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Delta Credit Cards: Which One Should You Pick?

5 min read
Susan Shain By Susan Shain Sep 12, 2018 | Updated Sep 04, 2020

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 and status 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
  • No foreign transaction fees

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.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 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.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • New! Earn now. Travel when you’re ready. After you spend $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year, you will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit to inspire your next travel.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta Flights.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • 2X SkyMiles per eligible dollar spent for:
    • Purchases made directly with Delta Air Lines
    • Restaurants
    • U.S. Supermarkets
  • 1X SkyMile per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months

 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$250
Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.
  • New! Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card.*Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • New! With Status BoostTM, earn 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion Status.  MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • New! Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta Flights.
  • New! Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • $250 annual fee
  • 3X SkyMiles per eligible dollar for:
    • Purchases made directly with Delta
    • Hotels
  • 2X SkyMiles per dollar at:
    • Restaurants
    • U.S. Supermarkets
  • 1X SkyMile per dollar for all other purchases
  • 60,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 10,000 MQMs for spending $25,000, up to twice per calendar year
  • Annual companion ticket for one domestic roundtrip flight
  • Discounted Sky Club access ($39 per person)

 

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • NEW! With Status Boost™, earn 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to four times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • NEW! Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free and Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights.
  • NEW! Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Complimentary access into the Delta SkyClubs® for you when travelling on a Delta flight.
  • NEW! Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • $550 annual fee
  • 3X SkyMiles per eligible dollar for purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1X SkyMile per dollar for all other purchases
  • 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 in eligible purchases, up to four times per calendar year
  • Annual companion ticket for a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin round-trip flight
  • Complimentary Sky Club access, plus a discounted guest rate of $39 per person (for up to two guests)
  • Complimentary Centurion Lounge access
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

 

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • NEW! Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • NEW! No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • $0 annual fee
  • 10,000 bonus miles for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening
  • 2X SkyMiles per dollar for:
    • Purchases made directly with Delta Air Lines
    • Restaurants
  • 1X SkyMile per dollar for all other purchases
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases
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 card, it’s not as hard as you might think.

Which of the Delta Credit Cards Should You Get?

If You Fly Delta Occasionally

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

  • Snag a solid introductory 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.

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 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.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

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:

  • $550 annual fee
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X points per dollar 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
  • Annual $200 fee credit with an airline of your choice
  • Annual $200 Uber credit ($15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December)
  • 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 flights directly with Delta (or a multitude of other airlines), and if you make use of the airline fee and Uber credits, the effective annual fee will actually be lower than that of the Delta Reserve.

For another high-end general travel card, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review). There are also more premium airline 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).

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

American Express® Gold Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$250
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • 35,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X) and restaurants worldwide
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee

 

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
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.

  • $150 cash back for spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 3% cash back on Dining and Entertainment
  • 2% cash back at Grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) APR
  • 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.

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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® 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 Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

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 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.

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