SWAG Saturday: Does Delta have a 5th medallion class (Bronze Medallion)?

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This week is a reader request; the timing of the request is perfect with the killer MQM deal from the business Delta Platinum card that is live (they say) until 07JULY2013! But what about the rest who do not run a business? Is either the personal or business Delta AMEX Platinum really a 5th tier medallion class, that is Bronze Medallion? Let’s look at this and, as always, the rules for SWAG Saturday can be found HERE.

I will use a side by side comparison to look at the lowest Delta Medallion  Silver or “FO” level compared to the Delta AMEX Platinum card. These are perks they either share or one has and the other does not. It does not take into account all the extra perks the card gives you like 1 year extended warranty on most purchases and other perks as well and to be fair those perks do factor into the final equation. But let’s take a look:

Silver Medallion vs delta amex platinum table comparrison delta points blog

So what do we see from this chart? The first thing is to answer the question is an FO status better than a Delta AMEX credit card? Clearly YES and to me just no comparison for what is important to me, that is upgrades and the ability to pick exit row seats. But look at all the places the card WINS or ties an FO! Also, FO DOES get access to more low level award seats while the card *sometimes will give you more low level award seats, but not always! Getting ZONE 1 boarding is HUGE if you don’t want to end up being forced by a Delta gate agent to check your bag (happens all the time btw by the time they get to zone 2 or 3). Plus, the BOGOF for the $150 fee vs. flying 25,000 miles is impossible to dismiss as well as Skyclub access when needed for just $25 per visit.

Can we thus declare a clear winner? I think we can. If you are a medallion of any level you need to add a  Delta AMEX card  either this one or the Reserve card. As talked about Thursday if you only fly Delta a few times a year then only having the card works just fine!

So what about the SWAG giveaway? Simple. Just comment what you think of my breakdown. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Have other thoughts on if one or the other is better or both? Comment (on the blog) for a chance to win a set of iGo noise canceling headphones as well as the grand prize on the way in July! – René

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PS – Due to BoardingArea upgrades the giveaway
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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.

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109 comments

  1. With that side by side comparison, I’m going to have to agree with your breakdown. Nice work!

  2. Looks fair to me! no plans to get either for me, just doesn’t match my needs…

  3. I currently have both and I would say this is a very good breakdown. I have thought about getting rid of the card at some point but it is one of my oldest cards plus the buy one get one deal makes the cost a wash.

  4. I appreciate your breakdown and it looks reasonable to me. I just carry the Delta AMX gold which more than pays for itself with the free checked bag, zone 1 boarding and double miles, for a smaller fee. I’m not on pace to make any significant status so the zone 1 boarding is good enough (although if you fly out of a hub lately you’ll realize zone 1 is starting to become about half of the passengers)

  5. I definitely agree with your assessment. I plan to get the Platinum card for my wife who only flies a few times a year but would benefit from FO status when she’s not flying with me. Her upcoming trip to Ireland coupled with the bonus MQMs will put her over the top to FO status.

  6. One thing you left off is that the Amex also gets you access to additional low-level award seats.

  7. I agree that Silver is better, but I don’t think it is so much better that going on a MR to get it is worth it. I have only gotten the upgrade when flying on December 31 the rest of the time I am 14th on the list for 2-3 seats. The card would get me almost the same (except the extra legroom in the front or exit seats are nice).

  8. I think its tough to compare the card to Silver medallion status but your article made me think about it. Delta is trying to move some perks over to card only holders and then also add additional (different) perks to Medallion members.

    The one item I would add to the AMEX card would be the $25 access to Delta airport clubs. This is a great benefit even for the infrequent traveler. Getting stranded in an airport is uncomfortable and club access for $25 is a total bargain at airport prices.

    I think Delta is succeeding in trying to tie benefits to the card and to Medallion status and the result is usually, they go better together.

  9. I agree with your breakdown. I just upgraded my personal gold to platinum, and was approved for the platinum delta biz. I should reach silver soon after reaching the minimum spend. So I think the best thing is to have BOTH!

  10. I agree with the comparison but would say that “Overall” its a push….card versus straight silver
    medallion

  11. The breakdown seems fair and helpful. The Delta Platinum Amex companion ticket and bonus MQMs make it well worth the $150.

  12. I agree with your breakdown and rationale.

    I do have a question though. I believe in the past you’ve said infrequent travelers should have an AMEX Delta card – ANY card – and I recently picked up the AMEX Delta Gold card. Are you saying that the recommendation for infrequent travelers is the Platinum or Reserve card, and that the Gold card no long makes the grade?

  13. @scott – yes I think plat & reserve are better value even with higher fees! But fine to hold one year the go for biz card next year.

  14. Completely agree with the breakdown. Even if I only flew two or three times a year I would get the card.

  15. I agree with the analysis, AmEx Plat does give some FO-light advantages, but in the end you can’t really compare, especially if you really need exit row or EC (I’m 6′-4″). I think it’s also worth mentioning (as you have before) the combined advantages of Medallion status and certain cards, especially Reserve. Even though I’m not a super-flyer like you, I’ll probably dump my AmEx (non-Skymile) Plat that I got for the 100k points and upgrade my SkyMiles card to Reserve on my next churn. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed, it has really helped me tremendously!

  16. Silver for sure. However combine them together and you are even better off. I just wish Amex would approve me for a card… its rather annoying not having one when I travel ALL the time on Delta… sigh.

  17. I have had the Platinum Amex since it was branded a Delta card. I wouldn’t travel without it. I am currently a GM and using the Plat Amex spend MQM feature I might just hit PM this year.

  18. I have the AMEX Delta Platinum, but I dont think of it as a “Bronze” level as much as a “Plus” add-on… kinda like Skymiles Basic Plus or Silver Medallion Plus because the card adds value to more than one level.

  19. I agree. I have silver + plat Amex. I call it “silonze” status
    Or is it brilver?

  20. The killer app for tall Silver Medallions is free exit row at booking/free economy comfort at check-in.

  21. I agree, the card acts as a fifth medallion, but I still would rather take FO due to upgrade possibilities.

  22. Fair comparison, though discounts on lounge access was missed. Wonder if its only a matter of time before D-AMEX gets own boarding zone considering how large Zone 1 lines are right now.

  23. You can’t really saying getting the inflight discount is an advantage for the annual fee card. You can get the same discount with the no fee card.

  24. I’d agree, it’s really another elite level. IMO priority boarding with FO is the best perk relative to silver. Lets be honest, the chances of getting upgraded on a non Y fare for silver is pretty slim.

  25. One thing not on there that I really value is the fly by security. That’s why I decided against trying to get status as its not worth more than a basic Delta card to me.

  26. This was a great comparison. I agree that it’s almost a 5th Medallion level.
    As a PM who will be DM by year’s end, I’m not a fan of the Amex cards giving MQMs. I’m a Reserve card holder and I did get a MQM bonus, but I have earned the status by flying which is how I think it should be. Giving away miles is fine – even if allowed to earn MQMs from those trips, but I think Medallion status should truly be for frequent flyers…emphasis on flyers. If this was the case, Medallion status would actually mean something again- and be more of an elite experience. As it is, PM is indeed the new Gold. I’m looking forward to the MQD requirement, but once again those who skirt the system will continue to do so with only a $25K spend. IMHO. Love the website and read it daily.

  27. O.k., I’m gonna disagree with your conclusion. Well, half agree and half disagree.

    I disagree that Medallions should always add a Delta AmEx card, platinum or other. Looking at that list of benefits, Silver kills the card. Those card benefits are mighty slim for $150, unless the cardholder is certain to use BOGOF every single year.

    Plus, you just wrote your “The 3 cards a casual Delta traveler should hold.” What did I learn from that? That the plat Delta card in for benefits, not rewards. Why recommend 2 other CCs? Because rewards on the Plat. Delta Amex are so light, that cardholders should get 2 other CCs for better rewards.

    Call me cheap, but $150? Not from me.

    OTOH, I agree: you are dead on that _if_ someone is going to get a Delta Amex, the Plat card is the way to go. Without a companion award, the 3 lesser cards: Gold, Blue, and Options are really downgraded. At $450, Reserve Delta Amex is only worthwhile to the road warrior FFs.

  28. Awesome post! Not just for the comparison but also as a quick summary of both. Thanks much. And I tend to agree with your assessment.

  29. Both levels have more value as inconvenience waivers, not as much in actual benefits. Upgrades if you can get one, are about the only pure benefit at that level.Most of the other perks just prioritize you from having to deal in inconveniences of waiting or overpaying etc. Not having to pay even more isn’t a benefit to me, where getting more for what you paid is. BUT of the two gotta go FO

  30. I agree entirely with this excellent analysis, especially that a medallion of any status needs a Delta Platinum or Reserve AMEX card. I fit this description exactly – I’m lowly FO, but have the Platinum AMEX card for its perks, too.

  31. Looks like a nice side-by-side comparison. I do have a question though: do either of these grant someone greater access to award tickets? As in, when they’re searching after logging into Delta.com?

  32. I would agree that silver is better. However, I would argue that the Plat card is a must have for any Silver!

  33. As usual, an excellent comparison and breakdown. Very detailed. I definitely agree!

  34. I think it depends how you value some of the perks. Is SkyClub access worth even $25, for example? (And ANY Amex will get you in for $25, not just a DL Amex.) Is Skyteam Elite worth much? I would side with FO being more valuable. But that said, your breakdown is clear and useful — thanks!

  35. Agree but want to add the Stipulation that Silver is better than nothing and better than card alone. However, Gold is the first level that the benefits of Status become totally apparent.

  36. Really helpful comparison for those who are flying multiple airlines and the value of the card compared to seeking 25,000 miles (+MQD in 2014) as FO. If I were a multi-airline customer, I’d go with the card…

  37. I agree with the break-down completely! But, IMHO, I’d say that the best Medallion/Amex combo would be a GM+ with a Reserve. One of my friends is a GM and he has both the Personal and Biz Reserve and he gets treated just like me (me being a Diamond). I do also have both CC so it might just be because of that but having these CC is a must have for anyone who likes/must travel 2+ times a year. The benefits are amazing!

  38. Just tells me that they are complementary products to one another. Great analysis!

  39. I agree it is dad that it is this way left give more to credit card holders than to silvers almost

  40. Very helpful! Question: I have the Gold Amex and FO status. Do I get two free checked bags?

  41. ATTN SWAG WINNER: I won last week (woo-hoo!). IF you are interested in trading headphones for SkyClub pass + Gogo in-flight internet voucher, contact me at my above name @Hotmail… Good luck!

  42. Thank you for the comparison, Rene. While a true “Bronze Medallion” level would have a different make-up than the credit card, it is a convenient name for the benefit package. Given the cost in time and/or money to reach Silver, the intrinsic value of the co-branded cards has significantly greater merit than a straight comparison can provide. That said, I like the chart!
    .
    One point of note is that the on-two combo of the card not only adds the benefits of FO and AMEX together, but in one case, free bags, the benefit is added instead of just canceling each other out. A FO with the AMEX Delta card gets two free bags for themselves, which is pretty great if needed.

  43. A great comparison for those of us who are sick enough to remain loyal to Delta. I was going to status match to United next year, but sadly they’re learning from DL rather than the other way around. Thanks for all the info in one spot!

  44. With different benefits for each they really are different. Never thought of a new class before but it does make sense.

  45. The card wins hands down. If you fly a lot, it is an added bonus and a tie breaker. As you said if you fly rarely, the card gives you benefits that you normally would not receive.

  46. I agree with the conclusion. The chart is great. The best thing to do is get BOTH status and the Delta AmEx.

  47. I am a casual flyer and use the Delta Amex Plat to purchase everything I can so I can build up miles. I only use miles to upgrade to biz class so for me it is the best thing to have.

  48. Looks like a good comparison. And a good way for points as a casual flier. But I still want to hold out to see if they’ll offer more points for getting the card sometime this year.

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