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The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is a good choice for regular Delta flyers who don't need access to airport lounges

You can use the card to earn Medallion Qualification Miles toward Delta elite status without even flying

Other perks include a free first checked bag when flying Delta and no foreign transaction fees

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UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available.

Our quick take: The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card offers card members the ability to earn Delta miles while securing frequent flyer perks like a free checked bag and priority boarding, and the card’s Status Boost feature can help you earn Delta elite status without even flying.

Pros:

  • Earn 3 miles for every dollar you spend on eligible Delta purchases and hotels.
  • Earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.
  • First checked bag is free on Delta flights for you and up to eight companions.
  • Status Boost feature lets you earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward elite status.
  • Up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Enter Delta Sky Clubs for just $39.
  • Annual companion certificate after your first card member anniversary.
  • No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
  • Terms apply.

Cons:

  • $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
  • Delta SkyMiles aren’t the most valuable frequent flyer miles.
  • Status Boost requires $25,000 in annual spending to earn bonus MQMs.

Current welcome bonus: For a limited time, earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the account. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your card within the same three month time period. Offer expires 7/28/2021. Terms apply.

Best for: Delta enthusiasts who want the option to earn elite status just by spending money on an airline credit card.

Digging into the Delta Platinum card

The Delta Platinum Amex credit card isn’t for casual Delta flyers, as it charges a $250 annual fee. But there are plenty of reasons the card is well worth the cost to people who fly on Delta regularly.

The card earns 3 miles for every dollar you spend on eligible Delta and hotel purchases as well as 2 miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets, and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. But since you can earn Delta miles with cheaper credit cards — and more valuable travel rewards with other cards entirely — the real value in this card lies in its perks.

Frequent flyer benefits include a free checked bag for the card member and up to eight others on the same reservation when flying Delta, priority boarding, a 25% discount on in-flight purchases and $39 per-visit passes to Delta Sky Clubs. Card members can also benefit from the card’s ability to earn bonus MQMs toward Delta elite status as well as its various travel insurance protections.

Related: Having a credit card with trip insurance could save you thousands on your next vacation.

Card members also receive up to $100 in credits toward the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership. And starting when you renew the card for the second year and every year thereafter, you’ll receive an annual companion certificate that can be used on any Delta round-trip domestic Main Cabin fare.

Finally, new card members get an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months after opening the account. That can be extremely helpful if you’re looking to finance some expenses over time, but make sure you pay off your debt before the 12 months expire, because the rate rises to a variable 15.74%-24.74% afterward.

Advantages of the Delta Platinum card

You can use the Delta Platinum Amex's Status Boost feature to earn Delta elite status just by spending money on the card.
American Express
You can use the Delta Platinum Amex's Status Boost feature to earn Delta elite status just by spending money on the card.

While the Delta Platinum Amex has a number of useful features, one of the most important is the pathway to elite status it can create. Thanks to the card’s Status Boost feature, card members can earn 10,000 Delta Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $25,000 in purchases on the card each calendar year, up to two times per year.

These MQMs can help you get to the first tier of Delta elite status, or help you climb up to the next elite status level if you’re already a frequent Delta flyer. And it’s a feature that’s not available on less-expensive Delta credit cards, including the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card.

Related: Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Delta Gold American Express credit card.

Even better, for 2021 Delta is adding 25% in bonus MQMs to each Status Boost. That means for this year only you’ll earn 12,500 MQMs for each $25,000 you spend on the card, and you’ll get that bonus for both Status Boosts if you earn two of them this year.

That means if you spend $50,000 on the Delta Platinum Amex in 2021, you’ll earn 25,000 MQMs, which would get you all the way to Delta Silver elite status. Normally to earn Delta status you need to spend a certain number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) on flights with the airline as well, but when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year with the Delta Platinum Amex, that requirement is waived for any elite status level up through Delta Platinum status.

Other features of the Delta Platinum Amex card can save you money, especially the free first checked bag when flying Delta for you and up to eight people on the same reservation. Since checked bags on Delta flights normally cost $30 apiece in each direction, this card benefit could potentially lead to as much as $270 in savings for a large group traveling together on a single flight.

Disadvantages of the Delta Platinum card

The biggest downside of the Delta Platinum Amex card is its $250 annual fee, which likely isn’t worth it if you rarely fly Delta and can’t take advantage of all the card’s perks. The annual fee may also make this card a nonstarter if you aren’t interested in earning elite status with Delta.

Another major downside of all Delta credit cards is the fact that the airline no longer has an award chart, so there’s no way to know in advance how many miles you’ll need for a flight redemption. While dynamic award pricing has sadly become the norm across most major US carriers, the cost of Delta’s award flights is all over the place, and it can — and does — frequently change from day to day.

That’s not to say there aren’t any great deals with Delta SkyMiles. There are, but the program makes it difficult to plan ahead, and frequent flyer websites like The Points Guy value Delta SkyMiles lower than other major airline miles.

Stacking up the Delta Platinum card against our benchmark

CNN Underscored uses the Citi® Double Cash Card as our “benchmark” credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s the best credit card on the market — rather, it means we use it as a basic standard to compare other credit cards and see where they score better, and where they’re worse.

Here’s how the Delta Platinum Amex card scores against our benchmark. The features of each card in the below chart are colored in green, red or white. Green indicates a card feature that’s better than our benchmark, red indicates the feature is worse than our benchmark and white indicates the feature is either equivalent or cannot be directly compared to our benchmark.

KEY DETAILS
Citi Double Cash Card Delta Platinum Card
Card type Mastercard American Express
Welcome bonus None For a limited time until July 28, 2021, earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your card within the same three month time period.
REWARDS
Earning rate 2% on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it off) 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta and hotel purchases, 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
Redemption value 1 cent (cash back) 1.1 cents per mile* or 1 cent per mile for Pay With Miles
Ease of basic redemptions Easy Easy
Advanced redemption options Can convert cash back to ThankYou points that transfer to 16 airline partners if you also have the Citi Premier℠ or Citi Prestige® Can utilize Delta’s membership in the SkyTeam alliance to redeem SkyMiles on 18 other airline partners
Quality of advanced redemptions Good Fair
FEES
Annual fee $0 $250
Foreign transaction fee 3% None
BENEFITS AND PROTECTIONS
Travel perks None First checked bag free on Delta flights for you and up to 8 companions, 20% savings on in-flight Delta purchases, priority boarding on Delta flights, $39 day passes to Delta Sky Clubs, up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit and annual companion certificate starting with your second year of card membership
Purchase protections None Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty
Travel protections None Trip Delay Insurance, Secondary Auto Coverage
Other perks None Status Boost
INTEREST RATES ON PURCHASES AND BALANCE TRANSFERS
Introductory APR on purchases None 0%
Length of introductory APR on purchases N/A 12 months
Introductory APR on balance transfers 0% None
Length of Introductory APR on balance transfers 18 months N/A
Introductory balance transfer fee 3% or $5, whichever is greater N/A
APR after intro period ends/standard APR 13.99%-23.99% variable 15.74%-24.74% variable
* Based on point valuations calculated by CNN Underscored’s partner The Points Guy.

Considering that the Citi Double Cash is designed to earn cash back instead of travel rewards, comparing these two cards isn’t easy. The Citi Double Cash can save you money on balance transfers while earning cash back with no annual fee. But it has no significant card holder benefits to speak of and no welcome bonus.

Related: The best cash back credit card: Citi Double Cash with no annual fee.

By contrast, the Delta Platinum Amex offers an impressive welcome bonus and plenty of travel benefits, although most of its perks are geared to frequent Delta flyers. An annual fee also applies, which chips away at the total value of this offer. But you can look at the chart above to determine which one of these cards might work better for your own financial and travel needs.

Other credit cards similar to the Delta Platinum Amex card

If you want to earn Delta SkyMiles, there are several different Delta credit cards to consider. The main options are the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, which offers fewer benefits but charges only a $99 annual fee, although a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (see rates and fees), and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, which has a much higher $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) but comes with a Delta Sky Club membership.

Related: Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Delta Reserve American Express credit card.

Also, keep in mind that Delta is a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program. This means any points you earn on a card like the American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles at any time, as well as 20 other airline and hotel programs.

Related: Increase your point balance with the American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cards.

Should you get the Delta Platinum card?

The Delta Platinum Amex credit card is a good choice for regular Delta flyers who want help earning elite status.
American Express
The Delta Platinum Amex credit card is a good choice for regular Delta flyers who want help earning elite status.

If you love flying with Delta or you live in a Delta hub like Atlanta or Minneapolis, earning miles in the Delta SkyMiles program makes a lot of sense. The Delta Platinum Amex card makes flying Delta even easier since you earn miles for each dollar you spend, and even get the chance to earn elite qualifying miles toward Delta elite status.

Of course, if you aren’t a regular Delta flyer, you should look elsewhere for another option, even if you want to earn Delta SkyMiles. But if you think the perks and travel protections of the Delta Platinum Amex are a good fit for you, you’ll want to grab it now before its limited-time bonus disappears.

Learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card.

Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2021.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.