How to Get the Most from the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Most people have to fly a lot to earn elite status, but cardholders can do it through spending.

Ramsey QubeinNovember 10, 2020
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How to Get the Most from the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

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The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card offers lots of perks similar to other travel rewards cards, plus one really unique strength: It’s a powerful tool to quickly earn elite status in Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program.

Throw in the card’s generous welcome bonus, free checked bags and an annual certificate that lets a companion fly with you practically for free, and savvy users can enjoy benefits worth far more than the card’s $250 annual fee. Here’s how to get the most out of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. Terms apply.

Earn the welcome bonus

One of the best reasons to sign up for the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is the stack of miles and fast track to status you can earn as a welcome bonus. 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.

Save on bag fees

When you book your Delta flight with the card, you and up to eight companions on the same itinerary get one free checked bag each. Without the card, it costs $30 each way to check a bag. So for just one trip with friends or family, the free bag benefit could more than earn back the $250 annual fee. Terms apply.

Keep in mind that SkyMiles elite members can already check one bag for free (and passengers in premium cabins also get free bags). This means the free bag perk is valuable only to those without status.

Spend your way to elite status

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is one of the few airline credit cards that can get you to elite status with less flying and more spending.

Without the card, the only way to become an elite Medallion member in the SkyMiles program is by flying Delta to earn two types of currency: Medallion Qualifying Miles, or MQMs, which are based on actual distances flown, and Medallion Qualifying Dollars, or MQDs, which are tied to your spending with the airline. The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card can help you with both.

If you spend $25,000 within a calendar year on this card, you receive 10,000 MQMs toward the next level of status. Terms apply.

On top of that, when you spend $25,000 in a year on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, the MQD requirement is waived for Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion status. Terms apply.

If you spend $250,000 on the card in a year, you get the MQD requirement waived for top-tier Diamond Medallion status, which lets you choose perks like SkyClub lounge membership, regional or global upgrade certificates, and the option to gift Gold Medallion status to someone else. Terms apply.

Once you’re a Medallion elite, you'll enjoy some other benefits based on the status level you’ve achieved. Besides free checked bags, Medallion elites enjoy perks like higher-priority boarding, extra SkyMiles for every dollar spent on flights, unlimited first class and Comfort+ upgrades, and access to preferred seating on flights. Terms apply.

So if you spend a lot on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, you can become a Delta elite flyer much faster.

Maximize your companion certificate

Every year on your card anniversary, a companion certificate will appear in your SkyMiles account. Redeem it and you can bring a travel buddy along on any qualifying main cabin, round-trip flight within the continental United States (there are exceptions for those with a registered address in Alaska or Hawaii), paying just taxes and fees.

Not all flights will have availability, and you cannot use this certificate when buying a basic economy (E-class fare) ticket. But use it for a high-value trip and you can easily make up for the card’s $250 annual fee with this one benefit alone. Terms apply.

Earn miles on purchases

With the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, you earn miles with every purchase:

  • 3 miles per dollar spent on eligible Delta Air Lines purchases.

  • 3 miles per dollar spent on purchases and reservations made directly with hotels.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants, including takeout and delivery.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

NerdWallet values Delta Air Lines SkyMiles at 0.9 cent apiece, so spending in these categories can deliver a decent return. Terms apply.

If your main goal is to earn miles through everyday spending, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card may not be your best option. There are other travel cards that will pay you more points on things like airfare and hotels.

For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare booked through American Express. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points on travel-related purchases like airfare and hotels, and its points are transferable or can be used to purchase travel directly.

Buy a snack or a drink on your Delta flight

Charge your in-flight purchases to this card and you’ll get 20% back — hardly the most lucrative benefit of the card, but it’s always nice to save a little money. Terms apply.

The bottom line

The SkyMiles program isn’t the most generous when it comes to opening up seats you can book with miles, so do not get this card solely for earning and redeeming SkyMiles.

But if you’re a regular Delta passenger looking for a path to elite status, you can maximize this card’s perks to get there. And if you use the other perks, like free checked bags and the annual companion pass, you get a lot of value from this card.

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 2020, including those best for:

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