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A Low Fee and Solid Perks: A Full Review of the Amex Delta SkyMiles Gold Card

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Change is in the air at Delta Air Lines. The Atlanta-based airline recently broke loyal travelers' hearts by making elite status harder to earn and restricting SkyClub access … and then backpedaled a little after all the outcry. Then earlier this month, Delta and American Express announced sweeping changes to the suite of Delta SkyMiles credit cards – adding new benefits and increasing the annual fees you'll pay to hold the cards.

With so many changes – and changes to the changes – it's left our heads spinning. But even with the new updates, the *delta skymiles gold card* remains a solid option for Delta travelers.

American Express and Delta offer four different co-branded credit cards, ranging from a basic, no-annual-fee card with limited benefits to a top-tier (and top-dollar) card that gets you lounge access and helps you earn Delta Medallion status faster. But if you ask us, the Delta SkyMiles Gold card is still the best choice for the vast majority of travelers – especially if you're not interested in the chase for Delta's elite status.

It's got some great perks that can quickly outweigh the card's annual fee – most importantly, free checked baggage on each and every Delta flight. The card has a $0 introductory annual fee and then just $150 each year after that (see rates & fees). And to sweeten the deal, you can currently bonus_miles_full

We'll break down all the benefits of the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card and everything you need to know about holding this credit card.



Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card: Benefits Overview

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Welcome Offer: bonus_miles_full
  • 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 restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets 
  • Earn 2x SkyMiles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases
  • Earn 1x SkyMiles per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Up to a $100 Delta Stays credit: Earn up to $100 in statement credits each year when you make a Delta Stays prepaid hotel or vacation rental booking on the Delta Stays platform.
  • Earn a $200 Delta flight credit if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Get 15% off SkyMiles award tickets with TakeOff 15 when booking on delta.com or through the Fly Delta app
  • 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 – then $150 each year after that (See rates & fees)


*delta gold*


Learn more about the *delta skymiles gold card*.


Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card: Benefits Breakdown

Welcome Offer Bonus

With the current offer, you can bonus_miles_full

Related reading: Top Credit Card Offers of the Month


First Checked Bag for Free on Every Delta Flight

When you hold the Delta SkyMiles Gold card, you'll get your first checked bag for free on every Delta flight for you and up to eight other passengers, so long as they're booked on your reservation.

Considering that checking a bag on a Delta flight costs $35 each way (or $70 for a round-trip flight), this benefit alone can save you a ton of money if you check a bag when you travel. One hitch: Your Delta Gold Card will not cover the fee if your bag weighs more than 50 pounds.


delta skymiles gold American express card baggage fees


Best of all, you don't even need to pay with your Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card to get the free luggage benefit. You'll get a free bag just for holding the card and having it attached to your SkyMiles account when you book. That's great, as it means you can pay for your airfare with another top travel rewards credit card that will earn you more points or get you some level of travel insurance protection.

Think of it this way: If you take three or more roundtrip flights with Delta each year where you would otherwise check a bag, having the card helps you avoid $210 of baggage fees. Considering the card has a $0 introductory annual fee and then just $150 each year after that, you're coming out ahead with the card simply by avoiding baggage fees.

Read more: Delta Baggage Fees (And 7 Ways to Avoid Them!)


TakeOff 15

TakeOff 15 is a new(ish) benefit for Delta SkyMiles American Express cardholders that provides a 15% mileage discount when redeeming SkyMiles for Delta-operated award flights. So long as you're booking your trip from a SkyMiles account associated with your Delta Gold Card, the discount is automatically applied at checkout.

Using this award ticket from Detroit (DTW) to Amsterdam (AMS) costing 84,o00 SkyMiles roundtrip as an example, you'd only end up needing 71,400 SkyMiles after accounting for the 15% discount.


Delta One DTW AMS skymiles take off 15 example


Saving nearly 13,000 SkyMiles on a single ticket is great but it can be even better if you're booking for more than one person – or flying in a more expensive cabin.

If you typically book one or two trips per year using SkyMiles, this benefit alone makes the card's annual fee worth paying.

This benefit is available on all but the *delta blue*. If this is the benefit that you are primarily interested in, the Gold card is the cheapest way to get it.

Read more: All About Delta's TakeOff 15 Benefit


Priority Boarding

When you hold the Delta Gold Card, you get early boarding in the Main Cabin 1 priority boarding zone. This is true not only for the main cardholder but also for up to eight other passengers booked on the same reservation.

This is the boarding zone that boards immediately after Delta Comfort+ and Sky Priority passengers.


delta gold card boarding zones


If you are booked on a Delta basic economy ticket, holding the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express card is a great way to beat basic economy. Even with these cheaper, no-frills fares, boarding with Main Cabin 1 travelers gives you a much better chance at securing overhead bin space for your carry-on bag.

Additionally, you'll still get that free checked bag even flying basic economy. But remember Delta Basic economy tickets no longer earn SkyMiles or credits towards medallion elite status, and can not be changed for a voucher.


Earn a $200 Delta Flight Credit

Every year you hold the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card and spend $10,000, you'll receive a $200 Delta flight credit good for future travel on any Delta flight. And since the annual fee on the Delta Gold Card is only $150 starting in your second year, you can easily offset the cost if you wind up spending $10,000 each year.


Earn a $100 Delta Stays Credit

This is a new benefit that was announced with all the changes on Feb 1, 2024. Delta SkyMiles Gold cardholders will now get up to $100 in statement credits each year to make a Delta Stays prepaid hotel or vacation rental booking. The credit resets each calendar year, so you've got until December 31 each year to use it up.

If you are not familiar with Delta Stays, it's the airline's travel booking portal and you'll be able to book hotels, rental cars, and more.

Read next: Delta Stays Credit: How to Use Your New SkyMiles Card Benefit


Get 20% Back for Delta In-Flight Purchases

When you use your Delta Gold card to pay for in-flight purchases like food & drinks, you'll receive 20% off in the form of a statement credit.

Delta offers complimentary soft drinks and a small snack on domestic flights but if you'd like something more to eat or drink, you'll need to pay up. You'd need to travel with Delta – and buy quite a bit on-board – for this benefit alone to justify having the card. But a 20% savings is still better than nothing.


Other Benefits

In addition to the other benefits mentioned above, the Delta Gold SkyMiles American Express Card also includes a couple of perks that aren't specifically related to flying with Delta.

Just for being a cardholder, you'll get a complimentary ShopRunner Membership which provides free two-day shipping and worry-free returns at hundreds of popular stores.

You'll also get an extended warranty and purchase protection for purchases made with your Delta Gold Card. This benefit provides additional peace of mind if a newly purchased item is damaged or malfunctions beyond the standard warranty.

Finally, the Delta Gold card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees) making it a card you can take abroad and use without paying an additional surcharge on your purchases.

Related Reading: Is Amex Still a Bad Option When Traveling Abroad?


Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card: Annual Fee

After a recent annual fee hike, the card now has a $0 introductory annual fee. After that, it's $150 each year (see rates & fees). Previously, you'd pay a $0 introductory annual fee and then $99 each year after that.

But even in year two and beyond, you can easily come out ahead on that annual fee if you check a bag on at least three roundtrip flights a year. Since each bag costs $35 each way, that's a total of $210 in savings – more than zeroing out the card's $150 annual fee. If you're flying to Europe, the cost of checking a bag jumps to $60 each way, meaning one round-trip will more than cover the cost.


Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card: Earning SkyMiles

When you use your Delta SkyMiles Gold Card to pay at restaurants – including takeout and delivery services, U.S. supermarkets & on Delta purchases, you will earn 2x Delta SkyMiles for every dollar you spend on these categories. And there's no limit to how many bonus SkyMiles you can earn.


delta skymiles gold american express card


Other cards may earn more, like the (non-Delta) *amex gold* and its 4x earning at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 spent each year, then 1x). But if you've got the Delta Gold card in your wallet, 2x is a decent return in some useful bonus categories.

You'll also earn 1x Delta SkyMiles for every dollar you spend on all other eligible purchases.

Related reading: The Perfect Two-Card Combo for (Most) Delta Flyers


Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card: Redeeming SkyMiles

Understanding SkyMiles can be a chore because Delta stopped publishing an award chart years ago in favor of a dynamic pricing model that more closely follows the cash cost of a ticket. So without that cheat sheet that tells you how many miles you should spend to fly from point A to point B, prices change constantly.

While such uncertain pricing is no doubt frustrating – and confusing – there's a tremendous upside: Delta SkyMiles Flash sales.

Untethered from an award chart, Delta is free to slash SkyMiles award rates as it pleases. The result is some screaming hot deals that are easily the best way to use your Delta SkyMiles. They sometimes publish available sales on their site, but many of the best deals are never advertised.

These amazing deals disappeared earlier last year … but they've made a comeback lately. It doesn't get much better than this.


New Zealand SkyMiles deal


Want more award alerts like this one? Try out our flight deal alert service Thrifty Traveler Premium!

SkyMiles can be frustrating, but this is where they shine. While most airlines charge 80,000 miles or more for roundtrip flights to New Zealand, Delta briefly slashed award rates as low as 37,000 SkyMiles!

But you don't have to go all the way to New Zealand to get good value out of your SkyMiles.

We typically warn travelers against using their miles for short domestic flights, but it's actually a sweet spot with Delta. With these shorter routes, it's fairly easy to find round trips for 10,000 SkyMiles or less. Flights shorter than 750 miles seem to be easiest to snag at this price, but even some longer flights make the cut. Be sure to book well ahead of your flight to ensure the lowest-priced SkyMiles award space is available.

For all the faults of Delta SkyMiles, you'll rarely find roundtrip domestic flights this cheap through other airline programs. Booking a cheap domestic flight for just a few thousand miles is one of the best moves you can make with SkyMiles.


portland maine skymiles deal


Check out our roundup of the cheapest domestic SkyMiles deals we've found lately!

Finally, Delta's “Pay with Miles” feature sets a floor value for how much your SkyMiles are worth. This perk is only available to Delta Cardholders and bases the miles you need on the cash fare – making every SkyMile worth a cent toward your flight. So long as you've got at least 5,000 SkyMiles in your account, you can use them to pay for all or a portion of your flight.

Related reading: How to Find & Book the Best Delta SkyMiles Deals


Delta Gold SkyMiles American Express Card: Who's Eligible?

Amex has traditionally limited cardholders to earning a welcome offer bonus once per card. That meant you could pick up all four Delta Cards – at varying times – and earn a big pool of SkyMiles for each of them. It's a big reason why we always caution travelers against upgrading their Delta credit card.

But that's no longer the case as Amex recently added terms that limit welcome offer eligibility based on which other Delta SkyMiles cards you've previously had.


Delta american express credit cards


It's still possible to earn a bonus on multiple Delta credit cards, but you'll have to start at the bottom and work your way up to do it.

This means that if you have or previously had the *delta skymiles platinum card* or the *delta reserve card*, you're no longer eligible for the bonus on the Gold Card. If you have or previously had the $0 annual fee (see rates & fees) *delta blue*, you're still eligible for the Gold Card – and its welcome offer.

Thankfully, with Amex's ‘Apply with Confidence‘ tool, you can quickly find out if you're eligible for the Delta Gold Card before submitting the application and initiating a credit inquiry.

One last application rule to keep in mind is that Amex limits customers to five credit cards at any given time. This means that if you already have five open cards with American Express – not just Delta cards – you'll automatically get declined. Critically, this rule doesn't include hybrid cards that don't have a set credit limit like *amex platinum* or the *amex gold*.

Related reading: Why Am I Not Eligible For an Amex Welcome Offer?


Delta Gold SkyMiles American Express Card: Our Take

Huge Delta fan or not, the Delta Gold Card is one of the best first-year travel rewards credit cards with a $0 introductory annual fee (and then $150 each year after that). And it might just be one of the best co-branded airline credit cards, period.

This card isn't the best earner, but what makes it so worthwhile is the perks you get when flying with Delta. If you want a card that covers the cost of checked bags, gets you a discount on SkyMiles bookings, and provides priority boarding, you simply won't find a better option than the *delta skymiles gold card*.

Cards like the Membership Rewards earning *amex gold* or the Chase Ultimate Rewards earning *chase sapphire preferred* are typically going to be a better option for your day-to-day expenses. But neither can compete with the Delta Gold Card in terms of making your Delta travel experience more enjoyable – and affordable.


Bottom Line

The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card is a great option for anyone who travels with Delta more than once or twice a year. The card's welcome offer and bonus point earning make it a great option for piling up Delta SkyMiles without having to pay an annual fee in year one.

Perks like free checked luggage and a 15% discount on award tickets make keeping the card long-term an easy decision.


*delta gold*


Learn more about the *delta skymiles gold card*.


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.

11 Responses

  • For a potential product change to a no annual-fee card in the future, would that be the Delta Amex Blue then?

  • Just picked up my Delta AMEX gold card a month ago. I have a medium stash of sky pesos I’m disposing, and I appreciate being able to get 15% more as a work them down.

  • I currently have the Delta platinum card, and I’m giving a serious consideration to downgrading it to Gold. Any sense if that is a good move, and whether or not Delta will be amenable to it? I have to think they want my much higher annual fee….

    • You can absolutely downgrade it to the Gold. If you don’t care about Delta status and are not using the Platinum version’s companion ticket, the Gold is a better choice.

      • What do you mean by”don’t care about status” ? What perk on the delta Platnium has to do with status ? Are you just referring to the mqd boost and earning mqd on spend—-or something else?

        • Hi Pegg, that is correct. There is no MQD boost with the Gold card and no ability to earn MQD’s on your spending. So if you are concerned with earning Delta status, you’ll need to have the Delta Platinum or Reserve to make any spending you do on the card count towards earning it.

  • With the various status match offers that Delta’s competitors are offering, wondering if Delta / AmEx retention folks are offering miles/discounts to renew current cards ? Annual fee discounts were pretty common during the pandemic.

  • How do I downgrade from my Platinum Delta Am ex? Or should I apply for gold and then close Platinum?

    • Hi Samantha, thanks to a new restriction put in place last month, you won’t be able to apply for the Gold since you have the Platinum. But if you call Amex or chat with an agent online through your account, they should be able to complete the downgrade for you.

  • If I have a Delta flight already booked in the future and get the Delta Gold card today, do you know if they will give me free bags for that future flight as long as I hold the card by then or did I need to have the card at the time of booking the flight?

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