Is the Gold Delta SkyMiles AmEx Worth Its Annual Fee?

Megan LeeDecember 30, 2019

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The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is getting a face lift come January 2020, and we’re here to shake down the changes for you — and the potential value.

With all of these anticipated changes, is the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card worth its annual fee? Let’s dig deep to find out.

How much is the annual fee?

The annual fee on the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is currently $0 intro for the first year, then $99. This fits within the standard range of many airline travel reward credit cards.

Do you plan to fly with checked bags?

One of the top perks of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is free checked bags; without this fee waived, you could expect to pay $30 for your first bag and $40 for each additional bag per Delta’s baggage fees. Terms apply.

This benefit extends not only to the primary cardholder, but also up to eight other travelers on the same reservation — meaning you can enjoy up to a $540 value per round-trip flight. Those savings could add up quickly.

Even if you only plan to fly two round-trip flights with Delta annually and check bags each time, you’ll be in the green.

Will you meet minimum spending requirement?

What should you do after you after getting the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card? Start spending (smartly).

The welcome bonus for this is definitely worth pursuing to maximize your cardholder benefits: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020. Terms Apply.

Additional card perks

Priority boarding

Say so-long to the days of gate checking your carry-on due to lack of overhead bin space. Priority boarding means you — and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation — receive complimentary priority boarding with the first Main Cabin group. Terms apply.

20% off inflight purchases

Use your Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card on certain inflight purchases and qualify for a 20% credit on your AmEx statement after the transaction posts to your account. Terms apply. Typical eligible items include food, beverage and audio headsets; Wi-Fi access is not included.

'Pay With Miles' benefit

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card holders have the benefit of purchasing Delta flights with their Delta miles. Terms apply. This is different from redeeming miles for an award ticket in that you don’t have to worry about award availability or mileage costs — you’ll simply reduce the cash price of your ticket by about $50 for every 5,000 miles.

This means that your welcome bonus is worth $300 in Delta flights. As an added bonus, your Delta miles don’t expire and there are no blackout dates when using them this way. And the portion you pay in cash will still earn Delta miles.

$100 flight credit eligibility

Effective January 2020, if the purchases on your Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card total $10,000 or more in a calendar year, you'll receive a $100 Delta credit on your account that can be used toward a Delta flight purchase. Terms apply.

'Plan It'

Depending on your creditworthiness, cardholders can create up to 10 active payment plans (for a fee) on qualifying purchases of $100 or more. Terms apply. While you will get dinged with a fixed monthly finance charge, this optional benefit can make affording all of your travel whims more of a possibility.

No foreign transaction fees

For the frequent international traveler, those pesky credit card fees can add up. With the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, you can safely make purchases abroad without accumulating any extra charges.

Keep in mind that AmEx cards are not as commonly accepted worldwide as Visa or Mastercard, though, so it may be smart to have a backup.

How to earn points on the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

As of January 2020, you can now maximize your points earnings by using your Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card to earn 2 miles per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (not including superstores or warehouse clubs), eligible restaurants and on Delta purchases.

All other eligible purchases will earn you 1 Delta mile per dollar spent. Terms apply.

NerdWallet values Delta miles at 1.1 cents each.

The bottom line

Even if you only plan to fly with Delta twice annually, the perks of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card can easily outweigh the cost. Frequent travelers can take advantage of the priority boarding opportunities and free checked bags. You’ll also acquire Delta miles more quickly, which you can cash out by purchasing Delta flights, as well as gift cards, merchandise, cruises, car rentals and hotel rooms (although typically for a lower return per mile).

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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