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The 7 Best Credit Cards for Delta Travelers in 2024

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Whether you're a frequent Delta flyer or you only travel with the airline a few times a year or less, having the right credit card in your wallet can make your travel experience more affordable … and enjoyable. But believe it or not, some of the best credit cards for Delta flyers aren't Delta credit cards at all.

After some unpopular changes to the airline's Medallion Status program and annual fee increases on the Delta American Express cards kicked in to kick off 2024, Delta flyers are (rightfully) reconsidering whether their Delta co-branded credit cards are worth keeping. Sure, they can get you free checked luggage, priority boarding, lounge access, a head start on elite status, discounted award tickets, and more. But Delta fans have more to consider now, including cards from other banks that can get you even more points and benefits when flying Delta – and other airlines, too.

Read on for our full list of the seven best Delta credit cards for travelers in 2024.

 

 

The Best Premium Card for Delta Flyers

It might seem counterintuitive, but in our opinion, the best, top-tier card for Delta flyers isn't even a Delta credit card.

American Express has its own suite of credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points. And here's the thing: You can transfer these points from American Express directly to your Delta SkyMiles account on a 1:1 basis (1 point = 1 Delta SkyMile).

The one small downside is that these transfers to Delta (and other U.S. airlines) incur a fee of 0.06 cents per point – up to a maximum of $99. So a transfer of 100,000 points, for example, would incur a $60 fee when you turn them into 100,000 SkyMiles.

But thanks to some lucrative welcome offers and excellent bonus categories for spending, you can typically earn even more SkyMiles with a traditional Amex card than you would with one of Delta's co-branded cards.

 

Amex Platinum Card with a passport

 

Our favorite Membership Rewards card is *amex platinum card*. It starts with a standard, 80,000-point welcome bonus offer after spending $8,000 in the first six months. But be sure to check and see if you qualify for a 150,000-point bonus via CardMatch or referral offer first.

One of the best features of this card for travelers is that it earns an unbeatable 5x points per dollar spent on all airfare purchased directly through airlines or at amextravel.com on up to $500,000 spent each year. It also offers some of the best travel insurance of any card out there – a big reason why we consider it the best card for booking flights.

That means if you buy a $500 ticket at Delta.com, you'd earn 2,500 Membership Rewards that you can then transfer to your Delta account. You earn just 2x SkyMiles on Delta purchases with the *delta skymiles gold card*, so the same flight would only earn you 1,000 SkyMiles.

On top of those extra points, you'll get an incredible suite of perks. That includes up to $200 in Amex airline credits for things like checked bag fees, which can ease the pain of giving up the free baggage benefit on Delta cards. You also get up to $200 each year in Uber Cash, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and the best airport lounge access offered from any card – including both complimentary access to the Delta Sky Clubs and Amex's own Centurion Lounges.

The one big downside of this card is that unlike top Delta cards, this one won't help you earn Delta Medallion status. But if you've decided that's no longer worth the (higher) cost, the Amex Platinum can be a no-brainer.

While it has a $695 annual fee (see rates & fees), those perks can easily outweigh the high cost. This card is the perfect example of why you should always do the math before ruling out cards with a big annual fee.

Related reading: Is the Amex Platinum Worth Its Annual Fee?

 

*amex platinum*

 

Learn more about *amex platinum*.

 

The Best Card for Big Spenders & Delta Road Warriors

Now more than ever, we question whether status on Delta (or any airline) is worth it. But there's no question that if you spend a lot of time on airplanes – especially on your employer's dime – earning elite status can pay dividends.

Like it or not, the *delta reserve card* has become a nearly necessary component to earning Delta Medallion status. With Delta's unpopular new status requirements taking effect at the beginning of the year, earning Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) on the Reserve card is now the quickest path to elite status.

For every $10 you spend on the Reserve Card, you'll earn 1 MQD – so if you spend $25,000 on your card each year, you'll be rewarded with 2,500 MQDs. Pair that with the card's annual MQD Headstart benefit that awards cardholders an automatic 2,500 MQDs each year, and you're already at Silver Medallion status … without even stepping foot on a Delta plane.

 

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express card with a wallet

 

From there, you can continue to climb the status ladder even higher by earning more MQDs through card spending, booking a Delta Vacations package, or … you know, actually flying with Delta. But no matter how you plan to earn status, having the Reserve Card will give you a significant leg up in your quest for status.

Beyond the extra MQDs, this card comes packed with benefits like unlimited complimentary access to any Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta) just for having the card – at least for now. Beginning Feb. 1, 2025, you'll be limited to just 15 days of Sky Club visits each year unless you spend a whopping $75,000 per year on your card. This change will be a big blow for frequent Delta flyers and no doubt makes the Reserve Card less valuable.

But it's not just Sky Clubs that you can get into with the Reserve Card: You'll also get unlimited complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges so long as you're 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

 

Another big perk that comes with the Reserve Card is an annual companion certificate – which is essentially good for BOGO airfare, including first-class seats for flights in economy, Delta Comfort Plus, and first class roundtrip flights to destinations throughout the U.S. (including Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico) as well as many destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.

You'll also get up to a $120 annual rideshare credit (doled out in $10 monthly installments) to pay for a ride with Uber, Lyft, Curb, Revel, or Alto, an up to $240 annual Resy credit (doled out in $20 monthly installments), up to $200 in Delta Stays credit, and $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, discounted award tickets, and more.

But again, the real value of the Delta Reserve Card is in the chase for Delta medallion status – and you need to spend a lot of money to make that happen. If you don't value elite status or spend enough to unlock it, this card probably isn't for you – there are plenty of other cards out there that won't set you back $650 each year (see rates & fees).

If lounge access is what you're after, you'd be much better off going with the (non-Delta) American Express Platinum Card.

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

 

*delta reserve card*

 

Learn more about the *delta reserve card*

 

The Best Delta Card for Traveling with a Companion

If you often fly Delta with a pal or partner, give the *delta skymiles platinum card* a serious look.

The biggest value-add for the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card is the companion certificate you get every year you renew it, starting in your second year with the card. This is good for one Main Cabin roundtrip ticket to destinations throughout the U.S. (including Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) as well as many destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. That’s a great perk for a mid-tier travel rewards card and one that can easily help justify the card's $350 annual fee (see rates & fees).

You'll also get up to a $120 annual rideshare credit (doled out in $10 monthly installments) to pay for a ride with Uber, Lyft, Curb, Revel, or Alto, an up to $120 annual Resy credit (doled out in $10 monthly installments), up to $150 in Delta Stays credit, and $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, discounted award tickets, and more.

 

Delta SkyMiles platinum american express card in a wallet

 

And similar to the Delta Reserve Card, you'll get a jump start on earning elite status with an identical MQD Headstart benefit. This means that each year you hold the card, you'll earn an automatic 2,500 MQDs each year. If you've got both the SkyMiles Platinum and Reserve cards, you'll get an MQD Headstart benefit from both – meaning you'd have automatic Silver Medallion status each and every year just for holding the cards.

You can also earn MQDs through everyday spending with the SkyMiles Platinum card … but far less of them than the Delta Reserve Card: You'll get 1 MQD for every $20 spent. Along with the 2,500 head start MQDs, that means you'd need to spend $50,000 each year to unlock Delta's entry level elite status – assuming you don't earn MQDs any other way.

Just like most other Delta cards, the Platinum Card also comes with perks like free checked bags, a 15% discount on award tickets, and priority boarding.

Add it all up and Delta’s SkyMiles Platinum Card is a solid choice for moderate Delta flyers, anyone looking earn SkyMiles, or achieve lower levels of Delta Medallion status.

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

 

*delta skymiles platinum*

 

Learn more about the *delta skymiles platinum card*

 

The Best Card for Restaurant and Grocery Spending

It's easy to confuse this one with a Delta card, but trust us: They're not the same.

The *amex gold card* is a strong option for Delta flyers who like to … eat. That's because you'll earn an unlimited 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 each calendar year (then 1x after that). That's the best return on spending in both of these categories of any credit card on this list.

 

amex gold dining credits

 

To round out the card's bonus point earning, you'll also get 3x points on airfare booked directly with the airlines or through amextravel.com and 1x points on all other eligible purchases.

Beyond the top-notch point earning, you'll get up to $120 in Uber Cash each year, broken up into $10 monthly allotments, to use for Uber rides or Uber eats. You'll also get an up to $120 annual dining credit that's also broken up into monthly installments. This credit can be used at GrubHub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, & select Shake Shack locations.

If you're able to make good use of these two credits, it's nearly enough to offset the card's entire annual fee – without accounting for any of the card's bonus point earning.

Oh, and Amex sweetens the deal with a solid welcome bonus: You can currently earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on eligible purchases in the first six months. But first, be sure to check and see if you qualify for a bigger offer via CardMatch or through a personal referral

And remember, you can transfer these points from American Express directly to your Delta SkyMiles account on a 1:1 basis (1,000 points = 1,000 Delta SkyMiles). So even though you're not technically earning SkyMiles, they can become SkyMiles with the click of a button.

The Amex Gold has an annual fee of $250 (see rates & fees), which can be easily worth it if you're able to make use of all the card's credits and bonus earning categories. In fact, it might just be the all-around best travel rewards card, period.

 

*amex gold card*

 

Learn more about the *amex gold*

 

The Best Delta Card for Most Flyers

We're members of team carry-on, but we realize that's not everyone. So if you often check a bag when you fly with Delta but aren't on the hunt for elite status, lounge access, or other premium perks, then the *delta skymiles gold card* is the perfect choice for you.

Like Delta's other credit cards, it offers free checked luggage every time you fly with Delta – for you and up to eight travel companions booked on the same reservation. Since Delta charges $30 each way for a checked bag, taking three round-trip flights each year with a checked bag is enough to cover the card's $150 annual fee. Better yet, the card has an introductory annual fee of $0 and then you'll only pay $150 each year (see rates & fees) after that.

Best of all, you don't even need to pay for the flight with your card to get the free luggage benefit. That perk is simply attached to your SkyMiles account so long as you hold the card.

 

delta skymiles gold american express card

 

On top of free luggage, you'll also get access to Delta's TakeOff 15 benefit which will save you 15% on SkyMiles award tickets. This discount applies to each ticket booked within your reservation, whether you're flying solo or booking seats for the whole family. And there's no limit to how many times per year you can use it.

Those two benefits alone make the Delta Gold Card the right choice for the vast majority of Delta flyers.

The SkyMiles Gold Card will also get you up to a $100 Delta Stays credit, and priority boarding, which is one of our favorite ways to beat Delta basic economy fares. Finally, you'll get a $200 Delta flight credit if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year. Again, enough to cover the card's $150 annual fee.

On the earning side, you'll get 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets – making it a decent option for much of your day-to-day spending.

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card!

 

*delta gold*

 

Learn more about the *delta skymiles gold card*.

 

The Best One-Size-Fits-All Credit Card

Then there's the often-forgotten sibling to the Amex Platinum and Gold Cards: The *Amex Green Card*. Amex refreshed the Green Card a few years back with a handful of new perks that could be useful to occasional Delta flyers.

Once again, this card isn't directly affiliated with Delta. But it can still make good sense, depending on your travel patterns.

The card comes with an up to $189 credit to cover the cost of a CLEAR Plus membership, a $100 Lounge Buddy credit that can get you into a handful of lounges each year.

It earns 3x points on every dollar you spend at restaurants worldwide and on travel. So whether you're booking a flight, hotel, car rental, or anything else that counts towards travel, you'll earn 3x points for every dollar you spend.

 

best delta credit card

 

Again, even though you're not earning SkyMiles, you can transfer these points from American Express directly to your Delta account on a 1:1 basis (1 point = 1 Delta SkyMile), making it a great option for those who don't exclusively fly with Delta.

The flexibility offered by American Express Membership Rewards points is what makes them so valuable. Having flexible points allows you to be an elite status free agent and chase the best deal.

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

 

American Express Green Card

 

Learn more about the American Express® Green Card.

 

The Best Delta Card for Beginners

The *delta blue* is the only card on this list that doesn't have an annual fee (see rates & fees). And while that sounds great, it comes at the expense of meaningful card benefits.

You won't get free checked bags, lounge access, priority boarding, or even a discount on award tickets. But you will earn 2x SkyMiles on Delta purchases and have foreign transaction fees waived (see rates & fees) when traveling abroad.

 

best delta credit card

 

If you check a bag even twice a year, you'll be better off with the *delta skymiles gold card*. But if you are just getting started with credit cards or travel in general, this can be a great introductory card to have.

And remember, American Express allows you to earn a welcome offer on each of their cards once per lifetime – but with the new restrictions on the Delta family of cards, you'll have to do it in the right order.

 

*delta blue*

 

Learn more about the *delta blue*.

 

Bottom Line

No matter which card (or cards) you go with on this list, odds are they'll make for a better travel experience with Delta. Whether you're looking for lounge access, free checked luggage, or bonus SkyMiles on your everyday spending, one of these cards is bound to meet your needs.

 

Lead photo courtesy of Delta News Hub via Flickr

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.

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