If you’re a frequent Delta flyer, odds are you’ve got a co-branded credit card from American Express in your wallet.
And while the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express is a popular choice among the suite of Delta cards thanks to free checked baggage and priority boarding, there’s another card in the mix. Just one step up is the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, and it’s worth considering for one big reason: an annual companion certificate.
Think of it as your once a year, buy-one-get-one plane ticket benefit. You’ll get this perk after your first full year with the card. Play it right, and you can get far more value than the card’s $195 annual fee out of this great benefit.
How the Companion Certificate Works
You won’t get your companion ticket right off the bat – it starts once you’ve held the card for a year.
On your first card renewal period, you’ll get this companion certificate good for one main cabin, round-trip fare in the continental U.S.
Once that time comes, you’ll get an email informing you the certificate is now available. Log in at Delta.com, and you’ll find it’s been automatically placed in your Delta profile wallet under “credits and certificates.”
Clicking on the certificate in your profile will allow you to begin the booking and redemption process. No need to designate your travel companion ahead of time!
But there is an important restriction to keep in mind when using this great perk. The companion certificate only works for fare classes L, U, T, X, and V in the main cabin. That means basic economy fares are off-limits, as are some of the cheapest priced economy fares.
Depending on where you live and when you’re flying, these restrictions can make it more difficult to get a lot out of the companion pass.
Thrifty Tip #1: Feeling lost? Read up on how fare classes work.
Once you’ve found it, make sure your companion certificate applies and voila – a nearly free plane ticket! You’ll pay just the government-imposed taxes and fees ($5.60 each way in the U.S.) in addition to the price of the first fare.
And remember: These Delta companion tickets are a use it or lose it benefit! Pay close attention to the expiration date on your certificate, and be sure to use it beforehand. It’s not enough to book before it expires – you have to actually take the trip before it lapses.
And one final important restriction to keep in mind: You have to charge the first fare (and the taxes and fees of the second) to your Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card.
This is all very exciting, but how can you make sure you are maximizing the value of this benefit? Here’s how.
Buy the Most Expensive Ticket You Can!
Start thinking big to make the most out of your Delta companion ticket.
Any round-trip, main cabin flight within the lower 48 U.S. states will qualify. And some will be better options than others to maximize the value of your certificate.
Cross-country routes and even some short-haul flights consistently tend to be the most expensive. But airfare dips and skyrockets so wildly, that can be hard to predict.
Here’s the bottom line: Make sure you book a flight that costs $195 or more per ticket. That’s the key to making the annual fee on the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card worth it.
We’ve regularly been able to get $300 or far more of value out of the companion certificate. And that’s before factoring in the value from free checked bags for everyone on the itinerary! You can use the benefit for any travel in the continental U.S. so there are endless redemption options that will maximize the value of the ticket.
Use it When Your Travel is Limited to Specific Dates
We urge travelers to be flexible when making travel plans to score the best deals. But that’s not always possible.
So if you need to be somewhere on a specific date or are booking last-minute, the Delta companion ticket is a great way to offset the potentially higher fare. Holidays and weekends are typically high-traffic times, with higher fares to match.
On a recent vacation to Portland (PDX) over Labor Day weekend, we were disappointed when prices from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) clocked in at $389 per ticket in economy. We had specific days needed to travel, and award availability using Delta SkyMiles was equally brutal.
So we were able to utilize the companion ticket to lower the price to $417 total – roughly $208 per ticket after taxes and fees. So while I paid the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card’s $195 annual fee, I got $361 in value out of the companion ticket. I’d call that a win.
Pair it with an International Fare Deal
Consider using your Delta companion ticket to lower the costs of an international getaway.
We recently featured a great deal on flights to Singapore (SIN) on Singapore Airlines from San Francisco (SFO) for $556 round-trip. But if SFO isn’t your home airport, the cost of getting there on specific days could make the deal look less attractive. Enter the companion certificate.
Positioning flights can add expenses to even the best flight deals, but smart use of the Delta companion ticket can make the best deals from major international airports more realistic.
Just beware that you will forfeit the companion certificate if you wind up canceling your itinerary. So if you’re not sure about that international trip or booking an insane mistake fare, make sure to wait until your itinerary is fully confirmed before booking the domestic flights.
Thrifty Tip #2: Long layover on your international journey? The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card can get you into the Delta SkyClub for $29 per person. If you don’t already have a card that includes lounge access, this is a great way to access the Delta SkyClub.
All About the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card by American Express is one of several options for Delta cards, but it’s among our favorites.
That’s due in large part to this companion certificate, which can easily net you $300 or more in value every single year. You’ll get the benefit after your first full year with the card. But there are other perks to the card, too.
The card earns 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both hotels and on Delta purchases. It also earns 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. You’ll also get a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years.
Thrifty Tip #3: Confused about the difference between SkyMiles and MQMs? Read our guide to learn about using SkyMiles and earning Delta status.
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card will also get you free checked baggage for anyone on your itinerary. And you’ll never pay pesky foreign transaction fees.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express.
If you fly with Delta even a few times a year, the $250 annual fee on the Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express Card can pay for itself multiple times over. It’s why we’ve named it one of the best cards for Delta flyers.