Personal Finance

Benefits of Delta Air Lines Credit Cards

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Delta Air Lines offers four credit cards for consumers, with annual fees ranging from $0 to $450. Issued by American Express, the cards come with a host of benefits worth considering if you’re a frequent — or even infrequent — Delta customer. They range from core features you would expect on any airline card to “nice-to-have” perks and protections. And, the higher the annual fee, the more benefits you’ll get.

The four cards:

» MORE: Which Delta Air Lines credit card should you get?

Frequent-flyer miles

All four cards earn miles in Delta’s frequent-flyer program, known as Delta SkyMiles. SkyMiles are worth an average of 1.4 cents each when redeemed for domestic travel, according to NerdWallet valuations.

» MORE: Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program: The complete guide

Spending rewards

  • All four cards earn 2 SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express also earns 2 miles per dollar at U.S. restaurants.
  • All other spending earns 1 SkyMile per dollar spent.

New-cardholder bonus

Each card gives new cardholders the opportunity to earn a bonus by meeting a spending requirement in the first few months. In general, the higher the fee, the bigger the bonus:

  • Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months. Offer Expires 8/15/2019. Additionally, receive 50% back in the form of statement credits on purchases made directly with Delta with your Card within the first 3 months, up to $300 back. Terms Apply.
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Expires 8/15/2019. Additionally, Receive 50% back in the form of statement credits on purchases made directly with Delta with your Card within the first 3 months, up to $500 back. Terms Apply.
  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express: Earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best airline credit cards

Airport perks

Free checked bags, early boarding privileges and access to Delta’s airport lounges can make your trip a lot more pleasant. The Delta cards that charge annual fees offer these benefits in some form. The no-fee Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express doesn’t.

Free checked bags

  • Annual-fee cards: The first checked bag is free for you and up to eight other people traveling on your reservation also get a free bag. (Terms apply.) This can be a big money-saver, since a single checked bag would otherwise cost $60 round trip. 
  • No-annual-fee card: No free checked bags.

Early boarding

  • Annual-fee cards: You’ll get to board the plane early — before general boarding begins — to get settled and claim space in the overhead bins for your carry-on, a perk many travelers prize.
  • No-annual-fee card: No early boarding privileges.

Lounge access

  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express: Complimentary access to Delta SkyClubs.
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Cardholders can purchase day passes for $29 (terms apply). Delta used to sell day passes to anyone for $59, which is the industry standard price, so the cardholder price was roughly a 50% discount. Delta no longer sells the $59 passes, but holders of these two cards can still purchase them at the discount price. 
  • Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: No SkyClubs access.

» MORE: How to choose an airline credit card

Deals and discounts

Companion certificate

The Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express come with an annual companion certificate, a perk that covers the cost of a round-trip domestic ticket for someone flying with you once each year. Terms apply.

In-flight savings

All Delta cards offer the same 20% statement credit for such in-flight purchases as food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights. In-flight wireless Internet access is excluded. Terms apply.

Foreign transaction fees

Many credit cards charge a fee on purchases outside the U.S. Three of the four Delta cards don’t:

  • Annual-fee cards: No foreign transaction fees.
  • No-annual-fee card: 2.7% foreign transaction fee. That’s a hair lower than the industry standard of 3%. 

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best no foreign transaction fee credit cards

Progress toward elite status

The miles earned from spending on airline credit cards can be redeemed for free flights, but they don’t typically count toward gaining elite status in the airline’s frequent-flyer program. In general, you earn elite status only by flying on the airline, and progress toward that status is measured using a separate points system. In Delta’s case, you earn “Medallion Qualification Miles,” or MQMs, when you fly.  

However, the two priciest Delta cards allow bigger spenders to earn MQMs (as well as extra SkyMiles) when they hit certain thresholds:

  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Earn up to 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs for making $50,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year. Terms apply. 
  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express: Earn up to 30,000 bonus miles and 30,000 MQMs for making $60,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year. Terms apply. 

Travel protections

Because these are airline cards, their travel-protection benefits are notable. Most come from the American Express network, instead of being exclusive to these cards. They include:

  • Baggage insurance.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Roadside assistance.
  • Global assist hotline.

More about these cards

Information related to the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet