American Express and Delta have had a close relationship for a long time, and as part of that they issue seven co-branded Delta Amex cards.
There’s a lot to know about these cards — some of the cards currently have increased welcome bonuses, and we’re also seeing big changes to these cards in 2020 — so I wanted to go through these cards one-by-one.
Gold Delta Amex Card Basics
In this post I wanted to take a look at the popular Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card. This card has a reasonable annual fee and is ideal for someone looking for basic benefits that come in handy when flying Delta. If you’re a super frequent flyer on Delta then another card might be a better option (more on that below).
Note that the card is undergoing some major changes as of January 2020. If benefits or details of the card are changing I’ll specifically be calling those changes out below, so that you have a sense of how the card works now, and how it will work in the future.
So let’s take a closer look at the card.
Welcome Bonus: 60K Miles + $50 Statement Credit
Through October 30, 2019, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card is offering an increased welcome bonus:
- Earn 60,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $2,000 within the first three months
- Earn a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase with your card in the first three months (the statement credit can be triggered by virtually any Delta purchase)
As mentioned above, this bonus is only available for a few weeks, and this is also significantly better than the usual offering.
Redeem your SkyMiles for China Airlines’ excellent business class
How The Statement Credit Works
How do you trigger the $50 statement credit? Here’s what you need to know:
- Any purchase made directly through Delta will trigger the statement credit; you don’t actually have to spend $50, but rather a $1 purchase would do the trick (if you were able to find something that cheap)
- The credit will be issued within 8-12 weeks of the eligible purchase, though in practice it typically posts much faster than that
- You can only earn that statement credit once
- It doesn’t matter who you’re making a purchase for, as long as it’s billed to your Delta credit card (so you could pay award ticket taxes for someone else’s ticket, for example)
Here are some practical ways you could use the credit:
- You can pay the taxes on an award ticket, as that starts at just $5.60
- You can pay a checked bag fee or upgrade your seat
- You can pay to boost your mileage earning on a trip
- You can purchase a drink or snack onboard your next Delta flight
- You can purchase a Delta SkyClub membership or day pass
- If you have SkyClub access, you can buy a premium drink in the SkyClub
The welcome bonus on the card is “once in a lifetime,” so it’s not available to you if you currently have the card, or if you’ve had the card in the past. However, note that you can get each “flavor” of the Delta Amex card, so you are eligible for this card if you’ve had the Platinum or Reserve, or if you’ve had any of the business versions of the card.
Annual Fee (Waived The First Year)
The Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express Card has a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees), though with the current offer it’s waived for the first 12 months. This is a great opportunity to essentially try the card before you have to “buy” it.
You can add additional users to the card at no extra cost.
Earning Miles With Gold Delta Amex Card
As it stands, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card offers:
- 2x SkyMiles for purchases directly with Delta, including for flights, Delta SkyClub memberships, seat upgrades, and more
- 1x SkyMiles on all other purchases
In addition to that, as of January 30, 2020, the card will begin to offer:
- 2x SkyMiles at restaurants globally
- 2x SkyMiles at U.S. supermarkets
Starting next year you’ll earn bonus miles for dining purchases
While I’d consider these to be positive changes, that still isn’t a very compelling rewards structure for spending long term, as there are better cards out there for restaurant and grocery store purchases.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
If you are going to put spending on the card, the good news is that there are no foreign transaction fees, so you can use the card abroad without potentially paying fees those high fees.
Gold Delta Amex Card Benefits & Perks
The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card has a great welcome bonus, though this isn’t a card I would be using for everyday spending, as there are much better cards out there.
The real reason you’ll want to keep this card long-term is because of the perks and benefits that it offers. So let’s take a closer look at those, including the current perks, and the changes taking place to those perks in 2020.
First Checked Bag Free
Just for having the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card you get a first checked bag free, which would otherwise cost $30 one-way per person:
- This benefit is limited to the primary cardmember and anyone traveling on the same reservation with them (up to nine people)
- You don’t have to pay for your flight with your Delta Amex, though you do need to have your SkyMiles number in the reservation
- Only valid for travel on Delta and Delta Connection
This is a great value, given that you’ll usually pay $60 per person roundtrip for a checked bag. So if you’re traveling with someone then you’re looking at $120 roundtrip in fees, which more than covers the annual fee on the card.
Save on checked bag fees with the Delta Gold Amex
20% Delta Inflight Savings
If you have the Gold Delta Amex then you can save 20% in the form of a statement credit for eligible pre-purchased meals, and in-flight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages, and audio headsets, on Delta flights. Allow 8-12 weeks for the statement credit to post.
Save on inflight purchases with the card
Discounted SkyClub Access
Delta SkyClubs are arguably the best membership airline lounges in the US. SkyClubs have solid food, complimentary alcohol, wifi, and many of them have showers. If you have the Gold Delta Amex then you can buy SkyClub access for $29 per person per visit.
With a long layover that could represent a good value.
Do note that this benefit is going away, though — as of January 30, 2020, it will no longer be possible to buy discounted SkyClub access with this card.
The SkyClub Seattle is one of my favorite US airline lounges
Delta Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) Waiver
In order to earn status with Delta you need to earn a certain number of elite miles or elite segments, and you also need to earn a certain number of elite qualifying dollars.
With the Delta Gold SkyMiles Amex you can receive a waiver of the MQD requirement for qualifying spending:
- Spend $25,000 on the card within the qualification year to get an MQD waiver for Silver, Gold, or Platinum status
- Spend $250,000 on the card within the qualification year to get an MQD waiver for Diamond status
So as of now spending on this card can be worth it to get an MQD waiver. However, as of January 1, 2020, spending on this card will no longer count towards an MQD waiver.
Spending on this card can help you earn status (at least for 2019)
Pay With Miles
Delta has a Pay With Miles feature, where if you have a Delta co-branded credit card you can redeem miles for one cent each towards a Delta flight purchase (in increments of 5,000 miles/$50). That’s not the best deal in the world, though this is a feature that’s exclusively available to those with an eligible card.
Some people find this to be useful since they can redeem their miles towards flights, and then they still earn elite miles for taking those flights.
Pay With Points is a feature that many SkyMiles members value
One of the great features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which offers savings or bonus points on purchases with all kinds of retailers. There’s huge value to be had in getting as many Amex cards as possible, so that you can get these offers on multiple cards.
Amex Offers could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can access these offers by logging into your account and scrolling down to the bottom of your account summary page.
Coming In 2020: $100 Delta Credit
While this isn’t yet a feature, starting in 2020 you’ll receive a $100 Delta flight credit if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year.
That’s probably not a reason to shift any spending to this card, but it is something to be aware of if you’d spend money on the card anyway.
Delta Gold American Express Changes As Of 2020
Significant changes are being made to the Delta American Express cards. I hit on most of them above, though just to succinctly recap them, here’s what’s changing for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card as of 2020.
The positive changes to the Gold Card include:
- The card will earn 2x SkyMiles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (currently it earns 1x miles in those categories)
- The card will offer a $100 Delta flight credit after $10,000 of spending in a calendar year
The negative changes to the Gold Card include:
- The card will no longer offer a Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver starting in 2020 (currently spending $25,000 on the card gets you an MQD waiver)
- The card will no longer offer discounted access to Delta SkyClubs (currently the card offers $29 per person SkyClub access)
Is The Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express Worth It?
The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card isn’t a card I’d be using for my everyday spending, and that’s even more the case as of 2020. There are many more rewarding cards for your everyday spending.
- This card has an excellent welcome bonus with the annual fee waived the first year
- This card can be worth holding onto for the first checked bag free, access to Pay With Miles, Amex Offers, savings on inflight purchases, and more; for someone who flies Delta once in a while, the benefits can more than offset the annual fee
Bigger picture, is the card worth it, though? Here are a couple more things to consider.
Quick Showdown: Delta Gold Amex Vs. Delta Platinum Amex
The way I generally view it, the Gold Card is a good option for the occasional Delta flyer looking for basic perks, while the Platinum Card is a better option for the most frequent Delta flyer.
Here are some of the main differences of the Platinum in comparison to the Gold:
- The Platinum has a better welcome bonus, of 75,000 bonus miles plus 5,000 bonus MQMs after spending $3,000 within the first three months, plus a $100 statement credit when making a Delta purchase within that same time period
- The card has a $195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (Rates & Fees)
- The card offers an annual companion certificate (upon account renewal) for a main cabin domestic roundtrip flight
- This card can help you earn status, as you can earn Medallion Qualifying Miles for putting spending on the card ($25,000 of spending will earn you 10,000 MQMs, and another $25,000 of spending will earn you another 10,000 MQMs)
Consider Earning Amex Membership Rewards Points
If you are looking to earn Delta SkyMiles through credit card spending then consider using a card earning Amex Membership Rewards points. That’s because these points can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio, and you can in many cases earn points at a much faster rate.
Delta Amex Gold Card Summary
At the moment the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card has an increased welcome bonus with the annual fee waived the first year, and that’s a great reason to consider this card. On top of that, the card can be worth holding onto for the benefits that it offers, like a free checked bag, inflight savings, and more.
For the more frequent Delta flyer, consider the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).