Major Overhaul of Delta Cards for 2020

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American Express has announced big changes for the co-brand Delta cards. Overall, it’s a mixed bag that includes some new benefits we like and some changes to existing ones we could do without. The most obvious negative is the increased annual fee on six of the cards which will apply to applications received on or after January 30, 2020. With the higher annual fees taking effect in January, you can still get the cards now lock in the current annual fee for the first year of card membership.

We’ve summarized the key changes that kick in next January to help you decide whether it makes sense to jump on the current offer and if you can justify the increased annual fees in the long term.

Changes Coming to Amex Delta Cards in 2020

With all seven Delta cards undergoing a refresh, there is a lot of ground to cover. First, we’ll touch on the benefits that aren’t changing; then, we’ll dig into the updates for each card in more detail below.

Existing benefits that aren't being removed on the Delta cards:

  • Free first checked bag on Delta flights
  • Annual companion certificates on the Platinum and Reserve cards
  • Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights
  • Pay with Miles
  • In-flight savings up to 20%
  • No foreign transaction fees

Delta American Express Changes 2020

Changes to Delta Reserve Cards

Undergoing the most extensive changes of the Delta card lineup, Amex has doubled down on the two Reserve cards as the best products for members trying to earn Medallion elite status. The new perks allow you to earn up to 60,000 MQM via spending alone and provide better lounge access than before. Plus, the Delta Reserve cards have finally jumped on the Global Entry/TSA Pre bandwagon with a $100 credit every four years.

Cardholders will retain complimentary Delta SkyClub access, the annual companion certificate (Domestic First-Class, Delta Comfort+®, or Main Cabin each year upon renewal), free checked bags, plus the MQD Waiver. (Terms Apply)

Positive changes to the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express:

  • 3x miles on Delta purchases (previously 2x)
  • Complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when flying Delta same day (guests cost $50)
  • Up to four Status Boost’s for a total of up to 60,000 MQM per year – new $90K + $120K tiers added to the existing $30K + $60K
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔ fee credit up to $100 every four years
  • Two Delta Sky Club® one-time guest passes
  • Access to complimentary upgrades even if you don’t hold Medallion Status

Negative changes:

  • Bonus miles no longer awarded at $30K + $60K Status Boost spending thresholds
  • No longer have access to Sky Priority Security Access
  • Annual fee will increase from $450 to $550 from January 30, 2020 
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
Annual Fee$450 Annual Fee ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Welcome Offer Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

The loss of redeemable bonus miles at the $30K + $60K spending thresholds is a genuine hit to the hip pocket, particularly when you factor in the higher annual fee. However, the additional Status Boost tiers at $90K + $120K spending thresholds, plus the new Centurion Lounge access speak to what the Delta Reserve has always been about; lounge access for Delta fans that don’t have top-tier status and the ability to spend your way to elite status. On these fronts, the Delta Reserve now provides more lounge options and makes it easier to get Medallion Status.

The Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card features the same new benefits listed out for the personal card, but also receives one additional perk:

  • Earn 1.5x miles on purchases after spending $150,000 on the card each year
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
Annual Fee$450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Welcome Offer Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • With Miles Boost®, you can earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after you spend $60,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year for a total of 30,000 bonus miles and 30,000 MQMs. Starting January 30, 2020, you will no longer earn bonus miles with this benefit.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Find room for your carry-on and settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you spend overseas.
  • Enter Delta Sky Club® at no cost and bring up to two guests for an exclusive rate of $29 per person per visit.
  • Terms and limitations apply
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Changes to Delta Platinum Cards

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and its business counterpart have, for the most part, been the sweet spot cards in the Delta line up. That may change for some folks once the announced changes take effect at the end of January, as we think this card has been hit relatively hard by these updates.

While the card’s score additional bonus spending categories and a new Global Entry/TSA Pre credit, the loss of bonus redeemable miles at the $25K + $50K spending thresholds are a huge hit. Unlike the Reserve cards, which receive additional Status Boost tiers, there is no replacement perk for the Platinum cards. So this is a net ~$340 loss (if you value SkyMiles at ~1.7¢ each) when you hit the spending thresholds each year. That comes on top of the increased annual fee. The Platinum cards will keep many of their core benefits, including the yearly companion certificate (Domestic Main Cabin round-trip each year upon renewal), first checked bag free, main cabin 1 priority boarding, MQD waiver, and no foreign transaction fees.  (Terms Apply)

Positive changes to the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express:

  • 3x miles on Delta purchases (previously 2x) and hotel purchases (previously 1x)
  • 2x miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (previously 1x)
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔ fee credit up to $100 every four years

Negative changes:

  • Delta Sky Club per-visit rate is increasing from $29 to $39
  • Bonus miles no longer added at $25K + $50K Status Boost spending thresholds
  • Annual fee will increase from $195 to $250 from January 30, 2020 
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Annual Fee$195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Welcome Offer Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

The big hit for the Platinum cards is the loss of redeemable miles when hitting the Status Boost thresholds. In theory, you should be able to make up the additional miles courtesy of the new bonus categories the cards receive. But, if you primarily place big, non-bonus purchases on the Platinum cards to reach the spending thresholds, you will struggle to make up the difference.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express will feature most of the new benefits listed out for the personal card come January 30, but with the following differences:

  • Earn 1.5x miles on purchases over $5,000 (up to 50,000 bonus miles annually)
  • Doesn’t receive 2x miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
Platinum Delta SkyMiles®  Business Credit Card from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
Annual Fee$195 ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Welcome Offer Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Check your first bag for free and save up to $60 on a round trip Delta flight.
  • Find room for your carry-on and settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit with the American Express Delta Card.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases. Miles don't expire.
  • Terms and limitations apply
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Changes to Delta Gold Cards

The Gold Delta cards also receive expanded bonus categories, plus you’ll get a $100 flight voucher after spending $10,000 on the card each year (an additional 1% return on spend). But, starting January 1, 2020, these cards no longer offer the MQD waiver after spending $25,000, and cardmembers won’t get discounted access to SkyClub lounges (currently $29 per person) from January 30, 2020. (Terms Apply)

Positive changes to the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express:

  • 2x miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (previously 1x)
  • $100 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year

Negative changes:

  • From January 1, 2020, you will no longer earn an MQD waiver after spending $25K on the Delta Gold cards
  • Starting January 30, 2020, you will no longer be able to access Delta Sky Club® with the Delta Gold cards
  • Effective January 30, 2020, the annual fee will increase from $95 to $99 (Rates & Fees)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
Welcome Offer Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every eligible dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta.
  • Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights - that's a savings of up to $240 for a family of 4 roundtrip.
  • Receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

The increase in annual fees on the Gold cards is negligible and doesn’t affect the value proposition of holding either of these cards. Without the MQD waiver, it’s unlikely anyone would spend $10K on the Gold cards, so we don’t assign the $100 Delta credit near face value. But, as these cards keep their core benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding, the reason for holding the Gold Delta cards remains the same. If you and a companion fly one round-trip flight per year with Delta and check a bag each, the card pays for itself, and you come out ahead of the annual fee.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (Terms Apply) features most of the new benefits listed out for the personal card come January 30, but with the following differences:

  • Earn 2x miles at restaurants and on U.S. shipping and U.S. advertising
  • Doesn’t receive 2x miles at U.S. supermarkets
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
Gold Delta SkyMiles®  Business Credit Card from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
Welcome Offer Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Make business travel more rewarding. Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Additionally, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Find room for your carry-on and settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you spend overseas.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms and limitations apply
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Changes to Blue Delta Amex Card

The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express will undergo a minor refresh at the end of January 2020, and the changes are all positive.

Positive changes to the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express:

  • 2x miles at restaurants worldwide (previously 1x)
  • Access Pay with Miles to reduce the cost of cash flights
  • No foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)

There is no change to the annual fee on the Blue Delta Amex, which remains at $0 (Rates & Fees).

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 2X Miles per dollar at US restaurants
  • 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases

Our Take

Whether you approve of these changes likely comes down to how you use your Delta card. If you hold a Delta Gold card and drop $25K on it each year for the MQD waiver, it’s unlikely you’ll renew your card when it’s time to pay the annual fee. If you employ the Delta cards as your daily spenders, the increased earning rates will deliver a substantial increase to your annual SkyMiles balance.

If you’ve had the Delta cards on your radar, we see this as the perfect time to get an application in before the annual fees increase at the end of January. You’ll lock in the lower annual fee for the first year, giving you plenty of time to decide if it makes sense to renew at a higher cost the following year.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card (Rates & Fees), Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

Major Overhaul of Delta Cards for 2020
4 (80%) 7 votes
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Comments

  • I only use my delta gold sky Miles credit card to purchase tickets on Delta. So these changes do not affect me.

  • If I have a Platinum card already, will I be eligible for the TSA precheck credit starting next year?

    • Hey Bobby, other cards won’t affect the TSA precheck credit. If you already have a credit on another card (like the Platinum) you can give away any extras by using the card with the credit to pay the TSA application fee for someone else.

  • Home airport not many delta flights. 🙁

  • Delta mileage has no expiration, so good to consider its card.

  • With so many changes and rules, I definitely feel overwhelmed by these offers….

    • Just take it one step at a time and don’t even look at the old offers as they’re completely irrelevant now. Just look at the current info and move on from there.

  • After I achieved the required spend on my new Platinum Amex Delta card (in fact over $10K of spending), they informed me that since I once had a Delta Amex card 20 years ago I was not eligible for any mileage bonus. Lesson learned; never again.

    • Wow, they really go a long way back to deny your bonus!

    • Janelle Flacks says:

      When you say they denied your bonus miles because you previously had an Amex card, is that because you had the same card or a different type? I’ve thought about upgrading my card but if I won’t get bonus points since I already have a lower grade card, that makes a difference. Thanks.

      • I believe AmEx has a tool you can use that will look at your card history and tell you whether or not you’re eligible for the welcome bonus on a particular card.

    • Yeah Amex has a once a lifetime rule. Even if you didn’t receive a bonus, if you’ve had the card, you can never get a bonus in the future.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    I don’t like or never like increases to annual fee on six of their cards, but the upside her of points on dining and travel is a change of game. Nice…

    • Amex is definitely revamping all of their cards as of late. Maybe it’ll be a good thing but higher AFs aren’t exactly welcome.

  • Can see a drop in uptake for the delta cards after the fees rise, its a shame but inevitable it was going to happen.

    • Yeah, Amex pretty much just did this to all of their cards or if they haven’t, I see those cards getting revamped in the near future.

  • In relation to your conclusion, if you have a Delta AMEX Platinum SkyMiles already and use it as your every day card dropping $50k plus year, do you benefit here? Should I hold it or move to Chase Sapphire or elsewhere? One big thing I am looking for is travel status to get more Economy to First upgrades.

    • Hey David, I think this comes down to how close you anticipate you’ll be to reaching the next status level next year. If you spend 50K on the DL Platinum card, you’ll get 20K MQMs. Does that get you from Gold to Platinum? If not, (and if you could put more spending on a Delta card), you might look at the Delta Reserve which lets you earn MQMs on up to 120K in spending.

      That said, there is a big opportunity cost. 120K in spending could get you at least 180K points with the right card (like the Chase Freedom Unlimited). 180K chase points should get you a round trip international business or first class ticket with Ultimate Rewards. Delta SkyMiles aren’t worth nearly as much (or at least they take far more effort to use efficiently).

      It really comes down to how many MQMs you need to get to the next Delta level and how valuable that status boost will be.

    • If you’re loking for status, the only thing the CSR would get you is Priority Pass which sounds like it has nothing to do with what you’re wanting.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    The Amex launch of their limited-time welcome offer on the Gold, Platinum, and Reserve personal cards is very attractive. The only downside is that it expires way too soon.

  • I’m not loving these new cards! I liked being able to purchase SkyClub passes.

  • A mixed bad. Delta rightfully gets knocked for some things and some values, and probably absorbs too much criticism in other areas. But this is a “meh” for me.

  • You did a great job of explaining the most confusing awards program in history. I will be decreasing from platinum to gold. I spent over 26k in april at my renewal date. still not at the next level. Companion passes cannot be used without paying cash which i never do because i use miles. Then they expire. I started using southwest which fly from ftl to atlanta too. I might even cancel amercan express next year.

  • Do you get “free first checked bag” and “main cabin 1 priority boarding” on international Delta flights?

  • Great overview. I don’t think these changes will induce me to get these cards. Every dollar spent on these is fewer dollars spent on the flexible points cards.

  • Thanks for all the updates! There is a lot to keep up with especially as we near the year end. I’m glad that I found you through the Facebook group!

  • Some great bonuses, 75k is *often* still nearly enough to get a OW to Asia in Biz, for example. Some nice new perks also… although I would really have liked to see the DL earn on the Reserve card elevated to 4x. that would really have set it apart from the Plat.

    *Edited at commenter’s request.:)

  • Nice card offers! Thanks for the information!

  • Oops I didn’t know the annual fees would go up soon.
    In that case I’ll have to apply for a Delta card…I think I am going to go for the plat card for the most miles.

  • Failed to justify increase in the annual fee.

  • Delta miles have poor value in my experience. Not sure if it’s worth it to get the Delta cards.

  • The 60,000 bonus points from Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express is attractive, interesting.

  • I could never imagine a situation in which I’d pay the $29 per person for entry to the Delta Sky Club anyway, no loss there…

  • Fee increases – especially on Reserve are a hard pill to swallow here. Plat is probably the way to go with ability to get greater than 1x on certain spend.

    • I only see the Delta card being better than the Platinum if you are trying to get status. Otherwise I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t choose the Platinum card.

  • The Arts Traveler says:

    Definitely something to consider, but you have to be very selective in how you use the miles. Best used on other airlines for sure.

  • good deal !

  • We just say no to annual fees

  • For the Delta Platinum Amex, does the companion pass require the owner of the certificate to fly or can it be used to fly 2 other people?

  • Charles Webb says:

    Perplexed in choosing between AX Platinum or Delta Reserve AX. Would spend enough to get the full 100,000 Membership Miles, and 5x when traveling on Delta via Amex website. But also like the free companion F at renewal and 75000 SkyMiles. Am Delta Lifetime Gold so Skyteam Elite Plus for lounges internationally, Travel on Awards 3x per year and paid tickets 5x per year. MIA home base so AA many nonstops.
    Looking for tie breakers. Thanks

  • The traveler says:

    Overall a mixed bag of options. As others have stated the $29 lounge access never had much value, better to just go sit at a bar for that price.

  • Love delta credit cards traditionally as miles do not expire, great service, and of course you can get threshold bonuses. This all continues, but has gotten more expensive as you don’t also get the 10k bonus miles along with the threshold 10K EQMs….and the price has gone up. Its still worth it for at least one card, but unsure if I will keep multiple delta amex cards any longer.

  • Interesting, but I don’t know about the annual fee increases… seems a bit much for what you get.

  • I was considering this card purely for the CP and the convenience of having them fly out of SDF. But with the fee increase and the removal of some benefits maybe I should go with the CSR at Amex Plat instead. Very informative post.

  • Some value here if usually a Delta flyer to jump in before the fees rise.

  • Wow! 20 years! Soon delta will include our grandparents’ cards in the account to deny bonuses.. But info on offer is important. Thanks.

  • I have the 60k Gold card mailer offer, 2nd time they’ve sent it. I let the first one lapse but I think I’ll go for this one and then try for one of the next cards up the chain.

  • How does one use the AMEX Delta SkyMiles to improve upgrade status? It seems you still need to fly a lot to get those upgrades. Yes?

    • The complimentary upgrades on a paid ticket are based on your SkyMiles Medalion status. Diamonds get upgraded first; then Delta Platinums; then Gold, and last Silver. To have a good chance, you really need to be a Diamond or Platinum, although it depends on the route. You either need to fly a lot, or put a substantial amount of spend on your Delta card. The DL Reserve cards give you the ability to earn Medallion Qualification Miles in chunks of 15K MQMs for every 30K in spending. Right now, the max is 30K MQMs for 60K in spending; starting in 2020, you can earn a total of 60K MQMs for 120K in spending.

      In other words, you can potentially spend your way to Gold status and be only 15K MQMs away from reaching Platinum status (75K needed). That’s a lot of spending, but it is possible to get up to Platinum status with minimal flying.

  • Time to look at getting the Delta Reserve card!

  • Ignacio Medina says:

    Afterall a wide range of options. As now Delta is increasing its marketshare in South America due to the merger with LATAM it would be a wise option to start reaching agreements with banks in order to boost travel cards in those places.

    Having lived in america for quite a while, Delta has a lot of room to strength its presence overthere.

  • not much inspiration for everyday spending Delta cards…

  • Does this include a new card in Canada?

  • I missed out the last good bonus – I hope they do another year end good bonus as I currently have too many Amex cards. Might have to finally say goodbye to my EveryDay.

  • The Gold card losing lounge access appears to be the most significant lose for these cards.

  • Blaise Smith says:

    It looks like the offers are getting to be more and more. I remember when it was just one take it or leave it option. Now it can be overwhelming.

  • With so many cards available with an annual fee (such as the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express mentioned above), I can’t believe anyone would pay $550 per year for an annual fee. I guess if someone was paying $450 they will pay $550. I try to use award credit cards without an annual fee. I also perfer cash over miles. I can always use the cash, sometimes the miles are hard to use.

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