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Rookie Wednesday: What Are Some Rules and Tips About the Delta Amex Companion Passes?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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.

 

The companion certificate awarded annually to Delta Amex Platinum and Reserve cardholders can be a great benefit. But a few restrictions, rules, and “Can I…?” questions may make it confusing or difficult to redeem them.

I figured now is a good time to address some of these points — especially because the Delta Platinum Amex personal (learn more) and business (learn more) cards have a great cash back welcome bonus offer available through August 15. THAT OFFER EXPIRED — PLEASE SEE CURRENT OFFERS

Below are some questions and answers we hope will help!

What is the Companion Certificate?

The companion certificate is a perk Delta Platinum Amex and Delta Reserve Amex cardholders receive annually — beginning the second year of membership (as Amex likes to call it).

You do not receive the companion certificate (or “BOGOF,” as we call it, for “Buy One, Get One Free”) the first year you hold the card.

Put simply, it allows someone to fly a free (plus some tax/fees) on one roundtrip with a paying passenger who applies the companion certificate.

They are valid for US domestic travel only on Delta Air Lines (Residents of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the USVI must originate from there to the 48 contiguous United States and have an address on their SkyMiles account in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the USVI.).

Delta Platinum Amex cardholders (learn more) can use their companion certificate for coach/Main Cabin bookings with available fare classes.

Delta Reserve cardholders (learn more), meanwhile, can use their companion certs for:

  • Coach/Main Cabin with available fare classes
  • Comfort+ with available fare class
  • First class/Delta One with available fare classes

We’ll cover “available fare classes” in a few minutes.

Do Only Personal Delta Amexes Get the Companion Pass?

Both the personal and business flavors of the Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve cards receive the companion pass.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (learn more)

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express (learn more)

Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express (learn more)

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card (learn more)

When Do I Receive It?

Generally, a few days after your second year’s annual fee is billed.

Where Do I Find the Delta Amex Companion Certificate? Is It a Physically Certificate That’s Mailed to Me?

There are two ways to locate your companion certificate: what I like to call “The Shortcut” and “The Scenic Route.”

The Scenic Route:

  • Go to Delta.com
  • Log in to “My Delta.”
  • Look for “My Wallet.”
  • Click on “Credits and Certificates.”

My Delta screen indicating where the companion certificate is located.

The Shortcut (my preferred method):

  • Bookmark this page that takes you directly to “Credits and Certificates.” Use that link when logged in to Delta.com SkyMiles account. Done!

Delta Certificates and Credits page.

Can I Use the Companion Certificate Multiple Times?

No. They are single-use certificates. Once you redeem one, it’s gone for the year.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express.Learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express at https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/dlplat

Can I Have More Than One Companion Certificate at a Time?

Yes. I hold all four of the above credit cards and annually receive a companion certificate for each.

Does the Delta Amex Companion Certificate Expire?

Yes. And this part is VERY IMPORTANT:

Your trip must be completed by the date stated. It’s not like other Delta certificates (bump vouchers, etc) that give you a year during which you can book travel for a date up to another year in advance.

The Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express.
Learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express at https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/dlplat

If There Are Two Seats Open on a Delta Flight, Can I Use the Companion Certificate?

The companion certificates are limited to certain fare classes. The companion cert page (again, accessed via this link) will show you what itineraries are eligible for booking.

The Platinum and Reserve companion certs are eligible for L, U, T, X, and V domestic Main Cabin/coach fares.

The Reserve’s cert may also be used for:

  • Comfort+ W fares
  • First Class or Delta One A and I fares

Inventory may not always be available for flights you want. That’s pretty much my only gripe about the companion certificate.

A Delta One business class seat on a Delta Air Lines A330 aircraft.

So the Reserve Cards’ Companion Certificate Can Be Used for Delta One?!

Sure can (subject to inventory).

My in-laws flew LAX to BOS in Delta One, using my Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card (learn more) companion certificate.

So the Cardholder Doesn’t Have to Fly on the Companion Cert?

Nope.

The cardholder doesn’t even need to know the people flying on the companion certificate. (I did this for my neighbor’s grandsons so they could come home for Christmas after their grandfather died. Never met ‘em and don’t remember their names.)

The cardholder — or someone with access to the cardholder’s SkyMiles account — must book the ticket.

Are There Any Other Trip Requirements?

Most companion certificate fares require:

  • advance purchase of up to 14 days
  • three-night minimum stay
  • 30-day maximum stay

How Do I Redeem the Companion Certificate?

Go to the Credits and Certificates page you bookmarked. Click the checkbox next to where the cert says “OPEN.” And continue from there.

So I Can’t Call Delta and Have a Phone Agent Book a Companion Certificate Flight for Me?

Technically, no.

I’ve been told you can’t. Rene said it’s worked just fine.

Given that Delta IT is, you know, Delta IT, you might not see all the available fare classes available for companion certificates. In other words, you may want to conduct your own search separately from the Credits and Certificates page, find a qualifying itinerary, and then call Delta to see if they can help book it.

Does the Companion Pay Any Fees?

Yes. Taxes, surcharges, and other miscellaneous charges are not waived. The limit, though, is $75. Personally, I’ve ever come close to paying that much.

The Platinum Card from American Express.

Learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express at https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/dlplat

Do I Have to Pay with a Delta Amex?

No. And you shouldn’t. Delta Amex cards reward you only two SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta.

You can do way better than that.

The companion cert’s terms & conditions say “Primary Ticket and Companion ticket must be purchased with your Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.”

Fluff.

The only card type you must use is an American Express card.

Pay with any darn Amex card you want (and anyone’s Amex card, even). Personally, I use my Platinum Card from American Express (learn more) because it earns 5X per dollar spent directly with airlines.

Can I Pay with SkyMiles?

Nope. The primary fare has to be paid for with real money. Here’s one instance where Delta doesn’t want you using SkyMiles as currency.

Unfortunately, it’s not like Southwest’s companion pass which can be used with award tickets.

Can I Use a Voucher to Pay for The Primary Ticket?

Sadly, no.

Can the Companion Certificate Be Used on All Delta Flights?

Only Delta (and Delta Connection) flights departing and arriving within the 48 contiguous United States are eligible.

That goes for both the Platinum and Reserve BOGOFs.

Learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express at https://renespoints.boardingarea.com/dlplat

Is the Cert Good Only for Non-Stops? Or are connections OK?

Trips with connection are fine. (I’ve done it many times) Delta will show you what trips are available for companion certificate travel.

It does not work, however with multi-city trips or open-jaws.

This is a Lot of Information! Does Anyone Help with Booking Delta Amex Companion Certificates?

Absolutely.

Our good friend Adam and his crew are experienced with booking Delta Amex BOGOF trips and happy to help you!

How Many People Can Be on My Companion Certificate Reservation?

Just two: the paying passenger and complimentary companion.

However, you can certainly book travel for others (friends, family, etc) on the same trip. Just be sure to link everyone’s reservations.

The easiest way (in my opinion) is going on Twitter and sending a direct message to @Delta. And ask them to link the reservations.

They will need:

  • PNRs
  • SkyMiles numers (if applicable)
  • Traveler’s names
  • Travel dates
  • Departure and destination cities

Read more about linking in this post Rene wrote a few years ago when a different Chris asked about the topic.

Can I Use More Than One Companion Certificate for, Say, a Group of Four People on a Trip?

I’ve done it multiple times — but booked separately and on multiple reservations. (Keep in mind the fare price may go up after the first booking. Or an eligible fare may not even be available.)

For example, my mother-in-law and I use a companion certificate to book flight 1234. We’re issued PNR/confirmation number ABC123.

My wife and daughter will use another companion certificate to book the same flight; they’ll be on PNR CBA321.

Then we link the reservations using the above method.

Where in a Delta Airplane Can I Sit Using a Companion Certificate?

The standard, cash fare seating rules apply to companion certificate bookings.

If you’re a general SkyMiles member, you can reserve any available non-preferred Main Cabin seat.

Silvers and Golds can get any available Main Cabin preferred seat (i.e. exit rows).

Platinums and Golds can get any available Main Cabin seat (including preferred) and then upgrade (almost instantly) to C+ if they wish.

Can I Earn SkyMiles?

The person flying as the paying passenger will earn:

  • MQM
  • MQS
  • MQD
  • SkyMiles/redeemable miles (according to their status tier).

The companion doesn’t earn anything — but is flying for free. That’s not a bad gig.

First class in a Delta Air Lines 737.

Can I Get Upgraded?

If the primary/purchasing passenger is a Delta Medallion, yes. Upgrades clear according to status level and the usual rules.

However, the companion must be at least a SkyMiles member or partner airline elite member. Otherwise, the twosome will not be eligible for upgrades.

If I’m a Platinum or Diamond, Can I Apply Upgrade Certificates?

Yes.

You can apply Global Upgrade certificates to shoot to the tippy top of the upgrade list for something like a Delta One transcon. But I’d recommend saving those for an intercontinental trip!

What If I Have to Cancel My Trip? Do I Get the BOGOF Credit Back to My Account?

Nope.

Even if I Cancel Within 24 Hours of Booking?

Every data point I’ve read and heard indicates companion certificates are complete and final the second they’re booked.

Bad News! My Companion Got Sick and Can’t Go. Can I Still Use the Ticket Even Though I’m the Primary/Paying Passenger?

Technically, no. The terms say if one person has to cancel, the trip’s off. And, of course, you lose the companion cert until your next one is issued.

However, we’ve heard of people calling the Medallion desk or reservations line and asking them to split the reservation into separate PNRs. Tell them the situation and very nicely ask if they’ll help.

Don’t Put Yourself In that Situation

Emergencies pop up from time to time. Stuff happens, as the saying goes.

But don’t put yourself in a situation where you may have to cancel a trip, especially like this one.

Please listen to my advice on this. I speak from experience and cannot stress this enough: do not apply a companion certificate to travel involving a friend, family member, associate, or colleague who:

  • has an erratic schedule
  • is flaky and unreliable
  • isn’t in good health

No joke — we’ve expressly forbidden a certain person in my close travel group from ever again being on a companion certificate itinerary.

Can I Change a BOGOF Trip?

Yes. The primary and companion will each be assessed a $200 change fee. The primary/paying passenger will also be the hook for any fare differences.

Learn more about this card!

Will I Lose My Companion Certificate if I Cancel My Delta Amex Card?

Amex will say yes and tell you not to cancel your card.

You won’t.

Once it’s in your account, it’s yours.

Can I Sell My Companion Certificate?

You run the risk of Delta canceling not only your companion certificate but also your SkyMiles account altogether. That kind of abuse might kill the ability for us to book tickets in other people’s names, etc.

What Else Should I Know?

As someone who now has to pay for a two-year-old, I love the companion pass. As long as one of the tickets is $196 (for the Delta Platinum Amex companion cert) or more, we come out ahead of the annual fee.

Honestly, I hold the Delta Platinum Amexes simply for the companion passes. They save me that much money.

Writer Chris Carley's daughter sitting in first class on a Delta Air Lines flight, using the companion pass from one of his Delta American Express cards.
Companion certificates came in extra handy once my daughter turned two-years-old — and she no longer qualified as an infant-in-arms. Thanks to the BOGOFs, she still flies free!

For the Reserve card’s companion cert, being able to buy first class can come in quite handy. If your schedule is fairly inflexible but there’s no Main Cabin companion cert inventory, two higher-priced coach seats may cost about the same as using the BOGOF for a first class seat and a free companion seat. Plus, the primary/paid passenger earns an MQM bonus because it’s a first class fare. And, most of all, you’re sitting in first class!

Use your certificates and have fun!

You can read the rest of the companion certificates rules and regulations here.

Questions? Data Points?

Anything you’re still wondering? Anyone have data points to contribute?

Please share in the Comments section below!
–Chris

 

Credit Cards That Offer the Annual Delta Amex Companion Pass

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (learn more)

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express (learn more)

Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express (learn more)

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card (learn more)

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

16 Comments

  1. I have been successful cancelling within 24 hours and got my cert back. They simply voided the transaction. And you cannot depart and return from sister airports (MIA/FLL) except if DL recognizes the code such as NYC or CHI or WAS.

  2. @Frakie – Thanks for data point and there is logic to what you posted. Delta does have the 24 hour free cancel policy and this must trump the no-redeposit rule.

  3. My biggest gripe of the BOGOF certificate is lack of applicable fare class availability when I want to fly.

    My question: If I use my personal (non-Delta) Amex Platinum to pay for the tickets, will the taxes on the free ticket be rebated under the annual $200 incidental expenses for the card?

  4. From Amex: Residents of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) must originate from there to the 48 contiguous United States and have an address on their SkyMiles account in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the USVI.

  5. @JP – They should but have not personally tested. Notice the tip about searching w/out the cert. If you can find the fare class w/out cert call Delta have have them book as published on Delta.dumb.

  6. I have been thwarted twice by lack of “available” fare classes when booking BOGO travel on Delta.com. When I search for inventory in the normal booking engine, there appear to be plenty of seats in those classes. But, when I go to use the certificate, I find no availability. I called, and the agent couldn’t explain why the certificate couldn’t be used even though two seats in L, U, T, X, and / or V could be purchased. What gives?

  7. @Rob W – Have them get a hold of “dot com” support and have them force it. I have done it a few times.

  8. On the Amex website for the Reserve card, it states, “Tickets are only available in I and Z classes of service for First Class travel.” But on the Delta website and on the certificate itself it only allows A and I fares. Any thoughts on this? Would be nice to use on Z fares like Amex says we can.

  9. Last year a route I have used the annual cert for the previous three years stopped working. It seemed to me that they’ve cut connecting flights from the cert. I had been doing ATL:SLC:GJT:SLC:ATL. It’s also possible that what tripped it up is that the aircraft that does SLC:GJT doesn’t have First Class. This had never been a problem before. I ended up using the cert ATL:PHX:ATL and paying less than $150 each for AA tickets for the PHX:GJT:PHX jump. Anyone else have problems on connecting flight redemptions?

  10. We have tried twice to use Delta gift cards to pay the traveler and companion ticket cost. Both times we were advised that the cost must be charged to an AMEX card. We even tried to pay part of the cost with a gift card and the rest with an AMEX card but still no go. After all the things we have seen Delta do to us over the past few years, it is not surprising that Delta won’t accept their own gift cards to pay for traveler or companion Delta tickets.

  11. How do checked baggage fees work with the companion pass if the cardholder is not flying?
    I booked a trip for my mom and sister using my Delta Plat companion pass. Both have their own Delta Amex cards (Gold or Plat).

    Do they still get a free checked bag?

  12. @Russ: As long as the primary/paid passenger’s SM number is on the reservation, they both should get one free checked bag.

  13. Joe Chivas

    I feel a bit duped by the companion pass. I signed up for a Reserve card because the terms on the Amex signup website said I could book a F roundtrip in Z class. But when I got the actual cert just now it says only A or I. Class A doesn’t even seem to exist and I is very expensive, usually a few hundred $ more that Z. Is this a bait and switch?

  14. They are hard to use as few fare class eligible seats open

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