If you primarily fly Delta, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card makes a great everyday card. It earns bonus SkyMiles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, as well as on Delta purchases. And as you might expect from a co-branded airline credit card, it offers perks including free checked bags and priority boarding. Terms apply.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a general travel rewards card and can’t match those kinds of airline-specific perks. But if you don’t want to tie yourself down to one airline, it’s a far more versatile and valuable choice. The card earns elevated rewards on travel and dining around the world. Plus, you have more flexible redemption options — including hotels — and you’ll get 25% more value when you redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
The choice comes down to whether you prefer to be monogamous to one airline or you want to play the field.
How the cards stack up
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Welcome bonus||Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 4/1/2020. Terms Apply.||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.|
|Rewards||2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. supermarkets and on Delta purchases; 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else. Terms apply.||2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining. Plus, 5 points per $1 spent on Lyft rides through March 2022.|
|Annual fee||$0 intro for the first year, then $99||$95|
|Foreign transaction fees||None||None|
|Other benefits||Free first checked bag, priority boarding and other perks.||You can transfer points on a 1:1 basis to several airline and hotel partners.|
Why you might want the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Bonus rewards in everyday categories
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card earns 2 miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, at U.S supermarkets and on Delta purchases, as well as 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Terms apply. Those are solid rewards on both everyday spending and Delta-specific travel. The grocery store category, in particular, is a differentiator and could be valuable for families.
Free checked bags
Free checked bags can be a valuable perk, especially since up to eight of your travel companions on the same reservation can also check their bags for free. Without this benefit, you’d pay $30 one way for the first checked bag and $40 for each additional one. So if you and a companion were to take only one Delta flight per year and you both checked a bag, you’d owe $120. The annual fee on this card costs you less than that: $0 intro for the first year, then $99.
Other Delta perks
Cardholders also enjoy benefits that can smooth out the stresses of air travel: priority boarding, 20% off in-flight purchases, and a $100 Delta flight credit if you spend more than $10,000 in a calendar year on the card.
Why you might want the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Higher potential rewards value
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on travel and at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. For foodies and flyers, that’s pretty rewarding — but it gets better. Normally, your points are worth a penny each when redeemed for cash back, but with this card, you can redeem them for travel via the Chase online portal (which is powered by Expedia) at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
Flexible redemption options
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can’t use your rewards to book flights directly with Delta. But you can do so if you go through Chase’s online travel portal first. And you’re not limited to Delta flights; you can book with a variety of airlines, hotels and car rental companies this way, and at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, as noted. Or you can transfer your points to any of several airline and hotel travel partners on a 1:1 basis. Partners include Southwest, United, British Airways, Air France/KLM, Marriott and Hyatt. Although Delta isn’t a partner, there’s a workaround: You can transfer points to a Delta partner airline, such as Air France or Korean Airlines, and book the Delta flight through that carrier.
Which card is best for you
When you’re planning a trip, do you always check Delta Air Lines first, and usually end up booking that airline? If so, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is probably an ideal fit for your travel needs. You’ll enjoy the perks such as priority boarding and free checked bags, as well as the rewards on everyday spending.
But if your go-to flight-booking strategy is to compare prices and schedules across multiple carriers and then chose the one that works best for your budget and circumstances, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will be a better fit.