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Amex Gold Card and Delta SkyMiles Gold Card

The Perfect Two-Card Combo for (Most) Delta Flyers

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After the slew of changes Delta has made to earning status, entering Sky Clubs lounges, and now the airline's co-branded American Express credit cards, many frequent Delta flyers are rethinking whether their pricey Delta cards are worth it.

If you're not ready to give up on the Delta yet, the two-card combination of the *amex gold* and *delta skymiles gold card* gives you the best of both worlds. Better yet, even with both of these cards, you'd be paying around the same amount in annual fees or less than if you held just one of Delta's top-tier credit cards.

These two travel rewards cards are great on their own. But put them together and you've got the perfect two-card combination for earning SkyMiles and getting valuable perks on Delta Air Lines flights like free checked baggage, priority boarding, and more. Not to mention you'll also be earning flexible transferrable points that you can turn into Delta SkyMiles – or use to book flights on other airlines, too. 

Here's everything you need to know about why this two-card combination deserves a spot in your wallet.


Card Benefits Overview

Before we dive deeper into what makes these two cards the perfect pair, let's take a look at the benefits offered by both cards.

Both cards come with a sign-on bonus that can earn you valuable points and miles you can use to fly Delta. But the type of travel rewards you earn with each card – and how you earn them – is vastly different, as are the travel perks they provide.

Here's a quick look at the features of both cards.


The American Express Gold Card

  • Welcome Offer: *Amex Gold Bonus*
  • Earn 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide.
  • Earn 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year.
  • Earn 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent directly with airlines or at amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 each month in statement credits when you pay with the Gold Card at GrubHub, The Cheesecake Factory, Wine.com, Milk Bar, Goldbelly, and participating Shake Shack locations.
  • Enjoy up to $120 in Uber Cash annually with your Gold Card. Just add your Card to your Uber account and you'll automatically get $10 in Uber Cash each month for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $250 (see rates & fees)


*amex gold card*

Learn more about the *amex gold*

Read our full review of the Amex Gold Card!


Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Welcome Offer: 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
  • Earn 1x SkyMiles per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Up to a $100 Delta Stays credit: Earn up to $100 in statement credits each year when you make a Delta Stays prepaid hotel or vacation rental booking on the Delta Stays platform.
  • Earn a $200 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
  • $0 introductory annual fee – then $150 each year after that (See rates & fees)


*delta gold*


Learn more about the *delta skymiles gold card*.

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card!


What Makes This Combo So Perfect?

Despite recent changes to Delta's suite of co-branded credit cards, the Delta Gold Card still offers plenty of value for Delta flyers with travel perks like free checked bags and priority boarding that make it worth having in your wallet.

But if you want to rack up points faster, that's where the Amex Gold Card shines. You'll earn more transferrable points in a variety of different spending categories that you can easily turn into Delta SkyMiles…or send to nearly 20 other airlines to book flights.


Two Welcome Offers

The Amex Gold Card, along with *amex platinum* and other cards that earn Membership Rewards are the only ones on the market that have Delta Air Lines as a transfer partner. That means you can send the points you earn on your Amex Gold Card directly to your Delta SkyMiles account on a 1:1 basis (1 point = 1 Delta SkyMile).


Delta Air Lines airplane


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.

Here's the current offer on the *amex gold*: bonus_miles_full But first, be sure to check and see if you qualify for a bigger offer via CardMatch or through a personal referral.

Meanwhile, the *delta skymiles gold card* is out the current offer: bonus_miles_full.

Add up the SkyMiles you'd earn from the Delta Gold Card's big welcome offer and the points you'd get with the Amex Gold signup bonus and you'd have more than enough SkyMiles to take advantage of the next Delta SkyMiles flash sale.


Delta SkyMiles Costa Rica flash sale


Earn More SkyMiles

Beyond the signup bonus, you'll earn more SkyMiles swiping your non-Delta Gold Card than your Delta one.

With the Amex Gold Card, you'll earn 4x the Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend at restaurants. You'll also earn 4x points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 of spending each calendar year (then 1x point). Meanwhile, the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card only earns 2x Delta SkyMiles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.

So just by using the Amex Gold Card for these purchases instead of your co-branded Delta American Express Card, you'll earn at least twice as many points for the same amount of spending. 


amex gold dining credits


The American Express Gold Card also earns 3x Membership Rewards points on all flights booked directly with any airline or through amextravel.com whereas the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card earns 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta flights.

Plus, the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card only earns a bonus if you are booking travel with Delta. So if you wind up flying with other carriers, having the Amex Gold is even more valuable.

Read more: Is the Amex Gold Card Worth Its Annual Fee?


Book Delta Flights for Less

Amex points are simply more valuable than Delta SkyMiles. And even if flying Delta (and only Delta) is your primary goal, you may be better off earning Amex points instead of Delta SkyMiles.

Delta's dynamic award pricing puts SkyMiles at a disadvantage, with award rates (how many miles you need to book a flight) that fluctuate wildly based largely on the cash cost of a flight. Unless you stumble into a Delta SkyMiles flash sale, you might see exorbitant rates to book a flight on Delta or other airlines. And if you only have SkyMiles, you're stuck paying those prices.

Other airlines do things differently, with lower, more predictable award rates. And that includes Delta's partner carriers like Air France/KLM and Virgin Atlantic … even when you're using their miles to book Delta flights.

So if Delta is charging 48,000 SkyMiles to fly roundtrip in main cabin economy from Minneapolis (MSP) to Cancún (CUN) this spring…


msp to cancun delta skymiles


….you transfer those Amex points to partner carrier Virgin Atlantic instead and book those exact same Delta flights for less. Even after a recent increase, Virgin is charging just 37,000 points roundtrip.


msp to cun virgin atlantic


It's even (a bit) cheaper using Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles: 36,000 miles roundtrip. 


air france msp cun


You can transfer Amex points to all three airlines, so the choice is easy. Critically, Delta SkyMiles cannot be transferred to another airline, not even partner carriers like Virgin or Air France/KLM. That flexibility is what makes Amex points so valuable.

Want to fly business class on Delta? You're going to be better off earning Amex points than Delta SkyMiles, too. You can use this same workaround to book a Delta One business class seat to Europe for just 50,000 points when Delta is charging 300,000 SkyMiles or more.


dtw - ams delta one via virgin


Read more about the difference Between Amex Points and Delta SkyMiles


More Options for Redeeming Rewards

Earning all those Membership Reward points and pooling them together with your Delta SkyMiles is one thing, but the fun part about Membership Rewards is being able to use them for non-Delta flights, too. Thankfully, the Amex Gold Card makes it simple to put your rewards to good use by earning flexible points.

With nearly two dozen Amex transfer partners at your disposal between airlines and hotel chains, the ability to transfer American Express points opens up a world of travel opportunities. But whether you're a newbie to points and miles or an old hand, these transfers are a whole new can of worms, with confusing twists and considerations to keep in mind.


ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
AeroMexicoAirline1:1.63-5 days
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
ANAAirline1:11-2 days
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Cathay PacificAirline1:1Instant
IberiaAirline1:1Up to 24 hours
Qatar AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant


Amex points give you the flexibility to find a far better way to use your points. Whether it's booking a cheap flight to Europe for just 34,000 points roundtrip on Iberia, an ANA business class flight to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) for as low as 75,000 points roundtrip, or even book Delta flights for a fraction of the points by transferring them to a different airline, you'll have the option to move points to whichever program makes the most sense for your travels – and maybe even take advantage of a transfer bonus in the process. With Delta SkyMiles, none of that is possible.


ana business class suite
ANA business class suite


Related reading: 10 Amazing Ways to Redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points


Money-Saving Travel Perks

The Amex Gold Card is great but it doesn't come with much in the way of travel perks and benefits outside of access to transfer partners. Don't worry though: This an area where the Delta Gold Card pulls its weight … and then some.

The Delta Gold Card is a great choice for casual Delta flyers looking to earn SkyMiles and take advantage of perks like free checked baggage (for you and up to eight other passengers booked through your SkyMiles account on the same itinerary) and priority boarding in the Main Cabin 1 group.


delta amex gold card


Considering bags cost at least $30 each way, those savings can add up fast … and you don't even need to pay for your flight with your Delta Gold card to get free bags. 

When you use your Delta Gold Card to pay for in-flight purchases like food & drinks, you'll receive 20% off in the form of a statement credit. You can also earn a $200 credit toward any Delta purchase if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year. And you'll also get up to a $100 credit each year when you make a prepaid hotel or vacation rental booking on the Delta Stays platform.

Finally, the Delta SkyMiles Gold card will get you access to Delta's TakeOff 15 benefit which will save you 15% when booking Delta flights with SkyMiles. Depending on how often you book flights using SkyMiles – or how many people you're booking for – this can be a huge savings and an easy way to justify paying the card's annual fee.


Delta SkyMiles sale to Europe with the Takeoff15 benefit applied


Where This Combo Falls Short

Just because the Amex Gold Card and Delta Gold Card work well for Delta Air Lines loyalists doesn't mean it'll be a perfect fit for every frequent flyer. There are certainly some downsides to this combo that we'll get into below.


No Premium Travel Perks

Want premium travel perks like lounge access or statement credits to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry? You're out of luck here. You won't get access to the Delta SkyClubs or the Amex Centurion Lounges without holding the top-tier *amex platinum* or *delta reserve card*.

This means that if you're looking for access to those lounges, you'll need to cough up $650 in annual fees (see rates & fees) just to get your foot in the door. For the time being, the Delta Reserve Card will get you unlimited complimentary access to any Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta). But starting in February 2025, you'll be limited to just 15 visits annually … unless you're willing to spend $75,000 each year on your card.


msp sky club bar seating


Meanwhile, Amex's flagship Membership Rewards-earning Platinum Card will get you into the bank's Centurion Lounges when flying any airline, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), Priority Pass Lounges, Escape Lounges, and more.


lga centurion lounge entrance


Just like the Delta Reserve Card, the Amex Platinum's Sky Club access will be changing next February. You'll be limited to 10 visits each year with Amex Platinum. Unlimited Sky Club access and guest privileges at Amex Centurion Lounges can be restored with $75,000 or more in spending on your card each year.

Related reading: Which Amex Lounges Still Allow Free Guests?


No Elite Status Shortcuts

If you want to work towards earning status with Delta, this combination of cards won't help you get ahead.

Since Delta made the switch to using Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) as the sole metric for earning elite status, they also gave some SkyMiles cardholders the ability to earn MQDs through spending and a new perk called MQD Headstart. But you won't get that with either the Delta SkyMiles Gold or the Amex Gold.


airline seat fees


If you opted for the *delta skymiles platinum card* instead, you'd earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent on the card and get 2,500 MQDs every year to start you on the path towards earning status. Meanwhile, the Delta Reserve Card earns 1 MQD for every $10 spent and gets the same 2,500 MQD headstart each year. Either of these cards would be a better choice for those on the hunt for elite status.

Read more: Did Delta Actually Make Earning Medallion Status … Easier?


Bottom Line

If you're a Delta loyalist searching for the perfect two-card combination, look no further than the Amex Gold Card and Delta Gold Card. With these two cards in your wallet, you'll get perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, discounted award tickets, and more – all while earning bonus points on your everyday spending.


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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