Rookie Sunday: Should I upgrade or downgrade my Delta Amex card? Should I keep it or cancel?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this featured topic.

Should I upgrade or downgrade?

If you fly Delta, even only a few times a year, you need to hold at least 1 Delta Amex card. Why? If you have no status, the Gold Delta Amex card (personal or business) gets you a free bag. Flying with up to 8 others on the same reservation as you – then all of you get a free bag. That alone can pay for YEARS of the annual card fee.

Beyond that, if you take just a few moments and use the “many open tab” trick to register for some of the best Amex “Offers for You”, you can save enough each year to offset the card fee (or at least most of it depending on the card).

But the above does not mean you must hold on the “same” Delta Amex card all year long or each year for that matter. Thus it begs the question:

“Should I upgrade or downgrade my Delta Amex card?”

Maybe but there are a bunch of caveats that go into the mix and it really is important for you to consider a host of factors before you do this or consider doing this. Let’s break down a bunch of them one by one.

#1) Only after new card bonus! This one is vital and why it is number one. Amex officially only allows you to get a bonus for a new card once in a “lifetime”. To be clear, each of the 6 big Delta Amex cards are unique products and you can get the new card bonus for EACH of them once, that is, the personal Gold, Platinum and Reserve as well as the business Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards. If you have NOT had the new card bonus for EACH then it is wise to apply for a new card, get the bonus, then cancel one of the other cards if you wish.

#2) Ask for something! Before you ever consider canceling any Amex card see if they will either waive the fee for you for a year (or most of the fee) due to whatever changes they have made to the card perks or Delta has forced on them or ask for bonus SkyMiles to offset the cost of the fee for a year. See Essential Tab post E13 for more help with this.

#3) BOGO cert! Other than the Gold Delta Amex you get a BOGO cert each year when your fee bills. It is then dumped into your Delta account. Amex will tell you if you cancel it goes away – that is not true. Once it dumps in to Delta.com you have a year to spend and fly it so wait to make changes until this posts to your “My Delta”.

#4) Be careful with the annual fee! The current “official” Amex rule is 30 days to get fee back once it bills. Some have reported still being able to get partial fee credit when they cancel midyear but I would not count on this. To be safe use the 30 day rule.

#5) Consider Upgrade / downgrade game! Understanding CLEARLY point 1 above some who want max bonus MQMs play the upgrade / downgrade game each year. That is, they, for example, start the year with the Delta Platinum card. Spend $50,000 and enjoy the bonus SkyMiles and MQMs. Then (#ProTip) they wait 1 month for new statement to post, and call and upgrade to the Reserve card. Then they spend $60,000 on that card for another round of bonus SkyMiles and MQMs. Next year they do the reverse and downgrade vs. upgrade.

#6) Always hold a Reserve card! Keeping point 5 in mind it is always wise, as a Delta elite and frequent flyer, to hold a Delta Amex Reserve card. The personal and business cards, as far as Delta perks go, are identical so it does not matter the card you hold. As long as you have one you will get more upgrades, Sky Club access the day you fly etc etc.

#7) 25k spend goal! This one is maybe not 100% tied in to the question of upgrade / downgrade but if you only have one card it matters re. cancellation of cards. Once you hit the 25k spend goal on one (or many) Delta Amex cards you will have a chance for more upgrades as one of the tiebreakers is 25k spend. Also, for all but Diamond Medallion, 25k is still the spend goal to be MQD exempt as part of your quest for Silver, Gold or Platinum status.

#8) The Blue card! Lastly, never downgrade to the Blue Delta Amex card except under one condition – the age of credit for that card. The Delta Amex Blue card is a horrid and worthless card and anyone spending on it is really brainless. But holding the card can be wise if you have had your Delta Amex card forever and want to, for the benefit of your credit score, hang on to a card you have had for many years. Then do downgrade to Blue and use it only once a year to keep it active.

So there you are. Keeping the above in mind it should be simple for you to make a good choice for you personally if you could keep, upgrade or downgrade your Delta Amex card of whatever flavor. – René