Should I Get a Delta or Alaska Credit Card?

We do a comparison of the airlines' credit cards and how much their miles are worth.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Updated
Edited by Kevin Berry

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When it comes to caring for its passengers, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines consistently get high marks. Case and point, Delta and Alaska ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively on NerdWallet's best airlines to fly during COVID-19. As travel resumes, you might want to prioritize flying these customer-friendly airlines. If so, you may be wondering if you should get a Delta or Alaska credit card.

Both airlines offer valuable perks to their credit cardholders — from free checked bags to lounge access. But, it's important to consider all aspects of a credit card before you sign up. So, let's dive into the best airline cards for those considering a Delta or Alaska credit card.

Alaska Airlines vs. Delta credit cards

Although both Delta and Alaska are major domestic U.S.-based airlines, the two airlines offer quite different credit card options.

Delta credit cards

Delta offers an expansive portfolio of four personal credit card options and three business credit cards through its partnership with American Express:

Terms apply.

Alaska Airlines credit cards

Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines offers just two credit cards through Bank of America®:

Notable differences in these offerings

Only Delta offers a premium card option

Alaska doesn't offer a direct comparison for Delta's premium cards. If you're looking for high-end perks, you want to get one of Delta's higher-end cards.

For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card offers afee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, an annual companion certificate on Delta and the opportunity to earn toward elite status through Delta's Status Boost, all for a reasonable $350 annual fee. Terms apply.

To score lounge access, you'll want the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card​. This $650-annual-fee card offers complimentary Delta Sky Club access and complimentary access to AmEx's Centurion Lounge or Escape Lounge — The Centurion Studio Parter when you fly Delta.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Effective 2/1/25, Reserve Card Members will receive 15 visits per year to the Delta Sky Club. To earn an unlimited number of visits each year, the total eligible purchases on the Card must equal $75,000 or more the previous year. To earn unlimited visits in 2025, you’ll need to spend this amount between 1/1/24 and 12/31/24.

You'll also get an annual companion certificate on Delta, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit, and upgrade priority over other Medallion members — including access to the upgrade list even if you don't have Medallion elite status. Terms apply.

Only Delta offers a card without an annual fee

Alaska doesn't offer a no-annual-fee card. So, if you're looking for a no-annual-fee airline card from either Delta or Alaska, you'll have just one option: the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card​.

This card earns 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and on Delta purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. Plus, you can earn a welcome bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Terms Apply.

Comparing a Delta credit card vs. an Alaska credit card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
NerdWallet rating 
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

When comparing Delta and Alaska credit cards, the only fair head-to-head comparison is between the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. So, let's compare these two cards directly.

Key factors at play

Annual fee

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card charges a $0 intro for the first year, then $150 annual fee. Meanwhile, the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card charges a $95 annual fee. Terms apply.

Welcome bonus

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is currently offering: Earn 40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Comparatively, the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card offers: Get 70,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Miles earning rates

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants (including takeout and delivery), U.S. supermarkets and on Delta purchases. All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar spent. Terms apply.

The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card offers a bonus on multiple purchases: 3 miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 2 miles per dollar spent on gas, EV charging stations, cable, streaming services and local transit, including ride share. You'll earn 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Other travel perks

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card cardmembers get a first free checked bag on Delta flights. You can also earn a $200 Delta flight credit toward future travel after spending $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year. That's like earning an additional 2 cents per dollar spent on your first $10,000 in purchases. Terms apply.

Cardholders also get 15% off award travel booked with Delta via the airline's TakeOff 15 benefit. Terms apply.

Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card customers also get a first checked bag free and priority boarding, both for the cardholder and up to six guests on the same reservation. You'll get 20% back on Alaska Airlines in-flight purchases. But perhaps best of all, you'll get Alaska's Famous Companion Fare each year (note that, as of Jan. 18, 2023, new cardholders must spend $6,000 annually on the card to get this perk). You can use this to score a round-trip flight for a companion starting at just $99 plus taxes and fees.

So, which one?

If you're debating between these two mid-tier cards, it really comes down to if you value the increased miles earning rate on the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card or the value of the Alaska Companion Fare, which could be worth a lot if you use it on an expensive round-trip flight.

We'd also take into account which airline offers more flights from your most frequently traveled airports. It will rarely be better to have an Alaska credit card if you live in a Delta hub.

Alaska Airlines miles vs. Delta miles

Value per point

A key decision when choosing either a Delta or Alaska credit card is the value of the miles you earn and the ways that you can use those miles.

NerdWallet recently analyzed the economy awards versus cash fares on Delta and Alaska. Based on this analysis, Alaska Mileage Plan miles are more valuable at 1.4 cents per mile. Delta is right behind Alaska with a value of 1.2 cents per mile. But that's just the baseline value for these programs and your redemptions may vary.

Premium cabin award availability

If you want to fly up front in first or business class, Alaska Mileage Plan comes out far ahead of Delta — particularly after Delta's recent partner award chart devaluation.

Alaska's Mileage Plan offers some spectacular partner awards. For example, you can fly from the U.S. to Asia in Cathay Pacific business class for 50,000 miles each way. Even better, Alaska allows you to stopover in Hong Kong before continuing on to India, South Asia, the Middle East or even South Africa for just 62,500 miles.

Comparatively, the cheapest Delta business class partner awards to Hong Kong cost 120,000 miles each way. And Delta now charges even higher rates within 60 days of departure.

Partner award opportunities

Alaska just joined the Oneworld alliance on March 31, 2021, and it will expand its award redemptions to include all Oneworld airlines in summer 2021.

Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam alliance, so you can redeem SkyMiles on any of the 19 SkyTeam member airlines — including Air France, KLM and Korean Air.

Either way, you’ll have access to an alliance full of partner airlines.

Choose the right airline credit card for you

If you're looking for the best airline card for your situation, you can't go wrong with either a Delta or Alaska credit card. Both airlines offer credit cards with compelling benefits that can easily justify the annual fee. The best airline card is going to depend on what perks you most value, your tolerance for an annual fee and your travel habits.

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
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