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Delta Credit Cards: Which One Should You Pick?

5 min read
Susan Shain By Susan Shain Sep 12, 2018 | Updated Nov 11, 2019

Earlier this week, I flew Delta Airlines 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 5,000 MQMs for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, and 10,000 to 30,000 more for meeting certain spending thresholds over the following 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:

  • 2X miles/dollar on purchases directly from Delta; 1X on everything else
  • 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
  • 17.24–26.24% Variable APR

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.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Regular APR17.24–26.24% Variable
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  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. (Rates & Fees)
  • 30,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 in first 3 months; $50 statement credit for making a Delta purchase in the first 3 months
  • Discounted Sky Club access ($29 per person)

 

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Regular APR17.49–26.49% Variable
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  • $195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
  • 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months; $100 statement credit for making a Delta purchase in first 3 months
  • 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year, plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000
  • Annual companion ticket for one domestic roundtrip flight
  • Discounted Sky Club access ($29 per person)

 

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$450 Annual Fee ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Regular APR17.49–26.49% Variable
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  • $450 Annual Fee ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
  • 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
  • 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in a calendar year, plus an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000
  • Annual companion ticket for one roundtrip first class or economy flight
  • Complimentary Sky Club access, plus a discounted guest rate of $29 per person (for up to two guests)

 

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR17.24–26.24% Variable
Apply Now

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  • $0 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
  • 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on purchases directly from Delta; 1X on everything else
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases
  • 2.7% foreign transaction fee
  • 17.24–26.24% Variable APR
Three of the cards above have business versions: Read about the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (Review), and Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card 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 Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express if you want to:

  • Snag a solid introductory bonus
  • Avoid annual fees for the first year (Rates & Fees)
  • 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 (Rates & Fees).

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 Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (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

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APRN/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

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 (Rates & Fees)
  • 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 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®, and if you fly United Airlines, the United MileagePlus® Club Card (Review).

Lastly, if you want to earn points on dining (as with the Blue card), you could also check out these other card offers:

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$250
Regular APRN/A
Apply Now

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  • 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 spent annually) and restaurants
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel
  • No foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)
  • $250 annual fee

 

Uber Credit Card

Uber Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR17.49%, 23.49% or 28.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • $100 in Uber Cash after spending $500 in the first 90 days
  • 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber purchases (Uber rides, Uber Eats, JUMP bikes and scooters)
  • 3% back in Uber Cash for dining, airfare, hotels, and travel agencies
  • 1% back in Uber Cash everywhere else
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 17.49%, 23.49% or 28.24% 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 Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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The information related to Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express and Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

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