How to Maximize the New Delta Credit Card Bonuses

These cards are offering special bonuses on dining and Delta spending, including extra miles to get elite status.

Ramsey QubeinAugust 17, 2020
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How to maximize the new Delta bonuses

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If you’re a foodie and love to fly Delta, we have good news for you. And if you’re hoping to achieve the next level of Medallion status, we have some good news for you, too.

Delta SkyMiles American Express cards are offering new bonuses for dining and Delta purchases, including bonus Medallion Qualification Miles for spending. Terms apply. Typically, the only way to earn MQMs is by flying or reaching spending thresholds on certain credit cards.

These limited-time offers are worth taking advantage of if Delta is your airline of choice but are only available to current cardholders. These offers, valid until Dec. 31, could help sway your decision on what credit cards to use for the remainder of 2020.

4x bonus miles on dining

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card are offering 4x SkyMiles on dining charges, up from 2x SkyMiles. This includes delivery and takeout food. If you spend a lot on these categories, these bonus miles can really add up. There is no limit to the number of miles you can earn through this bonus. Terms apply.

But SkyMiles can sometimes be hard to use since the airline does not publish an award chart. If you plan ahead, though, there is still solid value in SkyMiles, especially if you can take advantage of some of the low-priced award specials from time to time.

5x bonus miles and bonus MQMs for Delta spending

If you spend more on airfare than dining, six Delta SkyMiles American Express cards have a new bonus on the table. For every dollar spent on Delta flights, eligible cardholders can earn 5 SkyMiles. That’s up from 2 or 3 miles per dollar spent on Delta flights, depending on the card. Terms apply.

Eligible cards:

Terms apply.

In addition, for every $1,000 spent, cardholders earn 500 bonus miles that also count as MQMs. If you like to plan or have some Delta travel plans in the near future, this could be a nice boost to your mileage account. If you’re chasing status, it could be a worthwhile bonus. Terms apply.

Note that only four of the Delta cards are eligible for the 500 bonus miles and MQMs:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card.

  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card.

  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.

  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card.

Terms apply.

Only current cardmembers will be eligible for these offers and you'll get an email from American Express with a link on how to enroll. Enrollment begins Aug. 17, so be sure to sign up to start earning bonus miles; the promotion doesn't apply if you don't sign up first.

There is no limit to the number of miles you can earn on Delta spending, but the miles and MQM bonuses (500 per $1,000 spent) are capped at 25,000 miles/MQMs. That is still enough to earn Silver Medallion status if you had no status before or take you to the next level if you have Silver or Gold Medallion status currently. Terms apply.

Are the bonus miles for dining worth it?

NerdWallet values Delta SkyMiles at 0.9 cent per mile so depending on how often you dine out, or order takeout or delivery, and how much you spend, this could be a great way to score more miles. The value of racking up SkyMiles instead of other point currencies depends on how loyal you are to Delta.

If you find SkyMiles hard to use, consider other credit cards that are offering bonuses of their own in the dining, delivery and takeout category. It may be worth reviewing the cards you already have to decide where you need to top off an account balance to get you closer to an award.

Do you want hotel points?

For example, AmEx Marriott cards are awarding 10 Bonvoy points per dollar spent at restaurants (up to $7,500 in spending) through the end of October. NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.9 cent apiece. Terms apply.

This means that $1 of dining spend with Marriott will get you about 9 cents in value. Comparatively, that same $1 with Delta’s new promotion will only get you about 4.5 cents in value.

So, if you prefer redeeming points for hotel stays rather than relying on searching for airline award space, or are just looking for the best value, perhaps you should put restaurant spending on Marriott-affiliated cards instead (at least through the end of October).

Flexible point options

The American Express® Gold Card earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on dining (among other categories like take out, delivery, and U.S. supermarkets). Terms apply. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has always offered 3 points per dollar spent on dining (and that now includes delivery services like DoorDash) while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 points on the same categories.

Both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ are incredibly valuable because they are flexible points currencies. That means that they can be redeemed like cash for purchases or used in the system’s travel portal. You can also transfer points to airline and hotel programs if you can score better value that way.

Travelers like the flexibility that these types of points offer because they are not locked into one airline or hotel program. SkyMiles, in particular, is rather opaque in how many miles you need to save up for a flight because Delta has eliminated award charts and can have a wide range of mileage amounts needed for an award flight.

For this offer to make sense, you need to spend a lot on dining out and be a committed SkyMiles fan. If you prefer to keep your travel options open, you’re better off with a flexible point card.

Are the bonus miles and MQMs for Delta spending worth it?

If you’re a frequent Delta flyer or planning future Delta travel, the miles could add up quickly with a nice status boost. This offer is especially lucrative if you want to fast track your Medallion status.

If you already have a Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Don’t forget that you can earn 10,000 MQMs for spending $25,000 in a calendar year on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, and you’re allowed to hit that threshold twice per year. If you’re already spending on this card, combining these two opportunities means you could earn as many as 45,000 MQMs in a year if you charge a significant amount. You only have until the end of the year to take advantage of this promotion, so be realistic about how much you can charge to your card (and pay off on time) in that window. Terms apply.

If you already have a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

You can also make use of a status boost on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. You're able to earn 60,000 MQMs after $120,000 in annual spend. This is a large amount of spending, but it does mean that at a maximized level when combined with this new offer, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card customers could earn 85,000 total MQMs, gaining Platinum status without ever flying. Terms apply.

Fast track status with rollover MQMs earned from the bonus

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Delta extended Medallion status for all current members through January 2022. If you don’t have status yet, any status that you earn this year would also be valid until January 2022. This offer can get you there faster.

If you’re wondering why it still makes sense to earn MQMs in 2020, SkyMiles has a valuable benefit where members can roll over any MQMs they earn into the next year. In normal years, you only get to roll over your excess MQMs. For example, say you earned 30,000 and 25,000 were used to get Silver status. You would then roll over 5,000 MQMs.

However, as a response to the pandemic's impact on travel, Delta is allowing all MQMs from 2020 to be rolled over into 2021. So in the above example, all 30,000 MQMs would roll over into 2021 and you can spend all of 2021 earning your way to Gold or Platinum status with a 30,000 MQM head start.

Flexible point options

While these bonus SkyMiles are nice, other cards offer bonuses on flight-related spending, too, no matter what airline you book. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express awards 5 Membership Rewards points for each dollar spent on airfare. Terms apply. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3 Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ points for every dollar spent on airfare.

Since both of these are flexible point currencies, they can offer more value in how they can be redeemed, even if the earn rate appears lower than Delta. Still, loyal Delta flyers, especially those who live in Delta hub cities, might want to keep their SkyMiles balance growing.

The bottom line

Whether it makes sense or not for you to take advantage of these bonuses depends on your travel spending. If you value Delta SkyMiles and Medallion status, this could be a nice bonus offer, especially when paired with Delta’s rollover perk. You could be reaping the benefits of this into January 2022 if the bonuses and rollovers elevate your status.

But for those without much Delta loyalty, take note of the flexible point or hotel credit card offerings that might offer more value.

All information about the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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