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Updated January 4, 2017

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Review: Is It Worth It?

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There are many credit cards that earn Delta miles to choose from, so how do you decide if the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is right for you? Read this review before you apply.

5/24/2017 Update: We're sorry, Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is no longer available on CreditDonkey. This offer may have been discontinued or may no longer be available to new applicants.

Overall Score

3.8

Rewards

4.0

Interest Rates

3.0

Fees

3.5

Benefits

4.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Bonus Delta miles offer
  • One free checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • $95 annual fee

Bottom Line

Good airline credit card for someone who travels heavily with Delta airlines

In this article, we'll examine:

Airline Credit Cards

Many airline credit cards let you earn miles.

But besides just earning miles, you want benefits too. Benefits that can save you time and money.

That's where an airline-branded credit card can come in handy.

With the Gold Delta SkyMiles, you can check your first bag free on every Delta flight. That is a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.

Plus, you can settle in sooner with Zone 1 Priority Boarding.

But are these perks worth the $95 annual fee? Read on. We'll cover the pros and cons of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card below to help you decide.

Did you know: Delta has 3 different credit cards. The Gold has an annual fee of $95, while the Platinum Delta SkyMiles and Delta Reserve credit card have a $195 and $450 annual fee, respectively.

Here's something you may not know: a few credit cards let you transfer points into Delta SkyMiles. The credit card might not specifically say "Delta" on the front, but these other options may be better for you if you want flexibility. Keep in mind that you'll lose Delta-specific perks such as free checked bag and priority boarding.

In particular, both AMEX Membership Rewards and Starwood SPG points allow you to transfer points to Delta Airlines. Consider looking into the AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (if you'd like to earn hotel nights as well), the AMEX Platinum (if you're a very frequent traveler), and the AMEX Everyday (for a no annual fee option).

Hot Deal! Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles

American Express is currently offering a 30,000 bonus miles promotion. Here is how it works: New cardholders can earn 30,000 bonus miles after they make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.

The $1,000 threshold is relatively straightforward to meet. And it'll give you a head start to racking up miles. Remember, domestic roundtrip award tickets start at 20,000 miles (plus taxes and fees).

There's more: as long as you use the card to make a Delta purchase at least once in that first 3 months, you'll get an additional $50 statement credit.

Related: 23 Ways to Help Meet Minimum Spending Requirement

How to Use Miles

When you make a purchase with the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, you earn miles on your account. Delta purchases earn 2 miles per dollar spent (this means purchases from the Delta website and in-flight purchases), and other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar.

You can redeem a round trip domestic flight for as little as 20,000 miles (plus taxes and fees).

Your miles can also be redeemed for discounts on Delta airfare through Pay with Miles. The number of miles required depends on the price of the ticket (not eligible with Best Fare Guarantee). On airfares greater than $100, generally speaking, 10,000 miles gets you a $100 discount.

Besides redeeming miles for award travel, you can redeem miles for upgrades (e.g., upgrading from Main Cabin, aka Economy, to Delta One, First or Business Class).

Airline Partners: Want to go somewhere Delta doesn't take you? You can use your miles to book a flight on a SkyTeam airline partner and other SkyMiles partners. This include airlines such as:

  • 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

Travel Benefits

© Jimmy Baikovicius (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

The Gold Delta SkyMiles card lets you enjoy a number of perks while traveling with Delta airlines. This is where the real money saving comes in.

  • For starters, you'll get to check your first bag for free on Delta flights. This bonus applies for up to 9 travelers on your reservation, which is a significant amount of savings. For a family of 4, that is a potential savings of $200 round trip. Even if you only travel with one other person, the savings on the checked bags will cover the annual fee.

  • When you book a Delta flight with this card, you also automatically receive Zone 1 Priority Boarding for your flight, even if you don't have status with Delta. This can be useful on packed flights, especially with many passengers looking for space for carry-on bags.

  • There's more: you can get access to Delta Sky Club airport lounges at a reduced rate of $29 per visit per person (for the cardmember and up to two guests). Certain limitations apply. For instance, the benefit may only be used when you have a same-day ticketed air travel (on any airline).

  • You get a 20% savings on eligible in-flight items when you use this card. This includes beverages, food, and movies/shows/video games accessed via Delta's seatback in-flight entertainment system during your Delta-operated flight. This savings does not apply to other in-flight purchases such as Wi-Fi. You'll receive the savings as a statement credit 6-8 weeks after the transaction is posted to your account.

  • And lastly, there are no foreign transaction fees, which is a money saver when you use this card when traveling internationally (most credit cards charge a 3% fee).

Other Perks

Besides flight perks, this card offers a number of other benefits as well that may come in handy.

  • Travel insurance: Cardholders have access to insurance against eligible car rental loss or damage and travel accidents. Frequent travelers will find these perks especially valuable, as you can save money on insurance offered by airlines or car rentals.

  • Shopping protection: Cardholders get purchase protection for accidental damage or theft on eligible items for up to 90 days after purchase. You can also enjoy extended warranties on eligible purchases.

  • 24-hour roadside assistance: You can call Delta's Roadside Assistance Hotline if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road and need help.

  • 24-hour concierge service: When traveling, a number of issues may come up such as needing cash wires, medical referral, or passport replacement. Delta's 24/7 concierge service can help sort out your problems.

Downsides of This Card

There are a few reasons the Gold Delta SkyMiles card may not be the way to go:

  • You don't fly Delta: If Delta is not your favorite airline or the flights you take rarely involve the airline (or partners), you're not going to get much out of the perks. You may want a more general travel credit card.

    If you tend to fly American Airlines, take a look at the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card instead, which allows you to transfer points (in the form of Starpoints) to AA miles.

    If you tend to fly United Airlines, take a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card instead, which allows you to transfer points (in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards) to United miles.

  • You don't earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). Unlike it's higher annual fee siblings, the Gold Delta SkyMiles does not have the opportunity to earn Medallion Qualification Miles (which you need to get to Delta's Medallion status, which comes with even more benefits such as seat upgrades and mileage bonuses).

  • No introductory APR: There's no introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers. If you tend to carry a balance, consider a credit card with a low interest rate instead.

  • The annual fee: The $95 annual fee is competitive for an airline travel card, and it's waived for the first year, but it is an expense you should consider before signing up.

    Related: Credit Cards with Annual Fees Under $100 and No Annual Fee Credit Cards

How It Compares

Starwood Preferred Guest Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express: If you do not make purchases directly with Delta and you do not care about priority boarding or the ability to check your first bag for free, then you might want to take a look at the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card.

This card has a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year, which is similar to what you would pay for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® from American Express.

But instead of earning Delta SkyMiles with your credit card spend, you'll earn Starpoints. You can convert Starpoints to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio.

But here is where it gets interesting: SPG will add 5,000 bonus Starpoints for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer at a time. That's the equivalent of earning 1.25 miles on your purchases if you transfer your Starpoints into miles. To learn more, read our AMEX SPG Review.

If you value luxury travel perks:
American Express Platinum The Platinum Card from American Express: Does a $550 annual fee scare you? For some travelers, the Platinum Card might be worth considering. Instead of the Gold Delta SkyMiles' first checked bag free, you get a $200 airline fee credit to cover up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one selected qualifying airline. You also get Global Lounge Collection, which allows you to access 5 airport lounge networks (including Delta Sky Club lounges).

But there's more: you earn 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines (including Delta) or with American Express Travel. Plus, you get complimentary SPG Gold status (requires enrollment) and complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status (requires enrollment).

There's a catch: the Platinum Card is a charge card, not a credit card. That means you have to pay in full each month.

Here is how the Platinum and Gold Delta SkyMiles look side-by-side:

Is $550 annual fee too much? Check out the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express instead.

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.

If you're looking for a no annual fee option:
AMEX Everyday: If you're more of an occasional traveler, it doesn't make sense to use a card with an annual fee. The AMEX Everyday lets you earn Membership Rewards, which you can then transfer to Delta. It's a good way to rack up points on your everyday spending and trade them in later for a flight.

Which Delta Card is Best for You? Questions to Consider

It's hard choosing the credit card that is right for you. If you're having trouble deciding, here are some questions to ask yourself:

How often do you fly Delta?
If you're a strong fan of Delta, then it's nice to get some perks for your loyalty. You only need to fly with Delta roundtrip just two times a year (or once a year with a companion), and check in a bag, to justify the $95 annual fee on the Gold Delta SkyMiles card. If you fly very often on Delta every year, you may even want to consider the Platinum or Reserve versions of the card.

Do you fly other airlines as well?
If you're not a die-hard fan and usually buy flights based on price, you probably want a card that gives you more flexibility. In this case, look for general travel reward cards that let you transfer points to a variety of airline partners.

AMEX Membership Rewards and Starwood SPG both let you transfer to Delta and a ton of other airlines. Just keep in mind that by gaining flexibility, you'll lose perks like free checked bag and priority boarding.

How much do you value luxury travel perks?
It's nice to get perks such as free checked bags (those fees add up!) and priority boarding. If you like flying Delta and enjoy these basic perks, you'll like the Gold Delta SkyMiles card. If you want luxury perks such as free lounge access, the Delta Reserve ($450 annual fee) gives you complimentary access into Delta Sky Club.

But in that case, we recommend that you go with the American Express Platinum Card, as it lets you into 5 lounge networks (including Delta Sky Club) along with other perks we cover in our in-depth Platinum review.

How much do you spend on your credit card?
The reward rate isn't high with the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, but the real value is in the free checked bag perk. So you don't need to be a big spender to get value out of using this card. However, if you are a big credit card spender, you may want to look at the Platinum or Reserve versions of this card. Both of those versions have a miles boost bonus.

Do you usually travel with a companion?
If you usually fly Delta with a travel partner, take a look at the Platinum or Reserve versions of this card. With those, you get a round-trip domestic companion certificate every year. You are still responsible for taxes and fees though. Terms and limitations apply.

Bottom Line: Is the $95 Annual Fee Worth It?

© Sarah_Ackerman (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

To recap, here are the pros and cons when considering the Gold Delta Skymiles:

Pros:

  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months
  • Earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta; 1 mile per dollar for other purchases
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight, for up to 9 people on your reservation
  • Zone 1 priority boarding
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons:

  • $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year)
  • No earning of Medallion Qualification Miles

In our opinion, the Gold Delta SkyMiles is a good airline credit card for someone who often flies with Delta Air Lines (or partners). The rewards rate isn't too high, but the real money savings come in the travel benefits you receive. Getting that first checked bag free on Delta flights is a potential huge money saver. As we mentioned, the $95 annual fee virtually pays for itself even if you travel Delta round-trip just once a year with one other person and plan to check your baggage. Remember, as with all credit card offers, terms and limitations apply.

5/24/2017 Update: We're sorry, Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is no longer available on CreditDonkey. This offer may have been discontinued or may no longer be available to new applicants.

David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to David R at davidr@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on May 2, 2012. This content may have been updated on January 4, 2017. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check American Express website for updated information.

Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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Compare Gold Delta SkyMiles to:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
16.74% - 23.74% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

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