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Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card review

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A mid-tier card with 2x miles on Delta purchases, first checked bag free, priority boarding and more.

finder.com’s rating: 4.0 / 5.0

★★★★★

  • Get this card if you fly Delta at least three times each year.
  • Pick the higher-tier Delta cards if you make at least four Delta round trips per year.
  • Apply with a good to an excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

35,000

Miles as welcome offer

Up to 2x

Miles

$0

Annual fee

for the first year ($99 thereafter)

15.74% to 24.74%

Purchase APR (variable)

Details

Product NameDelta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Card typeAmerican Express
Annual fee$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Purchase APR15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APRN/A
Cash advance rate25.24% variable
Cash advance fee$10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Penalty APR29.24% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Interest free periodUp to 25 days
Late payment feeUp to $40
Returned payment feeUp to $40
Rates & feesrates & fees

Expert review

Kliment Dukovski

Review by


Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.

Expert review

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is a mid-tier Delta card with a $0 intro annual fee. It offers 2x miles on Delta purchases, purchases made at restaurants and US supermarkets, and a generous welcome offer of 35,000 bonus miles . Depending on what you redeem your miles for, this can be worth $600 or more.

Additional Delta perks include first checked bag free, priority boarding, 20% back as a statement credit on your Delta purchases, 0% foreign transaction fees and more.

All this makes the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card a solid credit card option for the occasional Delta flyer.

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How do I apply for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card?

Applying for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is straightforward:

  1. Click Apply now.
  2. Complete the application with personal and financial details.
  3. Review the application and submit it.

What credit score do I need?

To qualify for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, you’ll need a good to an excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Generous welcome offer. Earn 35,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Earn Delta SkyMiles. Earn 2x miles for each dollar you spend on such Delta purchases as flights, tickets, seat upgrades and food. Also earn 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and US supermarkets, and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Delta flight credit. Get $100 in Delta flight credit once you spend $10,000 in a calendar year, once a year.
  • Travel perks. Enjoy free checked bags, 20% back on in-flight purchases, priority boarding and more.

Cons

  • Annual fee. After the $0 intro period you’ll pay $99 each year to use this card.
  • High APR. Compared to other Amex cards, this card features a somewhat high APR at to variable.
  • Not widely accepted overseas. Since this card is an Amex, you might have trouble making payments overseas.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card benefits

  • Earn Delta SkyMiles.
    Despite being Delta’s “mid-tier” credit card, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is no slouch when it comes to earning miles. It earns 2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and US supermarkets. That’s only 1x mile per dollar less than the Delta SkyMiles Reserve, Delta’s luxury offer.
  • Welcome offer.
    The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card’s welcome offer is large in spite of the cards modest annual fee. If you manage to earn the miles, you’ll enjoy up to $600 dollars in value depending on how you redeem them.
  • Travel perks.
    The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card also brings a solid selection of travel perks for cardholders. You get many of the standard travel perks you’d expect on a travel card, including priority boarding, fees waived on your first checked bag and car rental insurance. You’ll also get an annual statement credit of $100 each annual year after you spend $10,000. You usually see these sort of statement credits on luxury cards, rather than casual entries.

Deeper dive: $100 flight credit (if you really want it)

Unlike many other travel cards that offer flight credits, you’ll need to reach a spending cap to gain this bonus. For a mid-tier card like this, the asking price is steep at $10,000. Your biggest earning categories on this card are restaurants, US supermarkets and Delta purchases. This could prove a difficult requirement to hit if you’re not flying or dining out much. Since this card’s annual fee rests at $99 after the first year intro however, failing to hit this credit each year isn’t the end of the world. In fact, you’ll probably more than make up for the annual fee with other perks on the card.

Deeper dive: Pay with miles. Yeah, I know that sounds obvious

The wording of this benefit is admittedly a little confusing: The whole point of earning miles is to pay for flights, after all.What this benefit actually allows is partial payment of flights using your accrued miles. You can take chunks out of your flight cost in $50 increments. This can prove useful if you have a tight month and need to pinch a few pennies. Using your points this way doesn’t affect their redemption value thankfully.

What to watch out for

  • Annual fee.
    For the first year, the card has a $0 annual fee. But starting the second, expect to pay $99 annually.
  • No intro APR period.
    You won’t get a 0% intro APR period on purchases when you open your account. But this feature is rare with airline credit cards anyway.

Deeper dive: They removed what now?

Amex’s refresh of the Delta line of cards was more than a few added perks. A few benefits were removed at the same time, including the old Medallion Qualification Dollars waiver and discounted access to the Delta Sky Club. Reaching Medallion status with Delta’s loyalty program requires two things: Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD). To obtain MQDs, you need to spend on eligible Delta and partner flights. Typically, you need at least $3,000 in MQDs to reach the first Medallion status of Silver, extending all the way to $15,000 for Diamond status. A MQD waiver let you ignore this spending requirement and focus purely on the necessary miles instead.

Unfortunately, both the Blue and Gold Delta cards lost this perk. If this benefit once featured into your plans for the card, you might want to reexamine the rest of the card’s perks to determine if they make up for the loss.

The removal of discounted access to Delta SkyClub lounges isn’t quite as large a blow. However, standard day passes for the SkyClub are $59. The old discounted rate of $29 when using this card added up if you traveled frequently. Now, you might want to look for other options if you need lounge access.

Compare Gold and Platinum

While the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card stacks up well against competing mid-tier cards, the same doesn’t hold true when you compare it to its big brother, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card costs $250 per year (see rates & fees) compared to the Delta Gold’s $99 annual fee.

For that extra cost, you get 3x miles on Delta purchases and directly booked hotels, along with the 2x miles on restaurants and US supermarkets. This makes the card a much clearer choice on travel purchases and comparable to cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card also keeps the Status Boost that the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card lost. By spending $25,000 in a calendar year with the Platinum, you’ll earn 10,000 MQMs. And you can do this twice per year. That’s a big boost toward upping your Delta Medallion level.

Finally, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card comes with one complimentary round-trip Companion Certificate each calendar year upon renewal. This perk alone is worth hundreds of dollars. This means you don’t even have to try to negate your annual fee with this card — it pays for itself. If you’re someone who travels with a partner, picking the Gold over the Platinum is a tough sell.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each card’s rough benefit values versus the corresponding annual fee:

Delta SkyMiles Gold vs. Platinum perk values compared to annual fee

Annual Fee Free checked bag Annual companion certificate TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit Spending bonus
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card $99 starting the second year $30 (each flight) $100 (after spending $10,000 in a calendar year)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card $250 $30 (each flight) $300+ $100 (every four years) 10,000 MQMs, worth $1000+ (after spending $25,000 in a calendar year. Earnable twice per year)

As you can see, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card’s companion certificate completely covers the cost of the card so long as you use it. That companion certificate is good for a domestic round-trip, so your value could go even higher depending on when and where you’re flying. Everything else on the card is an added bonus.

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Certainly. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card’s asking price of $99 after the first year’s intro annual fee isn’t a terribly large burden. You’ll only need to travel and cash in on your first free checked bag a few times to make up for the annual cost. You might also think of it this way: Earning the card’s welcome offer is worth several years’ of annual fees. The real question is whether you should make the jump to the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card.

What are my preapproval odds?

You can check whether you’re preapproved for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card by doing the following:

  1. Go to the American Express pre-qualification page at: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/check-for-offers/
  2. Fill out your information. This includes your name, address, last four digits of your social security number and annual income.
  3. Click on View my card offers.

You can’t specifically choose to check your preapproval odds for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. Instead, Amex will check your information against the whole suite of available cards. Afterward, you’ll be sent to a new webpage with your eligible preapproval cards.

Can I add a friend to the mix?

Authorized users are welcome on the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. All additional users are lumped in under the main account. That means purchases made on extra cards earn rewards toward the main user account. They may also benefit from the card’s travel perks.

How does the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card compare to similar cards?

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is best compared against other cobranded mid-level or casual flyer cards on the market. In this case, let’s take a look at the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.

All three of these cards sport similar annual fees and earn comparable miles on similar purchase categories. Here’s a quick overview of the data:

Comparison of rewards, welcome offer and annual fees

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® $99 (waived for the first 12 months) 50,000 American Airlines miles after you make $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations
  • 1x miles on other eligible purchases
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card $99 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in first 3 months 2x points on southwest purchases, 1x on all other purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card $99 (waived for the first 12 months) 35,000 after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening 2x miles on restaurants, US supermarkets, 1x on everything else

The Southwest card has the clear edge over the the other two when it comes to the welcome offer. So what about each card’s travel perks?

Side-by-side comparison of card perks and benefits

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Southwest
Flight credit $100 after spending $10,000 in calendar year $125 after spending at least $20,000 in calendar year None. But you’ll earn 6,000 point bonus each calendar year
Priority boarding Main Cabin 1 priority boarding for up to nine passengers in the same reservation Board in group five for you and up to four passengers on reservation None
Free checked bags First checked bag free for all passengers on same reservation First checked bag free for you and up to four passengers on same reservation First and second checked bag free (not tied to card)
In-flight discounts 20% off in-flight Delta purchases 25% off in-flight AA purchases None
Travel insurance Car rental insurance None Baggage delay, lost luggage, purchase protection
Shopping perks Free two-day shipping with ShopRunner, free returns. World Elite benefits None
Lounge access None None None
Foreign transaction fees None None None
Status boost? None None Yes (1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually)

Interestingly, these three cards vary a bit in terms of the extras they offer. All three offer perks such as free checked bags (though Southwest grants this to members even without a card), travel insurance, status boost capabilities and priority boarding, but they vary enough to require a closer look. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card lands on the more generous side of things, allowing all passengers on the same reservation to benefit from a first free checked bag and up to nine passengers to benefit from priority boarding.

As far as rewards spending, you’re looking at either the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card or the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® for best everyday earning. These two cards can regularly earn you 2x points even when you’re not flying. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card however is the only card among these three that earns more points on supermarket purchases, which makes it a stronger card for everyday use.

Points earned in each category based on $200 spending

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Dining 400 400 200
US supermarkets 400 200 200
Gas 200 400 200
Everything else 200 200 200
Airline purchases 400 400 400

What do others think of this card?

Users on social media, such as Reddit, generally enjoy this card thanks to the number of travel perks offered for the price.

Customer praise

A recurring theme among customers is how easy it is to make up for the card’s annual fee. Flying only twice a year with a companion is enough to wipe out the fee, so long as the both of you check a single bag each flight.

Customer complaints

The biggest complaints with this card came down to the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card’s overall superiority. For only $150 more per year, you get better rewards and a companion ticket each calendar year. We tend to agree with this assessment, as we’ll detail below.

What’s the deal with these SkyMiles?

You have a surprisingly wide variety of ways to earn Delta SkyMiles. In addition to using a credit card, you’ll also earn miles on Delta flights, eligible cruises, vacations and car rentals, through the SkyMiles dining or shopping program, and through eligible hotels.

You can also purchase SkyMiles directly, though this is rarely worth the cost.

How much are Delta SkyMiles worth?

As of our last calculations, Delta SkyMiles are worth around 1.4 cents per mile on average. Like many airline loyalty programs, you can find bigger value for your miles if you’re willing to do a little research.

In the case of Delta, using their five-week view when booking potential flights can lead to more than 10,000 miles in savings. You can read more at our Delta SkyMiles redemption guide.

How to make the most of out of your Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Given the rather simple structure of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card’s reward program, you can follow a few typical steps for maximizing your value:

  • Spend in your earning categories. Use your Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card to make purchases on Delta flights, restaurants and US supermarkets.
  • Reach your welcome offer. Make sure you reach the spending requirements within the first 3 months of opening the card.
  • Use your perks. Make sure you at least get your free checked bag each time you travel. You’ll only need to cash in on this perk four times to negate the annual fee.
  • Remember the annual statement credit. Obtaining your $100 will prove a bit tough if you’re not making it a goal. If you think you can hit the $10,000 in annual spending needed to reach the goal, go for it. Otherwise, we’d recommend not pushing yourself to get the credit.
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Case study: Rachel’s experience

profile pic

Rachel Dix-Kessler
Public Relations Manager

I first opened the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card when I went off to college. I’m pretty loyal to Delta and decided it’d be worthwhile to have a card that I could earn miles with when I traveled home to visit family.

I liked that there was no annual fee for the first year — though it has a $99 annual fee for every year after — and that you could earn extra miles by purchasing flights with it. However, one downside is that it has a really high interest rate. If you don’t pay off your balance each month, that high rate can hit you hard.

But overall, I love this card and still use it today.

Compare travel rewards credit cards

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Welcome offer Rewards Filter values
American Express® Gold Card
None
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
None
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
None
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 15x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 15x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
None
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
None
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021)
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 or more within your first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021). Rates & fees
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Case study: Adrian’s experience

profile pic

Adrian Tomkins
Senior Product Manager

While the APR for the Delta Gold credit card was not the best, the annual fee was pretty fair and the opportunity to reach status tiers appealed to me.

I’m Australian and travel back there once or twice a year. When I travel within the US, I choose to fly with Delta over most US carriers.

Last year, I was traveling quite a lot both domestically and internationally and thanks to the card, I almost made status with Delta. Unfortunately, due to personal reasons, I had to cancel a flight in December. Not only did Delta not refund me any of the money for the flight, but they refused to grant me the miles just because I didn’t physically get on the plane — even though I still paid the full fare.

Utterly frustrated with the poor customer service, I decided to move away from both Delta and its cobranded credit card.

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Bottom line

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is a perfectly solid card that offers good perks for the price. However, Amex’s recent Delta refresh carved away some of the extra value that you used to find on this card. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card loses a bit of luster when stacked up to the rest of the Delta card family, especially the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card.

For the price, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card stands in the awkward position of not being that much better than the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, and inferior to the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card — which pays for itself. While the Delta Gold isn’t a bad pick per se, there are better airline card options out there in the same range.

Frequently asked questions

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Images: americanexpress.com

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