Delta SkyMiles Gold AmEx vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Delta loyalists will get more out of the Delta SkyMiles Gold AmEx, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred is better for those seeking flexibility.

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The choice between the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes down to how you travel.

If you primarily fly Delta, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card makes a great everyday card. It earns bonus SkyMiles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, as well as on Delta purchases. And as you might expect from a co-branded airline credit card, it offers perks including free checked bags and priority boarding. Terms apply.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a general travel rewards card and can't match those kinds of airline-specific perks. But if you don’t want to tie yourself down to one airline, it's a far more versatile and valuable choice. The card earns elevated rewards on travel and dining around the world. Plus, you have more flexible redemption options — including hotels — and you'll get 25% more value when you redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.

The choice comes down to whether you prefer to be monogamous to one airline or you want to play the field.

How the cards stack up

Nerd tip: Both of these cards have premium versions that charge higher annual fees but offer more perks. They include the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.

Why you might want the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Bonus rewards in everyday categories

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card earns 2 miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, at U.S supermarkets and on Delta purchases, as well as 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Terms apply. Those are solid rewards on both everyday spending and Delta-specific travel. The grocery store category, in particular, is a differentiator and could be valuable for families.

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

Free checked bags can be a valuable perk, especially since up to eight of your travel companions on the same reservation can also check their bags for free. Without this benefit, you'd pay $30 one way for the first checked bag and $40 for each additional one. So if you and a companion were to take only one Delta flight per year and you both checked a bag, you'd owe $120. The annual fee on this card costs you less than that: $0 intro for the first year, then $99.

Other Delta perks

Cardholders also enjoy benefits that can smooth out the stresses of air travel: priority boarding, 20% off in-flight purchases, and a $100 Delta flight credit if you spend more than $10,000 in a calendar year on the card.

Nerd tip: All of the American Express-issued Delta credit cards got an overhaul in January 2020, so if you haven’t considered a Delta card recently, it might be worth taking a closer look.

Why you might want the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Higher potential rewards value

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on travel and at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. For foodies and flyers, that's pretty rewarding — but it gets better. Normally, your points are worth a penny each when redeemed for cash back, but with this card, you can redeem them for travel via the Chase online portal (which is powered by Expedia) at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. That's a lot of bang for your buck.

Flexible redemption options

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can’t use your rewards to book flights directly with Delta. But you can do so if you go through Chase's online travel portal first. And you're not limited to Delta flights; you can book with a variety of airlines, hotels and car rental companies this way, and at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, as noted. Or you can transfer your points to any of several airline and hotel travel partners on a 1:1 basis. Partners include Southwest, United, British Airways, Air France/KLM, Marriott and Hyatt. Although Delta isn’t a partner, there’s a workaround: You can transfer points to a Delta partner airline, such as Air France or Korean Airlines, and book the Delta flight through that carrier.

Nerd tip: While neither card charges a foreign transaction fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might be easier to use abroad since it runs on the Visa payment network, which has wider international acceptance than American Express.

Which card is best for you

When you’re planning a trip, do you always check Delta Air Lines first, and usually end up booking that airline? If so, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is probably an ideal fit for your travel needs. You'll enjoy the perks such as priority boarding and free checked bags, as well as the rewards on everyday spending.

But if your go-to flight-booking strategy is to compare prices and schedules across multiple carriers and then chose the one that works best for your budget and circumstances, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will be a better fit.

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