This American Express Delta SkyMiles credit card review shows you an honest head-to-head comparison of the three card options for 2014. You need to watch out because some credit card websites try hard to convince you the best Delta SkyMiles card is the one they are advertising or the one that's most profitable for them.

CreditCardForum takes a different approach:
  • Make an informed decision by comparing all the versions and their respective costs and benefits. We offer all three Delta credit cards and extend the generous offers and promotions for each version, when available.
  • We don't try to convince you there is a one-size-fits-all card; the best SkyMiles credit card will totally depend upon your specific needs. The latest offers as of April 2014 are reflected below.
Now let's look at each Delta SkyMiles card...

The Gold, Platinum, and Reserve SkyMiles credit cards all have the following in common:
  • Earning Miles: You will earn 2 SkyMiles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1 SkyMile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. There's no cap on how many you can earn.
  • Pay With Miles: In addition to saving up for Award Tickets (the typical way people use frequent flier miles), this exclusive Delta SkyMiles cardholder benefit allows you to redeem miles toward all or part of the ticket price. For example, if you have only 10,000 miles in your account, you can redeem them for $100 off the cash price of a ticket. This can be useful for when you don't have enough miles for an Award Ticket, but you still want to use your miles.
  • Free First Checked Bag: For yourself and up to eight other people under your same reservation. Since this benefit can save you $50 round trip per person who has a checked bag, this can justify the annual fee if you fly Delta at least once or twice per year.
  • 20 percent Savings On Eligible In-Flight Purchases: The application doesn't prominently mention this benefit. So here's a screenshot where I asked customer service which purchases made with the cards will qualify for the 20 percent savings:
    chat window on AmEx website
  • Terms and restrictions apply.
So now you know what they have in common. Here's how they differ:

Gold Delta SkyMiles

Gold Delta SkyMiles card
Annual Fee: With the offer below, you get a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Priority Boarding: Yes, you get Zone 1 priority boarding
Miles Boost: n/a
Other Perks: Access to the Delta Sky Club at a reduced rate of just $25 per visit (normally a one-day pass costs $50). In May 2014, that price will increase to $29 per visit, but that's still a good deal. Delta lounges offer a nice selection of complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and hors d'oeuvres, Wi-Fi access, satellite TV, various newspapers and magazines – and my favorite of all – clean and private restrooms. Some locations even have private showers! All that for $25 can be a deal, especially compared to the cost of buying food and drinks in the airport terminal.
Honest Advice: Not only is this card a lower-cost option than the Platinum and Reserve cards, it's also the best choice for most people. Why? Because if you strategically spread your spending across multiple reward cards (like many of us do), you don't want to overpay for a "part-time" card. The Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card has the lowest annual fee, yet it still gives you the most important benefits of free checked bags and priority boarding privileges. In other words, it gives you most of the important benefits at a fraction of the cost of the ultra-premium versions. Think about it... even if you and your significant other fly only once per year, the $100 round-trip savings for both of your checked bags will more than offset the annual fee. Also it's worth noting that if you are newer to credit, you will probably have the best chance of getting approved with this card. Many forum members with credit scores in the mid-to-high 600's get approved (it's rumored to possibly be the easiest American Express credit card to obtain in terms of qualification requirements).

Best Bonus Offer (as of April 2014):
  • 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new card in first three months.
  • $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card in first three months.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
    Here is the link where you can get this offer
    (FYI this is the best offer I've seen in years on this)


Platinum Delta SkyMiles

Platinum Delta SkyMiles card
Annual Fee: $150, and it's unfortunately NOT waived the first year.
Priority Boarding: Yes, you get Zone 1 priority boarding
Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs): These aren't miles you can spend on tickets, but rather "miles" that are used to determine your Delta Elite frequent flier status (for perks like seat upgrades, priority wait list, etc.). If you're a frequent flier you already know all about these.

Medallion status can also help you earn more miles with each flight you take. Through Dec. 31, 2014, your Medallion status will earn you bonus miles on your flights, based on the number of miles flown. Starting in 2015, Delta is going to change that up a bit – your bonus will be based on how much you paid for a ticket. In both cases, the higher your Medallion status, the bigger the bonus.

To get those bonuses, you have to earn enough MQMs to get or maintain your Medallion status – and with the Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card, you can earn additional MQMs for your spending through the Miles Boost benefit, which we will discuss next...
Miles Boost: Each calendar year you make $25,000 in purchases, you earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs. If you make $50,000 in purchases, you earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs. So that means with Miles Boost, you can earn up to 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs each calendar year.
Companion Ticket: Every year upon renewal, receive a domestic economy class companion certificate, which can be used within the 48 contiguous states. Please note that technically this is not a free companion ticket certificate because you will still have to pay the required government taxes and fees out of pocket (ranging from $22 to $68 for itineraries with two to four flight segments, according to the application). Baggage charges and other restrictions apply.
Other Perks: Access to the Delta Sky Club at a reduced rate of just $25 per visit (will increase to $29 on May 1, 2014).
Honest Advice: This is the best SkyMiles card for the moderate traveler who spends at least $25,000 per year (so they qualify for the Miles Boost). That said, this credit card could still make sense for a couple even if they travel infrequently since you get an almost free companion ticket every year (but remember there are still taxes/fees on the second ticket). The drawback is that you will have to pay the annual fee the first year with the Platinum, and its bonus is lackluster when compared to Gold.

Best Bonus Offer (as of April 2014): Here is the link for the current offer details
(Remember the $150 annual fee is NOT waived the first year)


Delta Reserve

Delta Reserve card
Annual Fee: $450; unfortunately this is NOT waived the first year.
Priority Boarding: Yes, Zone 1 priority boarding. Plus at airports that have them, you get to go through the Sky Priority expedited security lines.
Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs): With qualifying spending, you can earn bonus MQMs each calendar year through Miles Boost as discussed below...
Miles Boost: Each calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases, you earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 bonus MQMs. If you make $60,000 in purchases, you earn an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs. So that means Miles Boost can earn you up to 30,000 bonus miles and 30,000 MQMs each calendar year.
Companion Ticket: You receive a companion ticket each year upon renewal. With the Reserve, it can be used for either an economy OR first-class companion ticket. However like the Platinum discussed above, you will still have to pay any applicable government taxes and fees out of pocket on this second ticket.
Other Perks: Complimentary Delta Sky Club access for yourself. In addition, if they are traveling with you, there is complimentary access for your spouse and children under the age of 21 -OR- up to two companions. Another noteworthy perk is the included personal concierge service.
Honest Advice: This is the best SkyMiles credit card for diehard business travelers and those who travel first class and are big spenders (because you need to spend $60,000 to score the 30,000 bonus miles each year). If you use the companion ticket for first class, you will probably get your money's worth.

Best Bonus Offer (as of April 2014): Here is the link for the current offer details
(Remember the $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year)