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Delta Airlines is the second largest passenger airline in the United States, but it’s first in terms of its 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 this year, shelling out money for bags and wondering how to get Delta perks in-flight and freebies on the ground. 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—and each comes with standard benefits like free checked baggage and priority boarding. Even better? All three are currently enticing new customers with new welcome offers ranging between 70,000 and 100,000 points, which is about double what we normally see for these cards.
Truth be told, we didn’t expect such big bonuses for these cards in 2022, but we’re not complaining. 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 best-ever offers
Each of Delta’s three cobranded American Express personal cards have different levels of benefits, annual fees, as well as target consumers. 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: 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. 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 three 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.
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: Delta frequent fliers who want a small 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.
Welcome offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three 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 a 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 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: 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 and is currently offering its best-ever introductory bonus.
Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three 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 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?
All three cards are fielding tremendous welcome offers that rank as the highest yet. True, we saw equally high bonuses for the Gold and Platinum versions in 2021, but the 100,000-point bonus for the Reserve card is something we haven’t seen previously.
With all promising excellent bonuses, which 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 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 cards’ 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 points on purchases at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants globally (versus the Reserve’s one point 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-point 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 points should equate to about $700 toward Delta flights.)
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is also attractive with its best-ever 100,000-point 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. The Reserve’s annual fee is justified by the lounge access it provides. However, if you now have the Platinum Card from American Express, you already have the same, if not better, lounge access. (Both cards allow cardholder access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta, but the Platinum Card allows cardholders to bring two guests to American Express Centurion Lounges while the Delta Reserve card simply lets the cardholder enter.) 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 points, but it’s not a card that you’ll likely keep long term like the Gold or the Reserve.
We didn’t expect to see eyebrow-raising introductory offers for Delta Amex credit cards in 2022 but they are here—and for a limited time only through April 13, 2022. 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.
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.