Reader question: What Delta card should I get before year end?

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I have a round on the way soon (past due but for spend reasons I am delaying). I am planning on adding a Delta Reserve personal card as I want to add 10,000 MQM’s to my total this year without needing to add to my somewhat excessive 9.5 days of trans-con flights for 47,000+ MQM’s & almost 100,000 RDM’s. My total cost for those flights broke down this way:

Cost to buy the tickets was $ 1,700
Vouchers used to buy was      $ 800
Total cost for AIR all-in          $ 900

To me the value of the RDM’s, at a MINIMUM with “Pay with Miles” makes this trip a break-even adventure.

Now why do I start with this and how does this tie in to my reader’s question about what DELTA AMEX card to get? Here is why. My cost to “BUY” my MQM’s, thanks to vouchers, was an extremely good 1.9CPM. Without the vouchers I would be looking at 3.6CPM. Getting another AMEX Reserve card, since I have the business one already, would cost me another $450 fee for one year. So, my CPM for this 10,000 MQM’s from the card would be 4.5CPM. Still not an unreasonably high cost since I would not have to give up 2-3 days more of my year to get the points.

So at long last this bit of background needs to be clear so you understand the answer to what card. Look at what each cards offers.

DELTA AMEX GOLD card. Here are the perks:

You get 30,000 bonus miles toward Award Travel when you spend $500 on the Card in the first three months of Card membership. You get to check your first bag for free on every Delta flight plus up to 8 more traveling with you on the same itinerary. Receive Zone 1 priority boarding on Delta flights . Receive 20% In-flight Savings on food and entertainment in the form of a statement credit. $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. After the first year when you pay the annual fee you get a buy one get a coach $99 domestic companion ticket plus tax. (ends 25JAN2013)

DELTA AMEX PLATINUM card. Here are the perks:

You get 20,000 bonus miles upon your first purchase with the Card (5,000 of which are Medallion Qualification Miles). Get 5,000 bonus miles when you sign up for two Additional Cards. Spend $25,000 and earn 10,000 MQM’s and 10,000 Bonus Miles. Get the same bonus again if you spend $50,000 per / calendar year.You get to check your first bag for free on every Delta flight plus up to 8 more traveling with you on the same itinerary. Receive Zone 1 priority boarding on Delta flights . Receive 20% In-flight Savings on food and entertainment in the form of a statement credit. $195 annual fee. After the first year when you pay the annual fee you get a buy one get a coach FREE domestic companion ticket plus tax.

DELTA AMEX Reserve card. Here are the perks:

You get 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) upon your first purchase with the Card. Unparalleled Miles BoostSM – Spend $30,000 and earn 15,000 MQM’s and 15,000 Bonus Miles. Get the same bonus again if you spend $60,000 per / calendar year. Also enjoy Delta Sky Club access (only for you free – $29 for up to 2 more with you). You get to check your first bag for free on every Delta flight plus up to 8 more traveling with you on the same itinerary. Receive Zone 1 priority boarding on Delta flights . Receive 20% In-flight Savings on food and entertainment in the form of a statement credit. After the first year when you pay the annual fee you get a buy one get a 1st or coach FREE domestic companion ticket plus tax. $450 annual fee.

You can also, if you run any kind of big or small or personal business (i.e. you are a sole proprietor) you can get the business cards of by clicking the button after the personal links.

Now what should you consider? The answer is consider your situation. If you only fly once or twice a year the GOLD card is likely good for you to consider. You can buy a Skyclub pass with it for a discount at $29/visit. You get Zone 1 boarding just like Silver Medallions. You get a free bag for you and those with you. You get the buy one get one for $99 domestic ticket. MQM’s just are not a draw for you.

Next, you fly Delta. Not a ton, but say enough to get 10-20,000 MQM’s a year. The PLATINUM card should be looked at. 5,000 MQM’s for the $195 fee is nice and could put you over the top for status next year at a raw cost of 3CPM without flying. Plus, all the perks of the GOLD card with a buy one get one for FREE domestic ticket.

The last group is for the RESERVE card. You fly Delta a lot and/or spend a lot! You will make or almost make GOLD MEDALLION or PM or DM! You can use the boost of 10,000 MQM’s from the first $1.00 spent on the new card to make it over the top. Or, like me, you want to get as many roll-over MQM’s so next year you can earn whatever status level you want by flying less. Plus, since you fly a ton, FREE access to the Skyclubs could be worth the fee alone!

So there you are. The choice really is simple when you look at all your personal circumstances. The only hard choice is if you want to go for a personal card one year, then a business card the next, or hold both at once. That is a personal choice that is up to you! – René

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. 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 American Express.

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  1. I’d go the Platinum. Seems like you have MQMs and lounge access covered, but you can still get a nice amount of MQMs and a free companion ticket. Score!

  2. Just curious…I just made Gold on MQMs (lots of work travel), but my wife has no status. If I have a Delta Amex Gold/Platinum/Reserve and use it to buy a ticket for my wife only, will she get all of the perks of the card (mainly Zone 1 & a free bag), even though she has no status?

  3. Great summary, Rene. If I may make one adjustment, it is my opinion that the BEST card for those families who fly infrequent but consistently at least once per year would be the AMEX Delta Platinum.

    This is due to the companion ticket. The ticket itself is the same as the Gold Delta AMEX, but the $150 annual fee is less than the $95 annual fee + $99 companion fee.

    I did a lot of comparison shopping to determine the best way to reduce our out of pocket expenses from our annual pilgrimage to Florida, and the Delta AMEX cards offer the most benefits than any other card for the infrequent flyer.

  4. @Harlan – keep in mind you still pay $25 to get into skyclub with PLAT DL AMEX (Reserve get’s you in free)
    @Chris – the only reason I would not agree with you, would be if someone when for the personal GOLD one year, then the business then next, then rinsed and repeated the 3rd year and so on for NO FEE! 😉
    @Jimmy – only if you are flying with her (on the same itinerary) . If she fly’s solo better for her to have her own card too.

  5. Rene, need to be specific re the Platinum Card spending requirement. The $25k must be within the calendar year. Thus, if one acquires the card now, must charge $25k before Dec. 31 to receive bonuses.

  6. @Sam – YES YES YES calendar year do MUST be done by 31DEC each year. So, if you need a bunch quick the reserve card may be best as that you only must spend $1.00 to get 10,000 MQM’s!

  7. Hi,

    I need advice on getting a new Delta card. I just cancelled (Sept) the Platinum Delta AM EX personal card when the annual renewal came up. I am sure it was a joint account as both my wife and I had a card. I do have a small business. I am a PM and I have a Corp Platinum Am Ex from my employer that gives me access to the SC (which I love).

    Is there anything I can do to get bonus MQMs prior to waiting until Sept of next year? I was never happy having my annual renewal not sync with annual earning period … I am sure this is a common complaint.


  8. Hi Brad,

    You can get a BIZ DELTA AMEX if you canceled the personal one. The CORP card is NOT the same as the DELTA one. You will have to wait 365 days after cancel to get the personal DELTA one again! – Rene

  9. Confused!! I got the personal AMEX Delta Gold card in June, then applied for the BUS card and got that in October- for the life of me, thought I would get the 30,000 bonus miles on BUS card as well but AMEX said NO??? Has anyone ever gotten bonus miles from BOTH cards? If so how?

  10. How did you find a 47k mile trip for $1,700? Can you give me an example itinerary? Thanks.

  11. Great and Thanks, os if I understand right I should be getting the SPG card and then transfer the SPG points to Delta miles. THe only issue for me maybe that I am Diamond on Delta and Platinum on Starwoods. It would almost make sense to keep the points on SPG. Is there any other credit card that gives me Delta miles worth getting? Suntrust Maybe?

  12. @Chris – never transfer any points from anywhere till you need the. Sure if you live in a Suntrust state get one – good to pay tax with. IMO Membership Rewards better.

  13. If a person is a big spender or has a business he can run charges through his credit card AND travels a lot then that person should get both the Skymiles Reserve and Platinum. Charging $60k on the Reserve and $50k on the Platinum each year puts a Delta flyer at Gold (50,000 MQMs) at the beginning of the year. It is easy to make it to Diamond then.

  14. @Bryant – you can not bet TWO personal AMEX cards and get bonus points for them. You could get, in your example, get one personal Delta Reserve card and one business Delta Platinum yes. You would get 10k+5K new card bonus MQMs. Then with 60k+50k spend 30k+20k bonus MQMs thus net in one calendar year 65,000 MQMs without flying. 10k more and you are Platinum Medallion!

  15. Hi – thanks for your blog. I travel a lot for work – I have 17,000 miles with Delta since August. I am hoping to get Silver status before end of year however I am wondering how best to do this.

    I already have the Delta AMEX Gold. My hope is to cancel that at the end of the year. Can I do a Delta Reserve Business and get sky club for all 2014? Will I still be able to get the 10,000 MQM even though I have a personal Delta AMEX gold? I was told that if I wanted a reserve personal AMEX I had to cancel the card and then wait 90 days to reapply for a new card. Do they really still give you miles on a business AMEX even if you have a personal AMEX?

    Also, any other ideas on mile runs from SLC if that would be a better option? Thanks again for your time – I am hoping you have affiliate links somewhere in here that we can support as a thank you for the time you spend sharing your knowledge.

    Another thought – should I wait until January 1st and then do the reserve card then, pushing all my points into one year with my work travel?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  16. @Kayla – the biz cards are different products. You could, if you wanted to, go for both on same day if you had not had them both for 365 days. So yes you can get biz card and get bonus and perks now!

  17. Hey just so you know the Delta gold card has changed a little. It is now $1000 of purchases in the first 3 months to get the 30k miles. Too bad!

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