First off, let me say that getting any of the “big 3” can have real value at least during the first year. After that, the question of value is really up to you and how much you plan to fly Delta next year.
Take for example the Delta AMEX Gold card<–LINK. When you add up the value of the 30,000 bonus points after minimum spend, the $50 credit when you make a Delta purchase and free bag waiver for no annual fee the first year you are doing quite well for yourself. You could choose to use the SkyMiles as an award or get at least 1 cent value each if you use the Pay With Miles feature.
Next we have the Delta Platinum card<–LINK. Again you have bonus SkyMiles, this time 35,000 after minimum spend, but if you, like so many, are chasing status with Delta the value of 5,000 MQMs is like taking a long mileage run from home. That is nice. Then you have the $100 credit when you make a Delta purchase and free bag waiver that offsets much of the NON-WAIVED $195 fee for the first year. To me, the MQMs are well worth this, but that is me.
Lastly the Delta Reserve card<–LINK. The bonus SkyMiles are only 10,000 after first purchase, but to me the real prize is the 10,000 MQMs that also come along with the first purchase. That and all the other perks like upgrade priority over those in the same fare class as you without the card, Skyclub access and the shot at earning so many more bonus MQMs each year via spend make the NON-WAIVED $450 fee a choice I like for year one.
But what if you already have one of these personal cards. The current “rules” say you can only get the new card bonus once for any of these personal cards (please note the rules are VERY different for business cards and I am ONLY talking about the personal cards).
So if you now, say, have the GOLD Delta AMEX card, per the rules you cannot cancel, wait for a year or two, and get the new card bonus again. Since all three are viewed as the same family of cards, the same goes for the other two personal cards as well.
But what about upgrades then? In the past I have been VERY against this. Why? No matter what the credit card offer is, from AMEX or another bank, when you click on a link and you hopefully have done a screen shot of the offer, the banks have to live up to the T&C of the offer (as long as you meet the T&C at your end that is ,and you are approved for the card). Thus you are safer doing this compared to calling and having a phone rep tell you what you can get. Many readers have been promised one thing by a phone rep for a card upgrade only to see that offer not fulfilled later down the road and nothing but a “so sorry” offered at that point. Exceedingly frustrating.
However, with the current rules in place with AMEX, I think a phone upgrade can be worth the risk as the rewards are worth it. Here is why.
Say you currently have the Delta GOLD card and you want more MQMs. Call and ask for the moon! All they can do is say no. Ask for 5000 MQMs for upgrading to the Platinum card. Ask that they waive the fee for the first year after upgrade. Ask for bonus SkyMiles. Ask, ask, ask!
Say you have the Delta Platinum card and again want more MQMs. Same thing as the above. This time asking for 10,000 MQMs to upgrade and so on. Again, all they can do is say NO and you are no worse off than you were before the call.
IF they DO say yes to any of the things you ask for there are some steps to take to at least have some leverage if down the road you do NOT get what was offered by the phone rep. Do the following:
- NOTE THE TIME OF THE CALL: The day you called, the time you called and how long you were on the phone. Most banks record your calls to them so you can have the info for them to go pull the recording of the call to prove what was said.
- GET THE REPS NAME AND ID NUMBER: If you can get who you are talking to. If you talked to more than one rep get all the names before they send you to the next rep. If they have an ID number say BOB 1234, get that too.
- THE EXACT WORDING OF THE OFFER: If they offer you any kind of points be sure to write down what that offer is. Were there SkyMiles and MQMs or only SkyMiles and was there some kind of spend you have to do. Was the fee waived for a year. How long would it take to get the bonus offered so that you know when to call back if they do not post.
Now let me give you one HUGE warning on the upgrade from the Delta Platinum card to the Reserve card should you wish to try this. The Platinum card comes with an MQM spend bonus once you reach $25,000 and again at $50,000 during a calendar year (not your card member year). Again, in the past, I have seen the spend totals wiped OUT when you upgrade and reset to ZERO. Not always, but I have many examples to point to. So, I would hold off on your upgrade until you at least cross the 1st or 2nd levels. THEN YES jump on it as you may score the Reserve card bonus points once you cross the $30,000 or $60,000 levels as well. No promise here, but there is a chance that can happen.
Last issue that should be a non-issue is the Delta MQD spend waiver. There should be no issue if you upgrade to get credit for your spend so far during the year on your old card and then adding the spend on your upgraded card. However, if it were ME, I would wait until I reached 25k before I upgraded. Why? Once you have met the waiver you have met the waiver. It really is that simple.
Finally, as already mentioned, the only reason to risk a phone upgrade is this is your only choice. With the Delta business cards I would not risk this.
The rule for them is if you got ANY of the 3 new card bonus points, you would have to cancel, wait 365+ day, apply again and if approved you will get the new card bonus (whatever it is at the time) again (UPDATE: Now also 1x lifetime new card bonus for business cards). Also, unlike the personal cards, AMEX views the Delta business cards EACH as a unique product so you can hold say the Delta Platinum business card and still apply for and get the Delta Reserve business card and get the bonus for that card as well and hold them BOTH at once should you wish. Again, very different rules compared to the personal cards!
I know this is a long post but I wanted to make clear my feelings on upgrading cards as many email me and ask should they go for some offer a phone rep told them about. Now you know what you should consider before you accept whatever AMEX is offering 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.