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Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card: Companion Certificate Justifies Fee

This card's most valuable benefit is also a rare one that can easily offset its annual fee, regardless of how much you spend on it.
Oct. 4, 2018
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card: Companion Certificate Justifies Fee
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In terms of value, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express soars above other airline credit cards — even with its steep annual fee of $195 (This offer is no longer valid on our site).

That’s because after your first year it comes with an annual companion certificate, a rare and valuable perk that covers the cost of a round-trip domestic economy ticket for someone flying with you once each year. Such a benefit could save you hundreds of dollars each year, regardless of how much you spend with the card.

For Delta Air Lines devotees, this certificate alone is reason enough to pounce on this card. But if you’re on the fence, here’s how you can weigh the card’s costs and benefits.

Key features 

Delta SkyMiles are worth 1.7 cents each on average, according to NerdWallet’s valuations.

In a nutshell, here’s what the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers:

  • Welcome offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires on 9/19/2018. (This offer is no longer valid on our site)
  • Annual fee: $195 (This offer is no longer valid on our site)
  • Benefits: Annual companion certificate upon renewal (good for one round-trip domestic flight in the main cabin for someone traveling with you, less some taxes and fees); free checked bags; priority boarding. Terms Apply.
  • Rewards:
    • 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta
    • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Spending bonuses: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, and another 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000. Terms Apply.

Delta SkyMiles are worth 1.7 cents each on average, according to NerdWallet’s valuations. As of this writing, that makes them the most valuable travel rewards offered by any major airline in the U.S. With strategic redemptions — say, for international flights — these miles can also be worth far more.

Use the calculator below to find out whether the card’s benefits outweigh the annual fee.

Why you should get the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

For many Delta flyers, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is in the Goldilocks zone of airline cards: It has just the right combination of luxury and affordability. Here are some of its most valuable benefits.

Companion certificate. This card’s most valuable feature, by a long shot, is its annual companion certificate, which becomes available when your card renews.

The certificate gets you one main cabin round trip for someone traveling on the same itinerary as you within the 48 contiguous states. The only expenses you’ll have to cover for that flight are taxes and fees, but those are capped at $75. Those living in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can also use it to cover flights originating in their home state or territory to the mainland and back, as long as their address is on their account.

Used strategically, this certificate could save you over $1,000 each year, especially if you tend to travel during peak season when flights get expensive.

Big bonuses. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express pulls out all the stops with its generous welcome offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires on 9/19/2018. (This offer is no longer valid on our site) With that bonus, you could book an ambitious round-trip international flight.

Since a portion of that offer comes in Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs, it could also get you a little closer to elite status. (MQMs are normally earned by flying on Delta, not through everyday credit card spending.)

Big spenders can also earn additional miles, including MQMs. After spending $25,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs. After hitting $50,000 in spending, you’ll get another 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs. Terms Apply.

» MORE: American Express credit cards mobile app review

Solid rewards rate. The rewards on this card are relatively generous when you consider that each mile is worth 1.7 cents on average. Keep in mind that you’ll earn additional miles directly through Delta when booking flights, too.

Suppose you used your card to purchase airfare through Delta. In addition to earning 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases with your card, you’d also get the standard 5 miles per dollar spent on Delta revenue flights, assuming you had a basic SkyMiles membership. That would get you an impressive 11.9% return.

Loyalty benefits. The loyalty benefits on the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express — including free checked bags and priority boarding —  can make your next trip a little smoother and less expensive. Instead of just offering a first free checked bag for one or two travelers on your itinerary, this card gives you baggage waivers on the first checked bag for up to nine people on your reservation. That’s enough waivers to cover everyone on “The Brady Bunch.”

You’ll also get to board with the Zone 1 boarding group, which gets you early access to that coveted overhead bin space. If you always board with a rolling suitcase or large carry-on, this is a nice perk.

Why you should get another card

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is a top-notch airline card, but it might not be an ideal choice for you. Here’s why.

High annual fee. Compared with other airline cards — and its mass-market sibling card, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express — the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express comes with a high annual fee of $195 (This offer is no longer valid on our site). That fee can definitely be worth paying, especially if you use the companion certificate every year. But if you tend to fly solo, you might want to get the lower-cost version instead.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express has similarly enticing features, starting with a large welcome offer: Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Terms Apply. The introductory annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Inflexible rewards. Like most airline cards, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express doesn’t offer particularly flexible rewards. You can’t redeem miles for cash back or travel statement credit, for example. If you don’t fly with Delta often, these miles can be hard to redeem.

If flexibility is important to you, consider going with a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. With this card, you can earn 2 miles per dollar spent, which can be redeemed to cover several types of travel purchases. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Complimentary lounge access isn’t included. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is full of razzle-dazzle, but its lounge benefits are a little underwhelming. With a relatively high annual fee, you might expect at least a few one-time lounge passes to be included. Instead, the card only offers discounts to Delta’s Sky Club lounges. With the card, you can get in for $29 rather than $59, a fairly ho-hum offer.

If lounge access is your top priority, go with another Platinum card instead — namely, The Platinum Card® from American Express. It offers access to hundreds of lounges worldwide, including Delta’s Sky Club lounges, along with a bevy of other benefits. The annual fee is $550, but for prolific travelers who can take advantage of everything it offers, it could be worth the cost.

To see how these cards stack up with others, see NerdWallet’s list of the best credit card offers right now.

Is the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express right for you?

For those who can’t make good use of its companion certificate benefit, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express likely isn’t a good fit. But if you can use the certificate to cover one big trip each year, and if the benefits you’d get on the card outweigh the annual fee, it should be at the top of your list.

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