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Delta Air Lines offers four credit cards for consumers, with annual fees ranging from $0 to $550. Issued by American Express, the cards come with a host of benefits worth considering if you’re a frequent — or even infrequent — Delta customer. They range from core features you would expect on any airline card to “nice-to-have” perks and protections. And the higher the annual fee, the more benefits you'll get.
The four cards:
1. Spending rewards
All four cards earn miles in Delta's frequent-flyer program, known as Delta SkyMiles. Here's a comparison chart:
2. New-cardholder bonuses
Each card gives new cardholders the opportunity to earn a bonus by meeting a spending requirement in the first few months. In general, the higher the fee, the bigger the bonus:
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Nerd tip: NerdWallet values Delta miles at 1.1 cents each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1.1 cents or more in value from your Delta miles.
Free checked bags, early boarding privileges and access to Delta's airport lounges can make your trip a lot more pleasant. The Delta cards that charge annual fees offer these benefits in some form. The no-fee Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card doesn't.
3. Free checked bags
Annual-fee cards: The first checked bag is free for you and up to eight other people traveling on your reservation also get a free bag. (Terms apply.) This can be a big money-saver, since a single checked bag would otherwise cost $60 round trip.
No-annual-fee card: No free checked bags.
4. Early boarding
Annual-fee cards: You'll get to board the plane early — before general boarding begins — to get settled and claim space in the overhead bins for your carry-on, a perk many travelers prize.
No-annual-fee card: No early boarding privileges.
5. Lounge access
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Complimentary access to Delta SkyClubs, as well as two one-time guest passes annually, plus complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges when you use the card to book a Delta flight.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Cardholders can purchase Delta SkyClub day passes for $39 (terms apply).
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: No SkyClub access.
Deals in the air
6. In-flight savings
All Delta cards offer the same 20% statement credit for such in-flight purchases as food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights. In-flight wireless Internet access is excluded. Terms apply.
Progress toward elite status
The miles earned from spending on airline credit cards can be redeemed for free flights, but they don't typically count toward gaining elite status in the airline's frequent-flyer program. In general, you earn elite status only by flying on the airline, and progress toward that status is measured using a separate points system. In Delta's case, you earn "Medallion Qualification Miles," or MQMs, when you fly.
However, the two priciest Delta cards allow bigger spenders to earn MQMs when they hit certain spending thresholds:
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Spend $25,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year and earn 10,000 MQMs; spend a total of $50,000 in eligible purchases on the card in a calendar year and earn an additional 10,000 MQMs.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, up to four times per year.
Travel perks and protections
8. No Foreign transaction fees
Many credit cards charge a fee on purchases outside the U.S. These four Delta cards don't.
9. Insurance and assistance
Because these are airline cards, their travel-protection benefits are notable. Most come from the American Express network, instead of being exclusive to these cards. They include:
Car rental loss and damage insurance.
Travel accident insurance.
Global assist hotline.