Rookie Sunday: Should I upgrade or downgrade my Delta Amex card? Should I keep it or cancel?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this featured topic.

Should I upgrade or downgrade?

If you fly Delta, even only a few times a year, you need to hold at least 1 Delta Amex card. Why? If you have no status, the Gold Delta Amex card (personal or business) gets you a free bag. Flying with up to 8 others on the same reservation as you – then all of you get a free bag. That alone can pay for YEARS of the annual card fee.

Beyond that, if you take just a few moments and use the “many open tab” trick to register for some of the best Amex “Offers for You”, you can save enough each year to offset the card fee (or at least most of it depending on the card).

But the above does not mean you must hold on the “same” Delta Amex card all year long or each year for that matter. Thus it begs the question:

“Should I upgrade or downgrade my Delta Amex card?”

Maybe but there are a bunch of caveats that go into the mix and it really is important for you to consider a host of factors before you do this or consider doing this. Let’s break down a bunch of them one by one.

#1) Only after new card bonus! This one is vital and why it is number one. Amex officially only allows you to get a bonus for a new card once in a “lifetime”. To be clear, each of the 6 big Delta Amex cards are unique products and you can get the new card bonus for EACH of them once, that is, the personal Gold, Platinum and Reserve as well as the business Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards. If you have NOT had the new card bonus for EACH then it is wise to apply for a new card, get the bonus, then cancel one of the other cards if you wish.

#2) Ask for something! Before you ever consider canceling any Amex card see if they will either waive the fee for you for a year (or most of the fee) due to whatever changes they have made to the card perks or Delta has forced on them or ask for bonus SkyMiles to offset the cost of the fee for a year. See Essential Tab post E13 for more help with this.

#3) BOGO cert! Other than the Gold Delta Amex you get a BOGO cert each year when your fee bills. It is then dumped into your Delta account. Amex will tell you if you cancel it goes away – that is not true. Once it dumps in to Delta.com you have a year to spend and fly it so wait to make changes until this posts to your “My Delta”.

#4) Be careful with the annual fee! The current “official” Amex rule is 30 days to get fee back once it bills. Some have reported still being able to get partial fee credit when they cancel midyear but I would not count on this. To be safe use the 30 day rule.

#5) Consider Upgrade / downgrade game! Understanding CLEARLY point 1 above some who want max bonus MQMs play the upgrade / downgrade game each year. That is, they, for example, start the year with the Delta Platinum card. Spend $50,000 and enjoy the bonus SkyMiles and MQMs. Then (#ProTip) they wait 1 month for new statement to post, and call and upgrade to the Reserve card. Then they spend $60,000 on that card for another round of bonus SkyMiles and MQMs. Next year they do the reverse and downgrade vs. upgrade.

#6) Always hold a Reserve card! Keeping point 5 in mind it is always wise, as a Delta elite and frequent flyer, to hold a Delta Amex Reserve card. The personal and business cards, as far as Delta perks go, are identical so it does not matter the card you hold. As long as you have one you will get more upgrades, Sky Club access the day you fly etc etc.

#7) 25k spend goal! This one is maybe not 100% tied in to the question of upgrade / downgrade but if you only have one card it matters re. cancellation of cards. Once you hit the 25k spend goal on one (or many) Delta Amex cards you will have a chance for more upgrades as one of the tiebreakers is 25k spend. Also, for all but Diamond Medallion, 25k is still the spend goal to be MQD exempt as part of your quest for Silver, Gold or Platinum status.

#8) The Blue card! Lastly, never downgrade to the Blue Delta Amex card except under one condition – the age of credit for that card. The Delta Amex Blue card is a horrid and worthless card and anyone spending on it is really brainless. But holding the card can be wise if you have had your Delta Amex card forever and want to, for the benefit of your credit score, hang on to a card you have had for many years. Then do downgrade to Blue and use it only once a year to keep it active.

So there you are. Keeping the above in mind it should be simple for you to make a good choice for you personally if you could keep, upgrade or downgrade your Delta Amex card of whatever flavor. – René

 

 


 

22 comments

  1. Great post, Rene! Which business card gives you Gogo coupons? And by moving from the personal card of this particular card to the business card, what I am giving up to get the Gogo coupons? i.e. are the Gogo coupons “free” or am giving up another perq to get them? Thanks.

  2. @Rene, So, if I already have the NON Delta Amex Platinum Personal Card, what am I giving up? Do I get everything the Personal Card had, PLUS the Gogo inflight coupons?

  3. @Don in ATL – Different perks for those two cards. The fee is less for biz card and you get gogo passes. But personal card has monthly Uber credits. I like the 35% points back when I book Delta tickets with MR points (and earn like paying cash flying Delta fyi). For me personally the biz card is the best! Oh and the 100k current new card bonus offer is sweet!

  4. Careful if you receive email from Delta asking you to “upgrade” your current Delta platinum card to a Reserve card. That’s not the same as opening a new account and closing the old one. You won’t get any intro MQMs if you do that!

  5. I once had a Delta Citi visa card. Had it for a year, got the bonus, and closed it. During that year, they offered me a no annual fee Amex delta card. I said sure, fine, I will take it. There must have been a bonus of some kind. I forget now.

    Now, a few years later, they ask me to pay $95 for my delta amex card. I called them and politely pointed out that my card had no annual fee. The guy says “yes it does” but will check for me. He comes back to say I was right, no fee. And by the way, if I use the card for $500 in the next three months, they will give me 3000 miles. Thank you very much.

    So, call them, be nice and see what you can get.

  6. @rene,

    Just an FYI, Delta sent me an offer to upgrade from my DL Plat Amex to the Reserve. With a 20,000 bonus mile offer after I spend $2,000. Since I have the non DL amex business Plat card, I don’t see the value of holding both.

    Gregg

  7. René- what kind of retention offers are they giving on the Reserve in light of the requirement of $250k spend for Diamond status? Thanks

  8. @rene,

    Thanks. I wasnt going to go for reserve card, as I cant justify both the non Dl Platinum and the Reserve.

    Gregg

  9. Rene,

    Sorry it’s off-topic, but your responses to Don in ATL’s comments has me looking at non-DL AmEx Platinum Business. I clicked your link, but didn’t see anything about Gogo passes, only Boingo. Is this an unpublished benefit? Thanks.

  10. @Jim S – See: https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/2015/03/16/confirmed-amex-business-gogo-passes-are-valid-on-international-flights/

    Also, if you use my links for the non-Delta Platinum card at: http://www.RenesPoints.com/bpc you will see in the deep T&C:

    Gogo Preferred Program
    Each Basic and Additional Business Platinum Card® Member is eligible for 10 complimentary single flight segment passes for Gogo inflight internet each calendar year. A “flight segment” is defined as one takeoff and landing on the same aircraft, with the same flight number, between two cities. To activate the passes, go to gogoair.com/amex to validate eligibility and then create or log into your Gogo account. To use a pass while in flight, log into your Gogo account and select to use the American Express Internet Pass. If you are on a Gogo equipped flight segment that is eligible for a Gogo monthly or annual subscription plan or an All-Day Pass you have redeemed that is still in effect, your Gogo subscription plan or All-Day Pass will be automatically used and you will not have an opportunity to use an American Express Internet Pass. Any American Express Internet Passes remaining in your Gogo account at the end of each calendar year will be removed. To be eligible for this benefit, your Card Account must be issued in the United States and be active. Amex will revoke unused passes if your Card is canceled or if you transfer your Card Account to a new Card product. Amex will periodically provide Gogo with updated information regarding your eligibility for this benefit. Use of Gogo services is subject to Gogo’s terms of use, privacy policy and other policies, available at gogoair.com. For the most up-to-date list of participating airlines, go to http://www.gogoair.com/amex-airlines/. Gogo and the Gogo logo are trademarks of Gogo LLC, registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  11. @Kilo – Once you are logged in to your Amex account, and open the “Offers to You” page, you open another browser tab and go to the next card you have (and so on again and again) until you have all the cards open to that cards “Offers to You”. Then you can register all your cards for ALL the offers (otherwise they go away and you get them on only one card)!

  12. So I have the delta gold amex (non business) and and going to have probably 35k spent on it by the end of the year. Should I consider upgrading right to reserve or go with delta platinum? I have not held either of the cards but do currently hold the delta platinum business amex. I am currently a silver medialion and will be close to gold medalion by the end of the year.
    Thanks.

  13. @Mike – NEVER EVER upgrade (or downgrade) until you have HAD that card (you are going for) at least once in your lifetime as you will kill your chance for a new card bonus. Go for the new card THEN cancel the old card if you want. Thanks for also supporting the blow at: http://www.RenesPoints.com/bpc

  14. @Rene, I’ve have the non-DL Amex Platinum card. (I also have a personal DL Reserve card). I’m thinking of getting the non-DL Amex Business Platinum card for the 100,000 point bonus and the Gogo inflight wifi. Can I get this, and then let my non-DL Amex Platinum expire at the next renewal (since I won’t need – and don’t want to pay for both)? Also, all my credit scores are frozen. Do I need to unfreeze to apply ….. or is the approval based solely on my Amex history? Thanks.

  15. @Don in ATL – Yes you will have to unfreeze. Yes you can maintain your Membership Rewards points by getting the business card then cancel personal one. Yes your total income will be considered if you do not make an income from your business income like buying and selling on ebay etc. The 100k point card offer is sold and worth going for. Thanks for using our links: http://www.RenesPoints.com/bpc

  16. I hold the Gold Delta Amex (non-business). Was wondering if the $50 statement credit can be used once the annual fee posts, then cancel the card and still retain the $50 credit?

  17. @Kent – 1x new card offer. But if you get the biz (gold) card and then cancel the personal you get the perk again and get same Delta perks! Plus the bonus points for the new card. BTW the Delta biz Platinum is an even better offer right now!!

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