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Question: For Delta SkyMiles members, is having The Platinum Card® from American Express better than having a Delta co-branded American Express card for accumulating frequent flier points and services?

Answer: Why would you want to lock your miles into one airline? That’s the biggest piece of advice we can give you here. When earning miles and points, it’s the flexibility to be able to use them with any airline or hotel partner (among others) when you need them.

Award Travel With Delta and Delta Credit Cards

If you sign up for a Delta co-branded American Express card, you are holding miles hostage in SkyMiles. The program has removed all transparency from its program. This means you will never know how much an award ticket costs you. Delta deleted award charts years ago with other airlines soon following.

How can you save up for that dream trip if you don’t know how much it will cost in miles?

Still, if you value their flash sales and don’t mind paying more miles than other airlines typically charge for a flight, Delta cards do hold value for some fliers. For example, if you live in a Delta hub city and value nonstop flights, it’s good to have.

However, note that The Platinum Card® from American Express is also a transfer partner with Delta.

The Platinum Card from American Express

With the Platinum Card from American Express, you earn Membership Rewards points. Cardholders can redeem these points like cash on most airlines or at hotel and travel partners. Of course, you can also transfer them to airline partners if you find an award that really suits you (including Delta SkyMiles).

There’s no need to tie up miles with Delta until you need to use them. Some of the best travel credit cards for beginners come with the benefit of flexibility which is a great way to get your feet wet. 

True, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium credit card. But when you factor in Priority Pass membership, rebates on services like Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check and Uber rides, an annual $200 airline credit, and 5x points on airfare booked directly with airlines or through the Amex portal, it’s a no brainer. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Cardholders also earn 5x points on prepaid hotel bookings through amextravel.com.

This card’s annual fee is $550 (See Rates & Fees).

New cardmembers can earn 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. Cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership. When you go through the CardMatch™ tool, you might qualify for a welcome offer of 100,000 Membership Rewards.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

Delta Credit Cards

There are several perks that come with Delta credit cards. New cardholders have the ability to earn a nice welcome bonus (depending on the card) as long as they hit the minimum spending requirements within a specific time frame.

Some of Delta’s co-branded credit cards give you up to three miles per dollar spent, but only on Delta.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with access to Delta Sky Clubs and the Centurion Lounge, but only when flying on Delta. The Reserve card also gives Medallion members a slight edge when it comes to domestic upgrades.

But, those are becoming harder to score these days too.

One of the few areas where Delta cards have an edge is with free checked bags on Delta flights. The Reserve card offers the chance to buy discounted companion passes to the SkyClub (Reserve cardholders get complimentary access when flying Delta). It also has one companion certificate.

This means you can take along someone when you travel provided you purchase a qualifying fare. Cardholders can accelerate their path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost. Plus, in 2021, they can earn even more bonus MQMs to help cardholders reach Medallion Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights. The annual fee is $550 but there are no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees).

In Summary

If you’re a heavy packer, have a hard time reaching the next Medallion tier and only fly Delta (and don’t care about other perks like Priority Pass and Uber), then perhaps a Delta co-branded American Express makes sense. But, for the vast majority of travelers (including many Delta fliers), The Platinum Card is the way to go.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Ramsey Qubein
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