Why Now (seriously) is the Right Time for a Delta Amex Card

I know what you’re thinking… another blog post about a credit card. Sure, that’s exactly what this is… but as a Delta Skymiles credit card holder for over a decade, I honestly believe that right now is the best time for you to sign up for any one of their myriad cards. Delta just announced a slew of changes to their card line up, and some of them, honestly, aren’t that bad.

There’s been a lot of focus on the negative changes but there are plenty of positive ones as well. I’m going to hit on some of the top points for the business and personal cards and let you decide which you think is right for you.

Credit Cards are a major profit driver for the airlines, with Delta bringing in billions (with a b) of dollars a year in cash by selling their miles to American Express. Amex wins by getting your to pay those annual fees year over year, and by those lovely swipe fees on every purchase you make. Let’s look at the six cards and see the positive and negatives for each.

Delta plane waiting at the gate, Atlanta

Gold Delta American Express (Personal Card)

This is the workhorse of the American Express portfolio. It’s the one I see in most people’s wallet as it is an easy entry into the Skymiles world.

Current Offer

The current signup bonus is 60,000 Skymiles after spending $2,000 in the first three months and a $50 statement credit by using your card with Delta Airlines

This is a very strong offer for a card with an annual fee of $99. The 60,000 miles can be used for a business class trip to Europe or plenty of one-way domestic legs. Just yesterday Delta launched a sale for 10,000 mile flights in the USA. The fee is waived for the first year.

New Benefits on January 30th, 2020

Starting at the end of January, the card will be adding a few new benefits

  • 2x miles at restaurants
  • 2x miles at supermarkets
  • $100/year flight credit (after $10k spend)

And a few things are going away

  • No more $29 sky club visit
  • No more Waiver for MQD’s

I imagine that American Express found that not many people were using that benefit, so they moved it to the Platinum card to garner more people towards that card. 

For me, the biggest win here is 2x at supermarkets. If you’re a casual user of credit cards and you like flying on Delta, earning 2x at supermarkets is a win. 

The other option for Supermarkets is the American Express Gold that earns 4x at grocery stores for the first $25,000 in spend. We use that card a ton and usually cap that card out in the first few months of the year. As a reminder, those membership rewards points CAN be transferred over to Delta on a 1:1 basis.

Gold Delta Amex (Business Card)

A great introductory card for anyone looking to separate their business expenses and earn some extra miles along the way.

Current Offer

A paltry 30,000 miles at signup. Now is not the time to add the business card to your portfolio.

New Benefits on January 30th, 2020

In the interest of full transparency, starting at the end of January, the card will be adding a few new benefits:

  • 2x miles at restaurants
  • 2x miles on shipping and advertising
  • $100 credit (after $10k in spend)

I like the addition of the shipping and advertising. Shipping and Postage USED to be a category that was on here but it was removed a few years back. I like advertising being added, as the only card to offer one on advertising that has anything attractive is the Chase Ink Preferred for Business.

Platinum Delta Skymiles (Personal Card)

Ahh, now we’re getting into the good stuff. This card has been beefed up slightly and also had a few things removed. Let’s investigate.

Delta Sky Club San Diego

Current Offer

A huge 75,000 mile bonus at signup makes this one a go-to for my application. You’ll also get a $100 credit by using your card at Delta in the first three months. If that weren’t enough you’ll ALSO get 5,000 MQM when you cross the initial $3,000 spend requirement.

New Benefits on January 30th, 2020

Some of the benefits look the same, but some… are great

  • 2x miles at restaurants
  • 2x miles at supermarkets 
  • 3x miles at hotels
  • 3x miles on Delta
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck

And the losers… unfortunately this is where I think it stings:

  • Current annual fee is $195, as of next year it’ll go up to $250
  • Miles Boost is now Status Boost (more on this in a moment)
  • SkyClub access is now $39 a visit

Miles and Status Boost

Currently, when you spend $25,000 a year and $50,000 a year on the card, you get 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQM. Starting on January 30th, the 10,000 bonus miles go away, leaving you with the 10,000 MQM (hence the status boost).

While on its face it’s not the worst, knowing that I would get an extra 20,000 miles a year for a $50,000 spend was a nice little bump to my mileage balance. 

Earning 3x miles at hotels and 2x miles at supermarkets is awesome for the Amex Offers that come up frequently on the card to earn a little bit extra for your every day purchases.

Delta First Class Short Haul

Companion Pass Flight

While not as generous as Alaska’s companion pass, the ability to fly anywhere in the USA on a Buy One Get One Free basis is awesome. Yea, it’s in coach, but it’s still upgradeable, and both of you earn miles for the flight. It’s a nice perk especially around the holidays when the fares get pretty high.

Platinum Delta Skymiles (Business Card)

Current Offer

Stinks. It’s only 35,000 miles and 5,000 MQM. Once again, now is not the time to sign up for the card.

Changes coming January 30th, 2020

The same 3x at hotels and 3x at Delta appears, but also 1.5 miles on all purchases over $5,000. If you’re not one to make large purchases, then this isn’t for you. But, if you are, then earning 1.5x is a nice ancillary perk.

Delta Reserve American Express Personal and Business

I’m going to lump these two together because overall, I’m quite disappointed with the Reserve card. But ya know what, even though I’m disappointed with the card, I’m actually STILL applying for the card!

(Personal Card)

(Business Card)

Current Offer

75,000 Skymiles and 10,000 MQM after $5,000 in spend. The 10,000 MQM is the big pull here for me. I always want to get my next level status and I’m still looking for the next shiny object to get me there without flying as much.

The Negative

Plenty. The card’s annual fee is increasing $100. The Miles Boost is turning into Status Boost. Skyclub access for guests is going to $39 each. You don’t get any of the hotel/shipping/restaurants/supermarket bonuses and the 1.5x that you saw on the Platinum Card? That’s only available once you cross ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND A YEAR in spend.

Status Boost – the Main Draw

Remember Status Boost from before? This is the ONLY reason that I’m applying for the reserve card.

Every calendar year, when you spend $30, 60, 90, and $120,000, you’ll get 15,000 MQM towards status. Previously this was capped at 2 times ($30k and $60k). This will make hitting Platinum Status VERY easy with the ability to earn 60,000 MQM each year by spending $120,000 on the card. While I don’t foresee myself hitting that mark, I got close this year ($80k) so I could stretch and hit that $120k mark if I was getting close.

While the annual fee of $550 is going to be a stretch, the idea of paying $550 a year to NOT have to make a mileage run at the end of the year is very attractive. Typically in September or October I find myself doing the math of “how many MQM do I need to hit my status and where can I fly?” If I have the Reserve card, I could just spend my way there and not have to spend the extra money to fly to San Francisco, Raleigh, or Boston, just to earn the miles.

Why Now?

Simply put, the bonuses haven’t been higher for new applications and the annual fees are increasing next year. If you’re able to hit the large spend amounts (and I know some of you are…) you could easily get a miles boost this year AND next year. You’re still in the 4th quarter of the year, so any spend that you hit before the end of the year counts for the old rules.

The annual fees are heading north next year, so get in this year and save some cash. If you don’t want to keep the card past the initial sign up bonus into the second year, that’s your choice, of course, but the cards are offering a staggering bonus, one which is certainly worth a look.

Too many cards?

Application Links

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Gold Delta American Express Personal

Gold Delta American Express Business

Platinum Delta American Express Personal

Platinum Delta American Express Business

Reserve Delta American Express Personal

Reserve Delta American Express Business

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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6 Comments

  1. Disappointing on so many levels, but I may just apply for the Skymiles Plat card. I first picked the card up in 1998 and have held it ever since, finding value in the companion cert, at least enough value to pay cover the annual fee. Since I never received a signup bonus and AMEX refused to just comp me a bonus for that reason I can still apply for the card and get the bonus. I may do this just once so I can get the bonus. But we’ll see. And after a year is up (for both the new and my 21 year old card) I’ll probably drop them…sad day for sure.

    Post a Reply
    • What about applying for the card as a new card, and downgrading that card to the Blue Skymiles? That way you keep a good credit length.

      Post a Reply
      • It’s not a bad idea, especically now that you can do “Pay with miles” with the card so it guarantees a 1 cent/mile floor value – but just keep in mind it will keep one of your 4-5 Amex slots tied up!

        Post a Reply
        • Yup! I think the reserve especially with the MQM deserves a slot in my Amex 5. The benefits are worth it.

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  2. I am relatively new here, and have had the delta cards in one form or another for a while. What I would like to know is how so many bloggers seem to throw around spending of sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, as mentioned in this post, so easily. I get that there may be manufactured spend, but doing so by so many in such quantities must require an inordinate amount of time, and likely some form of other spend I imagine?
    I can appreciate that some techniques may be “secretive” or what not, but most people just either don’t have the resources or the time to amass hundreds of thousands of points as quickly as it appears bloggers and people traveling 80- 90% of the time for work can.
    I’ve been following many blogs and there is always a veil of mystery for the uninitiated alluded to yet never revealed.
    Thanks

    Post a Reply
    • Fair question. Through my normal travels for work I’ll rack up $20-30k on my card in reimburseable expenses so that’s one way. Many other people travel more than me. Yes, MS is a large portion of what we do but not that much. We also have a travel booking service so that contributes to it. Some people also get into reselling. It’s not uncommon to spend $5-10k a day during Black Friday.

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