If you're a frequent Delta flyer, odds are you've got a co-branded Delta credit card in your wallet. And while the *delta skymiles gold card* is the most popular choice, two cards with higher fees are worth considering for one big reason: An annual Delta companion certificate.
These Delta companion certificates can be reason enough to keep a top Delta card in your wallet – even as annual fees increase. Think of them as a buy-one, get-one benefit for flights each year: Use them wisely, and you can get plenty of value, often outweighing the annual fee you're paying on your Delta card.
But for many flyers with these certificates in their wallets, it's gotten harder to put them to use over the last few years, running searches that turn up blank again and again and again every time they try to redeem a companion certificate. So while a BOGO flight once a year sounds nice, what good is this benefit if you can't even use it?
It can be done – and we're here to help. Delta has made it a bit easier by introducing a price calendar feature when searching for flights using your Delta companion certificate. And in the not-too-distant future, these certificates will be far more powerful, helping you and a pal fly not just within the mainland U.S. but out to Hawaii, down to Mexico, throughout the Caribbean, and beyond.
Whether you've already got a Delta companion ticket in your account or you're eyeing the latest Delta credit card offers, we'll give you some hints on how to make sure you use them wisely.
- What is a Delta Companion Certificate?
- How Does the Delta Companion Certificate Work?
- Tips to Use & Maximize Your Delta Companion Ticket
- All About the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card
- All About the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Delta Companion Certificate?
What's a Delta companion certificate? Well, it's one of the best benefits of any Delta credit card.
The *delta skymiles platinum card* gets you an annual companion certificate to use on economy fares.
And these companion certificates are about to get even more powerful.
While adding a slew of new benefits and raising annual fees, Delta expanded which destinations are eligible to use a companion certificate beyond just continental U.S., including:
- Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Grand Cayman
- Turks and Caicos
- Dominican Republic
- Saint Kitts
- St. Maarten
- St. Lucia
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
You may not be able to use your existing companion certificate for a trip to Hawaii or Mexico just yet, though. These expanded destinations are only available on certificates issued Feb. 1, 2024, and onwards. So if you've got a certificate from the last year set to expire anytime before next Feb. 1, 2025, you're stuck flying within the continental U.S. on this go around.
Either way, you'll get this perk after your first full year with either of the two top-of-the-line Delta credit cards. That means you'll need to wait a year after opening one of these cards – then renew it again – to get a companion ticket.
One last restriction to keep in mind: You must book roundtrip flights. Even a multi-city reservation – into one city and home from another – will not work, nor will open-jaw flights. You can, however, fly in and out of different airports within the same city using a companion pass – like flying into Newark (EWR) and home from New York City-LaGuardia (LGA).
How Does the Delta Companion Certificate Work?
You won't get your companion ticket right off the bat when you open a new Platinum or Reserve card account. It starts once you've held either the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card for a full year.
Exactly what you can get depends on which card you've got. Again, let's go over some basics:
- The *delta skymiles platinum card*‘s companion certificate is good for one main cabin roundtrip fare
- The *delta reserve card*‘s companion ticket can also be used for Delta Comfort Plus, Delta Premium Select, and first class airfare.
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 before then. It's not enough to book before it lapses – you have to actually take and return from the trip before that expiration date.
For example, I was sure to redeem this companion certificate on a trip that got me back home before the end of August 2024.
The paid fare will earn SkyMiles and Delta Medallion Status credits, but the free fare will not. If you've got Delta status, both of you will be eligible for complimentary upgrades. Unfortunately, you cannot use SkyMiles to book the first ticket: Paid fares only.
One final important restriction to keep in mind: You have to charge the first fare (and the taxes and fees of the second) to an American Express card. It doesn't necessarily need to be the Delta Platinum or Reserve SkyMiles card. However, using a Visa, MasterCard, or any other credit card will not work.
Simple enough, right? But all this doesn't mean that you can buy any roundtrip ticket and use your Delta companion certificate to bring a buddy for free…
Which Fares Qualify?
While it can still be an incredible benefit, there are some serious strings attached to these Delta companion tickets that can make the right fares harder to find and book. You have to find a specific type of fare class in order to apply a Delta companion certificate.
While you may only see first class, Comfort Plus, and economy seats when you walk on a Delta plane, airlines sell an alphabet's worth of different ticket types called fare classes – each with its own rules, restrictions, and price. And only a handful of the two-dozen-plus fares are eligible to use these Delta companion certificates:
- With the Delta Platinum Card, you can only book fare classes L, U, T, X, and V in the main cabin.
- On the Delta Reserve Card, you can book all those fares plus fare classes I, Z, and W – first class and Comfort Plus tickets. For certificates issued Feb. 1, 2024 and onward, Premium Select fare classes A and G are also eligible.
Feeling lost? Read up on how fare classes work.
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. Delta Basic Economy fares are off-limits, and many of the fares that do qualify are often some of Delta's cheaper tickets.
And that's the problem many Delta flyers with these companion certificates are running into now. When flight prices rise, Delta doesn't sell nearly as many of these fare classes that make the cut. That's why many travelers search for flights to use their companion tickets and come up empty: The right kind of fare simply isn't available.
But don't worry. We've got plenty of tips to help you find a way to make it work. Keep reading…
How to Use a Delta Companion Pass
Once you've earned a companion certificate, you'll get an email from American Express informing you that 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 “Certificates, eCredits & Vouchers.”
Clicking on the certificate in your profile will allow you to begin the booking and redemption process. Unlike the Southwest Companion Pass, there is no need to designate your travel companion ahead of time: You can bring anyone with you.
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 in addition to the price of the first fare. The final amount will vary based on your destination.
That said, there are a few other quirks to keep in mind…
Can You Use a Delta Companion Certificate Booking with SkyMiles?
Delta does not allow travelers to use a stash of Delta SkyMiles to book the first ticket when applying a Delta companion certificate. It has to be a paid fare, and you have to pay with an American Express card.
But Can You Use Delta eCredits, Too?
This is one of the best developments we've seen recently. In the last few years, Delta added the ability to apply Delta eCredits to the paid ticket even when redeeming a companion fare.
After years of canceling flights through the pandemic and many extensions to make these eCredits last through 2024, we know plenty of Delta flyers still have credits sitting around in their accounts. Using a companion certificate and eCredits together can help make your flights even cheaper – it's the ultimate two birds, one stone.
To do so, just select your companion certificate as normal, then begin your search and select your flights. Once you make it to the checkout screen, select “Use eCredits” and Delta will allow you to pull in credits to offset the cost of your paid fare.
Delta allows you to apply up to four eCredits online during these transactions, though you might be able to use even more at once by calling Delta to book your tickets instead. You can even apply your companion's eCredits to cover the taxes and fees for that ticket.
So long as there's a balance left over, just finish up by paying with an Amex card and you're set!
Can Someone Else Use a Companion Certificate?
Yes … usually.
Nearly all Delta companion certificates that come through Delta's SkyMiles credit cards are fully transferrable. So while a cardholder may always prefer to use the perk that they're paying for, that's not always possible. Fortunately, there's no requirement on these certificates that the cardholder booking the flights is one of the people actually taking the trip.
For instance, a Delta Platinum cardholder could book a flight for their spouse and child using the companion certificate for one of the fares, so long as they ultimately pay for the flights with an Amex card. You could even book BOGO flights for two complete strangers – not that you would.
Tips to Use & Maximize Your Delta Companion Ticket
What's the best way to use a Delta companion ticket? We're glad you asked.
In theory, these Delta companion certificates are worth their weight in gold. It's a BOGO ticket and an easy way to offset the annual fee on your top-dollar Delta Amex card.
But in practice, redeeming these certificates has become a chore over the last few years. We've heard from countless frustrated travelers who have tried and tried and tried to find flights to use this perk only to come up empty-handed every time.
You're not alone. Here's some advice on how to find the fares that work, then squeeze all the juice out of your Delta companion ticket when you can.
A Next-Level Tip to Find the Right Fares
How on earth can you find those special L, U, T, X, and V fares you need to use these certificates? Are you supposed to just search route after route on Delta until you finally come up with a result?
There's a tool that can easily help you zero in on flights that work: It's called ITA Matrix. I'll show you exactly how it can help in this situation.
Think of ITA Matrix like Google Flights on steroids … and then some. While it's a fairly advanced platform, it has a ton of powerful features that you won't find on Google Flights or other sites. Most importantly, it allows you to search for specific fare classes … including the ones you need in order to find flights to use your Delta companion certificate.
Let's say I'm trying to use my companion certificate for a few nights in New York City toward the end of summer, but all my searches through Delta are coming up blank. Using some of ITA Matrix's advanced controls, I can tell it to show me exactly when the eligible flights are available.
First, head to ITA Matrix and plug in the basics of your trip. It helps immensely if you're flexible, so I'd recommend selecting “See calendar of lowest fares” rather than inputting exact dates.
Now it's time to tell ITA Matrix we only want to see flights that can be booked with a Delta companion ticket. ITA Matrix allows you to search only for specific fare classes. Just click “Advanced controls,” and then copy and paste the following bits of code in the outbound and return extension code fields.
- Platinum cardholders booking economy fares, enter f bc=L|bc=U|bc=T|bc=X|bc=V
- Got the Reserve Card and want to make sure you're flying first or Delta Comfort Plus? Enter f bc=I|bc=Z|bc=W
In this case, I'm searching only for the main cabin economy fares that can be booked with a Platinum Card companion certificate by telling ITA Matrix to only show fares with the booking codes L, U, T, X, or V.
It may take a minute or so, but eventually, ITA Matrix will pull up a calendar with results. Click airlines and narrow down your results to only show Delta flights.
At $400 or even north of $500 per person, Delta flights aren't cheap over this span – but getting two tickets for the price of one takes the sting out of those fares. Flights departing Tuesday, Aug. 15, and returning Saturday, Aug 19 are in fare class T, which does the trick to use a Delta companion certificate.
So from there, I head over to my Delta account, select my companion certificate, enter those dates, and hit search. Sure enough, it did the trick!
While you'll still need to be flexible, there's perhaps no better way to cut through the painstaking trial-and-error process of trying to find flights to use your Delta companion ticket than this.
Select ‘My Dates are Flexible' Searching on Delta
For many years, you'd have to search one day at a time to try to find flights that work with your companion certificate. Nothing available for roundtrip flights from New York City (JFK) to Miami (MIA) on Aug. 17 and returning 10 days later? Start your search over and try again. It was exhausting.
But one small change last year has made it much, much easier: Delta now offers a price calendar function when you're searching for flights using a companion ticket, allowing travelers to pull up to a month's worth of flights in one quick glance. That change can help you zero in on flights that are eligible for this perk, especially when shifting by just a day or two from an initial search.
Just start the search process by going into your Delta profile and selecting the companion certificate you want to use. As you enter your travel dates, be sure to select the “My dates are flexible” box when starting your search with your Delta companion certificate.
Previously, if you chose dates that weren't eligible to use a Delta companion certificate, your search would show up blank. Here's what you get now instead.
By allowing travelers to pull up a calendar view, Delta now shows you that returning just a day or two earlier makes these certificates available to use on these flights to Miami this summer. Better yet, it also highlights the cheapest fares available over that initial one-week span. You can take things even further by selecting “Price Calendar” after you search, pulling up a full month's worth of flights for whatever trip length you set.
Using ITA Matrix is still more powerful, but this makes it much easier to put those certificates to use without leaving Delta.com.
Be Flexible & Plan Ahead
The closer you get to departure, the harder it's going to get to find flights that qualify for these companion certificates.
If you're searching for a flight just a month or less in advance, your odds of finding flights that work are fairly slim. That's especially true now, as sky-high travel demand and higher airfare have made it all but impossible to find the fare classes that are eligible.
We can't tell you exactly how far in advance you need to search to break through: It's unpredictable. But you'll definitely have better odds of making it work by searching at least three to nine months out. In my experience, that's the sweet spot.
Just remember: You have to book and take the trip before your companion certificate expires. If your return date falls beyond the expiration window, it won't work.
Book the Most Expensive Ticket You Can!
Start thinking big to make the most out of your Delta companion ticket.
Any round-trip, main cabin (or first class, if you have the Delta Reserve Card) flight within the lower 48 U.S. states will qualify (or soon to Hawaii, Mexico, and beyond) – as long as it falls into one of the fare classes above. 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: Try to book a flight that costs $350 (see rates & fees) or more per ticket if you hold the Delta Platinum Card, or $650 or more (see rates & fees) if you hold the Delta Reserve. That's the key to making the annual fee on either the Platinum or Reserve Delta SkyMiles card worth it. Regardless of any other benefits the cards provide, this one can cover the entire cost of your annual fee.
We've regularly been able to get $300 or far more in value out of the companion certificate on the Platinum Card – and that's before factoring in the value of free checked bags for everyone on the itinerary!
Pair it with an International Fare Deal
Consider using your Delta companion ticket to lower the costs of an international getaway.
Earlier this year, we sent our Thrifty Traveler Premium members a jaw-dropping deal on flights to Tahiti (PPT): Just $498 roundtrip! That's a fantastic deal, less than half the normal price of flights to paradise.
But those cheap nonstop fares were only available from Los Angeles (LAX). If that's not your home airport, the cost of getting yourself and your travel buddy there to make the trek to Tahiti could make the deal look less attractive. Enter the Delta companion certificate.
Using your Delta companion ticket to book positioning flights is a smart move. It means you can book that cheap international ticket from a different city, then use your companion certificate to fly from your hometown to catch that international flight for less.
All About the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card by American Express is one of several options for Delta cards, but it's among our favorites.
This card's single-best benefit is these Delta companion certificates, which you earn every year upon renewing your card (starting in your second full year with the card). It's what really sets the Platinum Card apart from the Gold.
Starting for certificates issued Feb. 1, 2024 and onward, it's good for buy-one, get-one round-trip airfare in economy 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. While you won't get this certificate in year one, it's a great recurring perk that can easily offset the card's $350 annual fee.
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.
You'll also be piling up SkyMiles thanks to the card's 2x earning 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.
The card also comes with a bunch of statement credits to help offset the annual fee including up to a $120 rideshare credit (doled out in $10 monthly installments), up to a $120 annual Resy credit (doled out in $10 monthly installments), up to a $150 annual Delta Stays credit, and up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or up to $85 for TSA PreCheck once every four years – and since membership in either program is good for five years, you're set.
One thing that's missing from this card? Lounge access. Part of Delta's unpopular program shakeup last fall included Delta taking away the option for Platinum cardholders to buy their way into Sky Clubs. While that change no doubt stings, there are still many other cards on the market that come with airport lounge access, no matter the airline you're flying.
While we feel Delta SkyMiles have lost their luster recently, some bonus miles for new applicants sweeten the deal. You can currently bonus_miles_full
The card does have an annual fee of $350 (see rates & fees), but it can easily be offset with the companion ticket it provides.
Learn more about the *delta skymiles platinum card*
All About the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card by American Express is the top-tier card in the Delta co-branded credit card portfolio. This card comes with all the same benefits you'll get by having the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card … and then some.
With the Reserve card, you'll also get a companion ticket – and 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 as well as Delta Comfort Plus and Delta Premium Select, not just economy.
With the Reserve, you'll get 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.
The card earns 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases. You'll also get a bunch of statement credits to help offset the annual fee including up to a $120 rideshare credit (doled out in $10 monthly installments), up to a $240 annual Resy credit (doled out in $20 monthly installments), up to a $200 annual Delta Stays credit, and up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or up to $85 for TSA PreCheck once every four years – and since membership in either program is good for five years, you're set.
There's also a welcome bonus for first-time applicants: You can now bonus_miles_full
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any other Delta Companion ticket rules?
While we've already covered almost everything you need to know, there are some subtle items to note about the Delta Companion Pass.
- It's only eligible on Delta, Delta Connection carrier and Delta Shuttle flights – which excludes all other Delta-designated codeshare flights and flights on partner airlines.
- Delta Companion Certificate is valid for one roundtrip Main Cabin companion ticket with the purchase of certain adult roundtrip fares. One-way and multi-city bookings are not allowed.
- Companion tickets cannot be used on tickets with fees of more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments).
- Companion Certificates and Delta eCredits can be combined in the same transaction.
- You can't use Delta SkyMiles with your companion certificate.
- Delta Companion Certificates are for new purchases only – they can't be applied to the cost of previously issued tickets.
Can I give my Delta companion ticket to someone else?
Wondering how to transfer a Delta Companion Certificate? You don't need to.
If you've got a companion ticket you aren't using, you can book the reservation for someone else using a certificate, and that ticket is assigned to them and their companion.
However, once the tickets have been issued, a Delta Companion Certificate can't be transferred.
What if I need to cancel my flight booked with a companion certificate?
You'll want to be sure your travel plans are set in stone when redeeming a Delta Companion certificate.
According to the terms and conditions: “If the Primary ticket or the Companion ticket is canceled, both tickets will be canceled and the Companion ticket will not be reissued.” Ouch. You might be able to convince a Delta support agent to make a one-time exception, but I wouldn't count on it.
However, you can change an existing reservation for two booked with a companion certificate. That includes shifting travel dates, moving airports, or even rebooking to save a bit more if prices drop afterward.
Understanding the ins and outs of these Delta companion tickets is critical to coming out ahead – and there's no question that they've gotten much harder to use in the last few years. Finding flights that are actually eligible to redeem these certificates can feel like pulling teeth.
But trust me, it can be done. Booking at least three months in advance, being flexible with your travel dates, and using the right tools are the key to maximizing Delta companion certificates. And as these two-for-one tickets get even more valuable, it's time to learn how to put them to use.