Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card Review

overall rating
3.8

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For those who travel often with Delta, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express delivers benefits that can easily justify its annual fee. Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets, along with 1 mile per dollar on everything else. It has a generous and easy-to-earn one-time offer, and cardholders receive a host of perks on Delta, including a free checked bag on each flight and main-cabin priority boarding.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card

overall rating
3.8
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card
On American Express' Secured Site.

Current Offer:

Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta, at restaurants, and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn one mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

The Delta Skymiles Gold Card is not one of our top-rated airline credit cards. You can review our list of the best airline credit cards for what we think are better options.

Full Review of Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Pros
  • Generous bonus offer

  • Free checked bag for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation

  • Priority boarding

  • More than 20 airline partners

Cons
  • American Express isn't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard

Pros Explained

  • Generous Bonus Offer: The one-time offer—35,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months—is one of the more generous currently available among travel cards. And, American Express is granting new cardholders who apply by May 31, 2020 an additional three months to qualify for the $1,000 spending required to earn the bonus offer. By our calculations using an Investopedia valuation of 1.6 cents per Delta mile, the offer is worth $560, which can justify the annual fee many times over, when used to book flights through Delta.  
  • Free Checked Bag For You and Your Companions: Cardholders have their first checked bag free on Delta flights, which can be a savings of $60 on a round-trip ticket. And where some airline cards extend free-baggage privileges to few or no companions, this card allows up to eight passengers traveling in the same reservation as the card member to skip the fees.
  • Priority Boarding: Passengers holding this card can board early with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights, even if they lack the Delta SkyMiles status to do so. However, this perk is not available for Delta Shuttle flights.
  • More Than 20 Airline Partners: Delta has an impressive list of airline partners, numbering more than 20 and including Virgin Atlantic, Air France, and Aeromexico. You can earn miles on these flights at the same rate as for Delta ones, provided Delta issues the ticket; otherwise, you still earn miles, based on a different formula.    

Cons Explained

  • American Express isn't as widely accepted abroad as Visa or Mastercard: Thousands of merchants accept American Express, but its level of acceptance is somewhat lower than other major card networks internationally. That’s not ideal for a card aimed at frequent travelers, who may fly abroad at least occasionally. (On the other hand, the card at least has no foreign-transaction fee.)

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Loyalty Status Seeker Persona
    Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
    Loyalty Status Seeker
  • Avatar for Frequent Flyer Persona
    Flies often for business or leisure
    Frequent Flyer
  • Avatar for Frequent Diner Persona
    Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
    Frequent Diner
  • Avatar for International Traveler Persona
    Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
    International Traveler

The Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex card is naturally a best fit for travelers who frequently fly on Delta and its partners. Or who are at least willing to do so, since the card's introductory bonus alone, which we estimate is worth $560, is enough to get you onto a few Delta flights. Even if you don’t reap a lot of additional miles every year, that bonus figure would essentially justify several years of the card's annual fee expense.

This card is especially attractive if you often check bags on trips, or travel with people who do. Your first checked bag is free, which is a savings of $60 on a round-trip flight. Checking a bag on two round-trip flights per year would more than cancel out the annual fee. If you travel with companions, the savings would rise, since up to nine people who are on your reservation for any one flight also qualify for this perk.  

With the addition of new rewards categories, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex is also now worth considering for those looking for a travel card with decent-enough (2 miles per dollar spent) earnings on restaurant and supermarket purchases. With each mile worth 1.6 cents, by our estimates, those rewards make the card competitive with cash-back cards that offer 3 cents per dollar spent in those categories—that is, provided you redeem the Delta miles for flights rather than cash.   

Delta SkyMiles Gold Credit Card Bonus

Cardholders can receive 35,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of opening their account, which we calculate is a value of $560 when used to buy flights through Delta. The bonus comes in the form of a statement credit that posts to your account eight to 12 weeks after you meet the minimum threshold.

The bonus offer represents more than a 46% return on the required spending. (Our calculation subtracts the annual fee of $99 from the overall net rewards, but doesn't count the value of the miles you'd earn by reaching the required $1,000 in spending.)

Rewards Earning Details

Delta purchases earn an unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent. Eligible purchases include costs associated with flights, Sky Club membership or passes, seat upgrades, Delta Vacations, or in-flight purchases. This card also offers unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and supermarkets. The restaurant rewards don’t apply to prepared foods sold within other establishments, such as nightclubs and food stores, and the supermarket benefit isn’t available on food bought at superstores such as Walmart and Target nor at warehouse clubs such as Costco and BJ’s. 

The card pays 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. Delta SkyMiles do not expire. 

Rewards Redemption Details

Cardholders must be members of the Delta SkyMiles rewards program to redeem miles through Delta's app, website, by phone, or at the ticket counter.

SkyMiles can be redeemed for flights, seat upgrades, Delta Vacation packages, gift cards, magazines, Sky Club membership, and experiences. You can also transfer SkyMiles to friends and family or donate them to charity. We value SkyMiles at 1.6 cents per mile when redeemed for domestic Delta flights. That's above average when compared to other airlines.

You can also use SkyMiles to buy flights on other airlines. Delta partners include fellow members of the SkyTeam alliance along with other carriers:

With these partners, you can book award travel on delta.com in the same way you do for Delta flights:

  • Aeromexico
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Alitalia
  • Air France
  • China Eastern
  • China Airlines
  • China Southern
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • GOL
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Mandarin Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines
  • Tarom Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia
  • WestJet
  • Xiamen Airlines

For these other partners, you must contact Delta Reservations for help in booking award travel:

  • Air Europa
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Czech Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways

How to Maximize Your Rewards

Getting the most from this card begins, of course, with ensuring you spend the required $1,000 within the first three months and earn the 35,000-mile bonus. After that, be sure to use the card for all of your Delta purchases to earn 2 miles per dollar, including at restaurants and supermarkets. You might also use it for non-Delta purchases as well, and earn 1 mile per dollar spent, although you may well have a card that offers a better reward than that.

Keep track of this card's perks and rewards, since they change from time to time. And keep them in mind when you travel, to boost the value you get from this card. For example, checking your first bag for free on each flight allows you to skip a $30 charge. You receive a 20% savings when you use this card for Delta in-flight purchases on food, beverages, and audio headsets. 

Lastly, be careful about how you redeem your miles. As a rule, you'll get the most for your money by redeeming your miles for flights. By our calculations, redeeming for gift cards, hotel stays, and merchandise will yield less for your money.

Average Case 

For our scenario, let’s assume you live in the New York area and take three round-trip flights on Delta per year, all charged to this card to earn 2 miles per dollar spent. According to the Bureau of Transportation, you'd spend an average of $402 per round-trip flight from JFK International Airport. Let's further assume that on each trip you spend $500 on non-Delta purchases like lodging, ground transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses, again charged to the card but at the standard 1-mile-per-dollar rate.

At the end of the year, you would have earned 3,936 miles with this card. Those rewards would be worth about $63 when redeemed through Delta—which is well below the annual fee. Our calculation includes the miles you would earn by using this card for flights and expenses. It does not, however, consider the miles you would earn if you used this card for daily spending or of the 35,000 you might earn with the one-time offer.

Taking advantage of this card's perks—especially the free checked bag on every flight—could add more value. If you checked a bag on each of the three round-trip flights, you'd save $180 in fees for checking a bag.

Aspirational Case

Naturally, those who travel a lot, and on Delta, will get proportionately larger returns by owning this card.

For example, someone who travelled once a month, flying on Delta out of Atlanta International Airport, would spend an average of around $4,150 on round-trip tickets per year, according to the Bureau of Transportation. If they spent (and charged to the Delta Skymiles Gold card) an additional $500 on non-Delta purchases on each trip, they'd earn a total of about 14,300 points for the year. Those would be worth $229 when redeemed through Delta, which is nearly double the card’s annual fee. 

In the event our traveling cardholder checked bags on each of the dozen round-trip flights, they'd add $720 in saved baggage fees to the financial benefit of the card. There's a caveat here, however: The travelers’ spending could well qualify him or her for a membership tier that offers this perk, regardless of the card you use to pay for the flights. 

The total annual benefit for this card use, then, would be about $950, or nearly 10 times the card’s annual fee. And that doesn’t count possible additional earnings from miscellaneous purchases charged to the card that earned 1 cent per dollar spent. 

Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits

  • First checked bag is free
  • 20% in-flight savings on food, beverages, and audio headsets 

Standard Benefits

  • No fraud liability 
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • 24/7 global assist hotline 
  • Access to exclusive cardmember-only events

Cardholder Experience

According to J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, American Express, the issuer of this card, ranks second overall for customer satisfaction, behind Discover. 

Chat assistance is also available on the Amex website. You can also connect with American Express on Facebook or tweet questions and comments to @AskAmex.  

Security Features

The Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex card offers the typical array of measures to thwart fraud, including monitoring your account for suspicious transactions and contacting you if fraudulent activity is suspected. A few less-common protections with American Express include: 

  • Using 128-bit encryption technology to protect online user IDs and passwords. 
  • Automatically logging you out from online account access after 10 minutes of inactivity. 
  • Allowing members to establish a Personal Security Key to authenticate account access. 
  • Using pre-purchase verification to verify your personal information before authorizing a transaction.

Our Verdict

The Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex is a strong choice for those who frequently fly Delta or its SkyTeam partners. With miles used for flights worth more than a cent-and-a-half apiece, and 2 miles earned per dollar spent at Delta and on food, cardholders could justify the card’s $99 annual fee if they spent $3,100 with Delta or at restaurants or supermarkets over the course of a year. The extras like waived baggage fees would be incremental savings, with the 35,000-point introductory bonus a welcome windfall.

Even if a cardholder didn’t spend more than was required to earn the bonus, they could employ the value of that bonus, worth $560 when used for flights, as a justification for six or more years of the card's fee. During those years, you’d also enjoy the other benefits of the card, such as free baggage checks and early boarding, even if they lack a high status in Delta's SkyMiles program.  

Even though its rewards are food rewards are decent, pairing the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex with a cash-back card to get more from day-to-day spending could be a good move. For example, the American Express Blue Preferred card offers 6% on groceries at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year and streaming services, 3% cash-back on gas at U.S. gas stations, and 1% cash-back on all other purchases.

True Delta enthusiasts who are able to maximize the miles they earn and fully utilize perks will find this card most beneficial. Other cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, are better for travelers who require more choice and flexibility when they travel.

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For Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card
on American Express' Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card
overall rating
3.8
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta, at restaurants, and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn one mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.