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Best Delta credit card? It might not be a Delta branded card…

by on Wed May 6, 2015 • 12 Comments


If you’re looking for a credit card to earn SkyMiles, you’re probably familiar with the basic Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express.

What you might not know is that there are over 15 cards that can earn Delta SkyMiles either directly, or by earning points you can transfer into your SkyMiles account at any time.

And some of them don’t say Delta on them.

We think you should focus on two cards in particular that can cost less, earn you more miles, and offer more flexibility than the basic Gold Delta SkyMiles card.

They are the ‘Everyday’ credit cards from American Express.

One has no annual fee, and the other has a $95 fee.

Amex Everyday cards

Both earn points you can transfer directly into your Delta SkyMiles accounts 1:1, instantly with no limits any time. And you can transfer the points you earn to many other airlines besides Delta for flexibility.

The Amex Everyday. This card has no annual fee and can earn you up to 1.2 points per dollar you spend. As long as you use the card for at least 20 purchases of any size in a billing cycle, you’ll get a 20% bonus on all your points earned, getting you 1.2 points per dollar. There’s also a 2x bonus on all gas purchases, which turns into 2.4x when you factor the 20% bonus.

It earns full Amex Membership Rewards points that you can transfer into your Delta SkyMiles account anytime, and better yet it gives you the option to move your points into several other airline programs including JetBlue, British Airways, and Air France.

And if you don’t want to fuss with airline miles, you can also use your points to book flights via the American Express travel website, flying on just about any airline.

The Amex Everyday Preferred. This is a super charged card for earning points. You get a 50% bonus on the points you earn each month you use the card for at least 30 purchases of any size. That means you can earn 1.5 points per dollar on just about everything, 3x on gas, and 4.5x on grocery spending. There are no caps, except for a limit of $6,000 in grocery spending counting toward the bonus each year.

There’s a $95 annual fee, but it’s hard to find a more powerful card for earning SkyMiles.

You can read more about the Amex EveryDay cards here.

How to decide which card is best for Delta miles?

If you’re still undecided the easiest way to figure out which card is right for you is to use our CardFinder tool for cards that earn Delta SkyMiles. You can enter your spending habits and it will rank the cards based on their value to you, factoring annual fees.

But if tools aren’t your thing, think about your answers to these questions.

  • Is maximizing the number of SkyMiles you earn your priority? We recommend the Amex EveryDay Preferred, which can earn 1.5 points per dollar on all spending and up to 4.5x on groceries and 3x on gas. Click here to read more about why.
  • Do you value checked bag or priority boarding benefits? If you are not a Delta elite flyer and check bags on 2 or more round trips per year, then it is essentially free to carry the basic Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, even if you never use it for everyday spending. It offers a first bag free for you and up to 8 people in your reservation ($50 value per person roundtrip).
  • If you want to maximize the SkyMiles you earn, get the Starwood or Premier Rewards Gold  as an additional card to use for your everyday spending.
  • Is unlimited Delta SkyClub access essential? If so, you have two options. The Delta Reserve ($450 annual fee) or The Platinum Card® from American Express ($450 annual fee). If you don’t care about elite qualifying MQMs, then go for the Platinum Card. This is not the Platinum SkyMiles card. It’s American Express’ premier charge card and offers unlimited lounge access to Delta SkyClubs. It also offers a $200 annual credit toward airline fees, including on Delta, and a host of other benefits. Many people carry it just for the benefits and don’t use it much for spending — it’s that valuable.
  • Do you want to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs)? If you do, there are just two choices: the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and Delta Reserve. You’ll need to spend $20,000 – $30,000 per year on the cards to earn elite miles each year, so these will probably serve as your cards for everyday spending.

But if you’re set on a Delta branded credit card, here’s a comparison…

Delta SkyMiles Gold American ExpressDelta SkyMiles Platinum American ExpressDelta Reserve American Expres
Delta credit card GoldDelta credit card PlatinumDelta credit card Reserve
Earning Power1 point per dollar, 2x Delta purchases1 point per dollar, 2x Delta purchases1 point per dollar, 2x Delta purchases
Annual fee$95, $0 first year$195$450
Annual bonus milesNone10,000 miles for $25,000 in annual spend; 10,000 more for $50,000 in annual spend15,000 miles for $30,000 in annual spend; 15,000 more for $60,000 in annual spend
Delta elite qualifying miles (MQMs)NoYes, 10,000 MQMs for $25,000 in annual spend; 10,000 more for $50,000 in annual spendYes, 15,000 MQMs for $30,000 in annual spend; 15,000 more for $60,000 in annual spend
Ways to use miles
1:1 point transfer to Delta accountsYes, miles are earned in your SkyMiles accountYes, miles are earned in your SkyMiles accountYes, miles are earned in your SkyMiles account
Transfer points into friend / family Delta accounts freeNoNoNo, but can transfer MQMs earned on card to friends / family
Other 1:1 airline transfer partnersNoneNoneNone
Hotel 1:1 point transfer partnersNoneNoneNone
Option to use points as cash toward any airline ticketDelta flights only - every 100 points = $1 in creditDelta flights only - every 100 points = $1 in creditDelta flights only - every 100 points = $1 in credit
Other benefits
Delta baggage fee waiverYes, one each for up to 8 people in your reservationYes, one each for up to 8 people in your reservationYes, one each for up to 8 people in your reservation
Delta priority boardingYesYesYes
Delta in flight purchase discountYes, 20%Yes, 20%Yes, 20%
Free / discounted companion ticketNoneYes, one per year where companion flies freeYes, one per year where companion flies free, also eligible for first class tickets
Secure application linkApply nowApply nowApply now
More benefits detailsClick hereClick hereClick here

(Terms and restrictions apply)

With the minimum annual fee on a Delta Air Lines branded credit card at $95, why would you limit yourself to a Delta-only credit card?

Two reasons: baggage fees and elite qualifying miles.

All Delta branded credit cards offer a free checked bag for your and up to 8 people in your reservation (savings of $25 per bag each way each person). They also offer priority boarding, and the two premium cards let you earn elite qualifying miles.

So if you travel enough to make the bag fee waiver save you more than the annual fee on the card (about 2 roundtrips a year for one person) then you should consider the Delta branded cards.

However for day to day spending you may still want to consider the no annual fee Amex Everyday. You’ll get more flexibility to use your points and can earn faster thanks to the bonus on everyday spending.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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12 thoughts on Best Delta credit card? It might not be a Delta branded card…

  1. Elvis

    Hello how are you? I travel with my job and i have american airlines and delta. i also have a IHG acount and i rent car frequently through Alamo. what card should i get to earn miles to exchange for delta or american or i should just use one carrier? the problem is that i like delta better but aa is a lot cheaper some times. what are your opinions?



      @Elvis – Would try to build on the airline where you’ve been flying the most lately. Do you have a sense of whether you tend to fly one more than the other?

      It it’s about even, then for the next year or so, a good choice may be the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex. It earns points that you can transfer into either Delta or American anytime – your choice.

      The downside is they’re merging with Marriott and that feature might get diluted in a year or so. Could last longer depending on how long it takes to go through with the merger steps.

  2. Stephen Bornfeld

    I use a personal credit card for myself & wife. Average monthly purchases are $3,500.
    I also need a business card. We put $350,000 to $400,000 on a card. Which to cards will give best benefits. I like to use points for first or business flights.


      @Stephen – If Delta is your preferred airline…

      Get an Amex Everyday Preferred for the personal purchases – make sure between the two of you you make 30 or more charges a month on it. Points xfer to Delta anytime.

      For business…

      If you do a lot of advertising, shipping, gas, or hardware / software purchases, get the Biz Gold Rewards for the bonus categories.

      Otherwise get the Plat SkyMiles or Delta Reserve Biz. The mile boost bonus is like earning about 1.4x on your spending up to $50k or $60k a year. Delta Reserve gets you SkyClub access (but you have to pay $29 for your wife to enter).

      If you’re interested in Delta Medallion status, send a message here an we can work through a more involved option, but one that could get you Platinum or Diamond Medallion status based on your spending level.

  3. Tom

    Free / discounted companion ticket Yes, one per year where companion flies for $99

    I don’t find this anywhere for the Gold AMEX Delta card….?

  4. Ed Florida

    I like a medallion status – silver or gold. Would spending on the Everyday card get me to a medallion status like the Platinum and Reserve cards would? Or a combination of any of the cards? I guess I’m asking if the status is set by card or by FF number?

      1. cory

        what are the conditions for collecting the miles do you have to swipe your card or can you charge things like your house payment on it?


          @cory – A charge with any merchant that accepts a credit card for payment will earn you miles. But if you try to do something like a cash advance or use a check, you won’t earn miles. Most mortgage companies don’t accept credit card payments.


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