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Blue Delta SkyMiles vs. Gold Delta SkyMiles: Which Offers More Miles?

by on Tue November 7, 2017 • No Comment
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deltablue170The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the first no annual fee option that earns Delta miles with every purchase. But it comes with less benefits than the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express including key perks like priority boarding and free checked luggage. Which one is better for your wallet? Here’s the short answer on getting the new Delta card:

  • You can earn more miles from the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card over the Gold thanks to the 2 miles per dollar on purchases at US restaurants bonus and no annual fee. If you spend $500 on dining and Delta flights every month and $1,000 everywhere else, you would earn 36,000 SkyMiles® annually, versus 30,000 miles with the same spend on the Gold Delta SkyMiles® card – a difference of at least $60 in value for Delta flights.
  • If you fly Delta main cabin enough to benefit from priority boarding and free checked bags, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® card is your best choice. Checking luggage on two round trips alone will save you $100, making up for the annual fee, while priority boarding gets you overhead bin space first.
  • While both cards come with accidental death and dismemberment insurance, secondary rental car insurance, return protection, accidental damage and theft protection, and extended warranty benefits, neither card offers trip delay or trip cancellation coverage.
  • If already have or previously held the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, your decision to apply for the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card should be based on your personal spending habits, and what other cards you plan to apply for in the next two years. We’ll help you break down the pros and cons in this article.

This table shows the key differences between the two credit cards:

BenefitsBlue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American ExpressGold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Bonus categories2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta and at US Restaurants. 2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta.
Free checked luggageNoFirst checked bag free
Priority boardingNoPriority boarding
International transaction feesYesNo
Annual feeNo annual fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Card Pros and Cons

Pros

2X Delta SkyMiles® on dining

It’s very rare to find a credit card that offers bonus categories with no annual fee. The Blue Delta SkyMiles® card is unique for the fact that you can earn 2X points for spending at all US restaurants, without enrolling in another program. If you use this card for $500 in dining alone every month, our calculator estimates you would earn 12,000 points annually, or $120 in Delta travel rewards at a value of one cent per mile.

No annual fee

Although no annual fee rewards cards are becoming more common, Delta is the first airline to offer a $0 fee card that earns actual miles (its nearest competitor, the United℠ TravelBank card, offers cash back towards United flights). Even if you do not fly Delta regularly, there is a lot of upside to holding a card that earns miles with no costs to justify.

Good travel insurance benefits

Even more rare is a no annual fee card that offers travel insurance benefits. When purchasing an airline ticket or rental car with the Blue Delta SkyMiles® card, you automatically get accidental death and dismemberment insurance and secondary rental car insurance when you decline the collision damage waiver. The rental car insurance alone could add major value in the event of an accident.

Cons

No free checked luggage or priority boarding

Unlike other Delta branded cards, the Blue Delta SkyMiles® card does not come with at least one free checked bag, nor does it come with priority boarding. If you are traveling with just carry-on luggage and are boarding in the later groups, you could ultimately be forced to pay an increased fee to check your bags, or gate check to your destination – even though you hold a Delta credit card.

Least number of benefits while flying Delta

As the saying goes: you get what you pay for. Because this is the only Delta card that does not have an annual fee, it also comes with the least amount of benefits. You won’t get a discounted Delta Sky Club day pass with this card, and you can’t use it to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles towards elite status. Even the 20% in-flight discount only applies to purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets – in-flight Wi-Fi isn’t included.

International transaction fees

Finally, the Blue Delta SkyMiles® card is the only Delta card that charges international transaction fees. Anytime you make a payment in a foreign currency, you will be charged an additional 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to U.S. dollars. While that doesn’t sound like much, it can add up over the course of multiple purchases: if you spent $1,000 on the card during a vacation abroad, you would come home to $27 in fees.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card Pros and Cons

Pros

Free checked bag and priority boarding

Arguably, the biggest benefits of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card are the first free checked bag and priority boarding access. When you have the card and use your Delta SkyMiles number during booking, the free checked bag benefit applies to yourself and up to nine people traveling with you on the same reservation. If you were traveling with three other people each checking one bag, you would save $200 in one round trip, or $25 for each person each way.

With the priority boarding, you and your party will board with Zone 1 Priority Boarding – after Medallion elite and Delta Comfort+ flyers, but before everyone else in the main cabin and basic economy. This gives you the first opportunity to use overhead bin space before all other economy passengers, ensuring you do not have to gate check your carry-on luggage.

Reduced cost for Delta Sky Club® passes

Although the card does not come with complimentary Delta Sky Club® access, you can still get in at a lower price than other passengers. When you present your Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card and a same-day boarding pass at any Delta Sky Club®, you can buy a one-time pass for yourself and two guests for $29 each – the same price members pay for guests. The regular price for a one-time pass is $59, so using the card to get into a Delta Sky Club® is a savings of $30.

Pay with Miles and “Fly Now, Earn later” options

When you hold the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, you may also have access to two additional ways to use your miles for flights: Pay with Miles and “Fly Now, Earn Later.” Pay with Miles allows you use cash and miles to pay for your airfare, with miles valued at 1 cent each. For example: if your flight costs $250, you could apply 20,000 Delta SkyMiles® to pay $200 of the airfare, and pay the remaining $50 in cash.

Delta also has a targeted program called “Fly Now, Earn Later,” which will allow selected cardholders to “borrow” miles towards an award and earn them back with their card in six months. If you should come short of earning back all the borrowed miles, you would have to pay them back at a rate of 2.5 cents per mile.

Cons

No bonus categories

Compared to the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, one downside of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card is the lack of bonus categories. The Gold version only offers 2 miles per dollar spent when you use your card for purchases made directly with Delta, including flights booked on Delta.com, Sky Club® membership or passes, seat upgrades, or in-flight purchases like food, beverages and audio headsets. As a result, your opportunities to earn Delta SkyMiles® are limited.

No Medallion Qualifying Miles for spending

Another con of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card is that it is the only Delta credit card with an annual fee that does not allow you to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles towards elite status. Both the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card*grant bonus award miles and Medallion Qualifying Miles for meeting spending goals. If you fly enough to earn Medallion elite status and want the boost towards status with spending, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card may not offer the best overall value.

No companion certificate option

Finally, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® card is the only one in the Delta card family to have an annual fee, but not offer a companion certificate. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card offers a main cabin companion certificate every year you hold the card, while the Delta Reserve® Credit Card offers a first class or main cabin companion certificate every year. If you take a flight on Delta at least once a year with a friend or family member, the companion certificate can offer better value than the benefits of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card.

Should I get the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card?

If you already have the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card and want to earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants, the Blue Delta SkyMiles® makes sense. For no annual fee and the bonus category, this card can work very well as a partner to your Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card by giving you more miles for spending and a free checked bag with priority boarding.

Before you apply, be sure to look at your overall application strategy. When you apply, American Express will make a hard credit pull, which temporarily lowers your credit score and could put you up against other bank rules. If you are planning to apply for either a new Bank of America credit card or a new Chase credit card, adding the Uber Visa Card could reduce your opportunity to get new credit. Bank of America follows the “2/3/4 Rule,” meaning you may not get approved for a Bank of America card if you:

  • Apply for 2 cards in 2 months
  • Apply for 3 cards in a year
  • Apply for 4 cards in 2 years
  • Have 5 open credit cards with Bank of America

With the Chase “5/24 Rule,” if you have applied for five credit cards in total over 24 months, you may have difficulty getting approved for a new Chase card.

Is there another no annual fee alternative?

If you do not fly aboard Delta regularly, the Amex EveryDay® Card is another good no annual fee alternative. This card offers double Membership Rewards® points on US grocery store spending on the first $6,000 annually. Plus, you can also earn a 20 percent Membership Rewards® bonus after using the card 20 times in a month.

Membership Rewards® points transfer directly to Delta SkyMiles at a one-to-one ratio, and can be used towards discounted flights immediately. Excluding the sign-up bonus, our calculations estimate the Amex EveryDay card could earn over 34,000 points every year.

What other Delta SkyMiles® credit cards are available?

If Delta is your primary airline and you plan on flying more than twice per year, you could benefit even more from a higher tier Delta SkyMiles® card. American Express offers two higher-end cards: the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card.

With a $195 annual fee, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® card offers upgraded benefits for frequent flyers. This includes the opportunity to earn 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles towards elite status after spending $25,000 every year, along with an annual domestic economy companion certificate.

For the $450 annual fee, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card* offers all the benefits from lower cards, along with complimentary Sky Club access when flying Delta and baggage insurance. Holding the Delta Reserve card also gives you upgrade priority over other flyers if you hold Medallion elite status.

*The information related to the Delta Reserve® Credit Card has been collected independently by MileCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

Yes

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

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