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Thinking About Canceling Your Delta Card? Do This First

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Between painful changes to earning status and getting into Sky Club lounges only to see an increase in annual fees, even once-loyal Delta flyers are rethinking their SkyMiles American Express cards. Is it time to cancel your Delta credit card?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer: It's a personal question, one that hinges on your finances, travel plans, goals, and more. For some, even paying $650 (see rates & fees) a year for the top-tier *delta reserve card* is still a no-brainer. For others, paying the higher $150 (see rates & fees) annual fee for the *delta skymiles gold card* is a dealbreaker.

But even if you're sure it's time to grab the scissors, there are a few steps to take and options to consider before canceling your Delta SkyMiles credit card.



Wait for Your Card to Renew

Just because you've decided to get rid of your Delta credit card doesn't mean you need to do it straight away.

There's no sense in canceling (or downgrading) your current Delta credit card until the annual fee hits your Amex card statement. After that, you've typically got a few weeks to decide whether it's worth it or not – if you decide against it, Amex will simply credit back the entire fee.

And if your card is set to re-up in the next few months, there may be no reason to cancel your card, period. Existing cardholders set to renew before May 1 will pay the lower rate for one more year. So if your Delta SkyMiles Card is set to renew on or before April 30, you'll still pay:

  • $99 for the next year with your current Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card 
  • $250 for the next year with a Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • $550 for one last year with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Renew sometime May 1 and onward? Then it's different:

  • $150 (see rates & fees) for the next year with your current Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card 
  • $350 (see rates & fees) for the next year with a Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • $650 (see rates & fees) for the next year with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card


delta skymiles credit cards


Not sure when your card renews? Look through your previous statements for an “Annual Membership Fee” charge to get a sense – or just start a chat online with an Amex agent and ask.

If you've been gladly (or even begrudgingly) paying that fee for the last few years, keeping it for at least one more year is probably a no-brainer, if you ask me. Revisit this story in another year when you're actually on the hook to pay more for your card.


Do the Math First

When bad news hits, it's tempting to cancel a credit card out of sheer impulse. “Fees going up? Benefits getting cut? No way!”

But in good times and bad, you have to do the math. Do the benefits you get from holding the card outweigh the fees you're paying? Then it's worth keeping. Paying more than what you're getting in perks? Get rid of it.

That math may be harder to make work now than just a few months ago – and for some, these recent changes might push you past the breaking point. But the only way to figure out for certain and make the right decision for you is to do some mental inventory.


Delta Gold Card

Got the *delta skymiles gold card*? That card is all about free baggage: You (and up to eight others booked on your reservation) get a first checked bag for free – worth $30 each way, if not more for some international trips.

For years, it's been easy to justify the card's previous $99 annual fee: Take two roundtrip Delta flights a year, save $30 (or more) each way checking a bag, and you're coming out ahead.

As that annual fee increases to $150, it'll take a few more flights each year to justify paying that fee … but if you think you'll take six one-way flights or three roundtrips each year with Delta, you're still coming out ahead. And if you travel frequently with family or friends who check bags too, the math leans even more toward keeping this card.


delta amex gold card


Another standout benefit of the Gold Card is TakeOff 15, the automatic 15% discount you get when redeeming Delta SkyMiles for an award ticket. If you've got a bunch of SkyMiles sitting around but cancel (or downgrade) this card, your SkyMiles won't go as far. That's worth considering, too.

While Delta's pricier, top-tier cards got far more new benefits in exchange for an annual fee hike, one new perk stands out for Delta Gold cardholders. Each year, you now get a $100 credit for prepaid hotel or vacation rental booked on the Delta Stays platform. These credits reset each calendar year, so you've got until Dec. 31 to put it to use.

Is that an earth-shattering benefit? No. Is it enough to offset the higher annual fee on this card? Maybe – at least for one year.


Delta Platinum Card

Much like the (far cheaper) Delta Gold Card, the *delta skymiles platinum card* will get you a free bag for yourself and up to eight companions. But the real standout value of Delta's Platinum Card is the annual Delta companion certificate … and that benefit is getting even better – just not quite yet.

The most exciting item in Delta's big overhaul by far was a major expansion of where you can use Delta companion certificates, which have long been restricted to just flights within the mainland U.S. Going forward, you can book buy-one, get-one flights throughout the entire U.S. and its territories, Mexico, and much of the Caribbean and Central America.

But don't try to book your trip to Mexico, Honduras, or Hawaii just yet. A Delta spokesperson confirmed that any existing certificates won't benefit from this expansion – only new certificates issued Feb. 1 and onward can be used for one of these bigger trips for two. So if you've got a certificate from re-upping your card last year, you're still stuck using it within the lower 48 states.


delta seats


Have you struggled to use your companion certificates in the past? Well, this may not change much for you: These certificates are still restricted to certain classes of main cabin economy fares, and those can be tricky to find. That's why many Platinum cardholders swear these certificates have become worthless because every search for a buy-one, get-one fare comes up empty.

Delta has made it a bit easier to find flights that work by introducing a new price calendar feature when searching for flights using your Delta companion certificate. We've also cobbled together some of the best tips to put Delta companion certificates to use – including a next-level tool you can use to zero in on the flights that will actually work, this year or next.

If you're still not convinced, this fee hike might be the push you need to ditch the Platinum Card. After all, you can still get free bags and other Delta perks with a far cheaper alternative.

Of course, Delta and Amex also added a laundry list of other perks, including:

  • $120 a year toward rideshare rides with Uber, Lyft, and other companies, though they're doled out in $10 monthly installments
  • Another $120 a year toward charges at restaurants that are a part of the reservation platform Resy, again split into $10 monthly chunks
  • $150 each year for prepaid hotel and vacation rental reservations booked via Delta Stays, the airline's Expedia-powered online travel portal

That adds up to a lot: $390 in credits a year, in fact. But it's up to you to use them, and that's not exactly a straightforward process.

One last thing to consider: If you're hot on the chase for Delta Medallion Status, the Platinum Card can give you a serious leg up thanks to the MQD Headstart bonus: an automatic 2,500 MQDs each and every year. That's half of what it now takes to earn Silver Medallion Status and enough to vault many frequent Delta flyers to an even higher tier.

How much is that worth? That depends on how much you'll spend with Delta in the next year to enjoy the perks of status and climb up to Gold status, Platinum status, or even higher.

But if you're not getting close to recouping the higher annual fee on the Platinum Card by using the companion certificate each year and checking bags, it might be time to dump this card.


Delta Reserve Card

The top-tier *delta reserve card* was the biggest winner in these otherwise difficult-to-swallow changes. At least for the next year.

Yes, the Reserve Card will also eventually benefit from the expansion of the companion certificate, just like the Delta Platinum Card. And sure, it's getting even more in money-saving credits for hotel stays and restaurants than the Platinum Card.

But Delta went out of its way to satisfy current Reserve Cardholders with a few one-time perks, too. Anyone who had the Reserve Card open before Feb. 1, 2024, will also get:

  • A one-time $100 Delta flight credit to offset the annual fee hike. That's supposed to be available come April 2.
  • While Reserve cardholders also get a 2,500 MQD Headstart bonus each year to begin the chase for Medallion Status, Reserve cardholders are getting another 1,000 MQDs this year as a bonus. Reserve cardholders should see that reflected in their SkyMiles accounts now.


delta reserve bonuses


If you were ready to re-up your Reserve Card before this annual fee increase, these two perks alone should be enough to make it an easy choice to do so again – at least if you ask me. Unless you don't care about Delta Medallion Status, of course … but if that's the case, having the Reserve Card was likely the wrong choice for you in the first place.

But the math might seriously change next year when Delta's most brutal Sky Club entry restrictions kick in. Come Feb. 1, 2025, Reserve cardholders who currently get unlimited lounge access will be capped at visiting Sky Clubs just 15 days per year.

That's right: You'll be paying $650 a year for Delta's top credit card, yet the airline will still limit how often you can use its lounges. And the only way around that restriction is by spending a whopping $75,000 a year on your Reserve Card.

You've got a year before you need to worry about that, though. Until then, the math should work out in your favor to keep this for at least the next year.


Check for a Retention Offer

Convinced it's time to cancel? Amex might sweeten the deal even more to convince you to stick around for one more year.

Welcome to the lucrative world of retention offers: Bonus miles, statement credits, or discounted annual fees credit card companies will offer you if re-up your card again when you're ready to cancel. And when any bank raises annual fees or cuts benefits, we typically see bigger and better retention offers.

We've rarely seen any worthwhile retention offers – or anything at all – on Delta's co-branded credit cards. But just last week, for example, our co-founder Nick got a pretty decent one: 25,000 bonus SkyMiles for renewing the card, then spending $2,000 within three months.


delta retention offer


That's better than anything we've seen or heard of in the past on Delta Amex cards. So whether you're on the fence (or even if you're not), it's worth trying for a retention offer before paying another year's annual fee. It goes like this:

  • Wait for the annual fee to hit your account
  • Log into your Amex account and start a chat, saying you're considering canceling your Delta card – or call Amex's designated retention department at 1-800-528-4800
  • Explain to the agent you're unhappy with the annual fee increase and no longer feel it's worth paying for unless there's a retention offer that will incentivize you to keep it for another year
  • Prepare for a long-winded explanation of all your card's new benefits, then tell them you don't value those benefits and would like to cancel unless there's a retention offer that will incentivize you to keep it for another year
  • Cross your fingers and wait for something good.

Typically, these offers are set in stone: You're either targeted for a retention offer … or you're not. It varies by what card you have and how long you've had it, how much you spend on it per year, and other factors. If you've accepted a retention offer on a card in recent years, you may not get another one for a while.

But why not try and see what you might get from Amex before making a final decision?

Read more: Retention Offers & How to Get More Out of Renewing Your Credit Cards


Downgrade Instead

Even if you're sure it's no longer worth paying a higher fee on your current Delta card, canceling might not be the best option. Ask yourself this: How will doing so impact your credit score?


Credit make up graphic


While many Americans assume more credit is bad and therefore less credit is good, it's not quite that simple. In fact, canceling your Delta card outright could be a serious drag on your credit score.

If you've had your Delta card for years, canceling it could hurt your score as it will impact your credit usage (by decreasing the total amount of credit you have available), decreasing your average age of accounts, and shrinking your length of credit history.

So the better path for many longtime Delta credit cardholders might be to downgrade to the no-annual fee *delta blue* instead to keep that line of credit alive. Or maybe bump down to a different Delta card that's cheaper than what you've got but still gets you some benefits, like the *delta skymiles gold card*.

For example, I've had my Delta Gold Card for nearly a decade – it's one of the oldest travel cards in my wallet. That long history combined with a sizable credit limit means that card is doing my credit score a world of good … and canceling it would hurt. Big time.

To downgrade, just log into your Delta account and start an online chat, asking for a “product change” for your existing Delta card. It's typically a quick and painless process.


Or Transfer Your Credit Limit to Another Amex Card

Dead set on canceling your Delta card rather than downgrading to a cheaper (or free) alternative? That might be the right choice … but there's one last step you should take before you officially close out.

So long as you've got another American Express card open, you can transfer a credit limit. And that's a wise move: By transferring the credit limit from your Delta card to another one before you cancel it, you keep all that credit alive, negating the harshest hit to your score by suddenly losing $5,000, $10,000, or more in total credit extended to you overnight.

Lucky you, it's a fairly painless process – and one you can typically do online. To transfer your credit limit to another Amex card, log into your American Express account, select “Account Services,” then pick “Payment and Credit Options.” Find the option to “Transfer Credit Limit from Another Card.”

You should be able to easily select which Delta card you want to transfer as well as which card you'd like to send it to. American Express might limit how much you can transfer, though – but even if you can only send a portion of your Delta card's credit limit to another card, it's better than nothing.


amex transfer credit limit


These requests are typically approved instantaneously, or close to it. That said, there are a few restrictions to keep in mind:

  • You can transfer credit limits between personal Amex credit cards and from personal cards to a small business card, but not from a business card to a personal card
  • You can only transfer credit limits online between cards that are part of the same profile. If you have two different Amex logins, you'll need to call American Express to do so
  • American Express may limit how often you can transfer credit limits between your cards – in the past, it was once per 30 days.


Bottom Line

Even if you're 100% sure it's time to dump your Delta credit card, there's plenty to consider before hitting the eject button.

Make sure you do the math on whether that higher annual fee might be worth it – especially if you don't actually have to pay a higher fee for another year. And while canceling might still seem like the best course, there might be a better option.


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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