Upgrade Your Delta Credit Card? Maybe You Shouldn't
delta card upgrade

You Can Upgrade Your Delta Amex Card (But Maybe You Shouldn’t?)

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Every time banks like American Express or airlines like Delta come out with bigger bonuses on credit cards, the same question piles up: Should I upgrade my card? Or apply for a new one?

Upgrade offers on travel credit cards are a dime a dozen. Delta, in particular, tries to get cardholders to upgrade from a Delta Gold® SkyMiles American Express Card to the Delta Platinum® SkyMiles American Express Card, for example. But with up to 90,000 SkyMiles currently available on these cards as part of massive new bonuses, does it make sense?

Not always. In fact, it may not make much sense at all. But to make the right decision, you should understand the rules and restrictions around upgrades and new credit card applications.

Here’s what you need to know to make the right choice when considering a Delta card upgrade – or not.

 

The Basics of American Express Credit Card Applications Rules

Let’s go back to basics.

Every bank sets its own rules and restrictions around credit card applications. Chase has the dreaded 5/24 rule, which bars you from getting approved for a new Chase credit card if you’ve opened five or more cards in a 24 month period from any bank – not just Chase.

American Express doesn’t have that same rule, so you don’t need to worry about it when it comes to Delta’s co-branded credit cards. Rather, per the terms of Amex’s card applications:

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this or previous versions of this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.”

That means if you have had a specific American Express card in the past, you will not be eligible to earn the bonus on that same card. Generally speaking with American Express, this restriction will follow you for about seven years after you close the card. At that point, data suggests that Amex allows you to apply for that card again and be eligible to earn the welcome offer bonus.

So while Amex isn’t looking at your credit card history with other banks, they will factor in which Amex cards you have had previously … regardless of whether or not you earned the welcome offer bonus on them.

But here’s the key point: The Delta Gold® SkyMiles American Express Card and Delta Platinum® SkyMiles American Express Card are not the same card, nor is the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. They’re all different cards, which means you’re eligible to open (and earn the bonus on) each of them separately.

You’ll need to keep that in mind when it comes time to decide on a possible upgrade.

 

Why You Maybe Shouldn’t Upgrade a Delta Card

When Delta and American Express increase the welcome offer bonuses on the cards, they are clearly looking to get new cardholders in the door. But they’re also shelling existing cardholders with offers to upgrade to a higher-tier card, too.

Should you take them up on an offer? It’s almost always a bad idea. Taking that upgrade will make you ineligible for earning a big welcome bonus offer on the same card later on.

Let’s say you’ve got the Delta Gold SkyMiles American Express Card and get an offer via email to upgrade that card to the  Delta Platinum SkyMiles American Express Card. More often than not, these upgrade offers pale in comparison to the elevated bonuses we often see on the suite of co-branded Delta credit cards.
 

Delta pay with miles 

And because of the way Amex’s application rules work, even if you have the Delta Gold Card, you would still be eligible to apply for the outright Delta Platinum card and earn the full welcome offer bonus – as long as you haven’t earned the bonus on that card previously.

Upgrade instead, and you won’t be able to get a big welcome bonus on that card in the future. So while Amex will often present you with an offer to upgrade to a more superior card, that offer will almost never be as good as the offer to apply for the card as a new account.

That said, Amex and Delta have started to turn this on its head recently with some very strong upgrade offers – stronger than we’ve ever seen, in fact.

 

What About Downgrading Your Card?

This same logic applies when you are downgrading an American Express credit card, including from Delta.

Have a Platinum SkyMiles Card? By downgrading to the Gold Card, for example, you wouldn’t be able to earn the bonus SkyMiles that card is currently offering.

Again, you could just apply for the Gold card outright, and then close your Platinum card if you’d like. This would accomplish your goal of moving to a cheaper card fee while also allowing you to earn points or miles in the process.

Read more: What Happens to Your Points When You Cancel a Credit Card?

 

Consider Your Credit Score

One thing that you will need to consider when going this route is that applying for a new credit card outright (as opposed to upgrading or downgrading an existing account) will result in a hard credit pull.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While your credit might take a temporary 5-10 point hit, your score will ultimately go up if you use that new line of credit responsibly.

Read More: 4 Credit Card Myths You Should Stop Believing.

When you upgrade or downgrade an account, it’s different: banks call it a product conversion. Essentially, you are just moving an existing line of credit to a different credit card product from that bank. From the bank’s perspective, it isn’t a new line of credit at all – and thus they do not need to pull your credit score again.

Of course, the trade-off here is that you either won’t earn any points or miles, or much fewer than you could by just applying for the card outright as a new account.

 

Which Delta Cards Are Best?

The time is ripe to consider these questions, as most of the Delta co-branded credit cards are currently out with record-tying bonuses of up to 90,000 SkyMiles – but only though Nov. 10, 2021.

From Gold to Reserve, here’s a look at what each one brings to the table.
 

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Earn 70,000 SkyMiles after spending $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. This limited-time offer ends on Nov. 10, 2021. 
  • 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 both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets
  • Earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and 1x mile for all other spending.
  • Earn a $100 Delta flight credit if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • 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 for the first year (then $99 per year). See rates & fees.

 

Delta Credit Card Offers
 

Click Here to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card.

 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • Earn 90,000 SkyMiles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. This limited-time offer ends on Nov. 10, 2021.
  • 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)
  • Get a domestic main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal – one of this card’s best benefits!
  • Earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on eligible Delta purchases, and at hotels.
  • Receive up to a $100 credit to cover the cost for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years.
  • Get 20% off in-flight purchases such as food & drinks in the form of a statement credit
  • Get into the Delta Sky Club when you’re flying Delta by paying $39 (and bring up to two guests for $39 each)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee. See rates & fees.

 

Delta Credit Card Offers
 

Click Here to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card.

 

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • Earn 80,000 SkyMiles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months of card membership. This limited-time offer ends on Nov. 10, 2021.
  • 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)
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access when you are flying Delta. You’ll also get two, one-time guest passes each year to the Delta Sky Club.
  • Complimentary access to the American Express Centurion Lounges when you are flying Delta on a ticket purchased with your Reserve card. You can also bring up to two guests in with you for a fee of $50 each.
  • Get a domestic main cabin or first-class round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal.
  • Earn 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Receive up to a $100 credit to cover the cost for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years.
  • Complimentary space-available upgrades, even for non-Medallion members. A great way to improve your upgrade chances.
  • Enjoy 20% off in-flight purchases such as food & drinks in the form of a statement credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $550 annual fee. See rates & fees.

 

Delta Credit Card Offers
 

Click Here to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card. 

 

Bottom Line

It depends on what bonuses are available and your own personal situation. But nine times out of 10, you’ll be better off applying for a new Delta card rather than upgrading (or downgrading) your current Delta card.

You’ll earn more miles that way. And remember, by upgrading or downgrading, you make yourself ineligible to earn a big welcome bonus on that card down the line.

 

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.

8 Responses

  • So interesting! I had the Delta Amex Gold card a few years ago, less than 4 years. I then downgraded to the Delta Skymiles Blue card (the non fee Delta card). Recently, I received an offer to upgrade to the Delta Gold card for 40k miles after spending $2000 in 6 months. I have left the email in my mailbox. Still unsure of what to do. Any advice? I love delta airlines but I’m not sure if I’ll come ahead of the annual fee this year.

    • Hi Vivi, my advice would be to apply for the Delta Gold card outright. The current offer is almost twice the upgrade offer for the same spending requirement. The annual fee is also waived in the first year.

    • Vivi,
      My situation nearly identical to yours. I had Amex Gold in the past but decided to downgrade. Earlier this year I got the same offer as you received (40k for $2000 spend). I jumped at the opportunity and quickly earned the bonus and referred my wife for the Gold card to receive another 15k.
      Skip ahead a month or two later when one day I logged into my Delta account and got an another offer for 50k after $3000 spend and a $200 statement credit to upgrade to Platinum. I couldn’t believe it! I had been eyeing the Platinum card for a long time but was hesitant because of the initial $250 annual fee and no companion pass until paying the annual fee a second time.
      After it is all said and done between the two upgrades and the referral bonus I hauled in a total in excess of 120k points and only had to cough up $50 out of pocket after getting the statement credit. Best of all no credit check!

  • Nick, when I start to read all the terms of the offers and the bonuses and such, my eyes just glaze over. I have an Amex Platinum Card and I have an Amex Platinum Skymiles card. My wife and I use it for travel. We try to funnel purchases through both the cards to get miles on Delta Airlines. I am eligible for an “upgrade” from my Platinum Skymiles card to the Reserve Card. I dont mind spending the extra $$ on the annual fee if it helps me get more miles and gain entrance into Delta Sky Clubs around the US and Europe. Would you suggest upgrading to the Reserve card or would you stay with the Platinum Skymiles card?

    • Hello. If you already have the regular Amex Platinum Card (non-Delta version), that card will provide the same Delta Sky Club access as the Reserve. If that is the biggest reason for your upgrade I would say it wouldn’t be worth it.

  • Hello,
    I’m wondering, if, it’s possible to switch from a co-branded Amex Gold, like Delta Gold to the regular Amex Gold Card ?
    Not a lot about it on the internet. Thanks 🙂

    • Hello. Generally, Amex will make you stay within the same card family. So if you wanted to make a change to your Delta card, you would need to upgrade (or downgrade) to one of the other co-branded Delta credit cards.

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