Who Is the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card From American Express Good For?
Delta is a polarizing airline for many travelers. It is known for its limited saver award availability and an award booking website that is not always accurate, so many frequent flyers scorn the airline on principle.
But thanks to close partnerships with Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic, Delta consistently offers a level of in-flight service –particularly in premium cabins–that has long been sorely lacking on other domestic carriers.
In recent years, Delta has worked to clean up its online booking software and it has added tons of award availability, though unfortunately not always in the lowest redemption category.
If Delta flights work for you, and you’re not overly concerned with status, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express is a good balance of fees, sign-up bonus and benefits.
For the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, the standard bonus is 30,000 miles after $1,000 in spending in the first three months of having the card.
The bonus can go as high as 50,000 SkyMiles for the same $1,000 minimum spend, with a $50 statement credit on Delta purchases in the same time period, but it has not yet gone higher and these offers are typically very short-lived.
- 2 SkyMiles per dollar on Delta Air Lines and Delta Vacations purchases
- 1 SkyMile per dollar on everything else
What Do Your SkyMiles Get You?
As Delta is part of the SkyTeam alliance, Delta SkyMiles open you up to a well-balanced global portfolio of airlines: Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas to the south; Air France, KLM and Alitalia in Europe; Kenya Airways and Saudia in Africa and the Middle East; and Korean Air and a host of Chinese airlines in Asia.
Delta has never had the most generous award chart. The carrier uses a five level fare system instead of the standard three award tiers used by other legacy domestic airlines. They’re simply called Level 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Level 1 corresponds to the cheapest seats, generally referred to as saver awards, level 3 equates to standard awards, and level 5 to peak-level awards. The difference in award pricing is related to availability, not the benefits of the fare. In general, the cheap level 1 saver seats go fast and can be hard to find.
- Free checked bag on Delta flights
- Discounted SkyClub access for member and two companions for $29 per visit
- Priority boarding
- No foreign transaction fees
- Miles do not expire
- Redemptions on many partners, including Alitalia, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, always priced at the lowest rate
- Website does not always have accurate availability; better to look through AirFrance.com
- Awards at the lowest redemption level are hard to come by
- Five award redemption levels, so it is easy to overpay for awards
- Miles + cash bookings available, but not at very advantageous rates
- Occasional high fees and surcharges on partner bookings
How Far Do Your Miles Go?
Many award tickets, such as flights to Europe, are on par with those of other competing airlines, with economy tickets starting at 60,000 miles roundtrip plus taxes and fees. This means that, depending on the time of year, you might only end up with a 1-cent-per-mile or lower value for your miles.
You’ll often get the best value for your miles for awards in premium cabins. For the coveted flight to Tahiti, bookable on either Air France or Delta’s non-alliance partner Air Tahiti Nui, you’ll pay 160,000 miles in first class, a flight that typically costs $12,000 to $14,000, giving you around an 8-cent-per-mile value.
As a rule, you should always avoid booking in a higher redemption category if you can, but with Delta its simply not always possible if you really want to use your miles.
Additional Cardholder Benefits:
- Roadside assistance hotline
- Car rental loss and damage insurance
- Global assist hotline
- Travel accident insurance
- Extended warranty
- Purchase protection