Delta and American Express offer three credit cards with rewards associated to the Delta SkyMiles® loyalty program: Gold, Platinum and the Reserve. Each of the cards has a different rewards and bonus structure as well as a large difference in annual fee. We took a look at the cards to help Delta flyers choose between their options.
The SkyMiles® Credit Cards: A Quick Comparison
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None|
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
|Foreign Transaction Fee||No Foreign Transaction Fee|
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
|Foreign Transaction Fee||No Foreign Transaction Fee|
The largest distinction between the cards is definitely between the Gold and Platinum SkyMiles® cards. Overall if you're going to be getting a credit card for the sole purpose of earning Delta SkyMiles®, we think the Platinum is by far the better long term deal. Here's why:
Bonus Opportunities For Big Spenders
The first major difference between the two cards are the recurring bonuses that are available with the Platinum that are not available with the Gold. If you're spending more than $50,000 on the card then you'll be eligible for earning 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs each year. With each SkyMiles® point worth at least 1 cent each, the bonus miles alone compensate for the difference in annual fee.
While it's hard to put a precise value on MQMs, 20,000 MQMs is about 80% of a tier upgrade with the SkyMiles® program. In previous years, Delta has sold MQMs at a price of anywhere from .10 - .20 cents each.
Beginning in the second year, Platinum card holders will also receive a companion certificate good for 1 additional US domestic economy class ticket. Depending on what you do with it, you should easily be able to save hundreds of dollars this way.
Platinum Is The Superior Option Over The Long Haul
Overall the Platinum card is the superior option for an everyday card you plan on keeping around. Assuming you're able to achieve the spending requirements, the extra bonuses on the Platinum easily compensate for the additional annual fee. Even in year 1 where there is a $195 difference. By year 2, the value of the companion certificate is another mark in favor of the Platinum.
The only way the Gold card is more valuable is if you're looking for a card for just 1 year, and want to earn a large amount of bonus miles. If goal is to earn bonus miles, you're likely better off with better airline credit cards like the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, or something like the Starwood Preferred Guest. Points earned through the SPG card are transferable to Delta's loyalty program 1:1 and you may be eligible for bonus points during these transfers.
With the Platinum vs Delta Reserve the comparison is a lot closer since the differences are somewhat minor. In the first year the Delta Reserves welcome bonus is much easier to achieve, since you get it immediately after you make a purchase. Interestingly enough you get significantly less bonus miles, but twice as many MQMs. I'm not sure that's a good trade since the additional 5,000 MQMs is not in itself enough to move you an entire status tier.
The Platinum under most circumstances
If you can't achieve both bonuses with the Reserve, the Platinum comes out ahead easily. It's especially true between the $50,000 to $60,000 spending range since you end up giving up a large amount of bonus rewards with the Reserve Credit card while having nothing to show for it. Even with all things considered it's hard to justify paying an additional $250 dollars annually for minor difference between the cards. We think that the Platinum SkyMiles® is generally the better option for most people.
The Reserve: If you fly first class and really care about a status upgrade:
On a per dollar spent the bonus miles and MQMS you get with both cards as a result of the recurring bonus comes out to be the same (30,000 / $60,000 for the Reserve vs 25,000 / $50,000 for the Platinum). Since the 30,000 MQMs with the Reserve is enough for a full class upgrade between Silver -> Gold and Gold -> Platinum, the main benefit of the higher ceiling is guaranteeing it for status maintenance of upgrades.
The other main point of differentiation is the ability to use the Reserve's companion certificate on first class domestic fares. If you're already flying first class frequently, then you can take advantage of this additional flexibility to get a little more value out of the certificate. If you don't however, then there is no difference between the two. This greater value of the certificate might help justify the $250 more you'll be paying each year
Comments and Questions
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Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.