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Delta is an airline that can inspire some pretty strong loyalty. For those living in cities with a major hub like Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit and Salt Lake City, Delta can be your key to non-stop flights to most cities in America and many overseas destinations. Delta even attracts many travelers in other cities due to its reputation for customer service and operational reliability, as well as the many perks offered by its Medallion program.

When I lived in Atlanta and traveled heavily for work, I was a huge fan of the airline and its Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. This card still offers a great welcome bonus, double miles on everyday purchases and valuable benefits when flying on Delta. Here are five reasons to love the SkyMiles Gold card.

1. No annual fee the first year

The current offer for this co-branded Delta credit card comes with $0 introductory annual fee for the first year.  After your first year of card membership, the annual fee is $99. After a year with the card, it will become clear whether or not it will be worth it.

This card also offers you $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. So long as you average $834 in charges each month, then you’ll receive a credit that will more than pay for your annual fee.

2. A satisfactory welcome bonus

When you open up an account with the American Express Delta SkyMiles Gold card, you can earn 40,000 SkyMiles after using it to spend just $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening. While Delta no longer publishes a SkyMiles award chart, this bonus can be worth at least $400 in award travel—and often even more. Additionally, new cardholders can get up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first three months.

With the Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer program, the number of miles needed for awards usually corresponds pretty closely with the price of the award in dollars. So, you know you’ll usually get about one cent in value per mile redeemed, and perhaps a little more. With many other programs, you sometimes get great value per mile, but you’ll find poor values pretty often, too. Fans of the Delta SkyMiles program like its consistency.

3. Earn bonus miles beyond just Delta purchases

I was always frustrated that most airline credit cards would only offer one mile per dollar spent on everything other than airline purchases. But with the Delta SkyMiles Gold card, you get 2X miles on dining at restaurants, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.. You also get 2X miles on purchases at U.S. supermarkets. So whenever you eat, you’ll enjoy double miles. And, of course, you earn 2X miles on all Delta purchases, including tickets, fees and any other purchases made directly with the airline.

4. Enjoy lots of Delta perks

Where the Delta SkyMiles Gold card really shines is its several valuable benefits when flying. Like many airline credit cards, you’ll get a free checked bag. But with the SkyMiles Gold card, this benefit extends to up to eight other passengers traveling with you on the same reservation. There have been times where I’ve used this benefit to save hundreds of dollars on a family ski vacation and on other long trips requiring us to check numerous bags.

When boarding, you’ll also enjoy Main Cabin 1 priority boarding. This means that you’ll be boarding before most other passengers, and you’ll get the chance to stow your carry-on in the overhead bin by your seat. When you board later, you risk being forced to check your bag when the aircraft runs out of bin space.

SkyMiles Gold card members can also use Delta’s Pay With Miles program to reduce the cost of the tickets they buy on And while you’ll only get one cent in value per mile redeemed, these tickets still earn redeemable miles and credit towards elite status—just like a ticket that you purchase with cash. This makes the most sense when I’m chasing elite status, and I can find discounted tickets.

Finally, this card offers you 20 percent back on in-flight purchases. This always takes the sting out of paying for things like meals, drinks and audio headsets.

5. Get lots of American Express cardholder benefits

If you haven’t heard, many credit card issuers have been eliminating some of their long-standing and most valuable cardholder benefits. Thankfully, American Express has stood its ground and still provides plenty of travel insurance and shopping protection benefits.

When traveling, you’re covered by car rental loss and damage insurance, which is no longer offered by cards from Citi, Discover and others. I especially love using the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection option, which charges you $19.95 or $24.95 per rental, not per day. This is a great option for longer rentals and in places where you’re especially worried about damage.

For shopping, this card offers a purchase protection plan that offers up to $1,000 in coverage per occurrence, up to $50,000 per calendar year. This benefit kicks in when your eligible purchases have been stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase. You’d have to be pretty unlucky to claim anywhere near $50,000 in damages in a year, but I’ve definitely used this benefit for reimbursement of hundreds of dollars worth of accidental damage to individual purchases.

But beyond the 90 days of purchase protection, you’ll get an extra year of extended warranty coverage on eligible items with warranties of five years or less. This can allow you to decline the pricey additional warranties sold by retailers.

The bottom line

There are dozens of airline credit cards offered these days, but the Delta SkyMiles Gold card stands out. With a $99 annual fee that’s $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, I find that it’s in the “Goldilocks zone” between the no-fee Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card and the $250 Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card—not to mention the $550 Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.

By offering new cardmembers a decent welcome bonus, double miles on numerous purchases and a slew of valuable benefits, the Delta SkyMiles Gold can surely earn a place in your heart, too.