$99 Delta AMEX GOLD Companion Certificate perk to end 25JAN2013! + Zone 2 Boarding?

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A few weeks back I answered a readers question about what DELTA AMEX card to get by the end of the year. Well AMEX has gone and changed the rules on us and you can see all the T&C of these types of certs HERE. But you need to know that if you apply for a DELTA GOLD card, before 24JAN2013, when you pay your annual fee the next year, you WILL get a buy-one get-one coach $99 companion certificate one time and one time only. Then this perk is over.

Does this make the GOLD card a bad choice. YES, once January 26th rolls around I will NOT recommend this card again as this is a MAJOR loss for the card. For now, I stand by the perks for a card with no 1st year annual fee and even over two years will cost you under $100 all-in. As many readers have pointed out, the PLATINUM card gives you a few less Skymiles but does give you a buy-one get-one free cert after your first year. But, you are talking $300 in fees for the first two years of card ownership. The MQM bonus does offset some of this and if you add the $99 fee to the $95 for the GOLD you are just about break-even! If you don’t need the MQM’s, you are still missing some Skymiles vs. the Gold. Bottom line, you will not be able to get the personal and business GOLD card anymore and have a companion certificate perk as part of the deal.

Another even bigger issue, that I am waiting for an answer to from both DELTA and AMEX to answer, is the ZONE 1 vs. ZONE 2 boarding perk. Any (of the big 3) Delta AMEX, even the GOLD, will get you ZONE 1 boarding just like a Silver Medallion flyer. But recently some of the fine print has changed as you can see blow:

Is this just an error or is this another program downgrade like the companion certificates? I cannot say yet for sure, but hope this is NOT the case! I can tell you that if ZONE 2 boarding is the new “perk” it is a major downgrade. I have seen 100% full flights where anyone Zone 2 or lower were FORCED to check their carry-on bags to their final destination. At no cost gate side, but still it is not much fun to not have your bag you wanted with you!

These are interesting times in the points / perks / status game; but nothing says we cannot adjust, adapt and rethink to stay ahead of the “game” – René

EDIT 10PM EST: I at last have word from Delta that this is a “TYPO” and AMEX is going to fix it and thanks Delta Points for pointing out the error! ZONE 1 is the benefit of the DELTA GOLD/PLAT/RESERVE cards!


PS – You really don’t want to miss
SATURDAY’S blog post -‘just sayin’!


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  1. Error or downgrade? Do we even need to ask? DL just keeps throwing customers [edit:under the bus] time after time.

  2. Not surprised by this development. I thought it was a big red flag when they stopped listing the companion ticket as a perk.

  3. I have to admit: now that I am Silver Medallion, I will appreciate the Zone 2 thing for cardholders. Zone 1 had gotten out of control with everyone and their mom being able to board in Zone 1. The perks for Gold & Platinum AmEx cardholders [have been] so great that from a baggage and boarding perspective, the perks I experienced before and after Medallion status were very similar. Now, if I ever go back to no Medallion status, my tune will change completely. 🙂 But for cardholders with no status, this would be infuriating. Same price for less perks. Classic!

  4. “Any Delta AMEX, even the GOLD, will get you ZONE 1 boarding just like a Silver Medallion flyer. ”

    Not quite ANY Delta AMEX card. The standard Delta Amex Skymiles card does not give you priority boarding (nor free bag check). Only the Gold, Platinum and Reserve do those things.

  5. Agree with you on the companion ticket – that’s a major loss. I do think it’s about time that they removed the zone 1 boarding from the Amex cards though. It has greatly diluted the value of SM.

  6. If I currently have the card, will I continue to receive that annual companion$99 benefit? If not, when is the last annual renewal date that I (or anyone with the card) will receive that benefit?

  7. @Spencer – from what I have been told, the one you will get at some point in 2013 will be the LAST one EVER! – Rene (unless you cancel, wait 365 days, and then apply and get the PLAT or RESERVE card). Now you can get the BIZ card right away if it has been 365 days since you canceled that one last.

  8. How long until removed from Reserve? Or add a fee? Hmmm..

    My biggest benefit from Delta AmEx has been the companion certificates. I’ve used every one of them on a seat for my son that would otherwise be $500+ around Thanksgiving.

    When this disappears so will 90% of my reason for having a Delta Reserve.

  9. @Vicente – looks like they are keeping the certs as a perk for now. I agree, loosing them on the PLAT or Reserve card would be very very bad but I do not see that happening! – Rene

  10. I’m 100% fine (happy actually) that they would remove Zone 1 boarding from the card. Silver Medallion is essentially pointless otherwise. Even as a Plat, having all the SkyMiles cardholders creep on the gate (during Sky Priority even sometimes) is annoying. Knocking them back to Zone 2 will greatly help and add value back into Silver Medallions.

  11. I have a couple comments, one on the certificates and a question/observation on the Zone 1 boarding.

    It makes sense for Delta and AMEX to remove the companion certificate from the Gold card. Since this perk is likely paid for by AMEX, they may have precipitated this change. There isn’t much of a distinction between the Platinum and Gold cards (other than the miles on the Gold), so removing this perk from the lower tier card in lieu of Skymiles will make the Platinum Delta card more exclusive and more worth the annual fee.

    As for Zone 1, it is my understanding that Silver Medallion members (FO) are able to board BEFORE card holders and others via the Sky Priority lane. When Zone 1 is called, FOs should be lining up in the SP lane and have their passes taken first, thus they should be prioritized over card holders (and those who pay for Zone 1 boarding). If this is not occurring, then maybe it can be investigated, but over all FOs should have priority.

  12. I agree with the other posters that Silver Medallion would be nicer not lumped in with the credit card holders and people who paid for priority boarding.
    It seems like now the only perk of silver over just getting the card is the ability to nab an economy comfort seat at check in if anything is available (seat 5D on the CRJ 900s on both flights yesterday was glorious).

  13. On that note, I got an offer from Delta a week or so ago for 40,000 miles and $100 credit, but I couldn’t find anything on the offer about a companion ticket. I might be blind though…

  14. Having just reviewed the sign-up promos for the Reserve card, I am surprised/concerned they don’t mention the free companion pass. Also, there is no mention of $200 airline credit…did those go away? Rene, can you clarify/confirm? You the best!

  15. I have a couple questions about the companion certificate:

    I have a Delta Gold AMEX and am using my companion certificate from this year, next year (expires on 3/31/13). Will I still get one last companion certificate for next year? If so, when do you normally get those each year?

    Also, if I were to upgrade my card to a Delta Platinum AMEX from my current Gold, when would I get my first companion certificate. I was planning on using it for a flight it either August or September of 2013.

  16. @Dan – The cert program ends 25JAN2013 so I doubt you will get a new one on the current card. If you got the BIZ card before 25JAN2013 you would get ONE next year when you pay fee. You must spend and fly your current cert by the exp date. I would never ever upgrade. You never know what AMEX will say or do. Just get a BIZ DL PLAT and then you are good to go.

  17. Is there any way to see when your Gold card will renew? Does your companion cert always expire 1 year after issue? My husband and I each have a Gold card, and we are trying to decide whether to cancel them now or later. I believe they renew sometime in May 2013.

  18. @Robin – if you have had the card more than one year, you can just check the old statement for the date the annual fee was billed. If you have had the card more than a year, I would get a GOLD or PLAT BIZ card NOW, get the 25/30,000 bonus points, the $99 or free cert next year, and once you have the biz cancel the personal card. Then, you can start the 365 day clock to get a new personal card next year.

  19. Great detailed answer, just flew on my new gold card and got zone 1 but then read zone 2 online which had me thinking the same thing, impending downgrade. Good to hear it is not the case.

  20. So it appears that now Delta has taken away the companion certificates from the Platinum card as well?

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