Editorial Review

Gold Delta SkyMiles Card Review: Loyalty Gets Rewarded

Earn 2 miles per dollar on Delta tickets and 1 mile per dollar on everything else, with no blackout dates when you redeem. Free checked bags add value.

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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Our Take

3.6

Editor's overall rating

The Bottom Line: A solid, cost-effective card for those who fly Delta frequently, or those who could choose to do so.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Annual Fee 
$95

Waived first year

Regular APR
17.74% - 26.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Annual Fee 
$95

Waived first year

Regular APR
17.74% - 26.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • Miles don't expire
Cons
  • Has annual fee
  • Best for frequent Delta Air Lines flyers only
  • American Express isn’t accepted as widely as Visa or Mastercard internationally

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: More flexible rewards

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Credit Card

NerdWallet Rating

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Use rewards to pay for any travel expense

A general-purpose travel credit card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® gives you more flexibility than a card that locks you in to a single airline. This card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Miles can be redeemed for credit against any travel expense. Book travel however you want, then use miles to pay for it. There's a great sign-up bonus, and the annual fee is $89 (waived first year)

Read our review

Full Review

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express doesn’t offer the most versatile redemption options, but if you’re regular Delta flyer, it’s a relatively low-cost way to rake in a lot more SkyMiles. Plus, you can start saving for your next trip with the sign-up bonus: 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. Here’s what you should know before applying.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: The basics

With the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Delta travelers can earn more miles with every flight. Here’s how it works:

  • You earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.
    • When you purchase airline tickets through Delta with this card, you’ll earn a minimum of 7 miles per dollar spent, confirms American Express spokesman William Tsang. That’s 5 miles from your general SkyMiles membership and 2 extra miles for making a Delta purchase on your card. You could earn up to 13 miles per dollar spent on flights if you have Diamond Medallion status, he adds, but for in-flight purchases, you’ll just get 2 miles per dollar spent with the card.
  • NerdWallet values Delta SkyMiles at 1.7 cents each.
  • You’ll get extra perks, including priority boarding and your first bag checked free.
  • The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95

Ultimately, this is an ideal card for a Delta enthusiast who plans to spend more than about $700 a year on Delta flights — or who checks a bag at least four times a year — and is happy with being a general member in the SkyMiles program and not upgrading to a higher loyalty tier.

» MORE: American Express credit cards mobile app review

Where the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express shines

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express rewards loyalty with flexibility. Here are a few highlights:

No blackout dates on Delta flights. While some of Delta’s SkyTeam alliance transfer partners have blackout dates, Delta flights don’t, which makes it easier to book trips with miles. Remember that Delta limits the number of award seats per flight, though, so you may want to book early for peak season.

Free checked bags: The first bag is free for you and up to eight other people traveling on your reservation. This benefit alone can make up for the annual fee with just a couple round-trip flights per year.

Delta flyers earn a lot of high-value miles. NerdWallet values Delta miles at 1.7 each, more than some competing rewards programs. In general, you’ll be able to get even more money for your miles on international flights. Because you can earn 7 miles per dollar spent on Delta flights with this card, this high redemption rate gives the card a huge boost in value.

Good sign-up bonus.  Because one-way tickets start at 10,000 miles, that may be enough to pay for your next trip, and then some. This makes it one of the more generous bonuses on the market.

Miles don’t expire. Delta is the only major U.S. airline with miles that never expire, according to the airline’s website. In contrast, United miles expire after no activity (flights or earning) for 18 months, Southwest miles expire after no activity for 24 months, and British Airways expire after no activity for 36 months. This may not be the only reason to get this card, but it’s a valuable perk.

» MORE: Delta SkyMiles program review

How to get the most out of your Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

You may save a lot with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express by swiping and redeeming as you normally would – but if you want to maximize your miles, here are some things to keep in mind:

Always use your card to purchase Delta flights. It seems obvious, but if you don’t use the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express to buy Delta flights, you’re missing out on its most valuable feature.

Travel on Saver days. Delta has three types of award traveling days: Saver Award, Peak Award and Standard Award days. Saver days are the least expensive, while Peak days are the most expensive. If you want to make your miles stretch further, keep your plans flexible and look for opportunities to travel on Saver days.

Book business class when flying international and economy when flying domestic. For domestic travel, NerdWallet values miles redeemed for economy trips at 1 cent each and miles redeemed for business class at 0.8 cent each. But when it comes to international travel, economy trips fetch only 1.1 cents per mile, while business class nets 2.8 cents per mile. Remember that value is separate from overall price, though – if you’re just trying to trim costs as much as possible and not necessarily maximize every mile, you may be better off opting for coach, even when it offers less-than-excellent value.

When redeeming miles, look for one-way trips. Not all loyalty programs give you the freedom to redeem miles for one-way tickets, but SkyMiles does. And in many cases, two one-way tickets end up being less expensive than one round-trip ticket.

Where the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express falls short

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express isn’t for everyone. Here are a few reasons you may want to go with a different offer.

You won’t automatically qualify for any of the Medallion statuses. The SkyMiles program has five loyalty tiers, ranging from general membership to Diamond Medallion status, and each level offers additional perks. Even though the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express has the word “gold” in its name, it doesn’t get you that coveted SkyMiles gold membership status – it just gets you a general membership.

Note that you need a certain number of Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs, measured in distance) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs, measured in arrivals and departures) as well as Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs, measured in dollars spent on personal Delta flights) to gain membership into the next awards tier. None of these are the same as regular SkyMiles, which can be redeemed for free flights.

 With the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, you’ll likely be stuck in general SkyMiles membership, the lowest tier of the loyalty program, unless you spend at least $3,000 on Delta flights for yourself within a year and earn 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs.

You’ll earn rewards slowly if you don’t fly Delta that often. If you don’t spend more than $700 on Delta flights each year or you never check bags, this card likely won’t be worth its annual fee. If you’re thinking about spending less, consider a travel card with a lower annual fee or options that better suit your traveling preferences. Use our calculator to help you determine whether the fee makes sense for you:

You aren’t eligible for the welcome bonus if you already have an American Express card. If this is the case, look into travel rewards cards with other issuers that offer bonuses you can qualify for.

You can also check out NerdWallet’s roundup to help you find the best credit card for your needs.

Should you get the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express?

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express won’t help you save on any domestic airline you choose, but it will help you earn awards flights with Delta and other international SkyTeam partners. On top of an attractive sign-up bonus, the card also offers a good long-term value. If you can’t imagine flying on any other airline, consider applying.