Delta credit cards – Ultimate guide and calculator
If you want to maximize the number of miles you earn with your Delta credit card spending, your best bet isn’t obvious. There are many mile bonuses that depend on what categories you spend and how much you put on the card each year.
That’s why we’ve created a special calculator that lets you see exactly how many SkyMiles you can earn with each card. No other calculator available factors all of the bonuses and the value of baggage savings. Enter your monthly spending below and you will see which card maximizes the number of Delta SkyMiles you can earn.
There are three major varieties of cards that earn Delta SkyMiles in the calculator above:
- Delta SkyMiles branded cards. These have the Delta Airlines logo on them and are the only cards that include the first checked bag free and priority boarding for you and up to 8 others on your reservation, along with a 20% discount on in-flight purchases.
- Membership Rewards cards. These are charge cards from American Express that earn Membership Rewards points. These points can be transferred instantly into your Delta SkyMiles account, or those of many other airlines.
- Starwood American Express. This is the card of the Starwood hotels program (Sheraton, W, Westin, W, Le Meridien, St Regis, Four Points hotels). The points you earn can be transferred into your Delta SkyMiles account, or those of many other airlines, though with a lag of a few days rather than instantly.
The card that earns SkyMiles most quickly
You might be surprised to see it might not be a Delta Airlines branded card, in fact it’s most likely to be the Premier Rewards Gold from American Express, which earns 3x point on airfare, 2x on all gas and supermarket purchases. You also get a 15,000 point bonus after you spend $30,000 each year, which is a 50% bonus on that $30,000 in spending. And less obvious, but important, it lets you transfer the points you earn 1:1 instantly into your SkyMiles account.
SkyMiles earning cards in detail
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Who should apply. Casual travelers who want the free checked bag benefit. In fact, if you travel more than 2-3 times per year this card pays for itself as you’re saving $50 or more per roundtrip on the first checked bag fee.
Positives. Free checked bag, no annual fee the first year, $95 thereafter. Priority boarding.
Negatives. The only mile earning bonus is for Delta purchases. So, this is the weakest of the cards for earning Delta Sky Miles.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Who should apply. Frequent Delta flyers looking to boost MQM (Medallion Qualifying Mile) totals each year.
Positives. Earn both 10,000 bonus Sky Miles and MQMs when you spend $20,000 and $50,000 each year, for a total possible bonus of 20,000 Sky Miles and MQMs. Also get a free (plus taxes) domestic companion ticket certificate each year. First bag checked free, priority boarding.
Negatives. $150 annual fee, no bonuses on spending categories besides Delta purchases.
Delta Reserve American Express
Who should apply. Frequent Delta flyers who want SkyClub access or maximum MQMs.
Positives. Earn both 15,000 bonus Sky Miles and MQMs when you spend $30,000 and $60,000 each year, for a total possible bonus of 30,000 Sky Miles and MQMs. Also get a free (plus taxes) domestic companion ticket certificate each year, also valid for first class travel. Card includes full Delta SkyClub access. First bag checked free, priority boarding.
Negatives. $450 annual fee, no bonuses on spending categories besides Delta purchases.
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
Who should apply. Medium to heavy spenders who want to earn the highest possible number of Delta Sky Miles via credit card spending.
Positives. 2x points on all gas and supermarket purchases. 3x points on all airline purchases. 15,000 point bonus each year you spend $30,000 on the card. Also lets you transfer points 1:1 to Delta Sky Miles, as well as many other frequent flyer programs, including Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, and more.
Negatives. $175 annual fee, waived the first year. No free first checked bag or priority boarding.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Who should apply. Frequent flyers who want Delta SkyClub access.
Positives. Access to Delta SkyClubs, as well as American Airlines Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs, along with lounges in the international Priority Pass network. Also lets you transfer points 1:1 to Delta Sky Miles, as well as many other frequent flyer programs, including Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, and more. $200 annual credit to use on the airline of your choice (including Delta) toward bag, change, and other fees.
Negatives. $450 annual fee, no point bonuses on spending categories. No priority boarding.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Who should apply. People who want maximum flexibility, good earning power, and a low annual fee.
Positives. Annual fee only $65, the lowest of cards that earn full value Delta Sky Miles. The points you earn can be transferred 1:1 into Delta Sky Miles as well as miles of over 20 other airlines, including American, US Airways, British Airways, and more. Every 20,000 points you transfer earns a 5,000 mile bonus. Points also good for free nights at all Starwood (Westin, Sheraton, W, Four Points, Aloft, Le Meridien, St Regis) hotels.
Negatives. Point transfers can take several days, they are not instant. No first checked bag free or priority boarding.
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