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Why Transferrable Point Cards are Important for Earning Delta Status in 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.


Delta reduced its thresholds for earning elite status for the rest of 2021. Premium cabin fares receive 75% fare class bonuses on MQM, MQD, and MQS. Meanwhile, Main Cabin and Basic Economy earn 50% bonuses. Pay with Miles tickets are included.

Heck, even traditional award tickets can earn points/miles/segments toward Delta elite status this year!

Several cards offer incentives to use their travel booking services to purchase trips and redeem points to offset some or all of your purchase prices. (Think American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Those trips are considered paid, cash fares because Amex, Chase, or whoever cuts a check to the travel provider. So using Delta as an example, you’d earn MQD, MQS, MQM, and redeemable SkyMiles.

Given that some card programs make points more valuable when you redeem them through their programs, those cards can help you save money during your Delta status chase (no credit card pun intended) this year.

Let’s take a closer look using a few examples.

35% Points Rebate: American Express Business Platinum Card

The Business Platinum Card from American Express gives cardholders a 35% rebate on points redeemed for certain airline travel booked through Amex Travel:

  • any flight booked on the carrier of choice for your annual airline incidental credit, or
  • business or first class fares purchased on any airline

So let’s use the Detroit to Anchorage first class Delta mileage run we posted a couple of weeks ago. The trip cost $680.50. (Though because Delta is my chosen airline on Amex, it would work regardless of fare class.)

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

 

If you hold the Amex Business Platinum card, you could redeem 68,500 points (at one cent each) to pay for the entire trip.

But when that 35% rebate kicks in, you’re ultimate “out of pocket” cost is only 44,525 points.

Pay With Points rebate email from American Express.

You’re given back 23,975 points which can use cannibalize for another trip — and get another rebate.

Compare that to Delta’s Pay With Miles — which offers no such rebate nor the benefit of earning SkyMiles.

The 35% rebate is the main reason I’ve held the Business Platinum Card from American Express for the past four years. (The American Express Business Gold Card offers a 25% Pay With Points rebate.)

I’ve booked several trips for the upcoming months — including a Delta One itinerary — using the Pay With Points benefit. I look forward to the trips — and getting some points back while earning bonus MQM, and MQD.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Redeem Points for 1.5 Cents Each

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can book flights through Chase’s travel program and redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa Infinite Credit Card

Using our above Detroit to Anchorage example, let’s say we want to book the trip through Chase.

You’d need only 45,360 Ultimate Rewards points to purchase that airfare — compared to the 65,000 SkyMiles plus about $30 to purchase it using Pay With Miles (SkyMiles can be redeemed only in 5,000 point blocks for optimal Pay With Miles bookings.)

Keep in mind that the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Preferred cards allow members to use points at a rate of 1.25 cents each toward travel. That’s not quite as good as the 50% kicker that comes with the Sapphire Reserve — but the Preferreds’ annual fees are also substantially lower.

Final Approach

Cards with flexible points are a must for frequent flyers. Their points earnings and redemptions are often better than co-branded airline credit cards. And I think they’re even more valuable during Delta’s MQD bonuses this year.

 

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured above, please visit the following links:

 

 

 

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.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Giardina Reply

    Great article describing the benefits of these cards that a lot of people overlook when thinking about booking!

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