If you’re looking for an airline-affiliated credit card, a card that offers more than just frequent flyer miles will set itself apart. You’re probably looking for added perks, and an opportunity to be recognized as a valued customer by your favorite carrier.
While airlines are increasing fees and reducing the quality of customer service, they’re still managing to continue lavishing privileges on elite members of their frequent flyer programs. Normally, the only way to enter the ranks of elites is to fly as many miles as possible. Now, with Delta’s Platinum SkyMiles card from American Express, you can earn miles that qualify towards their elite Medallion program.
- Earn Standard Miles and Medallion Qualifying Miles. As with most airline credit cards, you’ll earn one mile for every dollar you charge, and two miles per dollar for purchases with Delta and its partners. In addition, at the end of the year you’ll earn 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) if you spent $25,000 that year. If you charged $50,000, you’ll earn 20,000 MQMs. Those are high levels of annual spending, but if you use the card for business travel and get reimbursed, you may find it surprisingly easy to hit these benchmarks.
- Priority Boarding and On-board Savings. Holders of the Platinum card receive priority boarding benefits as well as a 20% discount on many purchases in flight, including food and entertainment.
- Free Checked Bag. When you book travel with the Delta Platinum Card, you and up to nine other people traveling with you will be able to check your first bag for free.
- Domestic Companion Certificate. Upon your annual renewal of your card, you’ll receive a certificate for a free domestic economy-class companion ticket.
- Annual Fee of $150. Unlike many other rewards cards, even within the Delta and American Express partnership, this card does not come with a first-year waiver on the annual fee.
- Sign-up Bonus. Currently, Delta offers a 20,000-mile bonus, 5,000 of which are MQMs. You’ll also get an additional 5,000 miles if you add two other cardholders to your account. Finally, they are giving out a $50 statement credit for new cardholders.
- Variable APR of 14.5%. This card comes with an introductory rate of 9.99% on balance transfers for your first year.
- Qualifying for Medallion Status. Getting bonus MQMs is a great way to reach Medallion status and enjoy perks like priority security, boarding, and baggage delivery. The higher you are in their program, the better your chances of getting an upgrade will be. Additionally, as a Medallion member you’ll have access to slightly better availability when it comes time to redeem your miles.
- High-value Companion Certificate. To use a companion certificate, many companies require your original fare to be so expensive that the certificate becomes worthless. Delta’s certificate, however, is a true companion certificate. It’s valid on any discounted seat you purchase through Delta’s site. This benefit can easily be worth hundreds of dollars.
- Free Checked Bags. As a great way to avoid paying for checked bags, this perk can save your family plenty of money when traveling together, or cut costs for a large-group vacation.
- Decent Sign-up Bonus. While 25,000 miles (assuming you get the two additional cards) is about average for a new cardholder bonus, the 5,000 MQMs can be very valuable if you’re on the borderline for the next Medallion level.
- High Annual Fee. Most companies would waive the first year of an annual fee as high as this card’s $150 charge. Make sure that you can capitalize on the value of the MQMs and the companion certificates before you agree to pay such a high annual fee.
- Poor SkyMiles Award Availability. Among those who collect frequent flyer mileage to travel for free, the SkyMiles program has been the subject of much derision. Too often, awards are only available at the two highest tiers of their three-tier system, making SkyMiles less valuable than the mileage offered by major competitors. Achieving Medallion status does grant you access to slightly greater award availability, but until then, accruing SkyMiles may feel worthless.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. American Express charges a 2.7% fee on all purchases you make outside the United States. Smart travelers also carry a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards card, which does not have such an oppressive fee for international spending.
- High APR. Like all rewards cards, this card has a higher interest rate than the best non-rewards cards. If you plan to carry a balance, shop for a card with the lowest interest rate, not a rewards card like this one.
Delta has a very close partnership with American Express. Perhaps they know that basic SkyMiles aren’t worth as much as they used to be, because they’re granting plenty of other perks to holders of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card. If you are tired of being treated like just another customer from Delta, but you don’t travel enough to reach the SkyMiles status level that you deserve, this card can be your ticket to the next level.
Do you carry the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card? What benefits have you taken advantage of so far?