According to Benjamin Franklin, the only two things we can be sure of in this world are death and taxes. However, if Ben were alive today, he might add travel loyalty program devaluations to that list.
In October 2020, the Delta SkyMiles program made using points to book flights with partner airlines more expensive. These devaluations were pretty bad but Delta wasn’t finished and just devalued again, charging a minimum of 120,000 SkyMiles for one-way flights with partners from the US to Europe in Business Class.
I’m not going to go over how much specific partner flights using Delta SkyMiles now cost because that’s been covered by plenty of other websites. They’ve speculated about why Delta took this move and some have suggested cutting up your co-brand Delta cards and calling AMEX to complain about Delta’s actions.
Here’s why I don’t think cutting up your Delta AMEX co-brand credit cards is the best move right now for most cardholders.
The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card is the version that most leisure travelers hold. The $99 annual fee is waived the first year for new cardholders.
I’m only guessing, but I think many people get this card for the same reasons why I have it – the perks it gives infrequent flyers when booking with Delta.
- Priority Boarding
- Free First Checked Bag
- 20% Savings On In-Flight Purchases
Delta Medallion members won’t value these benefits but they are great for the average leisure traveler. Getting to board earlier and not having to pay $30 to check a bag for up to 9 members of your travel party is worth way more than the $99 annual fee.
Delta cardholders can also use their SkyMiles to buy a ticket with the “Pay With Miles” option, getting a value of 1 cent per SkyMile. This option keeps looking better and better the more Delta devalues award redemptions.
Delta co-brand AMEX cardholders also have access to AMEX Offers, including a recent monthly dining credit for all of 2021.
These customers don’t care that a business class seat with Air France will now cost double what it cost before because that’s not how they were using miles. I’m sure way more people use SkyMiles to book domestic economy tickets than international business class seats.
This action by Delta is disappointing but not surprising. For those collecting SkyMiles for an aspirational redemption, this devaluation hurts the most. This is why I never earn Delta miles except for sign-up bonuses or referrals (or the occasional dining purchase.) If there ever is a redemption I want to make with Delta, I’ll transfer points from my American Express Membership Rewards account. Those transfers are almost instant and I’ll deal with the fee that AMEX charges when transferring points to Delta.
While I understand the frustration that people have with how Delta is running the SkyMiles program, it doesn’t mean that the Delta co-brand AMEX cards’ value has changed. The reasons that people signed up and kept the card are as useful as ever.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary