American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards Review

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2011-10-118

Our review of American Express Delta airline credit cards.

Whether you’re making daily purchases or just want a credit card with reward miles for your flights, American Express and Delta have teamed up to provide you with a few choices. Here’s a look at AmEx’s Delta credit cards for frequent travelers. Let’s start with a couple of their flagship products, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card for personal and business use.

American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards Review & Comparison

Gold Delta SkyMiles Card (Personal)
Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card
Receive a total of 30,000 bonus miles, which is equivalent to one domestic roundtrip flight (Award Ticket) once you spend $500 on the card within your initial 3 months as a card member.
Get double (2x) miles per $1 spent on Delta flights and purchases.
Get 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else.
You can avoid blackout dates or seat restrictions on Northwest and Delta flights.
The miles you earn are unlimited and don’t expire.
Your first bag is checked in for free: up to 9 people in your reservation party may each save up to $50 on round-trip flights with Delta.
Enjoy early, priority boarding and get seated before everyone else.
Save 20% on in-flight meals, beverages, video games, headsets, shows and other entertainment.
Get a Companion Certificate each year that’s worth $99. The certificate gives you one roundtrip coach class companion ticket. There are certain tax and fee restrictions.
Get a certain amount of insurance protection.
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, $95 on following years.
N/A The AmEx OPEN program gives you 3% to 10% automatic savings for business spending.
Gold Delta SkyMiles Card (Personal)
Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
Apply for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card
American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card
Apply for the American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card

Delta SkyMiles Card Rewards: A Closer Look

As you can see, there isn’t much of a difference between these two cards, but the business version of the card has a few benefits in its favor. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card is part of the AmEx OPEN Savings program and gives cardmembers a discount on certain business expenses. In particular, the card user will receive 3% to 10% savings on Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, FedEx, Hertz, OfficeMax and other purchases. No enrollment is necessary.

When you use any of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards, you’ll be earning miles that you can use later for flights. As mentioned, there are a lot of opportunities to earn bonus miles beyond that initial bonus bump you get when you first use your card. For instance, you can get 5,000 extra miles by adding two more members to your account (that’s 2,500 miles per additional member). Moreover, you can earn miles by using your card for most purchases, usually one to two miles per $1; you can then redeem those miles for Award Travel on Delta or on one of their fifteen airline partners.

The Pay with Miles benefit lets you put those miles to work by letting you pay for flights on Delta and Northwest Airlines which are not subject to blackout dates or seat restrictions. You can pay for a part of the ticket with your miles, then cover the rest with your Delta card. If you want to redeem 10,000 miles, you’ll be able to knock off $100 from your Delta flight.

Another helpful feature of these cards is the Companion Certificate, which allows you to bring someone along when you purchase a fare on certain flights in the continental U.S. The certificate is for a round trip coach class companion ticket, with no blackout dates or minimum fare requirements. This can be a nice way for you and your companion to visit family or friends or may be a great way to treat yourself to a few vacation days.

Remember that you and your travel partners can receive priority boarding on Delta flights if you’re an eligible AmEx Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card account holder. Also, you can get 20% off Delta meals, alcoholic drinks and entertainment during your flight. In addition, you may get one free checked in bag; this “First Bag Free” benefit can be extended to travel companions on Delta.

There’s also a lot of flexibility built around Delta SkyMiles. Here are some of the things you can do within the SkyMiles rewards program:

  • You can buy and build miles, as well as transfer or gift them to other card members.
  • You can earn miles via limited time offers and by flying with Delta, Delta Shuttle or Delta Connection carriers.
  • Earn miles via Delta partners when you shop, rent a car, dine and use your phone.
  • You can use (pay with) miles for a variety of items: shop at the SkyMiles Marketplace, participate in the SkyMiles Online Auction to bid on exclusive and unusual events, subscribe to magazines and newspapers, and buy a Delta Sky Club membership.
  • You can also donate your miles to certain charities.

With these cards, you’ll be able to make your payments over time, instead of having to pay the balance in full at the end of the month like some other American Express cards. But note that the APR for purchases and balance transfers are a bit on the higher side, compared to cards by other issuers.

Additional Benefits of Delta Cards

As you’d expect from a top credit card rewards program, if you read the Delta cards’ terms and conditions carefully, you’ll note a whole slew of benefits ranging from Concierge Services to the AmEx Global Assist Hotline, which you can use to attend to issues like medical needs, legal or financial help, or emergency assistance when you’re on travel. If you need a replacement card, emergency cash, access to ATMs anywhere, Travelers Cheques or help with travel arrangements, you can turn to a Delta card’s Travel Services and Express Cash benefits.

As with any major credit card, particularly one that is part of our best travel credit cards list, you can expect an array of travel insurance benefits. Book a fare and you’ll be eligible for baggage insurance as well as travel accident insurance. If you rent a car with these cards, you’ll be covered for car rental loss and damage insurance.

Then there are all those perks tied to entertainment and shopping, including extended warranty coverage, purchase protection, and savings through the American Express Ticket Savings Center.

So should you get an AmEx Delta card? If you enjoy traveling on Delta or Northwest Airlines, you’ll gain the most from these particular cards. While there are annual fees for these cards, they’re actually reasonable if you weigh the costs against the benefits that are offered a frequent flyer or traveler.

Other Delta Credit Cards

There are a couple of other cards under the AmEx Delta brand, including the Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card and the Delta Reserve card. The Platinum Delta has similar features as the Gold Delta SkyMiles cards, but also allows you to accumulate Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), which can be applied towards a Delta frequent flyer program with special benefits. Another downside to the Platinum Delta card is that it comes with an annual fee of $150.

On the other hand, the Delta Reserve card has a few more distinctive features, including a Companion Certificate that’s for First Class seating. Also, bonus miles earned are for 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles with a promise of 30,000 more MQMs and 30,000 bonus miles based on purchases you make in a year, which can be optionally gifted to other SkyMiles members. There’s quite a large cost for this card, though — to the tune of $450 per year as an annual fee. It’s one of the largest annual fees I’ve seen on a card. So if you’re fine with more modest benefits, go with the Gold Delta SkyMiles cards, which have much lower fees.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

Created March 28, 2010. Updated October 11, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

youngandthrifty March 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Wow, for the Delta Reserve card, an annual fee of $450? That’s quite a chunk of change, but I guess that’s a “black” card, instantly giving you prestige more than a gold card would, eh?

I’m still a proponent for the no fee annual travel cards =)

basicmoneytips March 29, 2010 at 4:07 am

I have an American Express Starwood points card. So far I like it, except for the annual fee. I like that I can transfer the miles to any airline.

In general American Express has great customer service. I have had to chargeback a couple of purchases in the last year because the products failed, and American Express worked with me each time. For that reason alone, I will probably stick with American Express.

Neal A. Deutsch, CFP March 29, 2010 at 8:41 am

As with all “deals” is important to read the fine print: interest rates, payment provisions, penalties, etc. While the fun offerings tend to make most deals look the best, the devil is always in the details. Be careful before you sign, and be careful not to build your debt, which they are hoping you will…and with 11.25% over prime, it’ll cost you. American Express may cause you to pay as you go, but perhaps you may look at this as a positive instead of a negative…it will keep you out of debt.

Silicon Valley Blogger March 29, 2010 at 9:49 am

Actually, I also balk when it comes to the annual fees in cards — it’s one of my pet peeves. But with some discussions I’ve had with credit card bloggers who tend to be quite knowledgeable about these matters — the advice is this: ALWAYS weigh the rewards and benefits against the costs. If it so happens that a credit card offers much more than you’ll end up paying out, then it’s worth it. It all depends on how you use the card and whether you’re really going to come out ahead with it. So if you’re a serious frequent flyer, these Delta cards may fit your needs. But it depends.

Annual fees may or may not be a part of our future with credit cards, but even if they do, it may not necessarily be a deal breaker if you come out ahead with the rewards/perks/benefits offered. But seeing those fees (across the board) will take some getting used to.

Tim March 29, 2010 at 10:00 am

Good point Neal, plus you really need to look at the redemption value of the miles/points, and what restrictions there are around blackout dates, etc. More often than not, these cards are too good to be true, and you’re almost never getting more than 1% back on your purchases.

On the other hand, there are plenty of cash back cards that can pay 2% or more on average like the Schwab Visa, Fidelity Amex, and the Amex Blue Cash. Plus the Discover Escape if you want a travel-oriented card, since it pays 2% back and has no restrictions on airlines, dates, or anything.

Pete L March 29, 2010 at 10:34 am

If only they waived the annual fee for at least the first year, like some cards do. Or like some cards used to, at least. Not sure how things have changed since the CARD act since I haven’t applied for any cards lately, but I expect there’s a lot less credit card generosity around.

Credit Girl March 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Those annual fees really are up there, aren’t they? Not sure about having to pay the annual fees but then again I don’t exactly rack up $50,000 worth of airfare in a year either.

Ciril April 11, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Wow, now that article had a lot of information in it and a lot of numbers to digest. In general, I am not a fan of credit cards, but if you are going to use one, you might as well pick a good one or the best one you can find.

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