Do Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards Still Make Sense? Here's How to Decide | Thrifty Traveler

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Do Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards Still Make Sense? Here’s How to Decide

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With all the recent changes from Delta – from how you earn Delta Medallion status to getting into Sky Clubs, many are wondering what to do with their co-branded Delta cards. Or if you were considering opening one of these cards, maybe you're now second-guessing that decision. 

Depending on which card you have, or want, there are still lots of reasons to hold a Delta SkyMiles credit card. There's no black-and-white, one-size-fits-all answer: You have to do the math for yourself. But the equation for deciding which one you should add to your wallet has likely changed.

No matter which card you choose, you'll want to take advantage of a big welcome offer when picking one of these cards up. Right now, you can earn up to 60,000 SkyMiles with the current set of offers – not the biggest bonuses we've ever seen. If you're looking for a Delta business card, you may be able to do even better. But after Amex rolled out some new restrictions on these cards, you'll want to choose wisely.

But there's much more to consider beyond a big mileage bonus. How much can you spend responsibly to unlock that huge bonus? Are you still gunning for Delta Medallion status, even after these changes? What about extra perks like lounge access?

Let us walk you through the basics of all of the Delta credit cards to help you make a decision on the right card for you.

Read more: The 16 Best Ways to Earn SkyMiles in 2023

 

 

The Basics of Delta Credit Cards

Before we dive in to compare these cards, let's go over the ins and outs of what you get from each of them.

 

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

  • bonus_miles_full
  • Earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases. 
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • No Annual Fee (see rates & fees)

 

*delta blue*
Learn more about the *delta blue*.

 

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • bonus_miles_full
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight – savings of at least $60 on each round-trip flight, per person.
  • Priority boarding (even with a basic economy ticket)
  • Earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets. 
  • Earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and 1x mile for all other eligible purchases.
  • Earn a $100 Delta flight credit if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • Get 15% off SkyMiles award tickets with TakeOff 15 when booking on delta.com or through the Fly Delta app
  • Get 20% off in-flight purchases such as food & drinks in the form of a statement credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $99 Annual Fee – waived the first year (See rates & fees)

 

*delta gold*
Learn more about the *delta skymiles gold card*.

 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • bonus_miles_full
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight, savings of at least $60 on each round-trip flight, per person
  • Priority boarding (even with a basic economy ticket)
  • Get a domestic main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal – one of this card's best benefits!
  • Earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on eligible Delta purchases, and at hotels.
  • Get up to a $100 credit to cover the cost for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every 4.5 years for the application fee for TSA PreCheck® and every 4 years for Global Entry
  • Get 15% off SkyMiles award tickets with TakeOff 15 when booking on delta.com or through the Fly Delta app
  • Get 20% off in-flight purchases such as food & drinks in the form of a statement credit
  • You can get into the Delta Sky Club when you're flying Delta by paying $50 (and bring up to two guests for $50 each). Effective Jan. 1, 2024, this benefit will no longer be available.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee  (See rates & fees)

 

*delta skymiles platinum*
Learn more about the *delta skymiles platinum card*

 

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • bonus_miles_full
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight – savings of at least $60 on each round-trip flight, per person.
  • Priority boarding (even with a basic economy ticket)
  • Get complimentary Delta Sky Club access when flying Delta, through Jan. 31, 2025. Beginning Feb. 1, 2025, you'll be limited to 15 Sky Club visits per year, unless you spend $75,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.
    • You also get two free guest passes and can bring up to two guests in at a time. After that, each guest visit will cost an additional $50.
  • Complimentary access to the American Express Centurion Lounges when you are flying Delta on a ticket purchased with your Reserve card.
  • Get a domestic main cabin or first-class round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal.
  • Earn 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Get up to a $100 credit to cover the cost for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every 4.5 years for the application fee for TSA PreCheck® and every 4 years for Global Entry.
  • Complimentary space-available upgrades, even for non-Medallion members. A great way to improve your upgrade chances.
  • Get 15% off SkyMiles award tickets with TakeOff 15 when booking on delta.com or through the Fly Delta app
  • Enjoy 20% off in-flight purchases such as food & drinks in the form of a statement credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $550 annual fee (See rates & fees)

 

*delta reserve card*
Learn more about the *delta reserve card*

 

Get Started With Gold

We recommend the Delta Gold card for casual Delta flyers looking to earn SkyMiles and take advantage of perks like free checked baggage and priority boarding. 

You might be wondering why not start with the Delta Blue Card. Well, thanks to the Delta Gold Card's $0 introductory annual fee (then $99 per year) you can test drive a card with more perks for the same costIf after a year, you're not getting your money's worth out of the Delta Gold Card, you can downgrade it to the $0 annual fee version instead.

While the no-annual-fee Blue card may seem like the better deal at first blush, there can be serious value with the Gold card that easily outweighs its nominal annual fee. Unlike the Blue option, the Delta Gold card gets you some decent perks to save money like free baggage (for you and up to eight other passengers booked through your SkyMiles account on the same itinerary). Considering bags cost at least $30 each way, those savings can add up fast. You can also earn a $100 credit toward any Delta purchase if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year. 

When swiping the card, you'll earn 2x SkyMiles for every $1 you spend on Delta purchases, U.S. supermarket purchases, and at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.). You'll also earn 1x SkyMiles per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. 

However, if you want access to the Delta Sky Club or work towards earning status with Delta, this card won't help you. That's because Gold cardholders can no longer buy single access Sky Club passes and the card doesn't earn Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), which after 2023 will be the single metric used for determining status.

Read our review of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card!
*delta gold*
Learn more about the *delta skymiles gold card*.

 

Pile Up Points With Platinum

We used to think of the *delta skymiles platinum card* as the Gold card on steroids.

That's because you earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets. Plus, you earn 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on eligible Delta purchases, and at hotels.

But with Delta taking away the option for Platinum cardholders to buy their way into Sky Clubs, we're not as keen on the card as we once were. The airline is also getting rid of the card's MQD waiver, making elite status much more challenging to reach – even though Delta is giving cardholders a $2,500 MQD head start each year.

Read more: Keep or Cancel? Weighing Changes to the Delta Platinum Card

Now, the Delta companion certificate, which you earn every year upon renewing your card (starting in your second full year with the card) is the key differentiator between the Platinum and Gold card. This companion certificate is good for buy-one, get-one domestic round-trip airfare in economy (within the continental U.S.) While you won't get this certificate in year one, that's a great perk for a relatively inexpensive card.

 

a person holding a Delta SkyMiles platinum American express card

 

The card also comes with up to a $100 statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry once every four years – and since membership in either program is good for five years, you're set. That's another nice perk that can help offset the cost of the annual fee, but also one that's also found on several other cards – including some costing less than $100 per year.

While a $250 annual fee may seem a bit steep at first glance, it’s pretty easy to squeeze more than that in savings out of the companion certificate. But there's no doubt that taking away the ability to buy Sky Club access and awarding only one Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) for every $20 spent on the card makes it less valuable than it once was.

 

*delta skymiles platinum*
Learn more about the *delta skymiles platinum card*

 

Reserve: The Card for Big Spenders & Status Seekers

This Delta credit card is all about perks and gaining Medallion Status on Delta. But in order to do that, you'll need to spend a lot of money – a ton, actually … more on that in a bit.

The card has good benefits like complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs – though that, too, is changing come 2025. From now through January of 2025, you'll get unlimited complimentary access to any Delta Sky Club just by having the Delta Reserve Card. But beginning Feb. 1, 2025, you'll be limited to just 15 days of Sky Club visits each year – unless you spend $75,000 per year on your card. This change is a big blow for frequent Delta flyers and no doubt makes the Reserve Card less valuable. 

 

msp sky club bar seating

 

It's not just Sky Clubs that you can get into with the Reserve Card, though: You'll also get complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges when you are flying Delta on a ticket purchased with the card. Plus, you can bring in up to two guests for a fee of $50 each. Since visits to the Centurion and Escape Lounges won't be capped like they are at the Sky Clubs, we anticipate these lounges to get much busier come 2025.

 

lga centurion lounge entrance

 

With the Reserve card, you'll also get a companion ticket – but it's slightly better than the one you'll get with the Platinum card. That's because this companion ticket can also be used for BOGO first class seats instead of just economy.

You'll also get up to a $100 credit to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years. And of course, it comes with all the usual card perks you get from the other Delta cards, like free baggage, priority boarding, and more.

But the real value of the Delta Reserve Card is in the chase for status … and you need to spend a lot of money to make that happen.

 

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card

 

Like the Platinum card, the Reserve card currently provides an MQD waiver for spending $25,000 on your card in a calendar year for Silver, Gold, and Platinum status. You can also get an MQD waiver for Diamond status by spending $250,000 in a calendar year. 

In 2024, that waiver goes away entirely and all the spending you do on your Reserve card will earn 1 MQD for every $10 you spend. So spending $100,000 on your Reserve card in a calendar year would only net you 10,000 MQDs – enough for Gold Medallion Status under the new thresholds. On the plus side, Delta is also giving Reserve cardholders a $2,500 MQD head start each year.

Here's a look at what you'd need to spend on a Delta Reserve Card in order to climb the different levels of Delta Medallion Status in 2024 after factoring in that $2,500 MQD bonus. Keep in mind: These are the spending requirements without flying or making any other purchases through Delta. 

Medallion Tier2024 MQDsDelta Reserve Spend
Silver5,000$25,000
Gold10,000$75,000
Platinum15,000$125,000
Diamond28,000$255,000

If this is all making your head spin and you don’t understand or care about status with Delta, move along – this card isn't for you. And that's a good thing.

If lounge access is what you're after, you'd be much better off with a non-Delta card, like the *amex platinum card*. It will get you better lounge access (including at Delta Sky Clubs until early 2025), and all-around better benefits for a $695 annual fee (see rates & fees).

Read: Delta Reserve vs. The Amex Platinum Card: Which is Right for You?

However, if you fly enough on Delta to get value out of status, you're likely going to need a Delta Reserve Card to help you get there.
*delta reserve card*
Learn more about the *delta reserve card*

 

Bottom Line

Delta recently upset the applecart by making some pretty drastic changes to its SkyMiles loyalty program and its co-branded Delta American Express Cards. These changes are likely causing many current and prospective cardholders to re-think their strategy and decide which card is the best fit for their travel needs.

If you currently have (or were thinking about opening) the Delta Gold Card – nothing has changed for you. It's is still a solid card for getting free bags, priority boarding, and earning SkyMiles. If you instead hold (or want to open) either the Delta Platinum or Reserve cards, determining which is right for you just got more difficult.

 

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.

20 Responses

  • Every time I apply for any AMEX card, I always get a notification that I am not eligible for the welcome bonus, even though I’ve never had that card before. Anyone else?

    • Yes, it’s called pop-up jail, and it’s due to the previous Amex cards you’ve opened/closed. I’ve heard putting some spend on Amex cards can help get out of jail.

    • Hi Brett. Unfortunately, there is no such card. The Platinum will let you buy access into the lounge for $39 each time, and the Reserve (and Amex Platinum) will get you complimentary access. However, all of those cards have annual fees.

  • One omission from the Reserve Card section is that Amex will charge you $175/yr for every additional card for additional card holders. This fee made me decide to keep my Platinum card, rather than upgrade.

  • I’m curious to hear how many of your readers have success with the companion pass. We travel pretty frequently (5-6 round trips a year as a family) but companion passes never seem to be available. As a result, the companion pass benefit isn’t much of a benefit.

    • I just used my companion certificate and saved like $360 or so. Keep in mind that you a) still have to pay the taxes on the free ticket and b) it’s only good for the lower main cabin fare classes (L, T, U, V, and X). If you were trying to buy a ticket in a higher fare class (some routes only have like K or M or Q availability) or in basic economy, it won’t work.

    • I used the companion pass benefit for the first time this year. I was able to use it on the flight I wanted. Not sure I’ll be keeping that card though, with these changes.

    • Yes, the companion pass is kind of a rip off. I have used it, but the time and days you can use it are often inconvenient. For example, you may prefer a round trip leaving at 11 am, but the only ticket you can buy is between 5-7 am. Or, the return trip leaves at 7-8 pm at night and you want to get back by 12 noon. So, it often becomes a real pain to try and use it.

  • I recently purchased a Delta ticket for $600, but the flight is for February 2024. Does Delta give you MQD’s credit for the year you buy a ticket or for the year you fly? If the MQD credits are for year when purchased, then it might have been smarter if I had waited until January to buy the February ticket since I don’t need any more MQD’s for 2023.

  • One correction and seeking clarification:
    The Platinum card guest fee is $50, not $39 and ends January 31,2024.

    Re the Platinum Card from AMEX for $695. That limits Sky in visits to six. How is that better?

    • I don’t see anywhere that we have either The Platinum Card from American Express or the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card listed as allowing guests for $39 (it used to be that price, though). The current guest fee with both cards is $50 and Sky Club access as well as guest access is going away entirely for Delta SkyMiles Platinum cardholders beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

      The Platinum Card from American Express is a better card (in general) for lounge access because you can get into Priority Pass lounges, Amex Centurion Lounges, and Escape Lounges no matter which airline you’re flying with.

  • I have the Delta Platinum, and ironically canceled the Delta Gold 2 weeks ago. The value of the card for my travel patterns hasn’t changed, as airline elite status never mattered in the first place (don’t travel for work, don’t travel enough on leisure to make a dent). As long as it still offers the companion cert, free checked bags, 15% off awards, 3x on flights, and MC1 boarding, it’s absolutely worth it.

    • Starting January 1, Delta will calculate Million Miler status by lifetime flight miles. All existing MQMs will convert 1:1 to this new metric.

  • I have had an AMEX Delta Skymiles Reserve card for over 10 years and an AMEX Delta Skymiles Platinum card for five years. Due to the upcoming changes to the Skymiles program, I called American Express on 09/18/23 and closed/cancelled our AMEX Delta Skymiles Reserve and AMEX Delta Skymiles Platinum account.

    The AMEX Representatives seemed to be busy because I was on hold for almost 15 minutes and that is unusual for AMEX. Maybe AMEX Delta Skymiles credit card customers closing/cancelling their accounts. I had to talk with two AMEX Representatives to finally close the accounts and they were very professional.
    However, before they closed the accounts, the representative asked me; “Sir, is there anything
    American Express can do to retain you as a Delta Reserve or Delta Platinum card customer?”
    My reply: “Ask Delta Airlines! Due to the restructuring of the Skymiles Frequent Flyer Program
    beginning on Jan 1, 2024, it does not make sense to retain this card and I’m sure that thousands of
    other card holders will be closing their accounts as well!”

    I apologize for rambling but we really like flying Delta Airlines. We also liked the AMEX Delta Reserve card and the AMEX Delta Platinum card but the new Skymiles program would require me to spend $60,000 (non airline purchases) using the AMEX Delta Reserve card just to earn 6,000 to obtain Silver Status. I believe American Express will lose many current Skymiles Credit Card Customers and have difficulty attracting new ones. IMHO, Delta Airlines will regret making these changes!

    Oh, and the companion passes never seem to be available!

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