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Updated July 7, 2016

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Review 2016: Is It Worth It?

Read more about Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, a CreditDonkey advertiser

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There are many airline credit cards to choose from, so how do you decide if the Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card is right for you? Read this review before you apply.

Gold Delta SkyMiles

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. Unless you are a big spender, we generally recommend you consider the Gold Delta SkyMiles first.

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.

To take advantage of this promotion, visit American Express' secure website to apply now.

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

To learn more about the Delta SkyMiles credit card, including the online application, here is a link to American Express' secure website.

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.

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.

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles

Starwood Preferred Guest

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Purchase APR15.49% to 19.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.49% to 19.49% variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.49% to 19.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.49% to 19.49% variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 intro 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

Airline DealIntroductory Bonus Airline Rewards: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. 
Hotel Deal Introductory Bonus Hotel Rewards: Get 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
AirlineAirline Rewards: Earn 2 Miles per 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 free flights with SPG Flights with no blackout dates.
Hotel Hotel Rewards: Get free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
Travel 
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 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 in sooner with Priority Boarding.
 
Hotel Status Hotel Status: 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.
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines and more.

American Express Platinum The Platinum Card from American Express: Does a $450 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 Airport Club Access, which allows you to access three airport lounge networks (including Delta Sky Club lounges). Plus, you can enroll in Priority Pass Select for access to over 600 participating airport lounges worldwide.

But there's more: you get complimentary SPG Gold status (requires enrollment) and complimentary Hilton HHonors 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 two cards look side-by-side:

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles

American Express Platinum

Annual Fee$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95$450 annual fee
See Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
Airline DealIntroductory Bonus Airline Rewards: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. 
Points Deal Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Get 40,000 points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
AirlineAirline Rewards: Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
Hotel 
Points Point Rewards: Earn 1 point for virtually every dollar spent.
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 in sooner with Priority Boarding.
Airline Status: Up to a $200 Airline Fee Credit Annually. To receive the statement credit, you need to select a qualifying airline.
Airport Club Access gives you access to three airport lounge networks including participating Delta Sky Club® lounges and Priority Pass(TM) Select. When you enroll in Priority Pass(TM) Select, you can access over 600 participating airport lounges worldwide - no matter what class or airline you fly.
Hotel Status Hotel Status: Enroll in complimentary SPG Gold Status (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Preferred Guest).
Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors(TM) Gold Status.
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America and more.

In our opinion, the Platinum Card is a better fit for those looking for travel benefits over travel rewards.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card: Small business owners may prefer the business version of the Gold Delta SkyMiles. The two cards are similar in terms of annual fee and rewards structure. You still get to check your first bag for free and priority boarding.

So why would you choose the business version instead? Because the business version has access to the OPEN Savings program. This perk gives you a statement credit equal to a 5% discount at OPEN partners such as FedEx and Hertz (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 this card:

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 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.

Next Step: View the issuer's official application, terms, and details

Follow @CreditDonkey or write to David R at davidr@creditdonkey.com
David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. 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 July 7, 2016. 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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Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
Apply for Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months and 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. 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 in sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Introductory Bonus Airline RewardsAirline RewardsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase Protection$0 Fraud LiabilityEmergency Assistance
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
NoneNone
15.49% - 19.49% Variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

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 a 'Best Credit Card' for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine
  • 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
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

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