Choosing a Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card? Gold vs Platinum vs Reserve

Choosing a Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card? Gold vs Platinum vs Reserve

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Delta and American Express offer a few co-branded airline credit cards with rewards associated with the Delta SkyMiles® loyalty program. 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

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn now. Travel when you're ready. After you spend $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year, you will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit on your Card to inspire your next travel.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

$250

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card.*Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

$550

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Complimentary access into the Delta SkyClubs® for you when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card vs Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

The largest distinction between the cards is definitely between the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. Overall if you're going to be getting a credit card for the sole purpose of earning Delta SkyMiles®, we think the latter is by far the better long term deal. Here's why:

Bonus Opportunities For Big Spenders

The first major difference between the two cards is the larger recurring bonus that's available with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. You can earn Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer Expires 04/28/2021. With the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, you can earn Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer Expires 04/28/2021. With each SkyMiles® point worth at least 1 cent each, the bonus miles alone between the two cards compensate for the difference in annual fees. The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card charges a $250 annual fee and the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card charges a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

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.

Companion Certificate

Beginning in the second year, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card users 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.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here.

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Is The Superior Option Over The Long Haul

Overall the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express 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 compensate for the additional cost, even in year 1 where there is a big difference in annual fees. By year 2, the value of the companion certificate is another mark in favor of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card.

If your goal is to earn bonus miles, you're likely better off with better airline credit cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, or something like the Starwood Preferred Guest.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card vs Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

With the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card vs Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card the comparison is a lot closer since the differences are somewhat minor.

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card under most circumstances

Since the spending requirement on the bonus is similar on both cards, we recommend opting for the card that has the higher welcome bonus at the time. This is especially true if you're going after short-term rewards. Just keep in mind that both cards require high spending to get MQMs.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please click here.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: If you fly first class and really care about a status upgrade:

The other main point of differentiation is the ability to use the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card'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 higher annual fee you'll be paying each year.

  • For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here.
  • For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please click here.
  • For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.
Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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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.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).