Why this is the month to get a new Delta card

Apr 13, 2021

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I’ve had a Delta credit card since 2015 even though I often fly on other airlines. So, I can attest that it’s possible to get value from having a Delta credit card even if you aren’t always loyal to Delta. But, you can undoubtedly get even more value from Delta credit cards if you frequently fly with Delta. After all, some Delta cards offer perks such as free checked bags, a boost toward Delta elite status and even access to Delta Sky Club lounges that can benefit Delta loyalists.

If you want Delta-specific perks for an upcoming trip or simply need to boost your SkyMiles balance, this month is an excellent time to apply for a Delta card. Today I’ll discuss these offers so you can decide whether one of these cards is a good fit for you.

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In This Post

Comparing Delta credit cards

Welcome bonus Annual fee Notable perks
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card Earn 10,000 miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first three months None (see rates & fees) 20% back on inflight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on and up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within your first 3 months of account opening. $99, waived the first year (see rates & fees) First checked bag free on Delta flights; priority boarding; 20% back on inflight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Earn 50,000 bonus miles, plus 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases and up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first three months of account opening. $250 (see rates & fees) Earn 10,000 MQMs at $25,000 and $50,000 in calendar year spending (up to 20,000 per year); MQD waiver based on calendar year spending; TSA/PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit; annual companion pass; priority boarding; first checked bag free on Delta flights

 

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first three months of card membership. $550 (see rates & fees) Delta Sky Club access; Centurion Lounge access; MQD waiver based on calendar-year spending; earn 15,000 MQMs at $30,000, $60,000, $90,000, $120,000 in calendar-year spending; annual companion pass; complimentary upgrades for non-Medallions

 

Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card Earn 50,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. $99, waived the first year (see rates & fees) First checked bag free on Delta flights; priority boarding; 20% back on inflight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card Earn 60,000 bonus miles, 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. $250 (see rates & fees) Earn 10,000 MQMs at $25,000 and $50,000 in calendar year spending (up to 20,000 per year); MQD waiver based on calendar year spending; TSA/PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit; annual companion pass; priority boarding; first checked bag free on Delta flights

 

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card Earn 60,000 bonus miles, 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. $550 (see rates & fees) Delta Sky Club access; Centurion Lounge access; MQD waiver based on calendar-year spending; earn 15,000 MQMs at $30,000, $60,000, $90,000, $120,000 in calendar-year spending; annual companion pass; complimentary upgrades for non-Medallions

 

Any of the cards in the above table can help you earn more Delta SkyMiles. However, now I’ll take a closer look at three consumer Delta SkyMiles cards that I believe provide the most value to Delta flyers.

Related: 5 things you need to know about Delta SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on and up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within your first 3 months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Delta miles at 1.1 cents each, this bonus is worth about $490.

Earning rates:

  • 2x Delta miles per dollar spent on purchases at restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets and made directly with Delta
  • 1x mile per dollar spent on other purchases

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year (see rates and fees)

Related: 9 Delta SkyMiles sweet spots worth saving up for

Who should apply for the Delta Gold Amex?

The Delta Gold Amex is excellent for occasional Delta flyers who can benefit from a complimentary first checked bag and priority boarding on Delta flights. These benefits apply to you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation. You can even use these benefits when flying on a Delta Air Lines basic economy ticket. Best of all, these perks are tied to your Delta SkyMiles account once you have the Delta Gold Amex. So you don’t even have to use that card to purchase your ticket to receive the perks.

How many checked bag fees do you need to incur after your first year to come out ahead with the Delta Gold Amex? The annual fee after your first year is $99 (see rates and fees) and Delta’s checked bag fees start at $30. So you’ll only need to check four bags each year to come out ahead. Plus, you’ll get a $100 Delta flight credit each year after you spend $10,000 on your card during that calendar year.

This card is ideal if you can use the Delta perks, including checked baggage and priority boarding benefits. And, if you don’t have better-earning cards for airfare, dining and groceries — or you’re working toward the annual $100 Delta flight credit — the Delta Gold Amex may also be a good choice for some of your everyday spending.

See the full Delta Gold Amex card review for more information.

Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles, plus 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases and up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Delta miles at 1.1 cents each, this bonus is worth about $650.

Earning rates:

  • 3x Delta miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases directly with Delta and directly with hotels worldwide
  • 2x miles per dollar spent on purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets
  • 1x mile per dollar spent on other purchases

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Related: How to redeem Delta SkyMiles for maximum value

Who should apply for the Delta Platinum Amex?

The Delta Platinum Amex is most useful for frequent Delta flyers who need a slight boost toward earning Delta elite status. However, the card may also make sense if you can maximize a domestic round-trip companion certificate each year.

One of the Delta Platinum Amex’s main perks is its Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver. Based on this waiver, you can still qualify for Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion status if you have earned the required Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and make at least $25,000 in eligible purchases within the qualification calendar year on your card. You can also earn an MQD waiver for Diamond Medallion status if you have earned the required MQMs or MQSs and make at least $250,000 in eligible purchases within that qualification year on your card.

Another primary benefit of the Delta Platinum Amex is Status Boost, which allows you to earn 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 or more on your card in a calendar year. You can earn an additional 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 on your card in a calendar year for a total of 20,000 MQMs.

Related: How to earn Delta Medallion elite status without flying in 2021

Delta Platinum Amex cardholders also get a domestic round-trip companion certificate after each account anniversary.

You must pay the taxes and fees on the companion ticket and purchase an adult round-trip L, U, T, X or V fare to use this companion certificate (meaning it isn’t available for use on every single flight). Depending on how you use this certificate, it could easily justify the card’s annual fee.

The Sky Deck at Delta’s Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) Sky Club. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta Platinum Amex cardholders can pay $39 per person per visit to enter a Delta Sky Club with up to two guests or immediate family when flying a same-day Delta or Delta partner airline flight. Delta Platinum Amex cardholders also get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursed when it’s charged to the Delta Platinum Amex. You can get a Global Entry application fee reimbursed every four years or a TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursed every 4.5 years.

However, the earning rates on the Delta Platinum Amex aren’t particularly compelling. So, you may already have cards in your wallet that provide better earnings. As such, you’ll have to decide if the companion certificate, MQD waiver, ability to earn MQMs, ability to purchase Delta Sky Club access and other perks justify adding the Delta Platinum Amex to your wallet.

See the full Delta Platinum Amex card review for more information.

Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first three months of card membership. Based on TPG’s valuation of Delta miles at 1.1 cents each, this bonus is worth about $650 (including the statement credit but not including the MQMs).

Earning rates:

  • 3 Delta miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Related: Credit card showdown: Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve

Who should apply for the Delta Reserve Amex?

The primary way in which the Delta Reserve Amex stands out is complimentary lounge access when flying Delta. If you fly Delta frequently, this can provide significant value. When flying on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight, you’ll have complimentary Delta Sky Club access.

You can also bring up to two guests or immediate family members with you into a Delta Sky Club lounge for $39 per person per visit. Plus, you get two one-time guest passes for Delta Sky Club admission upon account opening and each year upon account renewal. And you’ll also get complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges on a same-day Delta flight with a ticket purchased with a U.S.-issued American Express card.

Delta’s Comfort+ cabin. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Delta Reserve cardholders also get a domestic round-trip companion certificate after each account anniversary. However, unlike with the Delta Platinum card’s companion certificate that’s only valid in economy, this one allows you to bring a companion on a domestic round-trip in first class, Delta Comfort+ or Main Cabin for free — you’ll only need to pay the taxes and fees on the companion ticket and purchase an adult round-trip ticket in an eligible fare class.

Depending on how you use this certificate, it could easily justify the card’s annual fee.

Related: Why I’m keeping the Amex Delta Reserve even while I fly less

Like the Delta Platinum Amex, the Delta Reserve also offers an MQD waiver that will allow you to qualify for each tier of Delta elite status if you’ve earned the required MQMs or MQSs but not the required MQDs. You’ll get the MQD waiver when you make at least $25,000 in eligible purchases within the qualification calendar year on your card for Platinum, Gold and Silver status or $250,000 for Diamond status.

The Delta Reserve also offers the Status Boost benefit, which allows you to earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after you spend $30,000 or more on your card in a calendar year. Then, you can earn an additional 15,000 MQMs after you spend $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 on your card in a calendar year. You can earn at most 60,000 MQMs through the Status Boost benefit each calendar year.

Cardholders also get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit when they charge an application fee to the card (up to $100). Cardholders are eligible for a Global Entry fee credit every four years or a TSA PreCheck fee credit every 4.5 years. Plus, non-Medallions get access to complimentary upgrades. And, Amex’s travel protections cover select flights purchased with your Delta Reserve.

See the full Delta Reserve Amex card review for more information.

Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

Bottom line

If you’ve been on the fence about a Delta credit card, this month is an excellent time to finally apply and the benefits offered by these cards may justify keeping the card in your wallet for many years to come.

Featured photo by The Points Guy.

For rates and fees of the Delta Blue Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Gold Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Gold Business Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Business Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Business Amex, please click here.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.