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What is the Best Amex Card for Delta Sky Club Lounge Access?

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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.


Now that people are returning to the skies (and airports, of course), many are likely wondering what they can do to make the travel experience less stressful.

Airport club lounges are great places to recharge (yourself and your electronic devices!). You can relax, get some work done, grab a quick bite to eat, and enjoy a beverage.

Given the limited time offers available on six Delta American Express cards, you might wonder if one is the “best” for getting you into Delta Sky Clubs.

Well, sort of.

First, think about how often you use Delta Sky Clubs and want to bring guests with you. And how important bonus MQM, Companion Certificates, discounted onboard drinks and food, and free checked first bags are to you.

Ready? Let’s take a quick look.

A coffee station is seen inside the Delta Sky Club at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Queens, New York.
Delta Sky Club inside John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York

Which Cards Get You Into Delta Sky Clubs?

These American Express cards grant complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when you’re traveling on a same-day, Delta-operated or Delta-marketed flight:

Both the primary card member and any paid additional cardholders may enter for free. The Centurion American Express card and co-branded Platinum Cards (i.e. Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab, etc) also receive the benefit.

A view of the fireplace and adjacent seating area inside the Delta Sky Club on the C Concourse at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
Delta Sky Club on the C Concourse at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)

Two other cards offer admission to Delta Sky Clubs — but for $39 per person, per visit. The primary cardholder is not exempt and must pay also pay the admission fee.

If you don’t value any of the Amex Platinum benefits, couldn’t care less about the Delta Reserve cards’ perks, and just want to pop into the Delta Sky Club every so often, either of the Delta Platinum cards should be fine.

As long as you don’t rack up more than seven total visits during an entire year, you’re OK. (Seven visits at $39 each = $273.)

But those expenses can quickly add up.

For example, airlines consider my toddler to be an adult — and that goes for airport club lounge access. Say you’re a parent traveling with a spouse/partner/etc., and a child. One Sky Club visit is going to cost $117 for the three of you.

And that’s just at the first airport on your journey.

Have a connecting flight and want to stop at that airport’s Sky Club? There’s another $117.

A child enjoys the Delta Sky Club airport lounge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California.
$39 for this kid to load up on cheese, cookies, carrot sticks, and nibble on an apple. (We cleaned the seat after she put her feet on it, don’t worry! 🙂 )

If you’re going to rack up at least eight Sky Club visits a year, then you’re much better off with one of the Reserve cards or Amex Platinum cards.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card from American Express
Learn how to apply for the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card from American Express

You can bop into Sky Clubs to your heart’s content.

Better for Sky Club Access: Reserve Card or Platinum Card?

The four premium cards (the Amex Platinums and Delta Reserves) waive the Sky Club entrance fees for the primary cardholder. So if you’re a frequent-ish Delta traveler, you should consider one of those.

But which one?

This depends on what Delta status benefits you crave, how often you visit Delta Sky Clubs, and if you bring guests.

If you don’t need MQM or a Companion Certificate, then the The Platinum Card from American Express or The Business Platinum Card from American Express are a solid way to go. Some people buy first class or use miles. They can afford to pay for companions and don’t need to play the complimentary upgrade lottery. Some people don’t even care about airline status! 😉  (If you want access to Centurion Lounges, too, the Platinum cards are a much better option than Delta Reserves, which also offer the perk. I’ll explain why in another post.)

Entrance to the Delta Sky Club at Atlanta (ATL)'s international "F" terminal.
Entrance to the Delta Sky Club at Atlanta (ATL)’s international “F” terminal.

But if you like spending your way to bonus MQM, using Companion Certificates, etc, then I’d recommend the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card. 

The Platinum Card from American Express
Learn how to apply for The Platinum Card from American Express

But Don’t the Reserve Cards’ Guest Passes Give Them an Edge?

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card offer two, one-time guest passes for Delta Sky Clubs.

Delta Reserve American Express Card Sky Club guest passes in the Fly Delta app's "My Wallet."

So that’s a potential additional savings of $78 per card account year. (Guest admission is, of course, $39 per person, per visit.)

But if you like guesting people into Sky Clubs (and Centurion Lounges), check out either The Platinum Card from American Express or The Business Platinum Card from American Express.

Here’s why.

Both of those Amex Platinum cards offer a $200 airline incidental credit per calendar year. (Enrollment and airline selection required.) Airport club lounge fees count toward that credit. So the airline incidental credit could buy you up to five guest visits at Delta Sky Clubs and still give you $5 leftover.

I value and use (that’s important) the benefits of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card and The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card from American Express — and hold all three. It’s certainly one way around the decision-making conundrum. 

Final Approach

Several different American Express cards offer access to Delta Sky Clubs. If you often travel with companions, it’s probably worth getting The Platinum Card from American Express or The Business Platinum Card from American Express and using their $200 airline incidental credit to offset guest passes.

But if you rarely travel with guests and/or want to take advantage of Delta-heavy benefits, then the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card are solid options.

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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2 Comments

  1. Enjoy Fine Food Reply

    Cute kid, Chris, and well-behaved it would appear. Thanks for cleaning the seat, but I wasn’t worried. Due to COVID, I’ve stopped eating off the seats.

    BTW — nice explanation of a very complex set of admission rules.

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