Why the Amex Platinum Might Just Be the Best Card for Delta Flyers
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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 and an annual $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.
Plus, the card’s currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, though it’s also now charging a $550 annual fee (up from a previous fee of $450) (See Rates & Fees). Even with a higher annual fee, this card presents a strong value proposition thanks to the 5x points offered on airfare, the $200 Uber credit, up to a $100 Global Entry fee credit and more.
Clearly, 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:
1. You 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 points slightly lower than Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.9 cents apiece vs. 2.1 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. And compared to the measly 2x miles you’ll get with Delta co-branded cards (equal to just a 2.4% return based on TPG’s valuations), the Platinum’s 5x earning rate looks even better.
American Express Platinum members can also leverage their free Starwood Gold status to earn 1 Starpoint for each dollar spent on Delta flights, as part of Starwood and Delta’s Crossover Rewards program. Here’s how the benefit works:
If you are registered for Crossover Rewards, are an SPG Platinum or Gold elite member, and you book a Delta marketed flight (excluding bookings made through online travel agencies such as priceline.com, expedia.com, travelocity.com, hotwire.com etc.), then in addition to the miles you already earn, you will also earn one Starpoint for every one US dollar or its foreign equivalent spent on Delta fares (excluding taxes and fees). Some fares such as specialty fares, often referred to as unpublished fares will receive 500 Starpoints for each segment instead of one Starpoint for every one US dollar. Starpoints will be posted to your SPG account for each completed segment within 4 to 6 weeks after the activity date. Starpoints for each segment will equal a prorated portion of the ticket price.
2. You Can Transfer Points to Delta
American Express is Delta’s credit card partner for its lineup of co-branded picks including the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® 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 just $2,500.
3. You Can Access Sky Clubs, Plus Centurion Lounges
If Delta Sky Club access is a priority, you could fork over $450 a year; $550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020 for the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express (See Rates & 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 US (and with an international location in Hong Kong).
The latter lounges are generally superior options in terms of food, beverages and overall comfort — though the recently opened Sky Club at Seattle (SEA) looks pretty posh — and when you’re traveling through airports that don’t have a Centurion Lounge or Sky Club, the Amex Platinum’s Priority Pass Select membership could have you covered.
It’s also worth nothing another amazing feature of the card — you can add up to three authorized users for a total of $175 per year (See Rates & 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 Co-Branded 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 co-branded 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 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 spending $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), and you’ll get Sky Club access with the Amex Platinum card. Still, the Reserve does offer the opportunity to earn extra MQMs through spending; you’ll get 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year, plus another 15,000 miles and 15,000 MQMs after you spend $60,000 in the same year.
But Not If You’re Going for Diamond Status…
All that said, though, 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 2x miles on the Delta cards).
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 co-branded 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.
Feature photo by Shutterstock.com
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $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.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 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. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 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®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees