Delta Refreshes Credit Card Benefits and Increases Annual Fees

Posted: 30 January 2020 9:48 am
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High-end cards get a boost, though annual fees increase in turn.

Starting today, new and existing Delta cardholders will experience a host of tweaks to the benefits offered by the Delta family of credit cards. Chief among the changes include updates to earning rates, new or removed benefits and increases to annual fees for several of the cards.

Delta announced these changes this past September, giving potential new cardholders a chance to lock in the old annual fee before the January 30 deadline. Here’s a look at some of the primary changes.

Delta Personal Cards

Nearly every Delta credit card in the personal line received a positive change to miles earned, which helps them better stand against other powerful travel earners. Other changes include some strong qualify of life improvements for the Delta Blue, various perks trimmed from the Gold and a host of new additions to the Reserve.

Delta Blue American ExpressOldNew
Earn milesEarn 2x points at US restaurants and Delta purchases, 1x points on everything elseEarn 2x points at worldwide restaurants and Delta purchases, 1x points on everything else
Pay with milesNoYes
Foreign transaction feesYesNo
Delta SkyMiles GoldOldNew
Earn milesEarn 2x on Delta purchases, 1x at restaurants and supermarkets and 1x on all other purchasesEarn 2x on Delta purchases, 2x at restaurants and supermarkets and 1x on all other purchases
Flight creditNoneEarn a $100 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in purchases during a calendar year
MQD waiverYesRemoved as of December 31, 2019
Delta Sky Club accessAccess for $29Removed as of January 29, 2020
Annual fee$95 after the first year$99 after the first year
Delta SkyMiles PlatinumOldNew
Earn milesEarn 2x on Delta purchases, and 1x on all other purchasesEarn 3x on Delta purchases, 3x on purchases made directly at hotels, 2x at restaurants and supermarkets and 1x on all other purchases
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck creditNoYes
Delta Sky Club per-visit rate$29$39
Annual fee$195$250
Delta SkyMiles ReserveOldNew
Earn milesEarn 2x on Delta purchases and 1x on all other purchasesEarn 3x on Delta purchases and 1x on all other purchases
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck creditNoYes
Status BoostEarn 15,000 Miles and Medallion Qualification Miles, up to 2x per yearEarn 15,000 Miles and Medallion Qualification Miles, up to 4x per year
Delta Sky Club guest passesNoEnjoy two one-time guest passes
Complimentary Centurion Lounge accessNoYes
Complimentary upgradesNoYes
Sky Priority SecurityYesRemoved as of January 29, 2020
Annual Fee$450$550

Delta Business Cards

Changes to Delta’s business cards are like the consumer line changes, though with a few benefit tweaks and additions to better suit business spending.

Delta SkyMiles Gold BusinessOldNew
Earn milesEarn 2x on Delta purchases and 1x on all other purchasesEarn 2x on Delta purchases, 2x on US shipping and US advertising in select media, 2x at restaurants and 1x on all other purchases
Delta flight creditNoEarn $100 flight credit after spending $10,000 in purchases during a calendar year
MQD WaiverYesRemoved as of December 31, 2019
Delta Sky Club accessEntry for $29Removed as of January 29, 2020
Annual fee$95 after the first year$99 after the first year
Delta SkyMiles Platinum BusinessOldNew
Earn milesEarn 2x on Delta purchases and 1x on all other purchasesEarn 3x on Delta purchases, 3x on purchases made directly with hotels, and 1x on all other purchases.
For eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 1.5x points instead of 1x points for up to 50,000 extra points each year
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck creditNoYes
Delta Sky Club accessEntry for $29Entry for $39
Annual fee$195$250
Delta SkyMiles Reserve BusinessOldNew
Earn milesEarn 2x on Delta purchases, and 1x on all other purchasesEarn 3x on Delta purchases and 1x on all other purchases.
Spend more than $150,000 in a given year and you’ll boost your point earnings to 1.5x on all non-Delta purchases.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck creditNoYes
Status BoostEarn 15,000 Miles and Medallion Qualification Miles, up to 2x per yearEarn 15,000 Miles and Medallion Qualification Miles, up to 4x per year
Delta Sky Club guest passesNoEnjoy two one-time guest passes
Complimentary Centurion Lounge accessNoYes
Complimentary upgradesNoneYes
Sky Priority SecurityYesRemoved as of January 29, 2020
Annual fee$450$550

What Do These Changes Mean for Cardholders?

Generally, most cardholders stand to benefit from the increases to earning rates for both the personal and business lines. Prior to the updates, spending on Delta purchases was the only viable option for generating miles. Now, several cards — including the mid-tier cards Delta Gold and Delta Platinum — offer earnings on daily spending.

Removal of a few perks such as the Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver, which allowed eligible cardholders to skip the MQD requirements for Delta elite status, seem to be the result of the market-wide trimming of underused or niche benefits. Given the monetary requirements for earning an MQD waiver was more than $20,000, it’s not surprising that the perk would be removed from the mid-level Delta Gold.

The Delta Reserve received the most new additions to its benefits to go along with the increased annual fee. Rather than trim, issuers have largely taken the opposite approach with luxury cards: Improving the potential value of the card and increasing the annual fees.

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