Best Delta Air Lines credit cards
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Delta Air Lines normally serves more than 200 million passengers per year, and their global network includes over 300 destinations in more than 50 countries worldwide. The airline’s alliance with SkyTeam partners like Air France and KLM makes them even more valuable for international itineraries, and many of the elite perks you receive with Delta Medallion status are reciprocal with their partners.While Delta doesn’t have an award chart like some other airlines, the Delta SkyMiles program is still hugely popular with consumers. While you can earn miles by flying, many savvy customers also like to pick up a Delta credit card in order to earn airline miles on regular purchases and score some frequent flyer perks along the way.Which Delta credit card should you apply for depends on how often you fly and the benefits you want to receive as a cardholder. Before you choose a new card for your wallet, check out Bankrate’s picks for the best credit cards for Delta flyers in 2020:
- Best with no annual fee: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
- Best for casual Delta flyers: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
- Best for frequent flyer perks: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Best for airport lounge access and elite status: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Best for business travelers: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
- Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
- Earn 2x miles on dining and Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
- No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
- Receive 20% back on in-flight purchases
Why it’s the best with no annual fee
The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card is the only co-branded Delta credit card that never charges an annual fee, yet you’ll give up some perks and rewards along the way. You do get the chance to earn a small welcome bonus, and you’ll earn 2X miles on Delta purchases and restaurant purchases made with your card. Other than that, you’ll only earn 1X miles on regular purchases. The only real cardholder perk you receive is the 20 percent discount (in the form of a statement credit) on in-flight purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets.
Along with having no annual fee, this card comes with no foreign transaction fees. A handful of consumer protections make it more valuable for your spending, including purchase protection against damage or theft and extended warranties.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
- 40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first three months; plus, up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first three months
- Earn 2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurant spending and U.S. supermarket spending, along with 1x points on other purchases
- Earn a $100 Delta flight credit when you spend $10,000 on your card within a calendar year
- Free checked bag on Delta flights, 20% back on in-flight purchases and priority boarding
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
Why it’s best for casual Delta flyers
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card doesn’t charge an annual fee the first year, yet you’ll receive some substantial frequent flyer perks that can help you save money or travel more comfortably. These include a free checked bag for you and up to eight people on your itinerary, Main Cabin 1 boarding on Delta flights and 20 percent back on in-flight purchases made with your credit card.
The welcome bonus on this card could be enough for a round-trip domestic flight, and you’ll earn 2X miles in more categories — including ones like dining and U.S. supermarket spending where you may be able to earn plenty of miles over time. The Delta flight credit you can earn toward a future Delta flight is also worth pursuing if you fly often with the airline.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- 50,000 bonus miles, a $100 statement credit for eligible U.S. restaurant purchases and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first three months
- Earn 3x miles on Delta purchases, 2x miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1x miles on other purchases
- Receive a free checked bag on Delta flights, priority boarding, an annual companion certificate upon renewal and a fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck
- $250 annual fee
Why it’s best for frequent flyer perks
The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card does have a higher annual fee at $250, but you’ll get plenty of benefits in return. For starters, there’s a free checked bag perk for you and up to eight companions on your itinerary, but you’ll also get priority boarding and a fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership.
The annual companion certificate, which is good for a domestic main cabin round-trip flight, can also be a big money-saver if you fly with Delta often.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Earn 50,000 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 3x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on other purchases
- Receive complimentary membership to Delta Sky Clubs and the American Express Centurion Lounge
- Receive an annual companion certificate upon renewal, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, upgrade priority, a first checked bag free on Delta flights and other frequent flyer perks
- $550 annual fee
Why it’s best for airport lounge access and elite status
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with automatic membership to Delta Sky Clubs, but you can also visit American Express Centurion Lounges in destinations like Houston and Las Vegas. While the $550 annual fee on this card is high, membership to Delta Sky Clubs starts at $545 for the year. And remember, you’ll also receive other lucrative benefits like upgrade priority, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership and an annual companion certificate good for a first class round-trip domestic flight when you pay for the first fare.
This card is also ideal for consumers who want to pursue elite status with Delta. Status Boost lets you earn 15,000 more MQMs each time you spend $30,000 on your card within a year (up to four times per year until 12/31/2021). You also receive a MQD waiver that lets you avoid the spending requirement for elite status.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus miles, 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $4,000 on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Earn 3x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on other purchases; graduate to earning 1.5 miles on regular purchases after you spend $150,000 on your card within a calendar year
- Receive Delta Sky Club and American Express Centurion Lounge access, along with a domestic First Class companion certificate upon renewal, a first checked bag free, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, priority boarding and more
- $550 annual fee
Why it’s best for business travelers
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is ideal for business travelers who spend a lot of time in airports. Not only do you get access to Delta Sky Clubs when you fly with Delta, but you can also visit American Express Centurion Lounges with your membership. While the $550 annual fee is high, airport lounge membership more than makes up for the fee. You also get perks like a domestic first class companion certificate, a first checked bag free, a credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck and more.
Like the personal version of this card, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card also gives you a leg up in your pursuit of elite status. You can also 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 with Status Boost®. 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.
Consider other cards with transferable points
American Express Membership Rewards is the premier program that lets you transfer points to Delta at a 1,000:1,000 ratio and plenty of American Express credit cards let you earn this type of rewards. For example, you could check out the American Express® Gold Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express — three cards that make up the popular Amex trifecta.
Also consider the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which lets you transfer points 1:1 to Air France / Flying Blue, a Delta partner. With the Flying Blue program, you can redeem as little as 50,000 miles to fly round-trip from the U.S. to Europe on Delta metal. Not only that, but the Chase Ultimate Rewards program lets you redeem your points for any flights you want through their portal, including Delta flights.
Credit cards to consider that let you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points include the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, among others.
How to choose the best Delta SkyMiles credit card
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of Delta credit cards available to you, make sure to consider all the important factors that help each card stand out. Here are some details you should compare and contrast to find the right card for your needs:
- Do you want to pay an annual fee? If you don’t want to pay an annual fee or you want to pay an annual fee that’s on the lower end, this is important to consider. The two lowest tier Delta-branded credit cards still let you earn miles and cardholder perks without a high annual fee, but you’ll give up some benefits along the way.
- How important is airport lounge access? If you want airport lounge access as a cardholder perk, you’ll need to pay $550 per year to have the Reserve personal or business credit card. Either of these cards let you enter Delta Sky Clubs or Amex Centurion Lounges when you fly with Delta.
- Do you plan to pursue elite status? If you want your credit card to help you achieve elite status, you’ll need to consider the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Both give you a boost with some Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) in your welcome offer. However, the Reserve card also lets you earn more MQMs each time you reach a spending threshold with your credit card.
- Which frequent flyer benefits do you want the most? Make sure any Delta credit card you’re considering offers the perks you want the most, whether that includes a free checked bag, priority boarding, a credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck or important travel insurance benefits.