4 reasons why the Amex Platinum might be the ideal card for Delta flyers

5d ago

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information. 

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 (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year).

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

(Photo by Jorge Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

And now, even during the pandemic, the card presents a strong value proposition, thanks to some non-travel perks such as an up to a $200 annual Uber credit (which can also be used for Uber Eats), a new, temporary Dell credit up to $100 (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 solid 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

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 against the Sapphire Reserve’s 3x on travel (including airfare).

Delta introduced limited-time bonuses for select existing cardholders through Dec. 31, 2020. That includes 5x miles on eligible Delta purchases, which somewhat narrowed the earnings gap with the Amex Platinum. However, 5x Delta SkyMiles are 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.

All in all, the Amex Platinum remains the best option for purchasing airfare.

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 such as 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 only 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' McCarran International Airport. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
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.

Most Centurion lounges are now reopened and 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 up to a $200 in airline-fee credit on the Amex Platinum. While it is definitely harder to use in a pandemic, there are certain 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.

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:

    (Photo by The Points Guy)

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 offer of 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. You’ll also earn 10x points on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets during the same first six months of card membership. That’s an additional 9x points on top of the 1x point you earn for these purchases.

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 125,000-point offer (these offers are subject to change at any time).

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

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 by John Gribben / The Points Guy. 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 75,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,500

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy complimentary 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 through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • 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.
  • See Rates & Fees
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$550
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Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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