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Delta and American Express are relaunching their co-branded credit cards with new rewards and travel perks, but higher annual fees for consumers and business owners. And for the first time ever, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum and Reserve American Express Cards are being made from metal.
It’s the first limited-time offer featuring all seven cards (four consumer and three business) from Delta and Amex. For the Platinum and Reserve cards, it’s their best offer yet.
“The completely reimagined cards are tailored to what our customers told us is most important to them,” said Sandeep Dube, senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty at Delta. “We are excited to bring years of planning and in-depth research to life with new benefits focused on more ways to earn miles, get to status faster and make travel easier.”
The relaunch comes after Delta and American Express conducted more than a year of research. According to Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research and a travel industry analyst, cards account for roughly 18% of Delta’s gross revenue so it stands to reason that customer satisfaction is a top priority for the airline.
“What this [percentage] shows is the value that Delta and American Express have put into their co-branded credit card products and program,” Harteveldt said.
The partnership between Delta and American Express is expected to reach $4.4 billion in 2020 in total contributions and grow to nearly $7 billion by 2023.
New rewards, travel perks and higher annual fees
Plans for the card relaunch were first announced in September 2019, featuring a variety of new benefits to meet the needs of every type of traveler, reward them with more miles and get them to status faster. Existing cardholders automatically received these benefits on Jan. 30, 2020.
The annual fees on select cards increased by up to $100, but Delta and Amex say there are now more ways to earn miles faster. Here’s a breakdown of the cards’ new benefits and annual fees:
|Card||New Annual Fee||New Benefits||Welcome Offer|
|Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card||$0 (See Rates & Fees)||
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 (See Rates & Fees)||
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card||$250 (See Rates & Fees)||
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card||$550 See Rates & Fees||
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 (See Rates & Fees)||
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card||$250 (See Rates & Fees)||
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card||$550 (See Rates & Fees)||
“We are so thrilled to launch a major redesign of our Delta SkyMiles® American Express Cards that give our card members new ways to earn more rewards, an enhanced travel experience and greater value,” said Eva Reda, executive vice president of global consumer partnerships at American Express.
Here are important things to take into account if you’re debating whether the higher annual fees on select cards are worth it:
- How often you fly Delta: Earning miles for Delta purchases means you’ll save on travel down the road.
- The first bag is free on flights: Having your first bag checked in for free is a sweet perk if you anticipate traveling a lot this year. If you regularly check in your bag while traveling, then the annual fee on select Delta Amex cards might be worth it.
- Traveling abroad frequently: You can avoid unnecessary foreign transaction fees while spending abroad with any of the Delta Amex cards.
The new welcome bonuses are not available to cardholders who have or have had current or prior versions of the card they apply for. Additionally, the welcome bonus is not available to cardholders who apply for the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card and have had any of the consumer cards open in the past 90 days. The welcome bonuses available across Delta Amex cards can be found here.
The bottom line
The Delta Amex cards can amplify your SkyMiles and give you solid travel perks if you regularly travel with Delta. But, even infrequent Delta flyers can get value from the lower-tier Delta Amex cards like the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, which both come with a promising welcome bonus and basic travel benefits.
Since 2013, Delta has received some backlash for periodically devaluing its frequent flyer currency and no longer publishing its award chart, according to Joe Brancatelli, founder of JoeSentMe, a website for business travelers.
“I don’t find the Amex deals particularly compelling because the Delta SkyMiles program has been so ridiculously devalued,” Brancatelli said. “So lots of points in a program where points are becoming nearly worthless isn’t a particularly great offer.”
On the bright side, there are other ways to get value out of the program because Delta regularly offers a stream of flash sales on award flights and solid redemption options in domestic economy. If you have flexibility in your travel plans, your accumulated SkyMiles could come in handy during any of the airline’s flash sales.
Delta’s President Glen Hauenstein has been outspoken about adding better benefits to the cards down the road and potentially expanding the Delta Amex portfolio.
“The new and richer rewards will continue to increase customer benefits and drive future card acquisitions,” Hauenstein said during Delta’s 2019 fourth-quarter earnings call.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here. For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here. For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please click here. For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here. For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, please click here. For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, please click here. For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, please click here.
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