Which Credit Card Is Best for Delta Flyers?

The best credit card for Delta customers depends on each person’s travel habits, spending patterns, and preferences.
Last updated Aug 17, 2021 | By Ben Luthi
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If you fly a few times a year and prefer Delta over other commercial airlines, it might be a good idea to have a Delta credit card. With some Delta credit cards, you’ll get special perks whenever you fly with the airline in addition to the opportunity to earn Delta SkyMiles every time you use your card.

Depending on how often you fly and your general preferences, however, one Delta credit card may be better for you than the others. Here’s what you need to know about each and how to pick the best airline credit card for you.

In this article

Delta personal credit cards

There are four consumer Delta SkyMiles cards from which you can choose, each with varying annual fees and benefits:

Each of these cards is a little bit different in how you earn bonus miles, so be sure to investigate the details on each so that you can match the bonus rewards potential to your personal spending habits.

You’ll also get a chance to earn a sign-up bonus with each card, although the bonus amounts vary and some cards offer Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) in addition to standard rewards miles. Earning MQMs is one of the ways you can achieve elite status with Delta Airlines; silver elite status starts at 25,000 MQMs.

Most of these cards also offer extra perks like helping you avoid Delta baggage fees, priority boarding, discounts on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, and complimentary or discounted Delta Sky Club access. Some go even further. 

For example, with the Delta SkyMiles Gold, once you have put $10,000 of purchases on your card within one calendar year, you earn a $100 Delta Flight Credit. You can use this credit to offset the cost of airfare on your next Delta trip.

Here’s a summary of features to compare:

Card Annual fee Welcome bonus Reward rates Free checked bag Priority boarding MQM bonus
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

Amex Delta SkyMiles Blue

$0 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months 2X miles on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and at restaurants worldwide, and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases No No No
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Amex Delta SkyMiles Gold

$99 (waived first year) (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you send $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants, and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases Yes Yes No
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum

$250 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and at hotels; 2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets; and 1X miles for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases Yes Yes Yes
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Amex Delta Reserve

$550 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles for all other eligible purchases Yes Yes Yes

Some of the cards also provide some premier benefits. With the Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card, for example, you’ll receive one domestic main cabin round-trip companion certificate every year — you just have the pay the taxes and fees. Depending on how you redeem that certificate, it could be worth far more than the card’s $250 annual fee.

With the Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve card, you’ll receive a companion certificate that’s good for a domestic first class, Delta Comfort+, or main cabin fare — and that’s in addition to complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club lounge whenever you fly with the airline.

Access to Delta Sky Club Lounges

Intro Offer

80,000 bonus miles (and 20,000 MQMs)

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

up to 3X miles

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Generous rewards rate for Delta flyers
  • Complimentary Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $550 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Best for frequent Delta travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles for all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Delta business credit cards

You also have three Delta SkyMiles business cards to choose from:

The Delta SkyMiles business cards are also issued by American Express and are similar to some of the Delta SkyMiles consumer cards. However, you’ll notice there is no Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Blue. Instead, the Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Gold acts as the introductory card in this lineup.

Each card comes with a unique welcome offer and valuable earning categories. You also get extra perks, though they vary by card. All three cards offer free checked bags and priority boarding, but only two of them also offer a way to earn bonus MQMs.

Here’s a summary of features to compare:

Card Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Gold Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Reserve
Annual fee $99 (waived first year) (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
$250 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
$550 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
Welcome bonus Earn 70,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months Earn 90,000 bonus miles, 10,000 MQMs, and a $100 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months Earn 80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 MQMs, and a $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Reward rates 2X miles per $1 spent on purchases at Delta, restaurants, eligible U.S. shipping, and eligible advertising in select media; 1X miles per $1 on all other eligible purchases 3X miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta and on eligible hotel purchases; 1.5X miles per $1 spent on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (capped at 50,000 miles per calendar year); and 1X mile per $1 spent on other eligible purchases 3X miles for eligible purchases made directly with Delta, 1.5X miles per dollar after spending $150,000 in a calendar year, and 1X miles on all other purchases
Free checked bag Yes Yes Yes
Priority boarding Yes Yes Yes
MQM bonus No Yes Yes

Similar to the consumer Delta SkyMiles cards, the annual fees tend to increase as you move from the Gold to the Platinum to the Reserve. However, you also get plenty of other benefits added along the way, which could include TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit, an annual companion certificate, or complimentary Delta Sky Club access.

How often you fly Delta and which benefits are valuable to you will likely determine which of these cards would be the best fit. The Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Gold has both the free checked bag benefit and priority boarding. These perks alone could offset the annual fee even if you fly Delta infrequently. But you also get 20% savings on in-flight purchases and a $100 Delta voucher if you spend $10,000 on your card in a calendar year.

For more frequent Delta fliers, the premium perks on the Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Platinum and Reserve cards could make more sense. Companion certificates can easily offer hundreds of dollars of value and you get more travel insurance benefits than what the Amex Delta SkyMiles Business Gold has to offer.

Earn Valuable Frequent Flyer Miles

Intro Offer

90,000 bonus miles (plus 10,000 MQMs and a $100 statement credit)

Annual Fee

$250

Rewards Rate

up to 3X miles

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles, 10,000 MQMs, and a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X miles on Delta purchases and eligible hotel purchases
  • Annual companion certificates
  • Free checked bag + priority boarding
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles, 10,000 MQMs, and a $100 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 3X miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta and on eligible hotel purchases; 1.5X miles per $1 spent on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (capped at 50,000 miles per calendar year); and 1X mile per $1 spent on other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Earn more Delta SkyMiles with general travel rewards cards

The primary benefit of getting a Delta-branded credit card is the chance to get special perks every time you fly with the airline.

But if you’re looking for opportunities to earn more rewards on Delta flights, it may be worth getting a general travel rewards card instead — specifically, a card that allows you to transfer your rewards to Delta or one of the airline’s partners.

With Delta partners, such as Virgin Atlantic, you can book Delta flights with miles you have with the partner airline. So even if you’re not transferring to Delta, you can still get on Delta flights.

These cards can also give you some extra flexibility with your rewards compared with Delta SkyMiles cards. Instead of forcing you to use your points or miles to book Delta flights, you can typically also book other types of travel or transfer your points to other airlines and even hotel brands.

So unless your top priority is getting free checked bags, priority boarding, and other Delta-specific benefits, a general travel rewards card may be a better choice. Just be aware that you may end up paying a higher annual fee. But depending on how you earn rewards and use benefits, it’s possible to make up for that cost in value. Here are some to consider:

Card Annual fee Rewards rates Transfer ratio Other benefits
The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

$695 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases 1:1 Complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges when flying Delta, plus Priority Pass and Centurion lounges (enrollment required for select benefits)
Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

$550 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, and hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic Complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges; $300 annual travel credit
American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

$250 (See rates and fees)
Terms apply
4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases 1:1 $120 dining credit (enrollment required)

Points transfers work by moving your points from one credit card rewards program to another. Depending on the program, the transfer can be instant, or it can take a day or two. If you’re trying to plan a trip now, make sure to check the fine print to understand how long it will take for the transfer to complete.

Which card is right for you?

The best credit card for Delta miles depends on your spending habits, travel plans, credit score, and preferences about fees and features. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making this decision.

How often do I fly?

Frequent flyers would get a lot more benefit from a Delta credit card than people who fly just once or twice a year. The last thing you want is to rack up rewards and then rarely use them, so consider a card that offers perks you can actually use, such as a cashback credit card.

If you fly a lot, though, any Delta credit card or at least a general travel credit card is worth thinking about.

Am I loyal to Delta?

If you live near an airport that serves as a hub for Delta and like the idea of sticking with one airline, it might be worth it to have a Delta SkyMiles card. That way, you can ensure you’ll get special perks every time you fly.

If you’re not particularly loyal to Delta and want to just get the best deal every time, a general travel card that gives you more flexibility could be the best travel credit card choice.

Do I travel light?

One of the biggest benefits most Delta credit cards offer is a free checked bag. Your first checked bag with the airline costs $30 each way, which means you could save $60 every time you fly round trip. If you always check a bag and you prefer Delta, that benefit alone could save you quite a bit.

But if you like to travel light and usually stick with a carry-on bag, the feature won’t provide much benefit.

What perks do I want?

If you like the idea of having a companion certificate and airport lounge access, the Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve is a solid choice — it offers a companion pass, plus lounge access benefits for both the cardholder and guests. But even the Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card can get you the companion certificate and discounted access to the airline’s lounges for you and two guests.

If you want even more perks, though, cards like the Amex Platinum Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve go above and beyond what you can get with the top-tier Delta SkyMiles cards. Compare all of your options to find the one that works best for you.

How do I feel about fees?

Some of the best Delta credit cards offer some incredible benefits, but they come at a price. American Express credit cards often have annual fees in exchange for their perks. The Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve, for instance, charges a $550 annual fee, and the Amex Platinum Card charges $695.

On the flip side, while the Amex Delta SkyMiles Blue card doesn’t charge an annual fee, you get what you pay for. The card doesn’t offer any perks when you fly Delta, other than a 20% discount on certain in-flight purchases.

Even if you’re generally fee-averse, it’s important to compare a card’s annual fee to the value of the benefits it offers.

FAQs

Is a Delta credit card worth it?

If you frequently fly Delta when you travel, a Delta credit card could likely be worth it for you. Delta cards can help you earn SkyMiles on every purchase you make, which increases your opportunities to book award flights and travel more. In addition, most Delta credit cards have specific benefits for Delta flyers, which could include free checked bags and priority boarding on Delta flights.

What is the best Delta Airlines credit card?

The best Delta Airlines credit card is the one that most aligns with your lifestyle and spending habits. For example, if you only fly Delta once a year, it might not make sense to get a premium Delta card that has a high annual fee. These types of cards come with valuable perks and benefits, but they’re only valuable if you’re able to use them.

In this case, a Delta card with a lower annual fee, like the Amex Delta SkyMiles Blue or Amex Delta SkyMiles Gold might be a better fit. But if you fly Delta frequently, a premium card like the Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum or Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve could be useful for you.

Does a Delta credit card give you status?

No Delta credit card automatically gives you elite Medallion status for being a cardmember. However, certain cards offer benefits that can help you reach elite status quicker. For example, the Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum offers 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year (valid up to two times). Because MQMs are a potential requirement for Medallion status tiers, having a Delta credit card with these MQM benefits can help you get a status boost.

How many miles do I need on Delta for a free flight?

It’s possible to find one-way flights in the U.S. on Delta for as few as 5,000 miles, but rates of 7,500 or 9,000 and up are likely more common, especially if you don’t want to fly on a Basic fare. Because Delta no longer publishes an award travel chart, you have to search its website to see what the award prices will be on the dates you want to travel.


Bottom line

There’s no single best Delta credit card out there, so it’s important to know what’s available and do your research to find the best new card for you. As you research credit card offers and credit card issuers, think about features and fees as well as the flexibility you’ll get with each card’s rewards programs. It can take some time to pick the right one, but it’s time well spent.

Great Welcome Offer and Continuing Rewards

Intro Offer

70,000 bonus miles

Annual Fee

$99

Rewards Rate

up to 2X miles

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles on purchases with Delta, at restaurants, and at U.S. supermarkets
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights
  • Annual fee is waived your first year
  • $99 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Best for frequent Delta travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you send $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants, and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Author Details

Ben Luthi Ben is a personal finance and travel writer who loves helping people achieve their money goals. Along with FinanceBuzz, his writing has also been featured on U.S. News, NerdWallet, Experian, Credit Karma, and more.