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The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is an airline credit card with an extremely generous portfolio of perks for frequent Delta flyers and a travel rewards program that favors Delta purchases. The rewards program is similar to the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card (and its cousin, Gold Delta SkyMiles Gold Business). However, Delta SkyMiles Platinum’s frequent flyer perks definitely step it up from the Gold level, and the rewards program has an added component that rewards heavy spending with accelerated progress toward Delta’s Medallion status thresholds.
Though Delta SkyMiles Platinum is a generous travel rewards credit card by any stretch of the imagination, it’s also pricey: its annual fee is $250 and is not waived in the first year (as is the case with many less-generous travel rewards cards). If you want this card in your wallet, you need to use it often enough – and fly Delta frequently enough – to make it worth the cost.
Earn 40,000 bonus SkyMiles and 5,000 MQMs after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases in your first 3 months. Plus, get a $100 statement credit after making your first Delta purchase on your card in the first 3 months.
Delta Medallion Program
To truly understand how this card works, you need some background on Delta’s Medallion status program.
Medallion has four tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. All confer generous benefits for frequent Delta flyers, including complimentary class and preferred seating upgrades, accelerating MQM and SkyMiles earnings, priority boarding, and waived fees (including baggage and standby). Medallion benefits become more attractive as you ascend the tier ladder, with Diamond status (the highest status) conferring a complimentary Delta Sky Club (airport lounge) membership and two Global Entry application vouchers.
To achieve Medallion status levels, you need to combine adequate MQMs (miles calculated as a multiple of total distance flown on each flight, usually 100% of distance in economy and 200% of distance in first class) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs – basically, any Delta flight segment) and adequate Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs – dollars spent with Delta, including base fares, surcharges, and certain upgrades) within a calendar year. You then earn Medallion status for the remainder of the current year and all of the subsequent year.
Silver Medallion status requires 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs and $3,000 MQDs; Gold Medallion status requires 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs; Platinum Medallion status requires 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $9,000 MQDs; and Diamond Medallion status requires 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and $15,000 MQDs.
SkyMiles Rewards and Redemption
Every $1 spent on Delta purchases (including airfare, lounge passes, in-flight purchases, and other incidental expenditures) and purchases made directly with hotels earns 3 Delta SkyMiles. Purchases at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets earn 2 SkyMiles per $1 spent. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 SkyMile per $1 spent. Accumulated SkyMiles can be redeemed for Delta airfare.
Redemption thresholds vary, and Delta doesn’t publish an award chart, but you’ll most likely need at least 10,000 SkyMiles (and probably more) to redeem for a single domestic economy segment without cash subsidy. International flights have far higher redemption minimums.
Because flight distance and underlying fare pricing vary, SkyMiles’ redemption values vary too. In general, expensive long-haul flights offer better value than cheap short-haul flights.
If you don’t have enough SkyMiles to redeem for a full fare, you can combine cash and points at a $0.01-per-mile base rate to subsidize your out of pocket expenditures.
It’s also possible to redeem SkyMiles at the Delta SkyMiles MarketPlace for merchandise, gift cards, and special experiences (such as musical performances). However, MarketPlace redemptions usually undervalue miles – in many cases, at significantly less than $0.01 apiece. On the other hand, MarketPlace redemption thresholds are lower – sometimes as low as 2,000 SkyMiles.
Companion Certificate Benefit
When you renew your card (at your annual renewal date), you get one companion certificate, good for one domestic economy round-trip flight.
To use the certificate, the designated companion needs to be traveling with the primary cardholder, who must purchase the ticket (and pay any government taxes and fees on the companion fare) with his or her Delta SkyMiles Platinum credit card.
Annual SkyMiles and MQMs Bonus
When you spend at least $25,000 on your card (in total purchases) in a calendar year, you get 10,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles.
When you clear the $50,000 annual spending threshold within a calendar year, you get an additional 10,000 MQMs.
That adds up to a total potential spending bonus of 20,000 MQMs.
MQD Waiver With Sufficient Spending
If you spend at least $25,000 in a calendar year with your Delta SkyMiles Platinum card and have earned the requisite MQMs or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) to reach a given Medallion status level, Delta waives that level’s MQD requirements. For instance, if you’ve accumulated the 50,000 MQMs necessary for Gold Medallion status, you don’t need the $6,000 MQDs normally required to complete Gold qualification.
Delta Travel Benefits
This card has a host of additional Delta travel benefits, including:
- One free checked bag for the cardholder ($25 value per one-way segment)
- Up to three discounted Delta Sky Club (airport lounge) passes on every trip ($29 per pass, regularly valued at $59)
- 20% off all in-flight purchases
- Priority boarding (prior to general group boarding)
Additional Travel Benefits
This card features several general travel benefits that don’t require cardholders to fly with Delta. The most notable is a fee waiver (up to $100) for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
There is a $250 annual fee, but no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers and cash advances both cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
This card requires excellent credit.
- MQM Bonus and MQD Waiver Dramatically Accelerate Medallion Status Progress. The Delta SkyMiles Platinum card’s power really awakens once you cross the $25,000 annual spending threshold, and redoubles when you hit $50,000. $25,000 in annual spending earns a 10,000 MQM bonus and an MQD waiver, meaning you only have to worry about MQMs or MQSs when striving for the next Medallion status level. If you hit $50,000, you earn 20,000 MQMs – 80% of the way to Silver, or Gold from Silver, or Platinum from Gold.
- Companion Certificate Benefit Every Year. Every year in which you remain a cardholder in good standing, you get a complimentary Companion Certificate that can be redeemed on any domestic round-trip route – a potential value of $500 or more, depending on the route. There’s no associated spending requirement, aside from paying the annual fee and covering the cost of your own ticket when traveling with your companion, so you never have to worry about qualifying for this benefit. Many competing travel cards, including Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, don’t offer companion fare benefits.
- Strong Welcome Offer. This card’s welcome offer is one of the better early spend opportunities in the travel rewards category.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card does not charge a foreign transaction fee – a major perk for cardholders who regularly travel outside the United States. Since Delta serves an array of international destinations (particularly in Europe), this could certainly come in handy.
- High Annual Fee. This card has a high annual fee – $250 – and it’s not waived in the first year of card membership. If you don’t travel frequently or spend heavily, it’s not worth trying to qualify for this card.
- Airfare Rewards and Redemption Exclusive to Delta and Partners. The SkyMiles rewards program restricts SkyMiles redemptions to Delta and partner airfare only. If you live near an airport that’s poorly (or not at all) served by Delta and its alliance partners, consider a general purpose travel card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Citi ThankYou Premier Card.
- Points Accumulate Slowly on Most Non-Delta Spending. This card earns just 1 SkyMile per $1 spent on most non-Delta purchases, excepting hotels, restaurants worldwide, and U.S. supermarkets. That’s a mediocre rate that’s bested by many competing general purpose cards. However, SkyMiles can be – though aren’t always – worth more than points earned with those two cards.
- MarketPlace Redemptions Undervalue SkyMiles. Though SkyMiles’ value varies based on the underlying cash price of the flights for which they’re redeemed, it’s generally a good deal to redeem them for airfare. That’s not the case with non-airfare redemptions at the SkyMiles MarketPlace, which typically value points at well under $0.01 apiece. Unless you have more SkyMiles than you can possibly redeem for airfare, and don’t plan to travel extensively anytime soon, it’s not advisable to blow your points at the MarketPlace. In fact, if you find yourself earning SkyMiles faster than you can redeem them for airfare, it’s probably time to get another credit card anyway. American Express’s Membership Rewards program – whose member cards include Amex Platinum, Amex Premier Rewards Gold, and Amex EveryDay Preferred – is much more versatile, and values non-airfare redemptions far more reasonably.
Delta is a major U.S. airline with several hubs and hundreds of destination cities. Indeed, much of the U.S. population lives close to an airport served by Delta or its affiliates. These consumers comprise this card’s target audience – though, given its stringent credit requirements and limited appeal to people who don’t spend heavily, it’s only appropriate for a small fraction of them.
On the other hand, if you belong to the relatively small cohort of U.S. consumers who don’t live within easy reach of a Delta airport, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card definitely isn’t appropriate for you. The good news is that there’s probably at least one airline credit card – or perhaps a general purpose travel card, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred – that is a better fit.