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Delta Airlines is the second largest passenger airline in the United States, but it’s first in terms of number of daily flights (a whopping 6,700!). Given this remarkable presence in the skies, most traveling Americans will find themselves on a Delta flight at some point in 2023, shelling out money for bags, wondering how to get Delta perks in-flight and freebies on the ground, and questioning the best way to maximize hard-earned Delta SkyMiles. The simple answer: a Delta credit card.
Delta has three cobranded Amex personal cards—the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card—that come with standard perks like free checked baggage and priority boarding. Even better? On February 2, 2023, all three cards began offering the new TakeOff 15 benefit, which gives cardholders 15 percent off Delta award flights booked through delta.com and the Fly Delta app.
To celebrate this new permanent benefit, all cards are currently enticing new customers with new welcome limited-time offers ranging between 70,000 and 90,000 miles, nearly double what we normally see for these cards and, in fact, best-ever bonuses for the Gold and Platinum cards.
Here, the skinny on the three cards, who they are best for, and why applying now is a smart idea.
Three Delta Amex cards with a new TakeOff 15 benefit, two with best-ever offers
Each of Delta’s three cobranded American Express personal cards has different levels of benefits, annual fees, as well as target consumers. All, however, have added the new benefit of a 15 percent discount on mileage redemptions. This discount applies to all bookings made using Delta SkyMiles for flights on Delta, but not on partner airlines.
We break down the differences here, beginning with the casual Delta flier (Gold) to the hard-core Delta loyalist (Reserve).
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Best for: The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is best for casual Delta fliers looking for free checked bags and a big boost to their SkyMiles balance.
Why now? This card usually offers between 35,000–40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months. The card’s current welcome bonus is around twice as high and the time to reach the spending threshold is twice as long. The current introductory offer is the best in the history of the card. Plus, there’s no annual fee for the first year.
Welcome offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on new purchases within the first six months.
Annual fee: No introductory annual fee the first year, then $99 (see rates and fees)
Earn points: Earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases as well as at restaurants worldwide, including on eligible delivery services in the United States, and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn one mile per dollar on everything else.
Credits: Get 15 percent off Delta SkyMiles redemptions with the new TakeOff 15 benefit.
Key perks: Cardholders and up to eight companions can check a bag for free when flying Delta and enjoy priority boarding. Get 20 percent back on in-flight purchases of food and drinks.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Best for: The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is best for frequent fliers who want a boost to elite status through spending and to earn SkyMiles with everyday purchases.
Why now? This card’s typical introductory offer falls between 40,000–50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months. The current introductory offer is the best in the card’s history.
Welcome offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 within the first six months. Earn up to 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward elite status after spending $50,000 on purchases in a calendar year (10,000 MQMs after each $25,000 spent, up to two times per year). Note that this spending also counts toward Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) insomuch that an MQD Waiver is achieved after spending $25,000.
Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)
Earn points: Earn three miles per dollar on Delta purchases and those made directly with hotels. Get two miles per dollar at U.S. supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.; earn one mile per dollar on everything else.
Credits: Get 15 percent off Delta SkyMiles redemptions with the new TakeOff 15 benefit. Get a credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (worth up to $100) once every four years. Receive a Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card. Enrollment required for select benefits; terms apply.
Key perks: Cardholders and up to eight companions can check a bag for free when flying Delta and enjoy priority boarding.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Best for: The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is best for Delta loyalists and big spenders who want to boost elite status through credit card spending and who can take advantage of the card’s upscale perks.
Why now? This premium card comes with the best perks portfolio of all Delta consumer cards.
Welcome offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after spending $6,000 on purchases within the first six months. In addition, earn up to 60,000 MQMs each year (acquired as 15,000 MQMs after each $30,000 spent, up to four times a year). A total of $120,000 and 60,000 MQMs is enough for mid-level Gold Medallion status without taking a single flight.
Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)
Earn points: Earn three miles per dollar on purchases made with Delta and one mile per dollar on everything else.
Credits: Get 15 percent off Delta SkyMiles redemptions with the new TakeOff 15 benefit. Get a credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (worth up to $100) once every four years. Receive a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card. Enrollment required for select benefits; terms apply.
Key perks: Access to Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on a Delta-marketed or operated flight and access to American Express Centurion Lounges when booking your Delta flight on the card. On Delta flights, expect one free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight travel companions on the same itinerary plus priority boarding.
Which Delta SkyMiles credit card is right for you?
Until March 29, 2023, all three cards are fielding tremendous welcome offers, two of which rank as the highest yet. As with all promising bonuses, the one you choose depends on how often you fly Delta and whether you already have other cards that offer benefits like airport lounge access.
In our opinion, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card is the most appealing. Like its more expensive counterparts, it provides the new 15 percent discount on award bookings. It also provides one free checked bag for the cardholder plus up to eight travel companions on the same itinerary. The first checked bag on Delta Airlines costs $30 per person, each way, so that’s $120 round-trip for two passengers. The card’s savings can add up quickly.
Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card also has a superior overall earnings structure to the pricey Reserve card since it earns double miles on purchases at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants globally (versus the Reserve’s one mile per dollar spent). This makes it a wise choice as an everyday spending card, not just a card to use for Delta flight purchases. Furthermore, an excellent 70,000-mile introductory offer means you can score multiple round-trip domestic tickets quickly, without incurring any fees—the annual fee is waived in year one. (With Delta SkyMiles cashing out around one cent each on Delta flights, 70,000 miles should equate to about $700 toward Delta flights.)
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is also attractive with its 90,000-mile welcome offer. This card makes sense if you plan to fly Delta or its SkyTeam partners pretty much exclusively and if you don’t already have the Platinum Card® from American Express (see rates and fees). The Reserve’s annual fee is justified by the lounge access it provides. However, if you currently have the Platinum Card from American Express, you already have the same, if not better, lounge access. (The Platinum Card offers more extensive lounge access, including American Express Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, and lounges in the Priority Pass network.) Additionally, the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit is only worthwhile if you don’t already have a card that offers it. The Companion Certificate, valid even on business-class tickets, is also valuable, if used correctly.
We don’t want to give the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card middle-child syndrome, but unfortunately it deserves it. This card, wedged between the Gold and Reserve, doesn’t quite merit an annual fee that’s more than double the Gold card. Meanwhile, the benefits aren’t next level like the Reserve. Overall, this card’s biggest selling point is the large bonus of 90,000 miles, but it’s not a card that you’ll likely keep long term like the Gold or the Reserve.
We’re excited to see Delta add the new 15 percent redemption discount benefit to all three of its consumer cards and to sweeten the news with eyebrow-raising introductory offers (valid until March 29, 2023). Casual fliers, who are planning even one trip on Delta this year, should consider the Gold card, while those regularly flying the carrier seeking to climb its elite ladder should opt for the Reserve.
This article was originally published in 2022; it was updated on February 2, 2023, with current information. While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.