Don’t let Delta trick you with HYPE & pay with the WRONG card!

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american express premier rewards cards gives 3x points for flights booked with airlines

Delta, in all their latest marketing info about Skymiles2015, is reminding us that we get 2x more Skymiles when we pay with the Delta Gold/Platinum/Reserve cards. These are great cards to have and I have both the personal reserve and the business reserve cards. But you are making a mistake that will cost you in 2015 if you pay for your Delta tickets this way. Why?

Notice the above screen shot from the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold card. It pays you 3x points on the full purchase price you spend on airline tickets.

earn an extra bonus point when flying delta if you start at amex travel

Plus if you, rather than starting at Delta.com to book, start at the AMEX travel site [EDIT:WARNING AMEX TRAVEL is using consolidator fares now – avoid] (once you have a membership rewards card) you also earn an extra 1x points per dollar spent. Thus you are talking 4x vs the 2x Delta is promoting with the Delta cards. Why take 50% less points when Delta is already WHACKING us on earning Skymiles starting on 1JAN2015.

american express membership rewards points transfer 1-1 to delta airlines

Then, once you have earned the membership rewards, it is a simple and almost instant thing to transfer your points over to Delta whenever you wish. That means, as a Diamond Medallion, rather than earning 11x per dollar you are earning OVER 15x per dollar! Why?

get closer to the same miles when you pay for your delta ticket with the right amex card

The really kool thing is, as you can see in the above example of a coach ticket from Atlanta to Amsterdam that is say $1500 but has $200 tax you have to deduct thus netting you $1300×11 from Delta. But, the AMEX part is the FULL PRICE of the ticket that is $1500×4. Thus all in you will end up, after sending the membership rewards points to Delta, with 20,300 Skymiles for this trip as a Diamond Medallion!

The red letter day, 26FEB2014 will be a date we will never forget, but as you can see it is up to us now in 2015 to claw back each and every point we should get. – René
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46 comments

  1. @Darth – many hate Delta. Many don’t see value. I do. I know there will be low level seats (they told us flatly that is the case) and I plan to STOCK PILE SKYMILES this year to spend in 2015 & 2016! And, next year, when I have to pay for a flight, it will be with the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold card to earn each point I can under the new system! Depending the price of the ticket, I can clearly get much of what has been lost BACK this way! 🙂

  2. I posted in the past about you paying with a Delta AMEX rather than PRG.
    I’m glad you’ve finally realized the error in doing so! 🙂

  3. You seem to be implying that Delta’s marketing plan was to deliberately try to steer customers into a bad deal. It is my humble opinion that it was simply a mistake, like having a Skymiles redemption calender that doesn’t work properly or low Skymiles redemption seats that never seem to exist.

  4. @Steve – My choice in the past has been to help meet SPEND on my Delta AMEX Reserve card and gave up some points but now that MFG spend is SO easy for that card this is clearly the best choice for 2015! So, yes. 😉

  5. @AlohaDaveKennedy – I find low level Skymiles redemption seats! Yes work, but I find them. We have been “told” we will have MORE seats in 2015. Yes I know Delta creditability is at an all time LOW right now but I think we ARE going to see more seats next year (they have to do something to keep flyers)!

  6. I was under the impression that you got the extra 2x if you just HAD the Delta Amex – do you only get them if you PAY with the Delta Amex?

    Perhaps I didn’t catch all the fine print 🙂

  7. Would you then lose on the upgrade list, since one would not be paying withthe Delta AMX? I suppose the points are worth more then getting bumped up on this list?

  8. Thanks for this post! You earned me twice as many points as I would have.

    One clarification, we still earn the full amount of traveling miles even if we book through Amex, right? They aren’t considered a consolidator.

  9. @Sam – NO! Once your Reserve card is in your profile, that is all you need for more upgrades. Paying for tickets with the card has NOTHING to do with this. Same goes for free bags the GOLD/PLAT/RESERVE cards give. As long as in your profile at Delta.com you are set.

  10. @bludevil – at this point, and booking say just a flight, 100% correct and all reports are 100% earnings for all flights. Now, do keep in mind, if you book a PACKAGE with AMEX of say AIR/LAND/CRUISE then you could get into the consolidator situation. Clear?

  11. Rene – don’t count on this transfer ratio staying the way it is… If the current DL Amex proposition is 50% of the MR-based earning, I would “expect” DL to adjust this is the near future to incentivize spend on their card.

  12. Dang–I wish I had remembered the AmEx portal step a couple of days ago when I booked a flight. Remembered to use the AmEx gold card, just forgot about the portal. Oh well, next time.

    On another note Réné, what are your thoughts on Delta keeping the MQD requirements? From their perspective I can see the rationale for these changes. However, the MQD requirement was an attempt to factor in revenue per customer because mileage flown, while being a good approximation, wasn’t necessarily an accurate measure of value to Delta. Now that they have gone to a straight revenue based system, why would they keep this measurement? Just seems like something else that customers have to track and worry about.

  13. When you book with Amex travel, is the risk-free cancellation policy still applicable? That’s the only thing that keeps me from booking with them. Sometimes I just like to fool around with bookings–makes me nervous.

  14. Rene,

    Is using the Amex rewards card and getting 4x better than 2x and counting towards totals for MQM production?

  15. @Crsig – I talked about that before. If you have a hard time meeting your spend minimums on your Delta PLAT or Delta Reserve cards then you may choose to give up the bonus points to help get over the spend thresholds for the cards to get bonus MQMs.

  16. @Garrett – true sorta. Delta has the risk free 24h cancel that is a little more than 24 as you have till the next night not the current night to cancel.
    .
    http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/ticket-changes-refunds/risk-free-cancellation.html
    .
    AMEX travel policy is simply this:
    .
    You have until 10PM CT the NEXT DAY to cancel. There is a fee. Domestic tickets cost you $6.99 and international cost you $10.99.
    .
    Bottom line, if you think there is risk of need to to cancel, still pay with the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold card but book it on Delta.com and give up the extra 1x points you would get starting at AMEX travel site.

  17. @Rene–thanks! I’ve been known to kind of string along a ticket for a week or so by making good use of that policy (cancel-rebook-cancel-rebook etc…). Makes for quite an entertaining pending transactions section on amex.com. lol. Actually ended up getting the same agent twice at whatever call center I was getting to.

  18. Thanks for this info and trying to cheer us up. It helps a little. But I fear this is just putting lipstick on the pig. $1500 for economy from just about anywhere in the US to AMS is a high price, I think, unless you are talking super peak summer fares. Delta is sucking up to the top 2 or 3% by substantially increasing the miles they get (like they need more miles) and totally disrespecting the rest of us (like me who don’t buy high-priced fares but still chip in $12,000 – $20,000/yr. to them) by drastically cutting the miles we get. Of course that seems to be the general trend these days in a lot of things.

  19. Rene-good point about the Premier Rewards Gold Amex. One question though-I was under the impression that in order to get the 3x points on airfare, you MUST purchase the ticket directly with the airlines. That means either 2x points per dollar buying tickets through Amex or 3x points buying directly from Delta or whatever airline.

  20. @William IV – again, NO, you ONLY get the 2x points from DELTA AMEX cards if you use a DELTA AMEX card. If you use the Premier Rewards Gold card you get 3x and if you start at AMEX travel you get an extra MR point thus = 4x.

  21. Here’s the situation I’m in. I need a ticket from TPA to LIM and it’s a little more than $1000. I just applied for the Delta gold skymiles card and it has a 30,000 mile bonus for $1000 spend in three months and a $50 Delta credit.

    I am 42,000 skymiles short for a complex ticket I need later in the year. I want to get the 30,000 bonus miles into my skymiles account as fast as I can and then transfer Amex points to Delta to complete the purchase.

    That’s the scenario, here’s my question. Would you buy the $1000+ ticket on the Delta Skymiles card which would trigger the $50 statement credit and the 30,000 bonus pretty quickly (not to mention the 2000 miles for the spending itself) or on the Amex gold rewards card for 3x amex points?

  22. @bluedevil – points should post at the latest when statement closes (ie a day or so after). Often times even sooner with GOLD and PLAT Delta cards. AMEX gold card, same thing but higher spend clearly.
    .
    And my thanks for supporting the blog too! 🙂

  23. Which card would you use to purchase the ticket, the Delta Skymiles one with the $50 credit and 2x points, or the Amex Gold rewards card with 3x points and no statement credit?

    I’m torn.

    I love your blog 🙂

  24. Rene, thanks for the post. But it seems to me that I should continue booking with my Delta platinum AmEx, *UNTIL* I reach 25K spend, for my 10K MQMs and for my MQD exemption. But yeah, I guess after I hit 25K, if I don’t want to shoot for 50K, I guess it would make sense to use this AmEx PRG card instead. Do I have all this correct?

  25. @Ken G – Personal choice but yes if meeting spend on DL PLAT is task one you are still getting 2x points that way as you say UNTIL you reach spend levels for the year.

  26. Rene, The terms on the Business Gold Rewards card says ” 2 additional points (for a total of 3 points) for airfare on a scheduled flight charged directly with passenger airlines “. Does this means we have to pay through Delta? If so, we don’t get the extra 1x by paying through the AMEX travel site. Is that correct?

  27. Rene,

    The terms on the Business Gold Rewards card says ” 2 additional points (for a total of 3 points) for airfare on a scheduled flight charged directly with passenger airlines “. Does this means we have to pay through Delta? If so, we don’t get the extra 1x by paying through the AMEX travel site. Is that correct?

  28. @JohnHace – the wording on the BIZ card is a little different but my understanding it is still 3x total for airline tickets and you CAN use the AMEX travel site as well. Even it you do book at Delta.com you are still getting 1x more than any of the Delta cards.

  29. The US transfer rate of 1:1 is amazing, especially if you happen upon a bonus.

    It’s rather strange that the NL transfer rate is :

    Delta : 3:1 (3 Membership Rewards punten is gelijk aan 1 Skymile)
    Flying Blue : 5:4 (5 Membership Rewards punten is gelijk aan 4 Flying Blue Miles)

    Just figured I would mention it. Delta works well for us in The Netherlands. Right now, we are Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Silver; but by year end it will be Diamond, Diamond, Gold, Gold and Gold. Obviously, 2x Diamond with the new Global Upgrades is a pretty big deal.

  30. Hi Rene. Is there a way around the “you’re not eligible for the 25k points bonus because you’re already an AMEX cardholder” message I’m getting? Would be a shame to miss out on that, although need the card regardless for the 4x extra. THANKS much as always for your great info and help!

  31. @Rene – Excellent! Will do that. And thank you again, for helping me make ’14 DM, and well on my way for ’15! Can’t tell you home much your efforts are appreciated!

  32. So now 2015 is coming and I’m trying to decide whether to buy my delta flights with my Gold Premier card or my Delta Reserve. I try to load everything on the Delta Reserve card to get my 60K spending which gives me 30K MQMs. Now I wonder if I should I spend 30k plus on the Delta Reserve card and purchase all of my the flights on the Delta Gold card. I would lose 15K MQM’s but double my miles… Shrugged shoulders…what to do?

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