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

Dec 10, 2021

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

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the top cards for frequent flyers, thanks to the 5x bonus category for airfare purchased directly from the carrier or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Based on TPG’s valuations, 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar equals a return of 10%. That exceeds the return you’d get from nearly any other rewards card on airfare spending.

Beyond just earning, though, there are various other reasons why the Amex Platinum Card is a great option for all sorts of air travelers, but it’s an especially good option for Delta flyers. Thanks to Delta’s close partnership with Amex, semiregular travelers on the carrier have more reasons than most to consider adding this card to their wallets.

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Get an excellent 10% return on airfare purchases

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As mentioned above, the Amex Platinum can’t be beaten by most other cards when it comes to the return you’ll get on airfare spending. The card earns 5 points per dollar on airfare purchases made directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, on up to $500,000 spent on these purchases per calendar year.  TPG values American Express Membership Rewards at 2 cents apiece, so that’s like getting 10% back on your spending.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on flights when you purchase travel through Chase’s travel portal, after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. That’s equivalent to a 10% return based on our valuations, but again, it’s limited to purchases made through Chase. Otherwise, the card earns a mere 3 points per dollar (a 6% return) on airfare purchased directly from airlines. There is, however, no cap on the dollar amount you’ll earn these bonuses on each year, unlike with the Amex Platinum.

In the case of Delta, specifically, remember that Amex points transfer to Delta SkyMiles instantly on a 1:1 basis, so earning 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar is like earning 5 Delta SkyMiles per dollar on airfare spending, which beats what you can earn on Delta purchases even with a cobranded Delta credit card. By contrast, Chase Ultimate Rewards points do not transfer to Delta.

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

Earn flexible transferable points

Speaking of transfers, the Amex Platinum earns Membership Rewards points that can be converted into miles or points with several different airline frequent flyer and hotel points partner programs. We’ve always favored transferable points over airline miles, but that is even more of a necessity during this time of continued uncertainty.

For one, Delta has devalued its SkyMiles program repeatedly, raising partner award rates dramatically in recent years. So while you could transfer your Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to Delta SkyMiles, you don’t necessarily have to focus on the program, like you would if you were simply earning Delta SkyMiles with one of the airline’s cobranded credit cards. Basically, it’s like the best of both worlds where you can still use your Amex points toward Delta awards, but you have many options beyond that.

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, including:

Transferable points such as Membership Rewards points could even be a financial safety net for unplanned expenses, emergencies and more. As long as you have Membership Rewards, you have Delta miles whenever you need them. But if a different opportunity arises, you’re ready for that, too.

Related: Travel is back. Now, points and miles devaluations are (likely) coming

Options to transfer points to Delta plus partners

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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

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

However, one of the main reasons to accumulate points with Amex rather than just directly with Delta is that you can leverage the power of airline partnerships beyond Delta’s SkyMiles program. For instance, you can transfer Membership Rewards points not only to Delta but also to Virgin Atlantic. With Virgin Atlantic, you’ll have another opportunity to book awards on Delta-operated flights using Flying Club miles, often at better rates than Delta charges for its own awards.

As with any transferable currency, you should only transfer when you are confident that there is available award inventory. Transfers only go one way — you can’t convert Delta miles back into Amex Membership Rewards points if you change your mind.

Related: Best sweet spots with Delta SkyMiles

Access Delta Sky Clubs, Centurion Lounges and a $200 airline fee credit

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Aside from earning, the Amex Platinum has several day-of-travel perks that can save you time and money.

Carrying the card can get you Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta. It can also grant you Amex Centurion Lounge access regardless of your carrier. Currently, the Amex Platinum allows you to bring up to two guests on Centurion Lounge visits. That policy changes on Feb. 1, 2023 — you’ll then be charged $50 per guest ($30 for children) unless you spend $75,000 on your card in a calendar year.

Delta’s top-tier card, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, can also give you Sky Club access. However, you are limited to instances when you are traveling on a Delta-marketed or -operated flight. You can also get into Amex Centurion Lounges when flying Delta the same day on a ticket that was purchased with a U.S. Amex-issued card. Plus, guest access to Centurion lounges with the Delta Reserve will cost you $50 each, for up to two guests.

The Amex Delta Reserve comes with a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Both the Amex Platinum and the Delta Reserve offer lounge benefits for authorized users:

  • The Amex Platinum charges $175 for up to three cards (then $175 each; see rates and fees).
  • The Delta Reserve charges $175 for each card (see rates and fees).

In other words, the Amex Platinum gives you much more value when adding authorized users. If you find your travel party ducking into Sky Clubs and Centurion Lounges with regularity, the Amex Platinum blows the Delta Reserve away.

Finally, there is an up-to-$200 airline fee statement credit per calendar year on the Amex Platinum, which can 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. Enrollment is required.

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access in 2021

A reason to still consider Delta cobranded cards

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

While the Amex Platinum is an excellent all-around choice for Delta flyers, there’s one area where four Delta cobranded cards have the advantage over it. If you’re working toward Delta Medallion elite status, you can accrue Medallion® Qualification Miles by spending on one of the following cards:

Related: Best Delta credit cards of 2021

Bottom line

The Amex Platinum currently has a welcome offer of 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership.

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 card has a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), but the cost can be easily justified if you take advantage of the many perks available.

The Platinum Card earns our top spot as the best card for Delta flyers thanks to benefits including Sky Club access when flying Delta, earning points that can be transferred to SkyMiles and more. But if you specifically want to earn MQMs toward elite status through spending and a welcome offer, you’ll still want to consider the other Delta cobranded options.

Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express.

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

Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Joseph Hostetler.

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 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 Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.)  (Enrollment required for select benefits)

*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 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: 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 only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
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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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