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A major overhaul of Delta's co-branded American Express credit cards took hold Thursday, including some new benefits, huge new welcome offer bonuses, disappearing perks, and slightly higher annual fees. And they all got a facelift with a brand new look, too.
Delta announced these changes back in September, giving loyal Delta flyers and cardholders plenty of time to prepare. The changes range from the minor (slight name changes, new card art, and metal cards) to the good (new benefits and larger welcome offers on every card) to the negative (some cuts and increases to annual fees). Every card in Delta's portfolio has been overhauled, from the no-annual-fee Blue card to the top-of-the-line Delta Reserve card.
Any new applicants for these cards starting today, Thursday, Jan. 30, will pay higher annual fees and receive the new set of benefits. If you've already paid your annual fee, you're in luck – you'll get any new benefits while paying the lower annual fee until your card renews again.
On the whole, these changes should be positive for many travelers. But they don't come without some major drawbacks. Read on for our breakdown of all the changes to each of Delta's co-branded American Express cards.
Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
The Gold Delta Amex card is now officially known as the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card. Aside from the cosmetic change, it's getting a few new benefits while retaining most of what it previously offered – with one major downgrade.
- The card now offers an enhanced earning rate at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. You now earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent on both categories (was 1x per dollar spent).
- The card offers a $100 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year.
- The Delta SkyMiles Gold Business Card now offers 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent on U.S. shipping and U.S. advertising as opposed to 2x SkyMiles at U.S. supermarkets on the personal version.
- As of Jan. 1, 2020, the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) waiver is no longer available. You could previously spend $25,000 in a calendar year to earn the waiver towards earning Delta Medallion status.
- Gold cardholders can no longer purchase access to the Delta Sky Club for $29 per person. That popular benefit has now been discontinued for the Gold card.
- The card's $95 annual fee has increased to $99 for new applications or upon your next renewal.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
Like the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card, the Platinum Delta card also has a new name: the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express card. Like the rest of these cards, it has a new look. And now, it will be made of actual metal.
Most of the benefits on this card, like the annual companion pass, haven't changed – with a few notable exceptions.
- The card now earns 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both hotels and on Delta purchases.
- Like the Gold card, it earns 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.
- The card now offers up to a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years.
- The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Card now earns you 1.5x SkyMiles on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more as opposed to 2x SkyMiles at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants on the personal version.
- Platinum cardholders could previously purchase discounted access to the Delta Sky Club for $29 per person. That has now increased to $39 per person, along with all several other American Express cards.
- The card still offers 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $25,000 & $50,000 in a calendar year, but you'll now longer earn bonus redeemable SkyMiles.
- The card's $195 annual fee has increased to $250 for renewals or new accounts as of Jan. 30, 2020.
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
Just like its two lower siblings, Delta has rebranded this card the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card – complete with a new look and an actual metal card.
The Reserve card keeps most of its existing benefits while adding a few exciting new perks – all for a fairly hefty annual fee increase.
- The card now earns 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
- You will now earn an additional 15,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending both $90,000 and $120,000 in a calendar year. That's a marked increase from the previous bonus thresholds of $30,000 and $60,000, and it allows you to earn up to 60,000 additional MQMs per year toward Delta Medallion status.
- You will receive two, one-time guest passes to the Delta Sky Club. This is in addition to the free Delta Sky Club membership the card already offers.
- You can now get in free to the American Express Centurion Lounges when you are flying Delta on a ticket that was purchased with the Reserve card. You can also bring up to two guests in with you for a fee of $50 each.
- The card also offers up to a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years.
- You now qualify for complimentary upgrades on Delta flights, even for non-Medallion members. However, you will still be below Medallion status members on the upgrade list, so upgrades will likely be somewhat rare.
- The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card also offers 1.5x SkyMiles on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more.
- Sky Priority security line access is being eliminated.
- The card still offers 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $30,000 & $60,000 in a calendar year (plus the new $90,000 and $120,000 tiers), but you no longer earn bonus redeemable miles (15,000 SkyMiles).
- The card's $450 annual fee has jumped to $550 upon renewal or for new applicants.
Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
Even Delta's no annual fee Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card is getting a few updates. For starters, the card has been rebranded as the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express card.
- The card now earns 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide (this was previously limited to U.S. restaurants).
- The card now allows you to use Delta's Pay with Miles feature, one of our favorite ways to use SkyMiles.
- Much like Delta's other credit cards, you will no longer pay foreign transaction fees as of Jan. 30, 2020.
For the most part, this is a strong overhaul to the suite of co-branded Delta American Express credit cards. While annual fees are increasing on all versions of the card, I think they are fair when you factor in the added benefits.
But that doesn't mean everyone will come out ahead. And some downgrades hurt more than others.
Cutting the ability to buy a day pass to Delta Sky Clubs from Delta's Gold card is a tough blow for many travelers. The cost for those day passes is increasing for Delta Platinum cardholders, while the addition of a $100 application credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck won't be a gamechanger for everyone. Meanwhile, the additions to the Reserve and Blue cards are mostly solid.
From the looks of it, Amex and Delta appear to be encouraging more spending on the cards by adding more ways to earn bonus SkyMiles. This has long been a gripe of the cards, and one of the biggest reasons we think most people are better off putting their everyday spending on a flexible points credit card.
One thing we didn't see with this refresh is a CLEAR membership added as a benefit to the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express card. It will offer up to a $100 credit for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, but because of Delta's ownership stake in CLEAR, I thought we might see CLEAR as an added benefit like we recently saw with the American Express Green Card.
After roughly four months of warning, you can officially say hello to Delta's overhauled suite of SkyMiles credit cards. Whether it's an improvement or a downgrade will vary wildly, traveler by traveler.
On the bright side, if you've already got one of these cards, you won't pay a higher annual fee until your next renewal date. That could give you plenty of time to maximize some new perks at a lower price tag.