How to Choose the Right Delta Credit Card

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Even if you only fly with Delta a few times per year, a Delta credit card can save you money and dramatically improve your travel experience. American Express offers a mind-boggling 7 different Delta SkyMiles credit cards for U.S.-based flyers.

Each card comes with benefits and perks that can easily justify its annual fee. If you choose wisely, you'll get far more value than it costs to keep your card for the long term. In this post, we'll highlight the key benefits of each card to help you decide which one is the best fit for your needs.

delta credit card

Although there are seven different Delta credit cards, there are really just four different levels of benefits and annual fees. American Express offers both a consumer and small-business version of its popular Gold, Platinum, and Reserve Delta credit cards. The seventh card—which is not available as a small business card—is the no-annual-fee Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. (Rates & Fees)

The most significant differences between the business and personal cards are the spending bonus categories. None of these cards are especially lucrative for earning miles through ongoing spending, but the earning rates are included in the card summaries below for your reference.

So, let's break down the Delta credit card tiers, starting with the most popular Delta Gold cards.

Delta Gold Cards: Solid Benefits with a Low Annual Fee

The Delta Gold cards are a perfect fit for anyone who flies occasionally with Delta. The significant benefit offered by both the consumer and small business cards is a free first checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to eight companions flying on the same reservation. If you and one companion check a bag on a single domestic round trip each year, you'll save more than the cost of the annual fee.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
Welcome Offer Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • 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.
  • $100 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, receive a Credit to use toward future travel.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 2X miles per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets
  • 2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants
  • 1X miles on all other eligible purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
Welcome Offer Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/2021.
  • Additionally, take $100 off your next Delta flight - after you spend $10,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you will earn a $100 Delta Flight Credit to use toward future travel.
  • Earn 2 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta, on every dollar spent on eligible U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, on every dollar spent on eligible U.S. shipping purchases, on every eligible dollar spent at restaurants. Earn 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • Check or stow your bag with ease: First Checked Bag Free + Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel overseas.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 2X miles per dollar on eligible U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • 2X miles per dollar on eligible U.S. shipping purchases
  • 2X miles per dollar on dining
  • 1X miles per dollar on all other purchases

Key Benefits for the Delta Gold Credit Cards

  • First checked bag free
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding
  • 20% back on Delta in-flight purchases
  • Earn a $100 Delta Flight Voucher after you spend $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year
  • Redeem miles at a value of one cent each for Delta-operated flights using Pay with Miles

Delta Platinum Cards: Enhanced Benefits for Frequent Delta Flyers

The Delta Platinum cards are significantly more expensive than the Gold cards, but they can offer an excellent return on investment for more frequent Delta flyers. There are two key benefits with the potential to make the annual fee worthwhile: the companion certificate and Delta's Status Boost™.

First, you will receive a companion certificate each year after renewing your card membership. This certificate can be used to add a second traveler to a domestic, round-trip ticket in economy class (Main Cabin). Taxes and fees still apply to companion tickets, but you won't have to pay the base airfare for your companion's ticket. If you can use this perk consistently, it should be easy to justify the annual fee.

The Delta Platinum cards are also a solid value for anyone who needs a little help to reach the next level of Medallion Status. Both the business and consumer cards offer Status Boost™—a feature that awards 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $25,000 on your card within a calendar year. This benefit can be earned twice per year, for a total of 20,000 MQMs after $50,000 in spending.

Even better, Delta is adding a 25% boost to MQMs earned via the Status Boost™ on your Delta co-brand card in 2021. Platinum cardholders will earn 12,500 MQM instead of 10,000 MQM for each boost. That's a total of 25,000 MQMs that you can earn from spending in 2021.

Cardmembers who spend at least $25,000 in a calendar year also earn a Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver, which allows you to reach Delta Silver, Gold, or Platinum elite status without spending the required amount of money on Delta flights. Here's our post about Delta MQD requirements.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Annual Fee$250
Welcome Offer Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 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. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 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. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • 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.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 3X miles per dollar at hotels
  • 2X miles per dollar at U.S. supermarkets
  • 2X miles per dollar at restaurants
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
Annual Fee$250
Welcome Offer Earn 90,000 bonus miles, 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles, 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/21.
  • Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and on every eligible dollar spent on purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 1.5 miles per dollar on single eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (that's an extra half mile per dollar), up to 50,000 additional miles per year. 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • With Status Boost®, earn 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, up to 2x per year getting you closer to Medallion Status.
  • Status-like benefits: First Check Bag Free on Delta flights + Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 3X miles per dollar spent with hotels
  • 1.5x miles on purchases over $5,000 (up to 50,000 bonus miles annually)
  • 1X miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Key Benefits for the Delta Platinum Cards

  • Status Boost™ — Earn 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year. In 2021, you'll get an extra 25% boost for a total of 12,500 MQM for spending $25,000.
  • MQD Waiver — If you spend $25,000 on your card each year, you can qualify for Silver, Gold, and Platinum Medallion Status without meeting the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) thresholds.
  • Companion Certificate — Each year when you renew your card membership, you'll receive a companion certificate that can be used for a domestic, economy-class round-trip ticket.
  • Delta Sky Club® Access for a $39 fee per visit
  • Application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

Benefits Also Offered with Delta Gold Cards

Delta Platinum cardholders also get these benefits which overlap with the Delta Gold cards:

  • First checked bag free
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding
  • 20% back on Delta in-flight purchases
  • Redeem miles at a value of one cent each for Delta-operated flights using Pay with Miles
  • No foreign transaction fees

Delta Reserve Cards: Premium Benefits for High Spenders and Delta Elites

The Delta Reserve cards come with an impressive lineup of benefits, but the annual fee is a significant step up from the mid-tier Delta Platinum cards. There are three big reasons you might be able to justify the higher cost to hold this card.

First, the Delta Reserve cards give the primary cardmember access to Delta Sky Clubs and the Amex Centurion Lounge when flying with Delta the same day. Delta charges $545 (or 54,500 miles) for a one-year Sky Club membership (which does not include Centurion Lounge access). So, the Delta Reserve cards are a no-brainer for anyone who would otherwise purchase access.

The Delta Reserve cards can also help you qualify for Delta elite status without spending as much time or money on Delta flights. The Status Boost™ perk offers 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 on your card in a calendar year. This benefit can be earned four times per year, for a total of 60,000 MQMs after $120,000 in spending. High spenders can earn Gold Medallion status (and get within easy striking distance of Platinum Medallion) just by using their Delta Reserve card.

Delta is also adding a 25% boost to MQMs earned via the Status Boost™ on Reserve-branded cards in 2021. Reserve cardholders will earn 18,750 MQM instead of 15,000 MQM for each boost. That's a total of 75,000 MQMs that you can earn from spending in 2021—which is enough for Platinum Medallion elite status.

Lastly, the Delta Reserve cards come with an enhanced companion certificate that can be used for a domestic round trip in First Class, Comfort+ and Main Cabin. If you use this benefit for more expensive premium-cabin airfare, the additional savings can justify the Delta Reserve's higher annual fee.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Annual Fee$550
Welcome 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 11/10/2021.
  • 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 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 60,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 MQMs four times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Receive a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+® or 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.
  • Complimentary access into the Delta Sky Club® for you when travelling on a Delta flight.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge - The Centurion® Studio Partner when you book a 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.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1X miles on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
Annual Fee$550
Welcome Offer Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $200 statement credit after spending $5,000 on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/21.
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $200 statement credit after spending $5,000 on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/21.
  • With Status Boost®, earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to 4x per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Plus, throughout 2021 earn an additional 3,750 MQMs after making $30,000 in purchases, up to 4x. That's in addition to the 15,000 MQMs that you would earn with Status Boost.
  • When you purchase a Delta flight with your Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you will receive complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge - The Centurion® Studio Partner.
  • After you spend $150,000 on your Card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 Miles per dollar (that's an extra half mile per dollar) on eligible purchases the rest of the year. If your purchase qualifies for a category that has a higher mileage accelerator, only the higher accelerator will apply (ex: you would earn 3X miles on purchases made directly with Delta instead of 1.5X).
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you spend overseas.
  • Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1.5X miles per dollar on purchases after spending $150K per calendar year
  • 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Key Benefits for the Delta Reserve Cards

  • Status Boost™ — Earn 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year—up to four times per year. In 2021, you'll get an extra 25% boost for a total of 18,750 MQM for spending $30,000.
  • MQD Waiver — If you spend $25,000 on your card each year, you can qualify for Silver, Gold, and Platinum Medallion Status without meeting the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) thresholds.
  • Companion Certificate — Each year when you renew your Card Membership, you'll receive a companion certificate that can be used for a domestic round-trip in First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin.
  • Delta Sky Club® Access for the primary cardmember and authorized users.
  • Two Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes that can be used for non-cardmembers traveling with the primary cardmember.
  • Centurion Lounge access when flying Delta same day. (Guests cost $50)
  • Upgrade Priority — Delta Reserve Cardmembers are prioritized over other SkyMiles members in the same Medallion Tier and fare class grouping.

How Benefits Differ from the Delta Platinum Cards

  • Earn up to 60,000 MQMs with Delta Reserve cards vs. up to 20,000 MQMs with Delta Platinum cards. (After the 25% boost in 2021, you can earn up to 75,000 MQM using Delta Reserve cards vs. up to 25,000 MQMs using Delta Platinum cards.)
  • Delta Reserve companion certificate is valid for First Class and Comfort+; Delta Platinum companion certificate is limited to Main Cabin
  • Delta Reserve cardmembers get complimentary Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access. Meanwhile, Delta Platinum cardmembers can purchase Sky Club access for $39.

Benefits Also Offered with Delta Gold Cards

Delta Reserve cardholders also get these benefits which overlap with the Delta Gold cards:

  • First checked bag free
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding
  • 20% back on Delta in-flight purchases
  • Redeem miles at a value of one cent each for Delta-operated flights using Pay with Miles
  • No foreign transaction fees

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card: Basic Benefits with No Annual Fee

The Blue Delta Amex (full review) is Delta's entry-level consumer card. While this card doesn't cost you anything to hold long term, it also doesn't offer much in the way of benefits.

One perk that does make this card interesting is Delta's Pay with Miles feature. This perk is available exclusively to Delta cardholders—including the Blue Delta Amex.

Like most frequent-flyer programs, Delta limits which flights you can book with miles. Pay with Miles lets you redeem SkyMiles (at a rate of one cent per mile) for any Delta-operated flight you could buy with money. This is a handy workaround when the flight you want isn't available as a standard award ticket. However, there are far better ways to spend SkyMiles.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • 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 restaurants worldwide
  • 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases

Key Benefits for Blue Delta Amex

  • No foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)
  • 20% back on Delta in-flight purchases
  • Redeem miles at a value of one cent each for Delta-operated flights using Pay with Miles

Final Thoughts

The Delta credit card lineup is surprisingly well designed. That said, it may take a little effort to decide which benefits are right for you. Occasional Delta flyers who often check bags can justify the Gold cards' modest annual fee and enjoy priority boarding. More frequent flyers should also come out ahead by using the Platinum cards' companion pass on a Main Cabin ticket each year—and potentially reach a higher level of Delta Medallion status with Status Boost™.

The Delta Reserve cards have a big price tag, but cardholders can enjoy many of the benefits reserved for Delta's most loyal customers at a significant discount. And with the option to make significant progress towards top-tier elite status through credit card spending alone, these cards can offer huge value to high spenders.

If your needs change over time, you should be able to upgrade or downgrade to one of the other cards by contacting Amex after your first year of card membership. However, it isn't usually possible to change from a consumer card to a business card or vice-versa.

Which Delta credit card makes sense for you?

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

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Comments

  • Amex was offering even higher bonuses on the Delta Gold (70,000 + $400 or 90,000 + $200), and as is my misfortune, these didn’t pop up until after I applied for the targeted 70,000 + $200 offer, and I only found out via DoC on the day that the hidden offers expired (28 July 2021). Tried to get a bonus match from Amex to those offers, got a kind but firm NO.

    Oh well, first-world problems.

  • I just got approved for the Delta Gold after being stuck in “popup jail for a few months”. I felt this was the best value for my situation, since American dominates the state of Florida, but Delta dominates my local airport (MLB). The other cards in your wallet also play a big factor in which Delta card is best.

  • I was told to apply for these cards only after 5/24. Is that still the case?

    • JT Genter says:

      Depends on your strategy! If you are happy with the Chase cards that you have, go ahead and expand outside of the Chase portfolio. But, if there are some Chase cards you still want, make sure to save a slot or two.

  • Would like to see Delta come back to Canada to offer a co-branded card!!

  • Sebastian Morita says:

    Delta only offers Amex cards?
    What about Visa Or Mastercard?

    • JT Genter says:

      Delta has an exclusive card partnership with Amex. So, unfortunately, you can’t get Delta Visa or Mastercards.

  • Hard to go wrong with any of these cards with these outsized sign up bonuses…..good thing they are being so generous as those “SkyPesos” from Delta are virtually worthless if you wanna sit in the front of the plane….there are some solid deals in coach though on occasion if you are flexible and persistent.

  • The answer is none of them, Erik. None. Just kidding. Thanks again for the awesome, quality write-up. Delta isn’t for me (I live at a United hub) but the work you guys put into these posts is always exceptionally insightful. Always. 🙂

  • I’ve only had one of the Delta cards in the past. Can’t wait for a great signup bonus to get another AMEX Delta card.

  • Obviously your personal situation and location have a lot of bearing on your (needed) cards, but I’ve just never found much value in the Delta cards compared to other cards — speaking as someone who isn’t locked into Delta due to work or location reasons.

  • Helpful article! I’ve been impressed by delta of late

  • It looks like they’re all AMEX cards – I’d prefer a Visa since there are still many places that don’t take AMEX.

  • Seems every Delta promo is thpourgh AMEX.

    First card from CHASE the CSP is the ONLY value added card on the market. Rets are marketing promo scams.

  • Didn’t know the Pay with Miles feature. One cent per mile is not a bad deal at all!