Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card review

Garrett Yarbrough  in  Airline How we rate our cards  |  Advertiser Disclosure
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Best Delta card for value travelers

Annual Fee:
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Bankrate Rating

Best Delta card for value travelers

  • Rewards rate: 2X miles on restaurant, U.S. supermarkets and Delta purchases; 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months
  • Annual fee: $99 (waived the first year)
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 15.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable

Less frequent Delta travelers looking to stockpile miles from their day-to-day expenses will likely wring the most value out of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card.

Even at $99 each year ($0 the first year), the Delta Gold card’s unlimited rewards, sizable welcome offer and travel benefits outweigh its no annual fee sibling, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card.

Travelers chasing immediate savings over prestige status benefits could easily find that this is the best Delta credit card for their occasional flights.

Current welcome offer

You can earn 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases within your first three months.

This is an especially accessible offer when you consider how easy it would be to fit the spending requirement into your 2X miles restaurant or U.S. supermarket categories. You would earn a total of 37,000 miles that way, worth $444 according to The Points Guy’s 1.2-cent-per-mile valuation.

Granted, the Delta Gold card’s welcome bonus doesn’t carry  Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward elite Medallion Status like the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card does. Nevertheless, the Delta Gold card’s offer is close to the Delta Platinum’s 40,000 miles that requires a heftier $2,000 spend (and $250 annual fee) in the same time frame.

Rewards

The Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer miles you earn with your Delta Gold American Express card are intended to cover airfare like other airline card rewards. Delta Gold also allows you to earn “Medallion Qualification” currency, but achieving top Delta perks and rewards rates this way is harder without the premier Delta cards’ Status Boost feature.

Earning rewards

The Delta SkyMiles Gold’s rewards structure is the best choice of any Delta credit card for budgets outside air travel. Outside the Delta Gold card’s 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and partner airline travel, its 2X miles at restaurants and U.S. gas stations and 1X miles on all other purchases are perfect categories for road trips and everyday expenses.

The SkyMiles loyalty program provides two additional ways to earn bonus miles on top of your spending. Qualifying for Medallion Status can earn another whopping 7 to 11 miles per dollar on Delta flights, but this isn’t the most feasible way to earn bonus miles.

Luckily, the Delta SkyMiles Dining program perfectly suits the Delta Gold card’s reward categories. By aligning your restaurant spending, you can work your way to VIP status and earn up to 5 extra miles per dollar.

Redeeming rewards

This might not be a concern if you’re in the market for a Delta rewards card, but your redemption options are pretty limited compared to non-branded travel cards. “Pay with Miles” and “Pay with Miles + Cash” only let you book travel or upgrade seats with Delta, including when you fly with their SkyTeam partner airlines. This means that your reward value is tethered to Delta and you can’t transfer miles to other loyalty programs for a better deal.

The options outside travel aren’t very appealing either. You can gift miles to other accounts or charity or spend them on travel experiences, merchandise or magazine subscriptions.

How much are miles worth?

In actuality, the value of your miles varies from flight to flight since Delta doesn’t use a defined awards chart. On paper though, your miles can only be redeemed for airfare at a 5,000 mile to $50 ratio—making them worth 1 cent apiece when you redeem them through Delta.

Compared to other rewards cards on the market, The Points Guy gives Delta SkyMiles an overall value of 1.2 cents each. That makes your rewards a bit less valuable than other airline cards and travel cards’ currencies. In fact, skipping the co-branded card for one directly from American Express will net you much more valuable Membership Rewards points—worth 2 cents each.

Benefits

Value-savvy flyers will find a healthy supply of premium benefits that will cover their annual fee with savings throughout their Delta journey.

These perks are definitely worth the card’s price tag, but keep in mind that Delta’s finest benefits are exclusive to their top-tier cards and Medallion Status members.

Travel perks and other savings

The Delta Gold card carries a host of benefits that save you time and money throughout your travels:

  • $100 annual Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in one year
  • First checked bag is free
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding
  • 20 percent statement credit back on select in-flight purchases
  • Travel protections, including baggage insurance and car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Shopping protections, including extended warranty coverage and purchase protection

Complimentary ShopRunner membership

All U.S. consumer American Express credit cards and charge cards are eligible to receive a complimentary ShopRunner membership. ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping on online purchases from over 100 participating retailers, which can be useful when you’re buying travel accessories and gifts.

Pay It Plan It

As an Amex card, Delta Gold also has access to the Pay It Plan It purchase management program. Pay It lets you immediately take care of small purchases under $100 with the American Express app. This makes it less of a hassle to earn rewards with your credit card, since you can treat it almost like you would a debit card.

The Plan It feature is a bit more helpful if you’re in a pinch. If you’re trying to whittle down interest payments, you can move a qualifying larger purchase over $100 into a payment plan within your credit card instead of adding it directly to your balance. Remember to use Amex’s pre-purchase calculator to make sure your plan fees won’t exceed what the initial interest would have cost.

Rates and fees

The Delta Gold is a low-maintenance card, since there aren’t many fees to worry about. There are no foreign transaction fees when you fly abroad, and the annual fee is even waived the first year. Even then, the rewards and benefits easily make up for the $99 fee afterward.

Based on the 1.2 cent TPG value, you’d only need to spend $343.75 per month in your 2X categories to earn enough miles to cover your fee—if your $100 flight credit and free first checked bag benefits didn’t already make up for it.

Other than that, the only ongoing cost might be the 15.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR—if you happen to carry a balance. Also, remember to check the rates and fees carefully before booking travel with your reward miles so you’re wary of any award and service fees.

How the Delta Gold card compares to other airline cards

Overall, the Delta Gold card’s rewards rate and benefits are in league with other airline and travel rewards cards at its price level. Delta fans will enjoy this card, but everyone else may find more value in a general-purpose travel card that earns more versatile and valuable rewards.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, for instance, earns unlimited 2X miles on all purchases, which can be redeemed for a wider variety of travel purchases and can be transferred to other airlines (albeit at a lower rate).

And as we previously mentioned, Amex Membership Rewards are some of the most valuable reward points, clocking in at 2 cents each according to TPG. The American Express® Green Card carries similar benefits as the Delta Gold card and earns 3X Membership Rewards points on travel and restaurants, with 1X points on all other purchases.

If you feel you’ll need more flexible rewards on the horizon than a Delta credit card can provide, here are a few non-branded credit cards for flights.

Card Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome offer
American Express® Green Card
  • 3X Membership Rewards points on restaurant and travel purchases
  • 1X Membership Rewards points on all other purchases
$150
  • 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on purchases within first six months
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • 2X Capital One miles on all purchases
$95
  • 100,000 miles after spending $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months
  • Or, still earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card $95
  • 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within first three months

Best cards to pair with the Delta Gold card

Other Membership Rewards-earning American Express cards can rack up points that are more valuable than Delta SkyMiles and can then be transferred to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. That means you can pair a card like the American Express Green Card with the Delta Gold card to earn 3X points on non-Delta travel and transfer them to Delta if you wish.

If you care more about achieving Medallion Status and earning 3X miles on hotels and Delta flights, the higher-tier Delta Platinum card can provide key Status Boost, annual companion certificate and extra travel protection features to meet those elite criteria. Just make sure your spending will justify the additional $250 annual fee.

Bankrate’s Take—Is the Delta Gold card worth it?

Despite the $99 annual fee after the first year, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express card proves itself to be a worthwhile investment. Its premium benefits and rewards on everyday purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets provide great reward opportunities to value-minded travelers.

But unless you’re a loyal Delta business or pleasure traveler, it might be wiser to choose a non-branded card if you’re focused on flexible rewards for day-to-day expenses.

Pros

  • The $99 annual fee is $0 the first year and easily offset afterward
  • Best Delta consumer card for everyday expenses
  • Carries valuable travel benefits, including a possible $100 Delta flight credit each year

Cons

  • Reward value is restricted by lackluster redemption options and no Delta award chart
  • Worthwhile benefits for the price, but scaled back compared to bigger sibling cards
  • Doesn’t offer Status Boost, so it’s harder to earn Medallion Status

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.