Delta's co-branded American Express credit cards are out with welcome bonus offers to earn up to 95,000 SkyMiles. But the real value of Delta's credit cards goes 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 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 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?
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 $9 onboard a Delta flight, paying with your Delta credit card will get you a statement credit for $1.80 (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.
There is no limit to the amount back you can receive each year, and it is a great way to make those in-flight purchases 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), so 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, there are a few lesser-known aspects of this perk that are worth keeping in mind.
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 the Free Baggage Benefit
Up to a $100 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 receive up to a $100 credit every four years to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Membership in either program is good for five years.
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!
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 $39 each visit as long as you are flying with Delta that day. You'll also be able to purchase access for up to two guests for another $39 each.
Want free access each time? You'll want to hold the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, which includes free Delta Sky Club access. But once again, you have to be flying with Delta that day.
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 $39 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 incredible American Express Centurion Lounge. 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, and that is especially true in the past few years with all of the status promos Delta has been offering. But there is 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. 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.”
But in practice, and as travel starts to rebound, these are largely going to 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 consumers should skip the Delta Reserve card altogether.
Delta Cards Offering The Upgrade Benefit
Don't overlook these underrated benefits that come with many of the different SkyMiles credit card options.