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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express – Review

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At a Glance
american express gold delta skymiles credit card
4.1 / 5
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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Welcome Offer: For a limited time, earn 60,000 bonus SkyMiles when you make at least $2,000 in new eligible purchases with your card in the first 3 months of card membership (expires 10/30/19)
  • Rewards: Earn 2 SkyMiles per $1 spent on qualifying Delta purchases; earn 1 SkyMile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Fees: No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived in the first year)
  • Credit Needed: Good to excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is a popular travel rewards credit card with a $95 annual fee and a solid Delta airline rewards program that favors regular Delta flyers who earn rewards fast enough to neutralize the annual fee. All Delta purchases, including airfare and incidentals, earn 2 SkyMiles rewards points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn one SkyMile per $1 spent. You can redeem accumulated SkyMiles for Delta airfare, select merchandise available at the SkyMiles Marketplace, and other goodies.

Gold Delta SkyMiles’s direct competitors include general purpose annual fee travel credit cards such as Capital One Venture Rewards and Chase Sapphire Preferred. It also competes with annual fee airline-, hotel-, and vendor-specific cards such as Chase United MileagePlus Explorer and Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, among others.

Key Features

Welcome Offer

For a limited time, earn 60,000 bonus SkyMiles when you make at least $2,000 in new eligible purchases with your card in the first 3 months of card membership. Offer expires 10/30/19.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

You earn 2 SkyMiles per $1 spent on Delta airfare, in-flight purchases, lounge passes, and other incidentals, with no caps or restrictions. All other purchases earn 1 SkyMile per $1 spent, again with no restrictions.

Redeeming SkyMiles

Accumulated SkyMiles can be redeemed for Delta airfare, starting at 10,000 miles for domestic economy one-ways and 12,500 miles for more flexible travel dates. Certain travel dates and times may require more miles, depending on season and demand. For instance, it’s likely to cost more to fly to a popular vacation destination on a peak-season Friday than an off-season Tuesday.

Airfare redemption point values generally range from $0.005 to $0.02, but can be higher or lower than that range. SkyMiles can also be redeemed in the online SkyMiles MarketPlace for merchandise, gift cards, and experiences (such as performances), typically at conversion rates far below $0.01 per mile. Minimum mileage requirements for merchandise redemptions start around 2,000 and rise from there.

Delta Travel Benefits

The Gold Delta SkyMiles card comes with a slew of Delta-specific travel benefits:

  • A 20% discount on all in-flight purchases
  • Discounted Delta Sky Club (airport lounge) passes for the cardholder and one companion on every trip ($29 versus $59 regular price)
  • One free checked bag for the cardholder ($60 value, round-trip)

Other Travel Benefits

The Gold Delta SkyMiles card comes with other travel benefits not specific to Delta:

  • 24/7 global assistance for travelers more than 100 miles from home
  • 24/7 roadside assistance for all travelers
  • Car rental insurance (loss and damage) when the rental is charged to your SkyMiles card
  • Travel accident (death and dismemberment) insurance

Important Fees

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, and there is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%.

Shopping Benefits

Gold Delta SkyMiles has some useful shopping benefits:

  • 12-month extended warranty on any item with an original warranty of five years or less
  • Return protection coverage that reimburses attempted returns (up to coverage limits) rejected by the original merchant within 90 days of purchase

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit

Advantages

  1. Unlimited Discounts on Airport Lounge Access. Gold Delta SkyMiles card membership entitles you and one traveling companion to unlimited discounts on Delta Sky Club single visit passes, which are good for one day at one Sky Club location. Cardholders and their companions get passes for $29 per person, compared with $59 per person at full price. Comparable airline rewards cards rarely offer such generous airport lounge deals. For example, Chase United MileagePlus Explorer  offers just 2 complimentary passes per year, while British Airways Visa Signature has no lounge privileges at all.
  2. SkyMiles Can Be Valuable When Redeemed for Airfare. SkyMiles can be quite valuable when redeemed for Delta airfare – reliably worth at least $0.075 per mile, often worth $0.01, and sometimes worth as much as $0.02. Keep in mind that point values can vary at redemption, even for the same routes, based on factors such as time, date, season, demand, and more.
  3. In-Flight Discounts. Delta’s across-the-board 20% discount on in-flight purchases is a very nice perk, particularly for travelers craving multiple refreshments or entertainment opportunities on longer flights. Alaska Airlines Visa Signature and Chase United MileagePlus Explorer don’t offer such discounts.
  4. Nice Welcome Offer. This card’s welcome offer is better than many competitors’, without a particularly high early spend requirement.
  5. No Foreign Transaction Fee. The Gold Delta SkyMiles card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, which is always nice for frequent overseas travelers. The Expedia+ Card from Citi does have a foreign transaction fee – a pesky 3% of the total transaction amount.
  6. Miles Never Expire. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, the SkyMiles you accumulate with this card never expire. Many airline and hotel rewards credit cards, including British Airways Visa Signature, require you to earn or redeem points after a certain amount of time (often a year) has elapsed.

Disadvantages

  1. Charges an Annual Fee. This card comes with a $95 annual fee after the first year, which sets it apart from fee-free travel rewards cards such as Expedia+ from Citi and Capital One VentureOne Rewards.
  2. Has a Penalty APR. If you accidentally miss a payment or two with this card, the high penalty APR is apt to bite you. British Airways Visa Signature and Chase United MileagePlus Explorer cardholders don’t have this problem.
  3. Low Point Values for Non-airfare Redemptions. When it comes time to redeem your accumulated SkyMiles, Delta airfare is far and away offers the best bang for your buck. The general merchandise and gift cards available at the SkyMiles Marketplace often sell for 2 to 3 SkyMiles per $0.01 – in other words, SkyMiles are worth just $0.003 to $0.005 here. By contrast, one-way economy flights (which often cost $100, $200, or even more) start at 10,000 points. The SkyMiles MarketPlace’s unfavorable redemption rates render Delta’s rewards program more restrictive than necessary. If you’re seeking a travel rewards credit card that lets you redeem for a wide range of items at more favorable rates, try the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card instead.
  4. Non-Delta Purchases Have Limited Earning Power. If you use this card for general, everyday spending, you won’t rack up the rewards very quickly. Only Delta purchases earn more than 1 SkyMile per $1 spent, raising the investment (both in terms of time and money) necessary to earn a free flight.
  5. No Automatic Status Levels or Upgrades. Gold Delta SkyMiles card membership doesn’t entitle you to any special loyalty status levels, which typically come with valuable perks such as discounts at partner hotels and accelerated point earnings. The Expedia+ Voyager Card from Citi ($95 annual fee) automatically entitles you to Expedia Gold status, which comes with a 30% point bonus on all purchases and free hotel room upgrades when available.

Final Word

Thanks to the SkyMiles MarketPlace, Delta and American Express can honestly claim that their customers can redeem accumulated SkyMiles for much more than Delta airfare. Plenty of other airlines and airline rewards card issuers offer equivalent deals on merchandise and experiences too. However, the devil is in the details – or, rather, the pricing. The SkyMiles MarketPlace dramatically inflates its merchandise’s point costs, charging double or triple what you’d expect to pay at Amazon or in a brick-and-mortar retail store.

Fortunately, Gold Delta SkyMiles’ airfare redemption rates meet or exceed standards set by the competition. If you’re looking for solid deals on Delta airfare, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is your card. If you want to use your earned rewards to buy things you can use on the ground, look elsewhere.

Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here.

Verdict
american express gold delta skymiles credit card
4.1 / 5
Rating

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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is ideal for frequent Delta flyers who earn rewards quickly enough to offset the $95 annual fee and enjoy practical travel benefits, such as the first checked bag free and discounted Sky Club lounge access. Due to poor non-Delta rewards and limited earning power outside the Delta universe, it’s not great for infrequent Delta flyers and those looking for a general-spending credit card.

Favorable airfare redemption rates, nice welcome offer, discounted airport lounge access, and in-flight discounts are key perks. The annual fee, slow earning power on non-Delta purchases, poor redemption values for everything other than airfare, and no automatic loyalty status qualification all hurt. Overall, this card is very good for regular Delta fliers and mediocre for everyone else.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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