Delta's co-branded American Express credit cards are out with welcome bonus offers to earn up to 50,000 SkyMiles. But the real value of opening and keeping one of Delta's credit cards can go far beyond a big mileage bonus
There's free checked luggage on Delta flights, of course – Delta flyers' favorite benefit – plus priority boarding. But there are a handful of other overlooked benefits of the Delta Amex cards – including the new 15% discount on SkyMiles bookings – that don't get the attention they deserve. Use them right, and you can unlock a ton of additional value.
We'll walk through some of the new and lesser-known benefits provided by some or all of the Delta American Express credit cards.
Read more: Which Delta Credit Card is Right for You?
15% Off When You Book with SkyMiles
Calling a blanket 15% discount like this underrated is a bit of a stretch: It's arguably the best benefit of Delta credit cards right now. But it's currently flying under the radar because it's so new most travelers don't even know about it yet, so we feel compelled to call attention to it.
Nearly all Delta cardholders have access to the TakeOff 15 benefit, which gives you at least 15% off all Delta-operated flights booked with SkyMiles when you book through Delta.com or the Fly Delta app. The discount is applied automatically, which means no waiting for a statement credit or a rebate to hit your account.
TakeOff 15 is available with both the consumer and business versions of the Delta SkyMiles Gold, Platinum, and Reserve credit cards. Only the no-annual fee Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card won't see these discounts.
The 15% discount requires almost no work on your part to redeem. As long as you hold one of the eligible cards and are logged into your Delta SkyMiles account, you should see the TakeOff 15 pricing reflected automatically when you search for SkyMiles award tickets on Delta's website or the mobile app.
The TakeOff 15 benefit can be used for any fare. So whether you are booking the cheapest basic economy award ticket or all the way up to a Delta One business class fare, you should see the 15% discount applied. And there's no limit on the number of times you can use it.
Delta Cards Offering the TakeOff 15 Benefit
20% Off In-Flight Purchases
No matter which version of the Delta credit cards you have, you'll receive 20% back in the form of a statement credit when you purchase things like food, beverages, and audio headsets when you are in-flight with Delta. Considering alcoholic drinks are about $10 onboard a Delta flight, paying with your Delta credit card will save you $2 (20% off).
Unfortunately, in-flight Wi-Fi typically does not qualify for this benefit as the charge comes from Gogo Internet or Viasat Wi-Fi, and not Delta directly. But seeing as Delta now offers free Wi-Fi on most flights, that's not a big deal.
There's no limit to the amount back you can receive each year. It's a great and easy way to make those in-flight purchases a bit cheaper.
Delta Cards Offering the 20% Off Benefit
$100 Delta Flight Credit
Each and every year you hold the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, you'll receive a $100 flight credit after you spend $10,000 throughout the calendar year. This credit can be applied towards any Delta flight.
The annual fee on the Delta Gold card is $0 for the first year, and then only $99 each year after that (see rates & fees). That means you can offset the cost of holding the card starting in year two with this benefit alone. Add in any checked baggage fees you'll avoid by holding the card, and the math gets even easier.
As long as you can spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year, this is an easy way to save on Delta flights. And the $100 certificate is good for a full 12 months after you earn it.
Delta Cards Offering This Benefit
Free Checked Bags for You and Your Entire Party
Most Delta SkyMiles credit cards provide free checked luggage just for holding the card. And since Delta now charges $30 each way to check a bag – or much more if you're heading abroad – you can save a lot of money by avoiding baggage fees just from holding a Delta card.
Most longtime cardholders know about this free checked luggage benefit. But there are a few lesser-known aspects of this perk that are worth explaining…
First, not only will you receive free checked luggage yourself but you will also get the benefit for up to eight other passengers – so long as they are booked on your same reservation. Assuming all eight people checked a bag, that would save you $480 in baggage fees on a roundtrip flight. However, the primary cardholder does need to be traveling on the itinerary in order for the luggage benefit to apply – authorized users on the account, unfortunately, won't cut it.
Second, while you get free luggage just for holding one of the Delta cards, there is no requirement that you actually purchase your flight with the card to receive the benefit. As long as your Delta credit card is tied to your SkyMiles account, you are free to use whichever card you would like to pay for your flight and you'll still get free bags for you and up to eight traveling companions on the same itinerary.
This allows you to actually pay for your flight with cards that provide much better travel protections and earn more points than the Delta cards do. Book with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or even The Platinum Card® from American Express, which we think is the best card for booking flights.
Delta Cards Offering Free Baggage Benefits
A Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
Just for holding either the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card, you'll get a credit of up to $100 every four years to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Membership in either program is good for five years, so these two Delta cards will have you set.
Because Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck, we think it is the obvious choice if you plan on doing any international travel in the next five years.
Better yet? There is no requirement that the benefit needs to be used for the actual cardholder. If you've already got Global Entry, get your partner or travel buddy set up for free using your Delta card.
Delta Cards Offering The Global Entry Benefit
Delta Sky Club & Amex Centurion Lounge Access
Having airport lounge access before (or after) your next flight can be a total airport experience game-changer. But only a few of the Delta SkyMiles credit cards will open the doors to the Delta Sky Club and even the American Express Centurion Lounges.
First, if you hold the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, you'll be able to buy your way into the Delta Sky Club for $50 each visit as long as you are flying with Delta that day – at least for now. This benefit is going away altogether at the end of the year as Delta Platinum cardholders will no longer be able to buy their way into the Sky Clubs beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
Want free access each time? You'll want to hold the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, which includes free Delta Sky Club access when flying with Delta. But once again, this benefit's days are limited. Beginning Feb. 1, 2025, you'll only be able to visit the Sky Club 15 times each year with your Delta Reserve Card – unless you spend $75,000 or more per year on the card.
In addition to your own free pass into the Sky Club, Reserve cardholders receive two free guest passes to the Delta Sky Club each year. That means guests can come with you into the Sky Club for free. After that, you can pay $50 per guest to bring up to two guests into the Sky Club at a time.
Delta's top-tier Reserve card can also get you into the excellent American Express Centurion Lounges. But there’s a hitch: You have to be flying Delta that day, and you must have paid for your ticket with your Reserve card.
Delta Cards Offering Lounge Access Benefits
Complimentary Space-Available Upgrades
We often question whether or not holding Delta Medallion status is worth it – especially in the past few years after a slew of promotions and automatic extensions through the pandemic. But there's no question that once you climb the status ladder, you can unlock more upgrades to premium seats on board your next flight.
Even if you don't have Delta Medallion status, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card can provide complimentary space-available upgrades just for holding the card … at least in theory. But just because you can get upgraded certainly doesn’t mean you will.
Here's what Delta says: “As a Medallion Member with a Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you are eligible for Upgrade Priority over others in your Medallion Tier and fare class grouping. And as a General SkyMiles Member with a Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you are eligible for Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades to First Class and Delta Comfort+®, plus, day-of-departure Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades to the Delta One® experience on flights within the U.S. 50 – including flights to Hawaii.”
In practice, and as travel has rebounded, these upgrades will be few and far between. There are simply lots of Medallion status members traveling that will have a higher priority than you on the upgrade list.
We list holding the Reserve Card as one of the ways to improve your chances of getting upgraded when flying Delta. But by and large, we think most average travelers are probably better off skipping the Delta Reserve card altogether.
Delta Cards Offering The Upgrade Benefit
Beyond the bonuses, free bags, and Delta companion certificates, there are plenty of good perks on Delta's suite of SkyMiles credit cards that tend to go unnoticed.
Don't overlook these underrated benefits – it's up to you to put them to use.