Delta SkyMiles Gold Card review March 2021 | finder.com
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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.

70,000

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

Annual fee$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Welcome Offer70,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
Purchase APR15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APRN/A
Recommended minimum credit score670
IssuerAmerican Express

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, reverting to $99 the following year. It offers 2x miles on Delta purchases, purchases made at restaurants and US supermarkets, and a generous welcome offer of 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months. Depending on what you redeem your miles for, this can be worth $840 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.

Apply now

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 70,000 miles after you spend $2,000 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.

Compare Delta Gold to similar credit cards

Here’s a look at the Delta Gold vs. two similar cards to help visualize the major differences between these mid-tier travel cards.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

★★★★★

Finder Rating: 4 / 5

Rates & fees
Go to site

Minimum credit score

670

Annual fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)

Purchase APR

15.74% to 24.74% variable

Balance transfer APR

N/A

Rewards

2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases

Welcome offer

70,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months

United℠ Explorer Card

★★★★★

Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

Rates & fees
Go to site

Minimum credit score

670

Annual fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)

Purchase APR

16.49% to 23.49% variable

Balance transfer APR

16.49% to 23.49% variable

Rewards

2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases

Welcome offer

40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus 25,000 miles after spending $10,000 in the first 6 months

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 $840 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 (Terms apply, 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 FeeFree checked bagAnnual companion certificateTSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee creditSpending 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.

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.

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Case study: Adrian’s experience

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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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