Home Credit Cards Amex Which Delta SkyMiles consumer credit card is best for you? (a comparison)

Which Delta SkyMiles consumer credit card is best for you? (a comparison)


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American Express issues four very different Delta consumer SkyMiles co-branded cards so to make it a little easier to decide which (if any) of these cards would work best in your wallet, this article compares the annual fees, the earning rates, and the key benefits that these cards offer in an easily digestible format.

The Delta SkyMiles consumer credit cards

American Express issues 4 Delta SkyMiles consumer credit cards and these are:

Two of these cards are currently charging an annual fee, one is waving its annual fee in the first year and charging a fee from the second year onward and the fourth doesn’t charge a fee at all and as you’ll see below, all four cards have their own key selling points.

Comparing the Delta SkyMiles consumer cards

A couple of notes before I get to the comparisons:

I’ve chosen to use tables to show what the four Delta SkyMiles consumer credit cards offer and because I think the information speaks for itself, I don’t intend to add a lot of commentary about specific differences between the cards.

This article is intended more as a resource (with a few of my thoughts added in) rather than a blow-by-blow discussion of what I think is good and bad about each of the cards being discussed.

Comparing the current welcome offers (terms apply)

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Comparing earning rates (terms apply)

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*Terms apply
Rates & fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Rates & fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Rates & fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Rates & fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

There are three key things to point out here.

Firstly, if your main priority is to earn the maximum number of SkyMiles possible when spending with Delta, you should use the Platinum Card® from American Express (review) rather than any of the Delta SkyMiles cards.

The Platinum Card costs more than any of the SkyMiles cards ($650/year – rates & fees) but it also earns 5 points/dollar on up to $500,000 of airfares booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel (terms apply) and as those points can be converted to SkyMiles in a ratio of 1:1, that means that the Platinum Card will earn a cardholder at least 66% more SkyMiles than any of the Delta SkyMiles consumer cards.

Secondly, if you’re looking for an all-around card with which to earn SkyMiles, the most expensive card (the Reserve Card) is not the one to go for. The SkyMiles Platinum credit card would be the best choice of the four.

Thirdly, when it comes to being rewarded for spending, none of these cards is particularly strong (numerous other cards will offer better returns on spending in the same categories) and so it’s the benefits that these cards offer that will probably interest Delta flyers most.

Comparing key benefits (terms apply & enrollment may be required)

Deciding what is and what isn’t a key benefit is, by definition, a subjective thing so not all benefits may have been listed here.

Having said that, the benefits that have been included here should be more than enough to help you see just what a cardholder is being offered in return for the annual fee that each card charges.

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Unsurprisingly, the higher the annual fee, the more benefits the card offers, and the portfolio of SkyMiles cards has clearly been designed to target different types of Delta flyers.

All the SkyMiles cards also offer protections and insurances – some more than others:

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  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.
  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.
  • Trip delay and trip cancellation & interruption insurance underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • Extended warranty, purchase protection, and baggage insurance underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
  • Car rental cover underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

Delta Platinum Card trip delay insurance: Up to $300 per Covered Trip that is delayed for more than 12 hours; and 2 claims per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.

Delta Reserve trip delay insurance: Up to $500 per Covered Trip that is delayed for more than 6 hours; and 2 claims per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.

Delta Reserve trip cancellation and interruption insurance: The maximum benefit amount for Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance is $10,000 per Covered Trip and $20,000 per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.

My thoughts on the cards

I don’t really see the point of holding the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express credit card because if you travel frequently enough on Delta to value the 20% discount on inflight purchases and/or the SkyMiles it earns, the benefits that the Gold card offers will probably be a lot more useful and well worth that card’s annual fee.

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is probably going to be a good starter card for someone who is just dipping a toe into the world of Delta’s American Express cards to see how well one may work for them – its a card that’s currently free to hold in the 1st year and it offers a few key benefits that will pay dividends very quickly (e.g. a free checked bag for up to 9 people traveling on the same reservation, 20% back on select in-flight purchases and priority boarding)

For someone who travels more than once or twice a year with Delta, the Gold card probably won’t cut it as there are too many useful benefits offered by the Platinum and Reserve cards that cannot be ignored even though they both come with higher annual fees.

Even in the first year of card membership (when the Gold card doesn’t charge an annual fee), the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card will be a more solid choice for a frequent Delta flyer than the Gold card as the annual companion certificate alone will probably make up for most of the difference in annual fees. It’s not, however, the best card of the 4 if you’re a very frequent Delta flyer.

For very frequent Delta flyers the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express card offers a significant number of excellent benefits that can make life a lot more comfortable.

For $300 more per year than the Delta Platinum card, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express card offers…

  • A better annual companion certificate
  • Unlimited Delta SkyClub access
  • The chance to earn more Medallion Qualification Miles
  • Upgrade priority
  • Centurion Lounge access,
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Better trip delay insurance

Terms apply to all of the above and enrolment may be required for some benefits

Bottom Line

The value that each of the Delta SkyMiles American Express cards can offer will vary from person to person depending on their travel patterns but, essentially, this is how I see things:

If you’re just trying out the world of Delta’s American Express co-branded cards and don’t yet fly with Delta very often, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is probably the best SkyMiles card for you.

If you travel with Delta more than a couple of times a year but not often enough to be able to make use of all the great benefits that the Reserve Card offers, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card will probably cover most of your Delta-related needs.

For frequent Delta flyers, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is almost certainly going to be the clear winner thanks to all the benefits that it offers that the other cards do not.

Hopefully, the information and tables above will provide readers with a useful resource when it comes to deciding which Delta SkyMiles consumer credit card is best for them or if they should bother having a SkyMiles consumer card at all. If there’s anything that you think I’ve missed or something that you’d like me to add in or discuss, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll see what I can do.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Just downgraded Gold to Blue; don’t fly enough on Delta and besides their miles are the most devalued I see with my destinations, etc. Sticking with Chase Sapphire Preferred for most of my travel…..

    • Definitely agree that SkyMiles are hitting new lows. I have no idea why so many people collect them.

      Re. Sapphire Preferred for travel (a card I hold btw), have you considered the Ink Business Preferred to get an extra point/dollar?

  2. I got the Platinum Amex DL card about 3 years ago and cancelling it (not even downgrading) before the next AF hits. First of all I have the Amex Platinum so get better payback booking my DL travel on that. Also the Amex Platinum card gets me free skyclub access when flying DL. Also, I’m lifetime DL Gold (with around 3 million miles) so the benefits like bags, priority boarding, etc don’t help me. The only thing that I really get from the $250 a year is a companion ticket but DL restricts them so much I usually let them expire (have used 1 in 3 years). I also live in an AA fortress hub (CLT) and am lifetime Platinum on AA so rarely fly DL.

    Unless you are a Delta loyalist and either need the qualifying miles or the bag/boarding benefits I don’t see how this makes sense for most people. I got a good sign on bonus which was what I really got the card for but time to let it go.

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