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May 8, 2017

Delta Credit Card: Which is Right for You?

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Are you a huge Delta fan or just want to start earning miles for future flights? These are our favorite credit cards for every kind of Delta traveler.

The best credit card for earning Delta SkyMiles may not be so obvious. Some don't even say "Delta" on them.

Delta's partnership is exclusively with American Express, a CreditDonkey partner. They offer 3 co-branded cards with AMEX. But there are also many American Express cards where you can earn AMEX Membership Rewards points that you can transfer into Delta SkyMiles.

Each credit card is different in its own way. Some may give more perks, while some may fit your everyday spending pattern better.

Which one is best for you? Let's go over their options and differences.

How to Decide Which Delta Card is Right for You

With all the options for a SkyMiles earning card, how do you decide which one is right for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How much do you value perks and benefits? Is getting things like free checked bags and priority boarding important to you? If so, you'll want to look into one of the AMEX and Delta co-branded cards. These are the only ones that will give you Delta-specific perks. The Gold Delta SkyMiles offers good perks for just an annual fee of $95.

  • What about luxury benefits? The AMEX Platinum is a popular card for traveling in style. This includes access to 5 airport lounge networks.

  • Do you prefer more flexibility? If you don't want to be limited to just Delta (and its partners), then you'll want to opt for one of the AMEX Membership Rewards cards. With these cards, you'll have the option to transfer points to other popular North American partner carriers as well, including Jet Blue, Hawaiian Airlines, and Air Canada. You can also use points to book travel on amextravel.com, with any airline for any dates.

    Just note that with these cards, you'll lose Delta perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.

  • How much do you fly a year? Most travel reward cards come with an annual fee, so you'd have to be a semi-frequent flyer to make it worthwhile. If you're just an occasional vacationer, then look into the AMEX Everyday, which has no annual fee.

  • What is your everyday spending? A lot of travel reward cards focus more on perks and not on a high points-earning structure. If your goal is to earn lots of points, look at AMEX Premier Rewards Gold, AMEX Everyday, or AMEX SPG. In our opinion, these cards have reward structures better suited for everyday spending.

Gold Delta SkyMiles: For Delta Perks

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
Apply for Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months.
  • Plus, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. Offer expires on 7/5/2017.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase Protection$0 Fraud LiabilityEmergency Assistance
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
16.49% - 25.49% Variable
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

This co-branded Delta card rewards you for your loyalty. The value in this card is in the benefits.

You get Delta-specific perks such as the 1st bag checked for free (for up to 9 people on your reservation) and Zone 1 Priority Boarding. Additional benefits include reduced fee for Delta Sky Club lounges and discounts for in-flight purchases.

The annual fee is $95, but it's already more than worth it if you just fly once a year with a family of four (or twice a year with one other person), and each person checks a bag. And plus, there is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (then $95).

Platinum Delta SkyMiles: For Earning MQMs

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
Apply for Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 4 months.
  • In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. Offer expires on 7/5/2017.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsBonus Airline RewardsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionBaggage InsuranceTravel Accident Insurance
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
16.49% - 25.49% Variable
$195

The Platinum Delta and Delta Reserve are the luxury siblings of the Gold Delta SkyMiles.

The main additional benefits for these cards include:

  • You earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend a certain amount a year, which can buy you more benefits like seat upgrades.
  • You earn bonus SkyMiles (Annual Miles Boost) if you make a certain amount of purchases on your card each year.
  • You get a round-trip companion certificate each year, subject to terms and conditions.

So are they worth the higher fees?

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles has an annual fee of $195. We'd say that if you take advantage of all the perks, like free checked bags and the companion certificate, that could potentially justify the fee. And if you're a loyal Delta flyer, you may like the MQMs. But you would have to be a big spender.

For most Delta fans though, the Gold card is enough. In our opinion, the Platinum Delta and Delta Reserve are for big spenders who fly Delta a lot.

Earn Points and Convert to SkyMiles

Unfortunately, many travel reward cards don't give you a lot of points for everyday spending. Often, you only get bonus points for travel booking, and everyday purchases only earn 1x point per dollar. This means that if you don't fly often, it will be hard to rack up the points fast (unless you're an unusually big spender). But wait, take a look at this card:

Premier Rewards Gold Card
Apply for Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card lets you earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply. This card earns 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms Apply. There is a $195 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year).

This card includes benefits for travelers: There is no foreign transaction fee and a $100 airline fee credit to cover up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one selected qualifying airline. Terms Apply.

This card offers a nice balance between earning rewards and travel perks. With bonus points on purchases at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. restaurants, you'll earn Membership Reward points fast, which you can then transfer into Delta SkyMiles.

Below is a side-by-side comparison chart of how the Premier Rewards Gold stacks up against the Gold Delta SkyMiles:

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles

Premier Rewards Gold Card

Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months. Plus, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. Offer expires on 7/5/2017. - Learn more

Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply. - Learn more

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR16.49% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Balance Transfers APR16.49% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195
See Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
 

Benefits and Features

AirlineAirline Rewards: Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.Airline Rewards: Earn 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. Terms Apply.
Airline StatusAirline Status: Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
Airline Status: $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways and more.
Gas Gas Rewards: Earn 2X points at US gas stations. Terms Apply.
Grocery Grocery Rewards: Earn 2X points at US supermarkets. Terms Apply.
Restaurant Dining Rewards: Earn 2X points at US restaurants. Terms Apply.
 Apply NowApply Now

Note: The Premier Rewards Gold Card is a charge card. That means you have to pay your balance in full each month. In comparison, the Gold Delta SkyMiles is a credit card, which allows you to carry a balance. In our opinion, if you do plan to regularly carry a balance, consider a low interest credit card instead.

AMEX Everyday: No Annual Fee Card

If you're not sure how much you'll be flying and just want to save for a future vacation, then paying for a card with an annual fee may not make much sense. This card has no annual fee and earns Membership Rewards points that you can convert for SkyMiles.

Amex EveryDay
Apply for The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
Amex EveryDay offers 10,000 Membership Rewards® points if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your new card account. This card earns 2x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then 1x) and 1x points on other purchases. If you make 20 or more purchases with your card in a billing period, you will get 20% extra points on those purchases (less returns and credits). Enjoy a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.74% to 23.74%. There is no annual fee. Terms apply.

AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest: For Also Earning Hotel Nights

The AMEX SPG is technically a hotel card, but you can transfer your Starpoints to over 20 airline partners, including Delta.

And as an added bonus, every time you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to an airline partner, you automatically get a bonus of 5,000 points. So this effectively boosts each point's value by 25%.

Don't overlook the free nights part of this card either. Starpoints are highly valued in the hotel world. The award chart is priced well and each point is often worth 2 cents or more based on our estimates. That makes this one of our favorite cards for earning hotel nights and award airfare.

Starwood Preferred Guest
Apply for Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Starwood Preferred Guest offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints® if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your new card account. You earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. You earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases. You can redeem points at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries with no blackout dates. There are no foreign transaction fees. There is a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year). Terms apply.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of how the Starwood credit card compares with the Gold Delta SkyMiles:

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles

Starwood Preferred Guest

Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months. Plus, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. Offer expires on 7/5/2017. - Learn more

Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Learn more

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR16.49% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.99% to 19.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR16.49% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.99% to 19.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
See Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
 

Benefits and Features

AirlineAirline Rewards: Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.Airline Rewards: Transfer Starpoints to more than 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a one-to-one basis.
Redeem Starpoints® for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, with no blackout dates.
Airline StatusAirline Status: Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
 
Bonus Airline Rewards Bonus Airline Rewards: Get 5,000 bonus Starpoints after you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program with more than 30 airlines
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, British Airways, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France (Flying Blue), Emirates, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Avianca, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Etihad, Asiana Airlines, Air China, Alitalia, Air Berlin, Jet Airways, China Southern Airlines, Japan Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Thai Airways, Virgin Australia, Aegean Airlines, Miles and More, All Nippon Airways, China Eastern, and more.
Hotel Hotel Rewards: Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries, with no blackout dates.
Hotel Status Hotel Status: Premium on-property Internet Access. Booking requirements apply.
Earn SPG Gold Status by spending $30,000 or more on your Card in a calendar year. Receive credit for 5 nights toward SPG elite status each year.
 Apply NowApply Now

AMEX Platinum: For Luxury Travel Perks

The AMEX Platinum is the, well, platinum standard when it comes to luxury travel benefits. It has a steep annual fee of $550, but the multitude of perks can more than make up for it.

You get access into 5 airport lounge networks, including Delta Sky Club lounges. You even get a $200 airline credit each year for a specific airline of your choice. So you can choose Delta and get statement credits toward incidental airline fees such as baggage fees. But there's no Priority Boarding with this card.

Other valuables benefits include either TSA Pre or Global Entry application fee statement credit, Uber savings, complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi, and Platinum concierge service.

American Express Platinum
Apply for The Platinum Card from American Express
American Express Platinum offers 60,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $5,000 on purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening your account. You earn 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. This is a charge card so you will have to pay your balance in full each month. There is a $550 annual fee.

This card includes several benefits for travelers: This card offers up to $200 Uber Savings annually. This card also offers up to a $200 airline fee credit per year to cover baggage fees and more at your selected qualifying airline. This card gives you access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select. There is no foreign transaction fees. This card also gives you access to Platinum Card® Concierge. You can enroll to get complimentary Hilton Honors™ Gold Status and complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest® Gold Status. Terms Apply.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of how the Platinum Card stacks up against the Gold Delta SkyMiles:

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles

American Express Platinum

Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 4 months. Plus, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 4 months. Offer expires on 7/5/2017. - Learn more

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. - Learn more

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR16.49% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Balance Transfers APR16.49% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factorsN/A
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95$550 annual fee
See Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
 

Benefits and Features

AirlineAirline Rewards: Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.Airline Rewards: 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
Airline StatusAirline Status: Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
Airline Status: $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
Access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select.
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways and more.
Hotel Hotel Rewards: 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Hotel Status Hotel Status: Enroll for complimentary SPG Gold Status (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Preferred Guest).
Enroll for complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status.

Fine Hotels & Resorts - book your stay through American Express FHR at one of 600 luxury hotels and you may get a room upgrade upon arrival, daily continental breakfast for 2, guaranteed 4pm late checkout and a special amenity unique to each property. Terms Apply.
 Apply NowApply Now

Note: The Platinum Card is a charge card. That means you have to pay your balance in full each month. In comparison, the Gold Delta SkyMiles is a credit card, which allows you to carry a balance. In our opinion, if you do plan to regularly carry a balance, consider a low interest credit card instead.

About Delta SkyMiles: What Are They Worth?

Delta no longer publishes an award chart, but here's a general idea. Domestic one-way flights within the continental U.S. can be as low as 10,000 miles.

For international flights, awards are priced by regions. From the U.S. to Europe costs 60,000 points (in economy). Trips to Mexico, Central American and the Caribbean cost 35,000 points. And flights to Asia costs about 70,000 to 80,000 points. Points are for round-trip flights. For one-way, divide by half.

Delta also has over 30 partner airlines. If you're going somewhere Delta doesn't fly, you can use your SkyMiles to book flights on any of its partners. The partners are:

  • Compass Airlines
  • Endeavor Air
  • ExpressJet Airlines
  • Gojet Airlines
  • Shuttle America
  • SkyWest
  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • AirEuropa
  • Air France
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • GOL
  • Great Lakes
  • Hawaiian Airlines (limited to inter-Hawaiian Islands itineraries)
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Tarom Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia
  • Xiamen Airlines

Tip: Delta doesn't charge a fuel surcharge on most partner flights (when the flight originates from the U.S.), such as on Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and China Airlines. This is a good chance to fly to Europe, Australia, or Asia without the heavy surcharges.

However, note that if you are flying back to the U.S. using SkyMiles, you will be levied surcharges. If you want to avoid fuel surcharges at all costs, it may be better to just use SkyMiles to fly to your destination, and pay for your own flight back. Or use another frequent flyer program on the way back (such as United, which never levies surcharges).

Bottom Line

There are many cards you can use to earn Delta SkyMiles. Picking the right one for you depends on what you value, how often you fly, and your spending habits.

If you love perks like free checked bags and priority boarding, then look into one of the co-branded cards. The Gold Delta SkyMiles will be adequate for the majority of Delta flyers. If you want more flexibility and options, then you will like one of the AMEX Membership Rewards cards.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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