The 3 cards a casual Delta traveler should hold (results may surprise you).

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Long time blog readers know that readers range from the 0-1x Delta trips a year to those who end the year “double Diamond” that is fly so much they will roll over enough points to meet the MQM’s requirement for Diamond Medallion status without flying the next year. Having said that, this suggestion is for those who fly 0-6 times a year. IMO, if you are flying 7+ trips a year you are not a casual flyer; and if you are 12+ you are a regular Delta flyer. Also, if you already have 5+ credit cards in your wallet right now (and rotate cards in and out all year long), this post is not for you (also Business owners should check yesterday’s post as this is also NOT for you)!

So what are the cards this causal group should HOLD? And why do I say HOLD?

#1) Delta Platinum AMEX card
#2) Barclays Arrival World MasterCard
#3) Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Now let’s break these down as to why get and why HOLD. I say hold as each of these comes with an annual fee. The AMEX you pay year one, the others no fee year one. But since we are talking hold you will have to pay each year $150+$95+$89=$334.00! Are you getting that much value back? Let’s see.

The Delta AMEX Platinum is $55 more per year over the GOLD card that has NO fee first year. But this is still a better value. After your first year, when you pay year two fee, you get a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF – you do pay tax) Delta certificate. Yes, there are restrictions associated with them but I have always been able to use mine each year. This card really does give you (medallion-lite, Silver plated medallion, bronze medallion – what ever label you want to use). Why? You will board ZONE 1 with the Silver Medallions (FO) when there is still overhead bin space open for your bags. You get, just like FO’s, a free bag for you+8 on your reservation. You can get single entry Skyclub access if you want for $25 when you pay with the card. Should you find yourself flying more you can earn bonus MQM’s with spend on this over the GOLD. You get 2x Skymiles when you pay for tickets. 20% off onboard spending is a nice perk too. I think there is real value here and worth the fee.

The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. This card is just so simple to use and redeem your points plus you get 10% points back when spending them on flights etc. Plus, you get 2x points for all spend. You want simple, this is it. The current large new card bonus after spend is very nice. Just be sure you have a HIGH credit score or your chance at getting the card is very long.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Again, simplicity at it’s best. On top of this, you can get outstanding discounts and rewards booking via the Ultimate Rewards portal when you are logged into your Chase account online. That and the 2x points at restaurants and the protection VISA gives you when renting a car domestically is hard to beat in my book!

Some more reasoning and info about these choices. These are not for those who are looking for premium cabins. These are for those who want to be able to pick just about any flight on any days (with the exception of the BOGOF cert). You don’t travel that much but when you do you want less stress and you want value and simplicity. The above get you all of this. With a strong and good credit score you should be able to get all 3 approved in one day. After spending requirements to get bonus points, you are talking well over 100,000 points for just these 3 cards. Not too shabby at all I would say. If you then pull the Delta AMEX to buy Delta tickets, the Sapphire in restaurants and when renting cars, and the Arrival for other everyday spend you will produce a nice amount of points each year without much work on your part. This is simplicity at it’s best (but not necessarily the max points you could get but we are talking simplicity here). Like my thoughts? – Rene


PS – Boarding Area will be attempting to update all the blogs to new servers again tomorrow so there will be no post on Friday but if all goes well we will be back up and running again for SWAG Saturday’s post (we hope)! Also, if you are a business owner, your time is almost up for the updated  60,000 points Chase INK offer that is still LIVE! (offer has expired)


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  1. Great post, Rene, and I completely agree.
    One additional benefit of the Delta AMEX is that we get the benefits even if we do not purchase the tickets on the Delta card. As such, anyone that buys delta tickets from the Barclay’s card will also get the free bag and boarding benefit if they travel with the card holder.
    This is due to Delta’s great customer service and policy in this area. While technically, the passengers need to be on the same itinerary, Delta is great about shepherding all in the group together for the benefits, as long as the primary cardholder is traveling.
    Again, perfect post, especially for those new to the game.

  2. I have always wondered what the difference between gold and platinum delta amex was. Is it the mqms?

  3. I am a GM and have always thought the Reserve card was a better option. Is it not? Although the yearly fee is much greater.

    Looking to open one.

  4. I don’t see any anything listed about the BOGOF certificate. On this page, the companion ticket column is not even checked Can you provide a screenshot or anything? Is this maybe a grandfathered thing where new cardholders wouldn’t get it?

  5. @V – it is clearly listed on and many other places. The PLAT gets you a BOGOF in COACH only and the Reserve gets you BOGOF in COACH or BIZ lower 48 unless you live in AK or HI then it works from there too. – Rene

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