Is a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Worth It?

Frequent Delta flyers have the best chance at getting the full value from a SkyMiles card.
Jun 6, 2022

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Delta Air Lines is one of the "big three" U.S. carriers, serving nearly 300 destinations in more than 50 countries. Millions of travelers choose Delta each year and to help enhance their travel experience the airline runs a loyalty program for its members called Delta SkyMiles.

If you live in a Delta hub or fly the airline fairly regularly, you might be wondering whether getting a co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit card will help you earn special rewards and elevate your travel experience. So if you're asking yourself, "Is a Delta credit card worth it?" we've got answers for you.

Available Delta credit cards

American Express is the sole issuer of co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards. Let's look at the Delta cards and the welcome offers available to consumers and business owners.

Personal Delta credit cards

Delta business credit cards

The cards' benefits range from basic to comprehensive. If you're interested in applying for a Delta SkyMiles credit card, we recommend researching their perks and considering annual fees. We will not cover these in our analysis below.

How Delta SkyMiles credit cards work

Provide your SkyMiles number when you apply for a Delta-branded credit and it'll be attached to your frequent-flyer account. If you don't have a member number, one will be created for you automatically.

Every time you swipe a card for purchases, you'll earn points based on the earning structure of each card. Typically, you earn a mileage multiplier on Delta purchases and in a couple of other bonus categories, such as restaurants, hotels and U.S. supermarkets.

The miles you earn are redeemable for award flights on Delta flights as well as on partner airlines, such as Air France, KLM and LATAM. Redemption rates vary based on travel dates and destination, but you should get about 1.3 cents per mile on average, according to NerdWallet’s valuation.

SkyMiles don't expire whether you hold a Delta credit card or not, as long as your SkyMiles account is in good standing.

How to determine if a Delta card is worth it

Co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards come with all kinds of perks, including:

  • Free checked bags.

  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry enrollment fee credits.

  • And even Delta Sky Club access (with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card).

However, all SkyMiles credit cards, with the exception of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, charge annual fees and you must decide whether the benefits outweigh the fees.

Determine whether a card's bonus categories align with your spending patterns

Every dollar you spend on your co-branded Delta credit card turns into Delta SkyMiles, and in some cases at accelerated rates. Here's how you earn rewards by using an American Express Delta card on purchases.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

  • 2x miles on Delta.

  • 2x miles at restaurants.

  • 1x mile on everything else.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • 2x miles on Delta.

  • 2x miles at restaurants.

  • 2x miles at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 1x mile on everything else.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • 3x miles on Delta.

  • 3x miles directly with hotels.

  • 2x miles at restaurants.

  • 2x miles at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 1x mile on everything else.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • 3x miles on Delta.

  • 1x mile on everything else.

Terms apply.

As you can see, the earning structure on Delta cards isn't the most attractive. In addition, the bonus categories are lackluster, and these miles are stuck in your Delta SkyMiles account.

After you earn the welcome bonus, we don’t recommend using these cards for your everyday spending. Focus on credit cards that earn flexible rewards instead, such as the American Express® Green Card and the American Express® Gold Card, which earn Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles and more than a dozen other airlines. Terms apply.

Analyze the benefits of Delta SkyMiles cards

All Delta cards come with tangible benefits that can help you offset annual membership fees. Let's take a look at the perks you can expect from a Delta credit card.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

  • 20% back on in-flight purchases.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • $100 Delta credit after spending $10,000 on the card annually.

  • Main Cabin 1 boarding.

  • First checked bag free.

  • 20% back on in-flight purchases.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • Status boost: 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year.

  • Companion Certificate at renewal (for domestic flights in Main Cabin).

  • $39 Sky Club access.

  • Main Cabin 1 boarding.

  • First checked bag free.

  • 20% back on in-flight purchases.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • Status boost: 15,000 MQMs up to four times per year.

  • Upgrade priority for Medallion members.

  • Companion Certificate at renewal (for domestic flights in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ or first class.

  • Sky Club access for primary cardmember plus two one-time guest passes per year.

  • Centurion Lounge and Escape Lounge access.

  • Main Cabin 1 boarding.

  • First checked bag free.

  • 20% back on in-flight purchases.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

Terms apply.

Many benefits are available to Delta credit card holders, and it's where these credit cards shine. However, before you ask, "Is it worth getting a Delta credit card?" you must ask, "Will I use these benefits?" Well, let's do some math.

Do you check bags?

Your first checked bag normally costs $30. That fee is waived for Medallion members and those with select Delta SkyMiles American Express cards. This perk isn't limited to just you, either. Up to eight other passengers traveling on your reservation are eligible for the benefit on all cards except for the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. Of course, this isn't a valuable benefit if you're Team Carry-on. Terms apply.

Do you often travel with a plus one?

Redeeming a Companion Certificate offered with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card can help offset some or all of the annual fees, depending on how much airfare costs. Let’s say you hold the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and save $300 using a Companion Certificate. In this case, the membership fee pays for itself.

Is lounge access important to you as a solo traveler?

Then accessing Delta Sky Clubs, The Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges every time you fly can justify paying a high annual fee as well. Sky Club membership starts at $545 per year, which almost erases the annual fee on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, plus you get access to the other two airport lounges.

Assessing annual fees on credit cards is about calculating how much value you can extract from a card in exchange. If the value you get back exceeds that of the annual cost, then you've made the right decision. If not, consider a different rewards card. It's worth reevaluating your credit choices every year to avoid paying fees on cards whose benefits no longer align with your lifestyle.

Who should skip a Delta credit card?

Although SkyMiles credit cards offer many perks to Delta flyers, they're not benefiting all travelers equally. Consider other rewards cards if:

  • Delta Air Lines or its partners have limited service to your city: No matter how you slice it, a Delta SkyMiles card won't do you any good if you can't fly the airline or its partners.

  • You have Medallion status: Priority boarding and a free checked bag is already a perk for Medallion members, so some of the benefits of a Delta card are redundant.

  • You prefer rewards flexibility: Delta miles are tied to the SkyMiles program and can't be transferred to another airline. If you're looking for more flexibility, get a card that earns transferable points instead.

If you're considering a Delta credit card

Delta flyers can find value in co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards. However, the benefits that come with these cards aren't that helpful if you can't use them. Make sure to evaluate the annual fees and what you get in exchange to make an educated decision on whether a Delta card would be worth it for you. If not, sign up for a card with more flexible rewards.

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, see this page. 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® Gold Business American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business 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 2022, including those best for:

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