Delta credit cards: Stupid, pointless, or worth having?

It’s Delta’s turn. Delta cards are usually stupid to spend on because a) Delta miles are craptastic and b) you can instead earn Amex Membership Rewards points on an Amex Everyday Preferred or Blue Business Plus, where they will accumulate faster, and can be transferred to Delta and several other airlines, or used as cash towards any ticket. So are the Delta cards worth having at all?

Amex Gold Delta: This is a mediocre card that isn’t worth $95/year unless you check bags a lot. It’s worth getting for its signup bonus during promo periods when they offer 60,000 miles with first year fee waived. But after that, all it gets you is a free bag, priority boarding. and half-price Sky Club entry for you and others. If you spend $25K on it, you’re exempted from the $3,000 spending requirement for Silver Medallion (or $6,000 for Gold, $9,000 for Platinum…but you have to spend $250K to be exempted from the Diamond spending requirement). Worth having if you don’t have Medallion status and check bags a lot. Stupid to spend on, because if you’re chasing higher status, you should instead have one of the cards below.

Amex Platinum Delta: Kinda dear at $195/year, but signup bonuses during promo periods get as high as 70,000 points plus 10,000 Medallion qualifying miles. The perks are pretty much the same as the Gold, but the big win is that if you blow $25K on it, not only do you get the spending waiver for status earning, but you also earn 10,000 Medallion qualifying miles. Spend another $25K in the year, you get another 10,000 Medallion qualifying miles. Also, starting in your second year, you get a free, if somewhat restricted, economy companion certificate (the ins and outs of the certifciates are covered by OMAAT and TPG). Worth having and spending on if you are chasing higher Medallion status.

Amex Delta Reserve: $450/year gets you the benefits of the Gold card, plus Sky Club access, and half-price Sky Club access for others. (Though you can also get this, for a comparable price and wider lounge access,, with an Amex Platinum or Business Platinum). The Reserve gets you 15,000 Medallion qualifying miles if you spend $30K, and then again if you spend another $30K. If you’re a high roller, you can combine this with the Platinum card and propel yourself to Platinum or even Diamond status. You also get the same yearly economy companion certificate as the Platinum card. Worth having and spending on if you are chasing higher Medallion status, and/or if you use the lounge heavily, though the Amex Platinum might be a better value for that since it has access to more lounges.

Amex Blue Delta: It’s free, but does nothing for you, apart from get you a one-time 10,000 mile signup bonus if you’re not holding one of the above cards. Stupid to have. Stupid to spend on, even if it does earn more than no-fee cards from other airlines.

All of the above cards except the Blue come in business flavors, too, with substantially the same benefits.


2 thoughts on “Delta credit cards: Stupid, pointless, or worth having?

  1. Tom

    Don’t forget about the annual companion certificates on the Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve cards. I haven’t used either of them personally, but some people may find value in them and may cover (or exceed) the cost of the cards.

    1. Ivan X Post author

      @Tom, I did, in fact, forget about it, so thanks for the reminder. I’m going to update the post to mention it.


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