Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

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Delta elite status chasers who don’t want to shell out for the higher-priced Reserve should get this card.

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

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Earning elite status on Delta Airlines isn’t easy. Qualifying can be complex and pricey, but if earning it is important to you, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express can help give you a boost toward that goal.

Review

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express pays 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

If you like Delta enough to own a Delta co-branded credit card, you likely already have SkyMiles Loyalty Program membership, where you’ll earn an additional 5 SkyMiles for every $1 you spend on Delta flights. Use this card for Delta purchases along with that SkyMiles membership and you’ll net total of 7 miles for every $1 spent.

But people who shell out the $195 annual fee don’t get this card for that reason, over say, a no-fee Delta co-branded card that pays the same rewards. To understand the rationale it helps to take a look at how the airline determines its elite-flier status.

Chasing what Delta has termed “Medallion Status” requires more than just taking flights and earning miles. To reach any of the four tiers of Medallion Status — Silver, Gold, Platinum or Diamond, requires accumulating various combinations of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), earned based on distance flown; Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs), earned based on segments flown and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) based on annual spending on Delta and most partner flights.

For example, to reach the lowest rung of elite status, Silver Medallion, requires 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs, and $3,000 MQDs or MQD Waiver Qualification. To get that MQD Waiver Qualification, you’d have to spend $25,000 or more in a year on your qualified Delta credit card.

Earning Delta elite status is not low-hanging fruit. But those who achieve it earn a ton of perks like super-high rewards rates and complimentary first-class upgrades.

For those who want to chase this status, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express comes with a sign-up bonus of 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 of those hard-to-get MQMs if you spend at least $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account. You’ll also get a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase within the first three months.

Delta stopped publishing its award charts in 2015 so it can be challenge to know how to squeeze the maximum value of the mileage sign-up bonus. A round-trip flight in a main cabin seat from New York’s JFK airport nonstop to LAX in February 2018 was priced at 44,000 miles plus $11.20 in tax. The cash price was about $316. This would make the Delta miles worth about four-fifths of a cent.

That’s a terrible rewards rate compared with many of the other options out there. But that same flight in a Delta One premium lie-flat seat was bookable for 90,000 miles plus $11.20 in taxes or an out-of-pocket cost of $1,716. In this scenario, 1 Delta mile equals about 1.9 cents, which is a pretty good redemption.

Now say you have Silver Medallion Status, which entitles you to unlimited complimentary first-class upgrades if available within 24 hours of departure. You could end up paying the same 44,000 miles plus $11.20 in taxes for that round-trip coach ticket but get upgraded to a first class ticket. This would make your Delta miles worth almost 4 cents each — far better than that puny four-fifths of a cent they were worth without status. Even if you don’t pay for your flight with miles, $316 for a round trip first class flight is an outstanding price to pay, and one of the reasons why people chase elite status.

There’s one other important detail of this card worth mentioning. Each year when you renew your annual fee you’ll get a companion certificate good for one free domestic round-trip coach fare ticket plus applicable taxes and fees up to $75 on eligible flights good for one year. Although this is not an insignificant benefit, depending on how you use it, the $195 cost of owning the card may not make this perk worth it to you.

The bottom line with this card, is that, like Delta’s Medallion Status program, it’s most rewarding for those with deep pockets or frequent travelers seeking elite status. If that doesn’t sound like you, consider a different Delta card, some of which come with no annual fee and offer a free checked baggage perk.

Who should get this card

Anyone chasing Delta’s Medallion Status who doesn’t want to pay the $450 annual fee for the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express should consider this card.

Advantages
  • This card gives you a boost toward elite Medallion Status.
  • Your first checked bag is free.
  • After the first year of ownership, you’ll get a free domestic round-trip free companion certificate.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • The annual fee approaches what you'd pay for elite rewards credit cards.
  • You'll receive no introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers.
  • Redeeming SkyMiles for lower fare class tickets may not give you great value.

Fees and APR

  • The annual fee is $195.
  • The APR on purchases is a variable 16.24% to 20.74%.
  • Balance transfers can only be done within the first 60 days of opening an account and they will have a variable 16.24% to 20.24% APR.
  • There’s a 3% balance transfer fee of the amount being transferred.
  • You’ll pay no foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • If pay late or miss a payment, you may be subject to a variable penalty APR of 29.99%, which can apply for at least six months, plus a late fee of up to $38.
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using points

Get your first checked bag free with this card. You also get discounted access rates of $29 per person to the Delta Sky Club.

This card also provides rental auto and baggage insurances and protections.

Points can be redeemed to book flights and purchase upgrades. One-way award tickets start at 10,000 miles plus taxes and fees.

How this card compares

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

Card Details
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in 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 dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.74% to 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $95.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

Delta enthusiasts should consider adding this card to their wallets, just for the mileage potential. Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on Delta purchases with the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. If you belong to the SkyMiles Loyalty Program you’ll earn an additional 5 miles for every $1 spent on airline tickets. This means a Delta airline ticket bought from the airline can snag cardholders a whopping 7 miles per $1 spent. For the $95 annual fee, waived the first year, you also get a free checked bag.

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

Card Details
  • 2 miles per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants.
  • 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta.
  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
Credit Needed Good
Regular APR 16.74% to 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee No Annual Fee.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

The Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card is the starter travel rewards card in Delta’s lineup. Designed for the infrequent Delta traveler, this card has no annual fees and offers 2x the rewards on Delta flights and restaurant purchases.

Although it is lacking in some of the top-tier benefits travel rewards pros are used to — for instance, you won’t get companion tickets here — this card is a good option for the low spender who dines out regularly.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

Card Details
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways purchases.
  • Earn 2 points at Southwest Hotel and Car Rental Partners.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $69 annual fee.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

You might also consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. If you’re a Southwest Rapid Rewards member and take either 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, you’ll earn a domestic round-trip Companion Pass for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earned it, which could be worth far more than the annual fee.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.