A few days ago, Delta announced massive changes to its SkyMiles program, and to Sky Club access. These changes are clearly motivated by trying to get people to spend more on co-branded Amex cards. Delta is hoping to increase its annual revenue from its Amex card agreement from $6.5 billion in 2023, to $10 billion by 2028.
Delta has a suite of seven co-branded credit cards. For those considering applying for one of these cards, there are some new restrictions that are worth being aware of, as flagged by Thrifty Traveler.
Amex adds limits on Delta card welcome offers
Card issuers have different policies when it comes to getting approved for cards. Historically it has been possible to earn the welcome offer on each Delta Amex card, as long as you haven’t had that exact card before. This is in line with Amex’s “once in a lifetime” policy. Some people occasionally got pop-up warnings about not earning a bonus, but it’s hard to know what triggers that.
There are now some major new restrictions when it comes to earning the welcome offers on Delta Amex cards. So far these rules seem to only apply to the personal cards, and not to business cards.
Essentially you can only earn the bonus on a particular card if you haven’t had that exact Delta card, or a more premium Delta card. So the less premium the card, the more restrictions. Here’s a rundown, ranked from most premium card to least premium card:
- You’re not eligible for the welcome offer on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (review) if you’ve had that exact card before
- You’re not eligible for the welcome offer on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (review) if you’ve had that exact card before, or if you’ve had the Delta Reserve Card
- You’re not eligible for the welcome offer on the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (review) if you’ve had that exact card before, or if you’ve had the Delta Reserve Card or Delta Platinum Card
- You’re not eligible for the welcome offer on the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card (review) if you’ve had that exact before, or if you’ve had the Delta Reserve Card, Delta Platinum Card, or Delta Gold Card
Only time will tell if the same changes are rolled out to the business cards.
What’s the logic for these rule changes?
Obviously I don’t like to see more restrictions on credit card welcome offers. However, I think it’s easy enough to make sense of the logic being used by Amex and Delta here, especially as they’re increasingly trying to push travelers to higher end cards in order to earn status.
If you have a more premium card and you’re picking up a less premium card, odds are that your primary motivation is the welcome offer, since you’re not otherwise getting many incremental perks. If you just decided you no longer wanted to pay the annual fee on a card, Amex and Delta would probably prefer that you just downgrade your card.
Meanwhile if you’re picking up a more premium card, odds are at least decent that you’re trying to increase your relationship with Amex and Delta, and plan to spend more on co-branded cards, fly with Delta more, etc.
So going forward, you’ll definitely want to be strategic with the order in which you apply for Delta Amex cards…
There are significant new restrictions for earning the welcome offers on Delta Amex cards. Previously you were eligible for the welcome offer on each card once. With the new restrictions on personal cards, you can’t qualify for the welcome offer on a card if you’ve had a more premium version of the card. This is worth being aware of, if you’re considering applying for a Delta Amex card.
The much bigger question here is how Delta’s bet on SkyMiles is going to play out for both the airline and for Amex.
What do you make of these changes to the Delta Amex welcome offer language?