Credit Card Review: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

I’m not someone who tends to churn credit cards. If you’re not familiar with the term ‘churning,’ it means applying for a card for the sign up bonus and cancelling it before the annual fee hits. Then you wait a while and apply for the same card again so you can earn the sign up bonus again. Rinse, repeat, spend miles, cancel card, apply……. and so on, and so on.

To fight against this practice, American Express has a policy of only offering one sign up bonus on each of their cards per “lifetime.” Since Sharon and I have both previously earned a sign up bonus for this card, we figured that we’d never be able to get one again. That was until Sharon received a mailer offering the card with a sign up bonus and there was no wording on the application saying it was limited to once in a lifetime. So she applied for the card and now we’re once again cardholders of the:

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

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Annual Fee – $95 per year (fee waived for the first year)

Sign Up Benefits –  (As mentioned above, this card is subject to AMEX’s one sign up bonus per lifetime rule  To read more about that, check out this article from Doctor of Credit.)

The link we have for this card currently has a 60,000 mile bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first four months from account opening. . This the highest public offer that’s been advertised for this card recently but our targeted mailer was for 75,000 miles (50,000 plus 25,000 for additional spending). You can check the discussion at FlyerTalk for the most recent publicly available offers.

Spending Bonus Categories – The Gold Delta SkyMiles card earns 2X points on Delta purchases including flights booked on Delta.com, SkyClub® membership or passes, Delta Vacations® packages, seat upgrades, or in-flight purchases like food, beverages, and audio headsets. The card earns one point per dollar for all other spending.

No Foreign Transaction Fees – As you would hope a card that can be used on Delta flights worldwide would, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card does not charge any foreign transaction fees.

Priority Boarding – The primary cardmember and up to nine companions on the same reservation will be invited to board Delta-operated flights prior to general boarding. This boarding is with Zone 1 that includes the following:

  • Silver Medallion® Members
  • Delta Corporate Travelers
  • Priority Boarding Trip Extra customers
  • Gold, Platinum and Reserve Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card Members
  • Flying Blue Silver members
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Silver members
  • GOL Smiles Gold members
  • Sky Team® Elite

This advanced boarding sounds great but there are still at least twelve groups of people including Delta Platinum and Gold Medallion members, Delta Comfort+®  passengers and SkyTeam® Elite Plus members. If you book a basic economy ticket on Delta (which I even did once) having the credit card will allow you earlier boarding the same as if booking a Delta Main Cabin ticket.

Discounted Delta SkyClub Access – You and up to two traveling companions can enjoy snacks and beverages, Wi-Fi access, satellite TV, newspapers and magazines, personalized flight assistance, private restrooms and more at Delta Sky Club® for a discounted fee of $29 per person. Please note that you need to have your Delta AMEX card with you to get the discounted price.

Free First Checked Bag – Delta provides a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to nine other people traveling on the same reservation. You don’t have to pay for the ticket with your Gold Delta SkyMiles card but the cardholder does have to have their SkyMiles number on the reservation.

This means you’d be able to get the free checked bag benefit while still paying for the ticket with a card like the Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige to take advantage of the better trip delay and lost baggage insurance these cards offer.

Pay With Miles – This little known benefit allows you to pay for part (of all) of your ticket with your SkyMiles. In essence, this allows you to use your miles at the value of a penny per point to pay for a cash ticket on Delta. You redeem miles in increments of 5,000 miles for $50. While not the best value for your points, if you find a really cheap cash ticket and don’t want to spend money, this may be helpful. To find out more about this benefit, check out the Delta website.

Use of Miles on Partner Airlines – While you can use your miles to book flights on Delta, you can also use miles to book award travel on SkyTeam and other partner airlines. This is the way I’ve used most of my Delta miles. I was able to book us on Virgin Australia business class from Los Angeles to Cairns, Australia for 80,000 miles each. Sharon appreciated the lie-flat beds we had for that flight.

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Final Thoughts

The Gold Delta SkyMiles card gives many of the perks we like to get from a co-branded card such as priority boarding and free checked bags. I don’t even need to use the card for my tickets to get the benefits which comes in handy if I’m booking an award ticket.

Delta gets grief for their award pricing and the lack of an award chart. I’ve found prices on routes I wanted to book to be fair and they still are competitive on price when flying from Orlando.

For now I’ll keep one of these cards between Sharon and I because of the benefits for when we fly on Delta. Even one trip where we would be checking a bag will save us $50. The priority boarding is worth at least $25 each and at that, we’re breaking even.

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