What’s the Best Credit Card for Earning Delta SkyMiles?

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What’s the Best Credit Card for Earning Delta SkyMiles?

Andrew WWhat’s the Best Credit Card for Earning Delta SkyMiles?Million Mile Secrets Team

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Best SkyMiles Credit Cards for Delta Travelers

Do you find yourself flying Delta often?  If so, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of credit cards that offer benefits to make your flying experience with Delta more enjoyable, from complimentary lounge access, priority boarding, annual companion certificates, and more!

These perks can really add up.  Delta Sky Club airport lounge access, for instance, is $495 annually if you purchase a separate, individual membership through Delta.  And many of the cards on this list offer a free first checked bag, worth up to $50 per person round-trip up to a maximum of 9 people per reservation.  That’s a potential savings of $450 if you’re traveling with a large group!

So although some of the cards on this list have an annual fee, it’s easy to see how quickly the benefits can pay for themselves, especially if you are a frequent flyer.

The information for the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express have been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets.  The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best Delta SkyMiles Card
Get on the Fast Track to Earning Elite Status With the Right Delta SkyMiles Card!

And many of the cards on this list also have a business version.  Even if you don’t think you qualify for business cards, you might be surprised to know that you may already have a small business without realizing it!

What Can You Do With the Best Delta Credit Cards?

You can use the Delta Award Search to get big travel with your Delta SkyMiles.  While Delta no longer publishes an award chart, you can find the price of an award flight by searching for your route and travel dates.  And depending on the route, you can find some very good deals.

For example, team member Jasmin recently flew between Rochester and New York (JFK) for just 6,000 Delta miles, where other airlines would have charged much more.

If you are flexible with your travel dates, you can get a spectacular deal whenever there are award sales and discounts!  For instance, it wasn’t long ago that you could have booked a $1,200 flight to Asia for just 65,000 Delta SkyMiles (and applicable taxes and fees).  And with previous award sales, a round-trip ticket from New York (JFK) to Zurich would have only cost you 38,000 Delta SkyMiles + ~$59 in taxes!

1.   AMEX Gold Delta SkyMiles® and AMEX Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business

Link:   Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

 

If you’re a frequent Delta flyer but don’t want to pay a high annual fee, you should consider the personal Gold Delta SkyMiles or business Gold Delta SkyMiles credit cards from American Express.  The $95 annual fee on both cards is waived for the first year, so you’ll be able to try out the card for ~11 months to see if you like the card’s benefits.

The AMEX Delta Gold personal and small business cards are offering a 30,000 Delta mile welcome bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

The cards also come with perks like:

  • 1 free checked bag for yourself and up to 8 traveling companions on the same reservation
  • 2 miles per $1 spent with Delta
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else
  • 20% discount on certain Delta in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit
  • Priority boarding
  • Discount on Delta SkyClub lounge passes
  • Pay With Miles (each point worth 1 cent)
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • Terms and limitations apply

2.   AMEX Delta Reserve

Link:   Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

With an annual fee of $450, you’ll want to make sure you can take advantage of these cards’ benefits.  If elite status is important to you, you’ll get a great head start with just the intro bonus on either the personal Delta Reserve.

The personal AMEX Delta Reserve is offering a welcome bonus of 40,000 Delta miles, and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

The card offers the following perks:

  • 2 Delta miles per $1 spent on eligible Delta purchases
  • 1 Delta mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit
  • First checked bag free on Delta operated flights (for you and up to 8 companions traveling on the same itinerary)
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club® Access ($495 value!)
  • Delta Reserve domestic companion certificate (when you renew the card)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms and limitations apply

You’ll need to meet the following requirements to meet Delta elite status:

Best Delta SkyMiles Card
You Can Look at Delta’s Website to See The Requirements For Earning Elite Status

As you can see, the intro bonus alone on this card gets you nearly halfway to Silver elite status already!  And if you are a big spender, thanks to Miles Boost, you can earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 on purchases in a calendar year.  And you can earn an additional 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles after spending $60,000 in purchases in a calendar year.  If you meet all those spending requirements, you would only be 10,000 MQMs short of Gold elite status!

For those new to earning Delta elite status, MQMs is just one item needed to earn elite status.  US residents must also meet Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) requirements, which tracks how much you spend on Delta flights and certain partner airlines.

If you don’t spend enough on Delta flights, an MQD waiver is available based on your total purchases on this card.  You can get the MQD waiver by making $25,000 in purchases for the calendar year for Silver, Gold, and Platinum status levels.  The spending requirement goes up to $250,000 in purchases to qualify for the MQD waiver for Diamond elite status.

3.   AMEX Platinum

Link:   The Platinum® Card from American Express

Link:   Our Review of The Platinum® Card from American Express

If you’re looking for flexibility in lounge access, the AMEX Platinum may fit the bill for you perfectly.  You’ll get access to Delta Sky Club lounges when traveling on a same-day Delta operated flight. 

You’ll also get access to the following airport lounges:

The card currently has a welcome bonus of 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.  Along with the added benefits the card offers, I think it is well worth the $550 annual fee (which is NOT waived the first year).

AMEX Membership Rewards points are also flexible and can be transferred to any of AMEX’s travel partners, including Delta.  So points earned on this card can also be used to book Delta flights!

And as an AMEX Platinum card member, you’ll receive the following perks:

Best Delta SkyMiles Card
Frequent Flyers Will Appreciate the Number of Airport Lounges the AMEX Platinum Gives You Access

4.   AMEX Business Platinum

Link:   The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   Our Review of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

The intro bonus on the AMEX Business Platinum is up to 75,000 AMEX membership Rewards points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

The annual fee on the AMEX Business Platinum is $450.  That’s $100 less than the personal AMEX Platinum!  So if you’re a small business owner with a lot of spending planned for the coming months, you may want to check out the AMEX Business Platinum!

You’ll also get a number of benefits as a card member:

If you’re a small business owner who frequently travels for business and you can meet the minimum spend requirement for the welcome bonus, this is a great card to consider given the number of airport lounges you’ll have access to.

After meeting minimum spend requirements, you’ll have 95,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points (75,000 bonus points + 20,000 points from meeting minimum spend).

5.   AMEX Starwood and AMEX Starwood Business

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

 

If you frequently stay at Starwood or Marriott hotels, either the AMEX Starwood personal or AMEX Starwood Business may also put you on the fast track to earning more Delta miles.  That’s because you’ll receive a 5,000 mile bonus when you make a transfer of 60,000 points to a participating frequent flyer program, like Delta.

The personal AMEX Starwood card is now offering a 75,000-point welcome bonus after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

The card also comes with perks like:

  • 6 Marriott points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating Starwood and Marriott hotels
  • 2 Marriott points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • 1 free night award certificate every year after your account anniversary (valid for award nights costing 35,000 points or less)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide (enrollment required)
  • Terms Apply

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Best Delta SkyMiles Card
Do You Rack Up a Ton of Starwood Points? When You Transfer 20,000 Starwood Points to a Participating Frequent Flyer Program, You’ll Get a 5,000 Mile Bonus!

With the AMEX Starwood small business card, you can earn 75,000 bonus points after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

The card also earns:

  • 6 Marriott points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating Starwood and Marriott hotels
  • 4 Marriott points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers, and on US purchases for shipping
  • 2 Marriott points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • 1 free night award every year after your account anniversary (valid for award nights costing 35,000 points or less)
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status
  • Spend $30,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year and earn an upgrade to Gold Elite status through the end of the next calendar year (starting January 1, 2019, the spending threshold will be increased to $35,000 per calendar year)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms Apply

Like the personal version of the card, the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Honorable Mention

1.   AMEX Blue Delta SkyMiles

Link:   Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Our Review of the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

The AMEX Blue Delta SkyMiles card is one of American Express’s newer cards.  It’s not the best card if you frequently fly Delta because there are other cards that offer better intro bonuses, benefits, and rewards for your purchases.

But if you’re looking for a no-annual-fee card to build your credit history and earn some Delta miles in the process, this may be a good card to consider.

You’ll earn a welcome bonus of 10,000 Delta miles after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months of card membership.

The card also comes with the following perks:

  • 2 Delta miles per $1 at US restaurants
  • 2 Delta miles per $1 with Delta
  • 1 Delta mile everywhere else
  • 20% off eligible in-flight Delta purchases
  • Terms Apply

2.   Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus

Link:   Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

Link:   Our Review of the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

One of Chase’s newest cards, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus currently has an offer of 2 free night awards after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

It’s not the best card for Delta travelers because there are many other credit cards with better perks.  But considering the card does have the flexibility to transfer points to Delta, as well a number of other benefits, it could make sense for you!  That’s because you’ll get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer to participating airlines.

The card has a $95 annual fee which is NOT waived the first year, but given the number of benefits and ongoing rewards this card offers, it can be well worth paying the annual fee:

  • Free Night Award (at hotels costing 35,000 Marriott points or less) every year after your account anniversary
  • Earn 6 Marriott points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & Starwood hotels
  • Earn 2 Marriott points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status (20% bonus points on paid stays, late check-out when available)
  • Gold Elite Status (25% bonus points on paid stays, lounge access / free breakfast, guaranteed late check-out, room upgrades when available) when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year
  • Coming in 2019, 15 elite night credits each calendar year
  • NO foreign transaction fees

The card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, however, so if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards) in the past 24 months, you will not be approved for this card.

3.   Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business

Link:   Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card is NOT affected by Chase 5/24.  So if you’re a small business owner and you don’t qualify for the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card you may want to consider the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.

You’ll get the following benefits with this card:

  • Intro bonus of 75,000 Marriott points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
  • $99 annual fee
  • 6 Marriott points per $1 spent at Marriott and Starwood hotels
  • 4 Marriott points per $1 spent on gas station, restaurant, shipping, internet, cable and phone service purchases
  • 2 Marriott points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Gold Elite Status (25% bonus points on paid stays, lounge access / free breakfast, guaranteed late check-out, room upgrades when available) when you spend $50,000 on purchases each account year
  • Free award night every year after your account anniversary (available for category 1-5 hotels)
  • NO foreign transaction fees
Best Delta SkyMiles Card
You Can Get Approved for the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card, Even If You Are Over 5/24!

Bottom Line

If you frequently fly Delta, there are a number of cards with specific benefits and perks that can save you money and make your flying experience more enjoyable.

Here is our list of credit cards that Delta flyers will find useful for specific benefits, from earning elite status, complimentary lounge access, companion certificates, and more!

Which of these cards is your favorite for earning Delta miles?  Let us know in the comments!

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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With the nerf coming to the SPG earning rates and the current measly sign-up bonus they are offering, I can’t believe anyone would sign up for it now. Foe everyday spend you will get a maximum 1.25 Delta miles….with the Amex Blue Business Plus CC you get 2 points per $ (on the first $50K per year), a much better return since Mem Rewards transfer to Delta 1:1.

My mistake. I clicked on credit donkey, which lists an incorrect transfer ratio.

I just looked at the Membership Rewards website. It indicates that that the transfer ratio to Delta is 4:3.

From the transfer page “1000 Membership Rewards points = 1000 SkyMiles®” That’s 1:1…but even so the Blue Biz earns 2 pts per $…so if it was 4:3 that’s still 1.5 miles per $ after the transfer while the spg maxes out at 1.25.

Your summary is spot-on. On a related topic, I would recommend considering the no annual fee Chase Ink Cash credit card for purchasing Delta gift cards at office supply stores, such as Office Max, in order to earn 5% cash back– or even better, 5 Ultimate Rewards points if you have an annual fee Chase Ultimate Rewards earning credit card.