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Best Delta Credit Card Offers: Which One Should You Pick?

Updated Jun 21, 2021 | Published Sep 12, 20186 min read

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At a glance

Delta serves up a nice selection of co-branded credit cards, ranging from no annul fee to over $500 per year. Go with an inexpensive card if you don’t fly often, or pick a premium card to get luxury perks for more frequent trips.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

Earlier this week, I flew Delta Air Lines to Puerto Rico — and somehow ended up with Zone 1 boarding. I felt like a total superstar since I didn’t have to fight for overhead bin space or get jostled on the way to my seat.

Wondering what it’d be like to get Zone 1 treatment all the time, I decided to compare four Delta credit cards I might qualify for. Here’s what I discovered.

Understanding Delta’s Rewards and Elite Statuses

Before diving into Delta’s credit cards and their benefits, you’ll need to get familiar with the airline’s rewards program.

In addition to earning Delta SkyMiles, Delta’s cards can help you attain Medallion status.

When you achieve this elite status, you’ll get benefits like complimentary upgrades, waived change fees, and priority check-in and boarding.

To get there, you’ll need to earn a combination of the following:

  • Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), which are based on how far you fly, and in which class
  • Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs), which are based on the number of flights you take
  • Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), which are based on how much money you spend on flights with Delta and its partners

Here are the four tiers of Medallion status, along with their requirements:

SILVER GOLD PLATINUM DIAMOND
25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs
AND AND AND AND
$3,000 MQDs or MQD Waiver $6,000 MQDs or MQD Waiver $9,000 MQDs or MQD Waiver $15,000 MQDs or MQD Waiver

While you can earn MQMs, MQMs, and MQDs by flying with Delta, you can also earn MQMs and MQDs by spending money on your co-branded Delta credit card.

Depending on which Delta card you get, you could earn some MQMs for spending a certain amount in the first three months, or in the first year.

As for MQDs, Delta will waive the requirement (listed in the table above) if you spend $25,000 or more on your Delta card during a calendar year. That is, if you’re trying to get Silver, Gold, or Platinum status; for a Diamond status waiver, you must spend a whopping $250,000.

4 Delta Credit Cards: A Breakdown

Now that you’ve got your head around Delta’s elite statuses, you’re ready to explore the range of Delta credit cards — all issued by American Express.

Here’s what the three most popular options (the Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards) have in common:

  • Bonus SkyMiles per eligible dollar spent for purchases made directly with Delta Air Lines
  • One free checked bag (for up to nine people under the same reservation)
  • Priority boarding (Zone 1)
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases

The differences you’ll have to look out for when comparing the Delta Gold vs. Platinum vs. Reserve vs. Blue? Annual fees, introductory bonuses, MQMs, and Delta Sky Club (airport lounge) access. Here’s a breakdown.

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Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
  • Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable

Rates & Fees

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  • First checked bag free: Use your Delta SkyMiles number when booking your flight to waive the price ($30) of your first checked bag. This benefit extends to up to eight other passengers flying on your itinerary.
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding: Get to your seat and settle in earlier when you reserve with your SkyMiles number. This benefit extends to up to eight other passengers on your itinerary.
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases: Save 20%, in the form of a statement credit, on in-flight purchases like food and alcoholic beverages. Excludes WiFi and associated services.
  • $100 Delta flight credit: Spend $10,000 in a calendar year to earn a $100 credit good for Delta flight and vacation package reservations.
  • Global Assist Hotline: Receive assistance with medical and legal referrals, cash wires, passport replacement, missing luggage, and more when you’re more than 100 miles from home.
  • Entertainment Access: Purchase tickets to your favorite events with exclusive presale access and explore exclusive cardmember events near you.
  • ShopRunner: Enjoy free two-day shipping at a variety of online retailers with a complimentary ShopRunner membership.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (Rates & Fees)

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Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$250
  • Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable

Rates & Fees

  • Annual Companion Certificate: Each year, upon card renewal, get a certificate for one domestic Main Cabin round-trip flight.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: A statement credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100 every four years) or TSA PreCheck ($85 once every four-and-a-half years)
  • First checked bag free on Delta flights: For you and up to eight traveling companions
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding on Delta flights: For you and up to eight traveling companions
  • Delta Sky Club access: Relax at Delta Sky Club airport lounges for $39 per person.
  • 20% in-flight discount on Delta flights: A 20% discount on eligible in-flight purchases, like food, beverages, movies, and audio headsets
  • Status Boost: Earn 10,000 MQMs (Medallion Qualification Miles) for every $25,000 in eligible purchases, up to two times per calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $250

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Rates & Fees)

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Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
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  • Min. credit levelExcellent
  • Annual Fee$550
  • Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable

Rates & Fees

  • Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access: Get complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs, with up to two guests at $39 each, plus complimentary access to Centurion Lounges, with up to two guests at $50 each. Includes two free Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes.
  • Annual Companion Certificate: A certificate for a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin round-trip flight
  • Status Boost: Earn 15,000 MQMs for spending $30,000, up to four times per calendar year.
  • First checked bag free on Delta flights: For you and up to eight traveling companions
  • Priority Boarding on Delta flights: Get on the plane more quickly with Zone 1 priority boarding.
  • Complimentary upgrades: If you don’t have Medallion status you can still get some upgrades for free.
  • 20% in-flight discount on Delta flights: A 20% discount, in the form of a statement credit, on eligible in-flight purchases, like food, beverages, movies, and audio headsets
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $550

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (Rates & Fees)

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Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable

Rates & Fees

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  • 20% in-flight discount on Delta flights: Get a 20% discount, in the form of a statement credit, on eligible in-flight purchases of food, beverages, movies, and audio headsets
  • Amex Offers: Enroll to get offers for extra points at specific merchants.
  • ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
  • Shopping and travel protections: Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty, Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance, Global Assist Hotline
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card (Rates & Fees)

Insider tip

Three of the cards above have business versions: Read about the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card (Review), Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (Review), and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (Review) here. If you’re wondering how to qualify for a business credit card, it’s not as hard as you might think.

Which of the Delta Credit Cards Should You Get?

Delta’s credit cards are all solid, but our favorite cards for flying Delta include both co-branded and general travel rewards cards. Our top picks are:

If You Fly Delta Occasionally

Consider applying for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (Review) if you want to:

  • Snag a solid intro bonus
  • Avoid annual fees for the first year
  • Get free bags and priority boarding

After that, you’d need to take at least two Delta flights — with checked bags — per year to make up for the annual fee (enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply).

Insider tip

If you don’t think the card’s worth it after the first year, you can cancel it and keep the miles. Or you could downgrade to the no-annual-fee Blue card, and keep the line of credit open, too.

If You Fly Delta Frequently

Consider the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Review) if you:

  • Will make good use of the MQMs
  • Want to take company on a domestic roundtrip flight for the price of taxes and fees (up to $75) using your annual companion certificate
  • Want free checked bags

So, if you’re planning to head anywhere on a ticket that’s more than a couple hundred bucks, this card will certainly cover its annual fee.

If You’re Not a Hardcore Delta Loyalist

If you’re looking for a premium card, we’d recommend The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) instead of the Delta Reserve.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$695
  • Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

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This card earns Membership Rewards points, which you can convert to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. You won’t get a free bag or priority boarding, but you will have more flexibility when deciding where to spend your rewards.

Here are the details:

  • $695 annual fee
  • 100,000 bonus points for spending $6,000 in the first 6 months; 10X points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months
  • 5X points per dollar (starting 1/1/21, on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year) on:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines
    • Prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel
  • 2X points per dollar on other eligible purchases from American Express Travel
  • 1X point on everything else
  • Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Delta Sky Clubs

The Amex Platinum is an excellent general travel card for flying Delta, particularly because of its wide-ranging lounge access and ability to transfer points to Delta SkyMiles. You won’t find those features on other high-end travel cards.

Plus, you’ll get 5X points per dollar when you book airfare directly with Delta (or a multitude of other airlines), and if you make use of the credits, the effective annual fee will come down quite a bit.

For another high-end general travel card, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review). There are also more premium airline credit cards to consider — if you fly American Airlines, check out the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (Review), and if you fly United Airlines, the United Club℠ Infinite Card (Review).

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

Lastly, if you want to earn rewards on dining, you could also check out these other credit card offers:

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American Express® Gold Card
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$250
  • Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X) and restaurants
  • 4X points at Uber Eats
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee

 

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Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR15.49% - 25.49% Variable

The information related to Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

  • $200 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats (through January 2023)
  • 3% cash back on Dining, Entertainment, Grocery Stores, and Streaming Services
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months, then 15.49% - 25.49% Variable
  • No annual fee

Overall, Delta credit cards — while designed for different levels of commitment and annual spending — make the most sense for people who fly the airline frequently. If you’re a casual Delta flyer, or would prefer to earn broader rewards, we’d recommend scoping out all the best travel credit cards before making your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What credit score do I need to get a Delta credit card?

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card (Review), Delta’s no annual fee credit card, caters to applicants with fair credit. FICO considers scores fair starting at 580.

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (Review) and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Review) are both designed for good credit. With FICO, good scores begin at 670.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (Review) is Delta’s premium consumer card, and it’s designed for those with excellent credit. This range is just a touch less clear-cut; FICO considers scores of 760 and up very good, while its exceptional range begins at 800 (more about credit score ranges here).

Keep in mind that these are loose recommendations. Even if you meet the suggested score threshold, you could still be denied based on other factors, like your income. On the same note, you could still be approved if your credit scores fall a bit short of the general recommendation.

How much are Delta miles worth?

Flights will typically grant you a value of 1 to 1.5 cents per point, depending on the flight, though you’ll sometimes find an even better deal if you’re a patient shopper. That’s about normal for an air miles credit card.

Generally, you’ll get the best redemption value by redeeming for flights with Delta or one of its SkyTeam airline partners.

How do you get into Delta Sky Club lounges?

There are a few ways to gain access to Delta Sky Club airport lounges. Our favorite, of course, is to apply for a credit card that provides lounge access as a benefit. If you’re a serious enough traveler that you think you’d benefit from lounge access, then a credit card that provides it deserves a place in your wallet anyway.

These cards are your best bet for free cardholder access:

Credit cards aside, there are lots of ways to get into Delta Sky Club lounges, but they aren’t always as straightforward. Passengers flying Delta One or SkyTeam Premium Cabin (both luxury-leaning business class fares) get Delta Sky Club access, as do passengers who’ve achieved Gold, Platinum, or Diamond Medallion status with Delta.

You could always just buy a Delta Sky Club membership, too. Just note that buying a membership outright would cost you nearly as much annually as the SkyMiles Reserve card, which grants you Sky Club access, plus a plethora of additional benefits you wouldn’t get with a barebones membership.

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

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For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Written by

Susan Shain

Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.

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