Gold Delta SkyMiles cardholders and up to eight people flying with them can check a bag for free on every Delta flight – a $50 value per person round-trip, and a $450 value if you take a trip with all 9 people on the same reservation, each checking a bag both ways. More likely, a family of four would check three items each way – saving them $150. Depending on how many times you travel per year, this perk can easily save hundreds of dollars in baggage costs.
Members get priority boarding on all Delta flights, giving extra time to get luggage into overhead bins and get situated before takeoff.
Cardholders also save 20 percent on in-flight food and entertainment, a good deal since Delta, like many airlines, no longer offers free in-flight meals. That $10 sandwich will only cost $8 with your Gold Delta American Express card.
Free Flights and Award Mile ValueOf course, the big question is how easy is it to earn free flights with this card, and how valuable are the miles you earn? The easiest way to redeem an award ticket with SkyMiles is to book travel through Delta’s Award Ticket website. All you do is go to the site, enter your desired trip information – dates and cities – and you’ll see a calendar with dates in three price points – low, medium, and high. Round-trip economy class tickets for travel in the continental United States cost 25,000 miles in the low price point. The medium category costs 40,000 miles, and the high category costs 60,000 for a round-trip. The Award chart can be found here.
The sign-on bonus for the Delta SkyMiles card gives 30,000 bonus miles when customers spend $3000 in the first three months, which can be redeemed for a flight valued around $500 or more.
SkyMiles can be redeemed for flights from Delta, or any of its 16 SkyTeam partners – making it easy to use award tickets for international flights. Alitalia and Air France partners can get you to popular tourist destinations in France or Italy, and SkyMiles can be used for part of all of the cost of tickets. Many people find the Delta online booking system difficult to navigate when looking for the best value on an international flight, so the best thing to do is call Delta directly and have one of their SkyMiles experts guide you through the process of building an itinerary.
Earning MilesCard holders get two miles per dollar for any Delta purchase, and one mile per dollar on all other purchases. That’s a little lower than some other travel cards offer, but for a high spender who travels a lot on Delta, it’s not so hard to earn a free flight each year. Taking one family vacation – four people, four round-trip tickets – could easily cost around $1,600, which would pay off with 3,200 SkyMiles. Add average spending of $2,000 a month, and you’ve got 24,000 more SkyMiles – add that to the balance and it’s enough for a reward ticket in the lowest cost bracket.
DisadvantagesThere are a couple of things about the Delta SkyMiles card that aren’t quite as good as with certain other travel rewards cards. First off, SkyMiles can’t be used to purchase tickets on airlines outside of SkyTeam. Some American Express cards allows members to transfer rewards points to different frequent flyer programs, giving them the ability to book travel on airlines from all three major airline alliances, plus Southwest and JetBlue – this card doesn’t offer that same flexibility. SkyMiles can be used to book tickets on any SkyTeam airline, however – and SkyTeam airlines fly all over the world, to almost anywhere you might want to go. Second, many people comment that the Delta online booking tool is difficult to use and you have to call and speak with a booking agent to get the best value for your miles. Booking reward travel can be complicated, and to get the best value for your miles, you may need to book travel on different alliance partners and combine cash and miles to pay for the trip. Sometimes the process is not very straightforward – but calling and talking with a representative will usually get you where you want to go and allow you to maximize your reward value. The card has $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $957. The APR for purchases is 17.74% - 26.74% (V)7, depending on creditworthiness. As with most rewards cards, it’s advisable to pay your balance in full each month and not carry a balance – otherwise, the interest rate will cancel out the rewards you earn.
A High-Flying Rewards Card
Overall, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers good value for frequent Delta passengers. The free bag check alone can save hundreds of dollars for a person who takes a lot of trips on Delta, and when you add a free flight each year – assuming you use the card enough to rack up the miles – this card is well worth carrying.