).

Based on TPG’s valuations, 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar equals a return of 10% — exceeding all other cards for airfare, including the ultra-popular Chase Sapphire Reserve.

And now, even during the pandemic, the card presents a decent value proposition thanks to some non-travel perks like up to a $200 annual Uber credit (which can be used for Uber Eats), a new, temporary up to $100 Dell credit (until Jan. 31, 2021) and limited-time wireless and streaming credits. Then, of course, there are the 5x points offered on airfare booked directly with airlines or at American Express Travel, along with prepaid hotels.

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

Here are four reasons why the Amex Platinum is worth an especially close look for semi-frequent Delta flyers.

In This Post

Get an unbeatable return on airfare purchases

While this may be less of a relevant perk right now during a global slowdown in travel, flying will return to the masses in the future. And as mentioned above, the Amex Platinum simply can’t be beaten 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.

Recently, Delta introduced limited-time bonuses for select existing Delta cardholders through Dec. 31, 2020. That includes 5x miles on eligible Delta purchases, which somewhat narrowed the earnings gap with the Amex Platinum. However, 5 Delta SkyMiles is still only worth 6 cents, according to TPG valuations. And you’re limited to earning miles from Delta flights and its partners, not with every airline.

Related: Why this TPG staffer is chasing Delta elite status during the pandemic

Earn incredibly flexible transferable points

The Amex Platinum earns transferable Membership Rewards points that can be moved to a number of airline and hotel partners. We’ve always been in favor of transferable points, but that is even more of a necessity during this time of decreased travel and uncertainty.

You can book Delta One awards for very low rates by transferring your Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)
You can book Delta One awards for very low rates by transferring your Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

While Delta might be your preferred airline, having transferable points helps you for many reasons, a few of which are below:

Transferable points like Membership Rewards could even be a financial safety net for unplanned expenses, emergencies and more.

You can transfer points to Delta … or not

Of course, you can also transfer the Amex Membership Rewards points you earn with the Amex Platinum (and other eligible cards) to Delta instantly at a 1:1 ratio. This is a great way to top off your Delta SkyMiles balance if you need extra miles for a particular redemption.

American Express is Delta’s exclusive partner for its lineup of cobranded credit cards. That partnership was actually extended through 2029 so it’s a good bet you’ll be able to leverage this benefit for years to come.

However, what’s even better about stashing points with Amex is that you can leverage the power of airline partnerships. For instance, you can transfer Membership Rewards points not to Delta, but to Virgin Atlantic. With Virgin Atlantic, you’ll have the opportunity to book cheap Delta awards using Flying Club miles.

As with any transferable currency, you should typically only transfer when you are confident that there is available award inventory.

Access Sky Clubs, Centurion Lounges and a $200 Airline Fee Credit

If Delta Sky Club access is a priority, you could fork over $550 annually for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card ​(see rates and fees) to enjoy airport lounges when traveling on a Delta-operated or Delta-coded flight.

The American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas
The American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

However, the Amex Platinum gets you Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta, plus access to the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges.

Although they are currently closed, 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.

Related: Which U.S. airline lounges are currently open?

Finally, there is the up to $200 airline fee credit on the Amex Platinum. While it is definitely harder to use in a pandemic, there are certain use cases where it may still be beneficial. For instance, it will cover checked bag fees on the airline you select each calendar year. If you’re flying Delta (or another U.S.-based airline) and don’t want to shell out for the airline’s cobranded card that has a checked bag fee perk, you can offset the cost through your Platinum card.

A reason to still consider Delta cobranded cards

While the Amex Platinum is a no-brainer for Delta flyers, there’s one area where four Delta cobranded cards have the advantage. If you’re working toward Delta Medallion elite status, these cards could come in handy, especially with recent news.

Delta is arguably the best airline when it comes to earning elite status without flying. You can earn lucrative Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) just from spending on the following cards:

And during the pandemic, it’s even easier to do so. From now through Dec. 31, 2020, select existing Delta cobranded cardholders can get 500 MQMs for every $1,000 spent— up to 25,000 MQMs over the course of the promotional period.

The MQM bonus offer is for any purchase made on the card. And the bonus is in addition to the above status boosts you receive on the Platinum and Reserve cards.

Related: Delta now makes it even easier to earn elite status without flying — but is it worth it?

Bottom line

The Amex Platinum is currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. The card has a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). However, you may be able to do even better, by checking the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for an incredible 100,000-point offer. (These offers are subject to change at any time.)

It’s a card that has earned a spot on our list of the best cards for Delta flyers thanks to benefits like Sky Club access, transferable points and more. But if you want to earn MQMs toward elite status through spending and a welcome bonus, you’ll still want to consider the other Delta cobranded options.

Additional reporting by Carissa Rawson. 

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

Featured photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines. 

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.
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