Is the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card worth it?

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Before you pick an airline credit card, you need to figure out which airline you fly with most frequently and which benefits you’re angling for. You also need to decide how much you’re willing to pay in annual fees, which can range from $0 to $550 for popular airline credit cards from the major carriers.

If you mainly fly with Delta Air Lines, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card will probably be on your list of cards to check out. With a $99 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year), several frequent flyer perks and a generous welcome offer, this card is one of the mid-tier offerings you should consider (provided you don’t want to pay more to have lounge access at airports).

What does the Delta SkyMiles Gold offer?

Is the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card worth it? Now, that’s a question only you can answer. At the end of the day, the value of this card really depends on which benefits you want and how often you can use them.

Before you sign up for the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card or look into other Delta credit cards like the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, read on to hear our take.

Card highlights

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases and up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within three months of account opening
  • Earn 2X miles on restaurants worldwide, groceries at U.S. supermarkets and Delta purchases and 1X miles on everything else
  • Benefits include first checked bag free on Delta flights, no foreign transaction fees, priority boarding and 20 percent back (as a statement credit) on select in-flight purchases
  • $0 annual fee the first year, then $99

Benefits

Individuals who sign up for the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card can access benefits that can make travel more affordable and convenient. For starters, cardmembers get Main Cabin 1 boarding when they fly with Delta—a perk that lets you get settled in your seat early while you secure some coveted space in the overhead bin. Cardholders also get 20 percent back when they use their card for in-flight purchases with Delta, including food, drinks and audio headsets.

The most important benefit for cardholders is probably the free checked bag perk for Delta flights, especially since this benefit extends to up to eight guests traveling on the cardholder’s itinerary. Since checked bags on Delta flights normally cost $30, this benefit can help the average family of four save $240 for each round-trip flight they take.

Other benefits include access to a Global Assist hotline and car rental loss and damage insurance.

Earning miles

The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card makes it possible to earn 2X miles on restaurants worldwide, groceries at U.S. supermarkets and Delta purchases and 1X miles on everything else. This is a pretty good earning rate considering cardholders can earn bonus miles in everyday spending categories.

How many miles will the average person earn? That depends on their spending habits, but consider this example: Let’s say you’re a family of four with parents under the age of 50 and two kids ages 12 and 13. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you might spend an average of $14,272.80 per year ($1,189.40 per month) on food on a “moderate” budget.

Let’s imagine you also spend $3,600 per year dining out ($300 per month) and another $3,000 on flights with Delta each year. Let’s also say you spend $12,000 per year ($1,000 per month) on miscellaneous purchases with the card.

With the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card, you would earn 53,745 miles over the course of 12 months:

  • 7,200 miles on dining out
  • 28,545 miles on U.S. supermarket spending
  • 6,000 miles on Delta flights
  • 12,000 miles on other spending

Redeeming miles

The Delta SkyMiles program lets you redeem your miles for flights on Delta or their airline partners to more than 1,000 destinations around the world. While the frequent flyer program does not have an award chart, they do make it easy to compare flights on Delta.com so you can see how many miles you’ll need for the award you want.

While award costs vary by date and destination, you can frequently find round-trip domestic flights for less than 20,000 miles and some round-trip international flights to destinations like Europe and Asia starting at around 60,000 miles in economy class. This card also qualifies you for Delta’s “Pay with Miles” feature, which lets you use miles for any flight you want at a rate of one cent per mile.

Also note that Delta SkyMiles never expire and the program doesn’t restrict you with blackout dates on Delta flights.

As a side note, you can redeem your miles for alternative options like seat upgrades and Delta Sky Club membership. Other options include Delta vacations, magazine subscriptions, SkyMiles Experiences (which are currently inactive) and Delta gift cards. You can also donate your miles to a good cause.

Annual fee

The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card waives its $99 annual fee the first year, making it $0. This gives you a full 12 months to earn the welcome offer and try out the card’s benefits before you commit. If you decide you don’t want to renew the card after the first year, you definitely don’t have to.

Separately, you should know that other Delta cards have more perks (like Delta Sky Club access) with a higher annual fee. For example, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card charges a $550 annual fee but it comes with a Delta Sky Club membership valued at $545. The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card, on the other hand, charges a $250 annual fee and comes with 3X miles on Delta flights, Delta vacation purchases and directly-booked hotels, plus 2X miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.

The bottom line

So, is the gold Delta SkyMiles credit card worth it? Before you decide one way or another, you need to figure out which perks you really want. If you don’t care about airport lounges but you want priority boarding and a free checked bag, this card could be for you.

But don’t take our word for it. Spend some time comparing airline credit cards and other travel credit cards, including their fees, rewards and benefits, and you’ll quickly discover the right card for your needs.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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