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Buying Drinks at Delta Sky Club Bars: Which Credit Card Awarded Me a Points Bonus?

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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.


We established last month that premium beverage purchases at Delta Sky Clubs don’t count towards either the personal nor business American Express Platinum cards’ annual airline incidental credit. (Or Amex Gold Card‘s, for that matter.)

But if you’re in a Delta Sky Club and don’t feel like the well/complimentary alcohol? Maybe you want to buy the good stuff. Which credit cards award you bonus points for those transactions?

Normally, I stick to wine at Delta Sky Clubs (the red blend). I love bourbon — but don’t particularly enjoy Jack Daniel’s (the Delta Sky Club’s house bourbon) neat or on the rocks.

So I took it upon myself to conduct an experiment.

I visited a couple of “The Bars” at Delta Sky Club and purchased premium bourbons. You know, for science’s sake. 😉

I tried three different credit cards:

Here’s what I found.

Delta Reserve Card

During a quick stop in at JFK last year, I ordered a Booker’s bourbon to enjoy on the Sky Deck.

A glass of Booker's bourbon whiskey and plate of chicken with rice are seen on the Sky Deck of Delta Air Lines' Delta Sky Club at New York's Kennedy Airport (JFK).

I paid with my Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card from American Express. After all, it’s a Delta purchase and should earn 2X points. Right?

Nope and nope.

“Delta Sky Club” — not Delta Air Lines — was the vendor. Plus, the purchase credited as “Food/Beverage.” Because Food and Beverage isn’t a bonused category on the personal or business Reserve cards, my $11.89 purchased earned only 12 SkyMiles.

The quest continued.

American Express Gold Card

Because my Booker’s purchase above was categorized as F & B, I tried my American Express Gold Card for my next experiment. Why? Because it earns 4X on dining worldwide.

So I purchased a Woodford Reserve at the SLC Delta Sky Club.

Woodford Reserve at Salt Lake City Delta Sky Club bar.

The total came out to $11.70 after tip. (Though, ahem not a very generous pour.)

This, too, coded as “Food/Beverage” — not Restaurant or Dining. So this purchase earned only 12 Membership Rewards points.

I tried another card in my wallet.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

I sprung for a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. My hope was that the purchase would code as Travel (hello, free drink with the $300 credit!) or Dining (3X points).

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon whiskey is seen at the Delta Sky Club in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Was I finally lucky this time?

Yes! My beverage purchase coded as Dining — and I earned 3X. Because the Chase Sapphire Reserve allows cardholders to redeem Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 1.5 cents each through Chase’s travel site, the 44.79 points are potentially worth 67.19 points.

American Express (Delta’s credit card partner, for cryin’ out loud!) can’t hold a torch to that.

Plus, I’m glad my most expensive purchase was the successful one 🙂 .

Bottom’s Up

Folks holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve or its much more affordable sibling Chase Sapphire Preferred (2X on Dining) should use those cards when buying premium drinks at Delta Sky Club bars.

I find it strategically inane that Delta and its credit card BFF Amex don’t incentivize people to pay with co-branded products at Sky Clubs. (“Get 2X or 3X on The Bar purchases at Delta Sky Clubs!” or something like that). Even my Amex Gold Card is next to worthless at the Sky Clubs.

Frankly, the liquor at Sky Clubs is expensive and generally not worth the price. I’ll stick with my house red for the time being. But this was a fun test to undertake.

Cheers!
–Chris

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.


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10 Comments

  1. Nice analysis, I agree that it makes no sense not to get some kind of bonus for using a Delta Branded or other Amex card in the Sky Club. When I do buy drinks in the Sky Club, I tend to use miles at 2cpm value. 🙂 I’m a bourbon drinker myself, but tend to crave Dom when I am in the Sky Club. However, I will have to try the red blend and see if it meets my needs so I can hold onto those miles and use them for travel!

  2. The last several times I’ve used the Sky Club, I have been able to pay with SkyMiles at a 50% discount. A $10.00 drink cost me 500 miles. 2 cents per SkyMiles is not bad.

  3. can we use medallion HOU certificates at the SkyClub? whats the $ limit? thanks

  4. Chris thanks for experimenting and publishing your findings. I have a question for Am Ex and Delta: what happened to the annual December complimentary two top shelf drinks for Reserve card holders? Bring back the generous holiday cheer. Bookers. Neat. That’s the spirit!

    • @Wayne: You’re quite welcome — it was my pleasure!

      Haven’t heard a peep about the two free drinks — which was a great perk during holiday travel.

      It was probably us Booker’s fans that put them in the red 😉

  5. My two cents…I’m a vodka guy…the house vodka in the Sky Club is Three Olives and that’s pretty decent stuff. It’s certainly far better than you’d find in the speed rack at your local bar. I don’t need to up-charge to Grey Goose or Kettle. There’s enough other better things to waste my $$ on!

  6. Jack Daniels is produced in Tennessee. By geographic disqualification, it is called Tennessee whiskey and not considered a bourbon. By strict definition, bourbon whiskey originates from Kentucky’s Bourbon County, although only 95% of the world’s bourbon come from the state.

  7. Shame on SkyClub trying to pass off Jack Daniels Whiskey as a bourbon!!!

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