While the high-end Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is targeted at people who basically live in the airport, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is a more reasonable option for semi-frequent fliers who still want to take advantage of some great benefits.
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The SkyMiles Platinum card comes with a $250 annual fee, which is still a lot of money, but not even half of the $550 that you'd have to fork over for the Reserve. In return, you can currently get an 80,000 mile welcome bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months, plus an additional 20,000 miles on your first cardmember anniversary.
Interestingly, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card actually has a wider assortment of bonus categories than its more expensive sibling, offering 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta Airlines purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, plus 2 points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
If you're going all-in on a single airline rewards currency, Delta's not a bad option, as The Points Guy values SkyMiles at a respectable 1.2 cents each, the highest of the three major U.S. airlines. That means your 100,000 mile welcome offer would be worth $1,200, one of the best welcome bonuses you can get right now on any credit card.
Award flights on Delta are roughly tied to the cash price of the ticket, so the same routing routing on different days could cost you under 5,000 miles, or over 30,000 miles, depending on the demand and price. That means you'll rarely "overpay" when redeeming miles, but you also won't find many sweet spots either.
The exception is when you book international flights with Delta SkyTeam alliance partner airlines through Delta.com. Since those airlines offer their own award charts, you can sometimes luck into lucrative redemption options that can make your SkyMiles go a lot further.
The SkyMiles Platinum card occupies a fairly unique strata of the airline credit card space. Its $250 annual fee is higher than most airline cards, but lower than the highest end cards like the SkyMiles Reserve and the The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®. As such, its perk package is a hybrid between traditional entry level benefits (free checked bag, earlier boarding) and the status-chasing goodies that are the hallmark of higher end cards.
Each year starting on your first cardmember anniversary, you'll receive a one-time domestic main cabin companion certificate, allowing you to bring along a traveling companion for free on any domestic flight operated by Delta airlines. Just note that this certificate is only valid for the main cabin, unlike the Reserve card's certificate, which is valid for any class of service.
Delta status chasers can earn a bonus 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles for every $25,000 in spend with the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card on all purchases, up to two times per calendar year for a total of 20,000 MQMs.
Spending $25,000 on the card (on any purchases, not just Delta purchases) will also get you a waiver for Delta's Medallion Qualifying Dollars requirement, making it significantly easier to earn status on Delta.
$39 Delta Sky Club Access
With a valid same day Delta boarding pass, you and up to two guests will be able to access the Delta Sky Club for $39 each. It's not as good as a free Sky Club membership, but for a long layover, $39 can be a bargain.
20% Back On In-Flight Purchases
Use your Delta SkyMiles Platinum card card to pay for drinks, snacks, Wi-Fi, or anything else onboard a Delta flight to get 20% of the cost credited back to your account.
TSA Precheck/Global Entry Credit
The Delta SkyMiles Platinum card, like many other travel rewards credit cards these days, will give you a credit of up to $100 towards your Precheck or Global Entry application fee every four years.
Priority Boarding/Checked Bags
Some version of this benefit is available with most of Delta's credit cards, but Delta SkyMiles Platinum cardholders and up to nine companions on the same reservation will get their first checked bag for free, and will be bumped up to Main Cabin 1 boarding, making every flight just a little bit less stressful.
The Delta SkyMiles Platinum card's annual companion ticket is reason enough to get the card; chances are, it'll cover the card's $250 annual fee, and then some. And if you're a Delta Medallion status chaser, the card's MQD waiver and MQM bonus potential can be a boon. Plus, you just don't see many cards that offer a welcome bonus worth $1,200.
If you're an airline free agent and aren't all that close to earning Delta Medallion status, one of the airline's lower tier cards (like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card with its $99 annual fee, waived in the first year) might make more sense for your wallet, but the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card is a great option for anyone that prefers to fly with Delta.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.