Free first checked bag for up to 9 people. When you hold the card, you get your first checked bag free on all Delta flights. Plus, you can extend that benefit to up to 9 people (including you) who are booked in the same reservation. It’s the most generous companion bag policy of any airline credit card and can save you $100 or more on your next flight, since bag fees start at $25 per person, each way.
Priority boarding. You get to board early, but don’t get your hopes too high. People in First Class and people who fly Delta a lot will board before you. But the card makes sure you’re ahead of people in coach who don’t have the card or status, so you have a better shot at getting your bag in the overhead bin.
No foreign transaction fees. You won’t be socked with a surprise when you use this card for overseas purchases. And while Amex isn’t as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard abroad, there are still plenty of places that take Amex cards, especially hotels and restaurants.
No good mile bonus categories. You get 2x miles on Delta purchases, but that’s it. There aren’t special bonuses for popular spending categories like groceries, gas, and dining.
Limited travel insurance. Unlike cards from other airlines, this card doesn’t cover you for things like having to cancel your flight if you become seriously ill, or a hotel room if your flight gets delayed overnight.
$95 annual fee. It’s waived the first year, but after that if you want the perks of this card like a free checked bag, you need to pay the annual fee.
In this review
If you check a bag on Delta flights more than once a year, then the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex is worth the fee. Checked bags start at $25 each way, so one roundtrip can save you $50, and two roundtrips can save you $100 in bag fees.
If you’re just looking to earn SkyMiles and don’t check bags, there are other options that can earn you more miles from your spending, including one with no annual fee, and we’ll run through them below to help you decide.
You can use Delta SkyMiles to book award flights on Delta, and all of these partner airlines, all bookable with your miles on Delta.com:
Delta doesn’t have an award chart or menu of prices for SkyMiles awards, but we’ve scoped out the cheapest you can expect to pay for some popular tickets.
|Within US||5,000 - 12,500||25,000|
|Mexico / Caribbean||17,500||30,000|
|Northern South America||22,500||40,000|
|Southern South America||30,000||75,000|
|Australia / New Zealand||45,000||95,000|
Beware that these prices aren’t available all the time, and you’ll often see higher prices, but if you see a flight for one of the prices above you’re getting a decent deal from Delta.
It always pays to shop around with your SkyMiles and hunt for a bargain. If you’re lucky, you’ll often see domestic flights for 5,000 miles one way, which can save you big money without a lot of miles in your account.
Here are flights from Charleston, South Carolina to New York for just 5,000 miles.
And here are flights from Seattle to Las Vegas
As you get closer to the date of travel, prices tend to go up, so with SkyMiles it pays to plan ahead and scope out bargains.
Another good use of SkyMiles are long international flights to Europe and Asia.
You can fly in Economy to Europe for as few as 60,000 miles roundtrip, which could save you over $1,000 in airfare, and you can fly on many of Delta’s partners including Air France, KLM, and Alitalia.
Or if you want to go to Asia you can get flights for about 80,000 miles roundtrip in Economy Class.
We don’t recommend SkyMiles for…
Delta tends to charge more SkyMiles than we think is reasonable for many of those flights and you should earn transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards instead.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles card isn’t the fastest way to earn SkyMiles via your spending, and the easiest way to see which card will earn you the most miles is to try our calculator and enter your spending habits.
Otherwise, here’s how other cards stack up for earning SkyMiles:
The Amex Everyday earns Membership Rewards points you can transfer into your Delta SkyMiles account anytime, instantly. There’s no annual fee at all, and you earn 2x points at grocery stores, up to $6,000 worth of purchases a year. Plus, when you use the card to make 20 or more purchases a month, you’ll get a 20% bonus on all the points you earn, so it’s like earning 1.2 miles per dollar you spend.
It’s a faster, cheaper way to build up your SkyMiles account. The downside is the card doesn’t come with any Delta travel benefits, so there’s no free first checked bag or priority boarding to help you out. And foreign transaction fees aren’t waived, so it’s not a good choice for international travel.
A good strategy is to hold both this card and the Gold Delta SkyMiles card. The Gold Delta SkyMiles will get you the free bag and priority boarding, and you can use the Amex Everyday to earn more points for no additional annual fee.
If you fly Delta a lot and are after Delta SkyMiles Medallion elite status, these might be a better choice.
They have the same checked bag and priority boarding benefits as the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, but you have the chance to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles from your spending.
The Platinum earns 10,000 miles, plus 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. That’s on top of the miles you earn from the regular spending, so it’s like earning 1.4 miles per dollar you spend. And if you spend $50,000 in a calendar year, you get another 10,000 miles and MQMs for a total bonus of 20,000 miles and MQMs.
The Delta Reserve earns 15,000 miles plus 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 in a calendar year, so it’s like earning 1.5 miles per dollar you spend. And if you spend $60,000 in a year, you get another 15,000 miles and MQMs for a total 30,000 mile bonus.
The catch: A big $195 annual fee for the Platinum and $450 for the Reserve.
Both give you a companion certificate that lets you get 2 for 1 airfare on a Delta flight within the mainland U.S. each year you renew the card. That can save you hundreds of dollars if you take advantage of it.
And the Reserve gets you access to all Delta SkyClubs, plus extra upgrade priority within your tier if you’re a Medallion member.
If you really want to rack up SkyMiles fast, the best bet is the Amex Everyday Preferred, which earns Membership Rewards points you can transfer into your Delta SkyMiles account anytime.
When you use the card 30 times in any billing period, you’ll get a 50% bonus on the points you earn.
So it’s like earning 1.5x points on everything you spend.
To earn miles even faster, you get 2x points on gas purchases (which is 3x with the 50% bonus), and 3x points on supermarket purchases, up to $6,000 worth a year. With the 50% bonus that earns you a big 4.5x points at supermarkets.
There aren’t any Delta travel benefits with this card, but it can be the best bet for earning SkyMiles fast.
If you’re looking to earn big points from Delta purchases, The Platinum Card from American Express gets you 5x points on all airfare.
This card is entirely different from the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card we mentioned earlier. The annual fee is a lot higher – $550.
For that fee you get access to all Delta SkyClubs for yourself.
You can also visit Amex’s upscale Centurion Lounges with up to 2 guests, and over 800 Priority Pass lounges, also with 2 guests.
The Platinum Card also gets you Gold elite status with Hilton and Starwood hotels, and there’s a $200 credit you can use to pay for fees on Delta or another airline of your choice like bag fees, change fees, and in-flight meals.
So it’s a good choice if you like perks and buy a lot of airfare, but not so great if you only fly a few times a year.
Unfortunately you can’t add the miles you earn from this card to someone else’s account without paying a fee to gift or transfer miles. But you can use your miles to book tickets for anyone you’d like – you don’t need to be the one flying when you use your miles.
There’s no need to pay for tickets with the card to get the free checked bag. Just make sure your SkyMiles number is in the reservation, and you’re set. You can even get the card if you already have a trip planned, because once you receive and activate your card the free checked bag benefit is also activated.
There’s no longer a companion ticket benefit with this card. Instead, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card is the way to get a companion ticket each year. There’s a $195 annual fee, so it’s not a cheap card, but you can use the companion ticket for an almost free companion flight anywhere Delta flies within the mainland U.S.
Delta SkyMiles never expire. Once you earn them, they’re yours to keep, even if you cancel your credit card.
There isn’t a no annual fee card that gets the free first checked bag and priority boarding. But if you want to earn SkyMiles with no annual fee, the Amex Everyday has no fee and earns points you can transfer into your SkyMiles account anytime.
Get the Gold Delta SkyMiles card if you plan to check bags more than once this year, or you want the intro bonus.
But if you want to earn SkyMiles from your ongoing spending, there are other cards that will earn you more.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
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Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.