Credit Cards

Comparing All Four Delta American Express Credit Cards [Personal/Consumer 2021]

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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.


If you’re like me, you enjoy seeing side-by-side comparisons of products when trying to decide which is the best for you.

So with the big Delta American Express credit card offers that were recently announced — and my love of comparing credit cards 🙂 — I figure this is a great chance for us to look at the major differences and similarities between all four cards.

For people who’ve held at least one of these cards, we’d love to hear your input: which cards you like, ones you didn’t, which benefits were the most useful, and which didn’t really live up to your expectations.

Even if you currently have a Delta credit card, you can apply for one you haven’t already held — and still be eligible for its welcome offer. For example, if you hold the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card but want to pad your SkyMiles account, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card‘s welcome offer could look very tempting (especially considering that card’s annual fee is waived the first year).

If you’re thinking of applying for one of the cards — or even just reevaluating your overall credit card strategy — I hope this makes your decision easier.

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card
Learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express. The Delta Reserve Card from American Express
Annual Fee $0 $99 (waived the first year) $250 $550
Foreign Transaction Fees None. None. None. None.
Current Welcome Offer Limited time Earn 10,000 bonus SkyMiles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Limited time offer expires on April 28, 2021:

Earn 70,000 bonus SkyMiles after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases on your new card within three months of being approved for the Card. 

Limited time offer expires on April 28, 2021:

Earn 90,000 bonus SkyMiles after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on your new card within three months of being approved for the Card.  

Limited time offer expires on April 28, 2021: 

Earn 80,000 bonus SkyMiles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in eligible purchases on your new card within three months of being approved for the Card. 

Total Points Earned Per Dollar Spent On:

Purchases Made Directly with Delta Air Lines 2X 2X 3X 3X
Purchases Made at U.S. Supermarkets 1X 2X 2X 1X
Purchases Made Directly with Hotels 1X 1X 3X 1X
Dining Purchases Worldwide (Including Takeout and Delivery) 2X 2X 2X 1X
All Other Eligible Purchases 1X 1X 1X 1X

Delta Medallion Status Benefits

Earns Bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) / Status Boosts After Reaching Prescribed Spending Thresholds No. No. Yes. Receive 10,000 bonus MQM when you spend $25,000 on your card during a calendar year.

Earn one additional 10,000 bonus MQM if you spend another $25,000 during the same calendar year.

(Long story short: spend $50,000 in eligible purchases, get 20,000 bonus MQM.)

Special promotion for 2021: Delta Platinum Amex cardholders earn 12,500 MQM for every $25,000 spent on eligible purchases on a Delta Amex Platinum Card. Limit of $50,000 in eligible spending.

Yes. Receive 15,000 bonus MQM each time you spend $30,000 during a calendar year.

This is capped at a maximum of 60,000 bonus MQM each year (which would cost $120,000 in eligible expenses).

Special promotion for 2021:  Cardholders earn 18,750 MQM for every $30,000 spent on eligible purchases on a Delta Amex Reserve Card. Limit of $120,000 in eligible spending.

Ability to Gift Bonus MQM from Delta Amex Spending to Another SkyMiles Member You Designate No. No. No. Yes.
Spending Counts Toward $25,000 Delta Amex MQD Waiver for Silver, Gold, and Platinum Medallion Status ($250,000 for Diamond Medallion) Not on its own. Cardholder must otherwise be the primary cardholder of a Delta Platinum (personal or business) or Delta Reserve card (personal or business). Not on its own. Cardholder must otherwise be the primary cardholder of a Delta Platinum (personal or business) or Delta Reserve card (personal or business). Yes. Yes.

Delta Travel Benefits

Main Cabin 1 “Priority” Boarding When Flying in Coach (Even Basic Economy) No. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Free First Checked Bag for Cardholder and Up to Eight Passengers Flying a Delta-operated and Delta-marketed Itinerary and Traveling on Same PNR/Confirmation Number No. Yes. Yes. Yes.
20% Statement Credit on Delta In-Flight Purchases (Premium Snacks, Alcoholic Beverages, etc) Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Cardmember is Eligible to Use Delta’s Pay With Miles Service Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Access to Delta Sky Clubs When Flying on a Same-Day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated Flight None. None. $39 for primary cardholder.

Other guests: $39 per person. Immediate family permitted or two other guests.

Complimentary for primary and paid additional cardholders.

Two guest passes each year of card membership.

Other guests: $39 per person. Immediate family permitted or two other guests.

Access to American Express Centurion Lounges When Flying on a Same-Day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated Flight PURCHASED WITH AN ELIGIBLE AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD None. None. None.

Complimentary for primary and paid additional cardholders.

Two guests may be admitted for $50 per person.

Cardmembership Serves as a Tie-Breaker for Delta Complimentary Upgrades No. No. No. Yes.
Companion Certificate (“Buy-One, Get-One”) Each Year Upon Card Renewal No. No. Yes, for select Main Cabin fares. Yes, for select First Class, Comfort+, and Main Cabin fares.
Cardholder is Eligible for Complimentary Upgrades on Delta Air Lines Flights, Regardless of Holding  Any Medallion Status No. No. No. Yes.
$100 Delta Flight Credit No. Yes. Receive a $100 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in eligible purchases made with the card year during a calendar year. No. No.

Other Benefits and Perks

Up to $100 Statement Credit (Every 4.5 Years) for Global Entry or TSA Pre√ Application Fee No. No. Yes. Yes.
Cell Phone Protection (Select Replacements and Repairs. Limits and Terms Apply.) No. No. Yes. Yes.
Trip Delay Insurance if Entire Roundtrip with Paid with the Card No. No. Yes. Trip must be delayed by more than 12 hours. Certain expenses will be reimbursed and must be paid for with the Card. Maximums: $300 per trip, two claims per eligible account per 12 consecutive month period. Yes. Trip must be delayed by more than six (6) hours. Certain expenses will be reimbursed and must be paid for with the Card. Maximums: $500 per trip, two claims per eligible account per 12 consecutive month period.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Coverage if Entire Roundtrip with Paid with the Card No. No. No. Yes. Covered reasons only. Non-refundable travel expenses purchased with the same eligible Card, up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.
Rates & Fees Learn more here. Learn more here. Learn more here. Learn more here.
Learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express. The Delta Reserve Card from American Express
Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card (Terms apply.) Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card (Terms apply.) Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card (Terms apply.) Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card (Terms apply.)

Which Card Offers the Best Benefits?

This is sort of subjective.

If you’re like me and enjoy airport club lounges, companion certificates, and shots at sitting in business class, then the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is the way to go.

People who aren’t into chasing status and just want to save a few bucks are fine with — at most — the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card. In fact, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card is an even better option for some leisure travelers.

Here’s an example of someone who could benefit from a Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card. One of my family members is a widowed mother with grown children who live in a Delta hub city.

She probably racks up 7,500 MQM each year — and doesn’t give a lick about Medallion status. (I don’t think she even knows what an MQM is.) She’s perfectly fine with a window seat in Main Cabin.

She doesn’t need a Companion Certificate and couldn’t care less about lounge access. She puts most of her spending on the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express because it has no annual fee and she prefers cashback over SkyMiles.

What she does love, though, is the free first checked bag perk — which saves her around $100 a year (after the Delta Gold Card’s $99 annual fee). When she plays the Basic Economy lottery, she likes the Main Cabin 1 boarding that helps her get on the plane before she normally would. And the 20% statement credit on her in-flight wine and Flight Fuel purchases is pretty nice, too.

Delta Air Lines onboard Crave Flight Fuel Box.

So for her, paying annual fees on the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card would be a complete waste of money.

But if you know you’ll use a card’s Companion Certificate, value lounge access, and crave MQM, then the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card are good options for you.

Which Card Earns the Most SkyMiles?

Well, sure as heck not the Reserve card. And that’s very disappointing. There’s really not a lot of incentive for me to keep using my Reserve card once I meet my MQM and MQD spend goals. It goes back in my wallet until the next year. One would think Amex and Delta would want people to spend more money on their cards. But, hey.

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card are the best options for earning SkyMiles on everyday purchases such as dining and at U.S. supermarkets (2X). And the Platinum gets you 3X at hotels, which is fine (though most of us carry co-branded hotel credit cards).

Once you reach your minimum spend requirement on a Delta Amex, most of your everyday spending is better off on an American Express Membership Rewards card. (Those points can then be transferred over to your Delta SkyMiles account.)

For example, the American Express Gold Card offers 4X on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 each calendar year) and 4X on dining worldwide. The American Express Green Card gives you 3X on travel, transit, and dining purchases.

Keep in mind Delta has a reputation for devaluing its program —  especially when it comes to partner award trips. That being said, these mega bonus point offers can be great for Medallions with Upgrade Certificates. They can turn Main Cabin redemptions into Delta One experiences. René used his GUCs on a SkyMiles ticket.

Not Eligible for Dining Statement Credits and Bonus Delta Points Amex Offers

Earlier this year, American Express added statement credits for dining purchases made on select co-branded credit cards — including the Delta Amexes. The cards were also eligible for Amex Offers that boosted points earnings to 5X on Delta purchases.

However, those offers are open only to “eligible Delta SkyMiles…American Express Card Members as of January 1, 2021.” So if you’re approved for a new Delta card since then, you won’t receive those promotions. (Sorry. We’re just the messenger.)

A view of the Delta Sky Club in terminal A/B at Seattle SeaTac Airport in Washington.
Delta Sky Club is a benefit included with both the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express CardBut there’s a difference in admission fees — depending on the card you carry.

Final Approach

These big welcome offers are a great opportunity to score more SkyMiles on a new Delta Amex card. But YSMV (Your SkyMileage May Vary) depending on your budget, spending habits, travel goals, and which benefits you prize. So analyze the chart above and decide which card is best for you.

Your Questions, Comments, and Advice

Have a question about the Delta cards? Please ask us in the below Comments section. And if you’re a Delta Amex veteran, please consider sharing your thoughts about which card(s) worked best for you and why. Or if you had a bad experience or think people should know something that may not seem obvious, please contribute those thoughts, too!

 

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.

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