Get the Best Delta Credit Card Options for Churning in 2021

If Delta is your airline of choice, carrying one or more Delta-branded credit cards can earn you handsome rewards on future flights. However, with more than a half-dozen cards from brand partner American Express to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which card works best with your flying and spending habits to earn maximum points.

In the guide below, we’ll take a deep dive into the myriad best Delta credit card options available through the American Express partnership to help you select the card that offers you the most lucrative rewards.

Delta’s American Express credit cards fall into three broad categories: basic, premium and business. Basic cards offer discounts and perks on flights, an accelerated process for achieving elite status and double rewards on Delta-related expenditures. Cards in the premium category offer luxury benefits, while business cards are geared toward customers using their credit line for business-related expenses and travel.

In the end, these credit cards are all wonderful options to take advantage of credit card churning for travel rewards. However, the best Delta credit card for you will be wholly dependent on your spending and your specific needs.

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles Gold Credit Card from American Express makes the most sense for travelers who fly Delta for the majority of their air travel and value travel-related perks and savings, such as priority boarding and free checked bags.

While the Gold Delta credit card won’t move you toward elite status any faster, you will enjoy the ability to earn Delta SkyMiles with most of your purchases, including money spent at restaurants, grocery stores and other popular retailers.

Welcome Offer

For credit churners, this card’s modest welcome offer may not seem particularly lucrative, but average customers simply looking for a basic Delta credit card will appreciate the low spending requirement to receive the bonus. New cardholders will earn 35,000 SkyMiles as long as they spend $1,000 in the first three months, a relatively easy benchmark to achieve.

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Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

For every dollar you spend with Delta using your Delta SkyMiles Gold Credit Card, you’ll earn two miles; you’ll get the same rate for expenditures at restaurants around the world and grocery stores within the U.S. All other purchases earn one mile for every dollar spent. As an additional bonus, you can earn $100 off a Delta flight if you spend $10,000 using your Delta credit card in one calendar year.

SkyMiles can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including standard and premium flights on Delta Air Lines and more than 20 of its global partners, such as Virgin Atlantic, Air France and KLM. You can also cash in your miles for perks like seat upgrades, Delta gift cards, purchases in the Delta SkyMiles retail marketplace and magazine subscriptions.

Perks and Features

  • Free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight traveling companions
  • Priority boarding for the cardholder and up to eight traveling companions
  • Lost or damaged luggage insurance ($500 for checked bags, $1,250 for carry-ons)
  • In-flight purchase discounts
  • Secondary rental car collision insurance
  • Extended warranties

Pros of the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

  • Very low spending requirement to earn welcome award
  • Pay with Miles program offers discounts on flights if your miles won’t cover the full cost
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee in the first year and $99 afterward

Cons of the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

  • Card doesn’t accelerate your path to Delta elite status
  • Doesn’t include Delta Sky Club access as a perk

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Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

For travelers who fly frequently and want a faster path to Delta elite status, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card is an optimal choice, even with its hefty annual fee of $250. The Delta platinum card offers significant mileage earnings on common purchases, and several enhanced benefits improve the airport and in-flight experiences.

Welcome Offer

Like the Gold card, the welcome offer for the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card is relatively easy to achieve, and the rewards are more lucrative: 40,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) in return for spending $2,000 on the account within three months of opening it.

If you make a Delta Air Lines purchase with the card during that time period, you’ll earn an additional $100 credit on your card statement. This offer may be worth the effort for credit card churners.

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Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

Delta and American Express recently boosted the bonus categories for the Platinum Card, allowing cardholders to rack up miles more quickly. For every dollar you spend at hotels and on Delta purchases, you’ll earn three miles; U.S. grocery store and global restaurant purchases are worth two miles per dollar; all other purchases earn miles in a one-to-one ratio.

If you manage to spend $25,000 or more on the card within a calendar year, you’ll be rewarded handsomely with 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles to push you toward elite status; $50,000 in purchases will give you another 10,000 MQMs, getting you within 5,000 MQMs of Silver status.

The Platinum Card offers the same reward redemption structure as the Gold Card, offering discounts on flights on Delta and its partner airlines as well as seat upgrades, Delta Sky Club membership, Delta gift cards and more.

Perks and Features

  • Free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight traveling companions
  • Priority boarding for the cardholder and up to eight traveling companions
  • Lost or damaged luggage insurance ($500 for checked bags, $1,250 for carry-ons)
  • Reimbursement for the Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee (up to $100)
  • Discounted access to Delta Sky Clubs
  • One free companion pass for a round-trip economy flight when you renew your account

Pros of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

  • Generous MQM provision in welcome offer
  • Excellent perks to make traveling more pleasant, including a free checked bag for you and your travel party, credit toward TSA Precheck/Global Entry and affordable access to Delta Sky Clubs
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

  • High annual fee may not be worth it if you don’t fly Delta regularly

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Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

For travelers desiring the most comfortable and luxurious flying experience possible, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card from American Express is the way to go. Cardholders will enjoy high-end benefits like access to airport lounges and priority boarding while earning points toward elite status on Delta purchases. If you have your sights set on reaching elite status as quickly as possible, the considerable annual fee on this card may be worth it.

Welcome Offer

With virtually the same welcome offer as the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card, the Reserve Card is a bit disappointing in this area. By spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months of opening the account, cardholders will earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).

Unless reaching elite status as quickly as possible is your sole focus, the Platinum Card may be the more valuable option, especially for credit card churning purposes.

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Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

Using the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card on Delta purchases will earn three miles for every dollar you spend, but only one mile per dollar on all other purchases.

However, it does offer considerably more Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) than the other cards if you spend at high levels; you’ll bank another 20,000 MQMs every time you spend $30,000 with the card in a single calendar year. If you’re able to reach the top spending tier of $120,000, you’ll have enough MQMs to achieve Platinum Medallion Status.  

The rewards program for the Reserve Card is similar to the other Delta credit cards, with miles earned on the card available for redemption on flights with Delta and more than 20 other airline partners, including Alitalia and Korean Air.

On average, each round-trip domestic economy flight will cost you a minimum of 30,000 miles, with overseas flights starting at 60,000 miles. SkyMiles can also be redeemed for Delta vacation packages, Sky Club membership, seat upgrades, private jet flights and more.

Pros of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

  • Membership in Delta Sky Club and entry to American Express Centurion Lounges in select cities, including Hong Kong, Houston and Las Vegas
  • Fast-track to elite status through spending on all purchases
  • Excellent benefits for frequent flyers, including complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, free checked bags for you and your travel companions, reimbursement for TSA Precheck fees, one flight companion pass and two Sky Club guest passes per year
  • Provides insurance coverage for cancellations, interruptions or delays on flights purchased with the card
  • Offers refunds on purchases when the original retailer won’t accept the returned item
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

  • High annual fee of $550
  • Free access to Delta Sky Clubs and American Express Centurion Lounges is limited to same-day Delta and Delta-marketed flights; for all other flights, you’ll have to pay $39 for access
  • Low mile-earning rate on non-Delta purchases

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Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

Similar to the personal Delta SkyMiles Gold Card, the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business Credit Card represents the entry-level offering from the Delta-American Express partnership. Cardholders with significant shipping, advertising and client meal expenses will reap the greatest rewards from this card, but if you’re not particularly loyal to Delta, other airlines’ business credit cards may deliver more bang for the buck (and better bonus offers for credit card churners).

Welcome Offer

By spending $2,000 on your Delta credit card in the first three months, you’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles, which is a decent offer if you’re not a heavy spender, since other airline-branded cards often require new accountholders to reach higher spending milestones in the first 90 days (albeit with a more lucrative bonus).

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Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

For every dollar you spend with Delta, you’ll earn two miles; this two-for-one rate also applies to restaurant bills, domestic shipping expenditures and advertising on TV, radio and a few other media outlets. Other purchases earn one mile for every dollar. It’s worth noting that other airline-branded cards frequently offer double miles for dollars spent on gasoline, office supplies and mass transit, so this is an area where the Delta credit falls short in comparison.

SkyMiles earned with the Delta Gold Business Card can be redeemed for full or partial flight costs on Delta and its partner airlines, seat upgrades, Delta Sky Club membership, gift cards, VIP access to concerts and other events, charitable donations and more.

Pros of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

  • Free checked bags and priority boarding privileges for you and up to eight companions
  • Easy-to-earn welcome bonus
  • $100 flight credit when you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year
  • Low annual fee of $99, which is waived the first year
  • Insurance coverage for lost luggage
  • Discounted in-flight purchases

Cons of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

  • Doesn’t offer double miles on gas and other common business expenses
  • Doesn’t include discounted Delta Sky Club lounge access

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Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card

For frequent business travelers with an affinity for Delta, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Card offers a respectable return on investment, with lucrative travel benefits and mileage rewards in exchange for a relatively modest annual fee.  

Welcome Offer

With the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card, spending just $3,000 on your card in the first three months will net you 45,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). Any Delta purchase within that time period will also earn you a $100 credit on your card statement.

This generous welcome offer is the best among the suite of Delta-branded American Express credit cards, making it by far the best option for credit card churners with significant business-related expenses.  

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Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck on purchases with Delta (including flights, in-flight purchases, seat upgrades and Sky Club access) as well as money spent directly with hotels: three miles for every dollar spent. For all single purchases greater than $5,000, you’ll earn 1.5 miles per dollar.

All other purchases earn one mile per dollar, unlike some other airline-branded cards, which frequently offer double miles for spending on gas, office supplies and other business expenses.

Like the other Delta credit cards, you can redeem your miles for free and discounted flights on Delta and partner airlines, seat upgrades, private jet rental, vacation packages, gift cards, magazines and more.

Pros of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

  • Three-for-one miles on spending through Delta and hotels
  • “Status Boost” program offers 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) for every $25,000 you spend in a calendar year
  • Free checked bags and priority boarding for you and up to eight travel companions
  • Add up to 99 employee cards for no additional fee to help you earn miles and MQMs more quickly
  • Includes annual companion pass
  • Insurance coverage for trip delays of 12 hours or more (up to $300 per trip on two trips per year)

Cons of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

  • Relatively high annual fee
  • No bonus miles for business purchases like gas or office supplies
  • No complimentary Sky Lounge access included with the card

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Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Credit Card

This top-tier Delta business credit card carries a high annual fee of $550, but if you’re entirely loyal to Delta and expect to spend large sums on business expenses in the course of a year, the travel benefits and accelerated path to elite Medallion status may be worth the investment.

Welcome Offer

The welcome offer on the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card is exactly the same as the Platinum Business Card’s offer—except you’ll need to spend even more to earn it. Spend $4,000 on the card within three months of opening the account, and you’ll be credited with  45,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).

If the value of the welcome offer is your top priority when selecting a card—as it typically is for credit churners—the Reserve Business Card probably isn’t your best option among Delta credit cards.

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Earning Points and Redeeming Rewards

Like the Platinum Business Card, the Reserve Business card earns three miles for every dollar spent with Delta. However, all other purchases earn miles at a one-to-one ratio until you hit the $150,000 spending threshold in a calendar year, after which point you’ll earn 1.5 miles per dollar.

That amount sounds daunting, but if you make multiple employees authorized users on the account, you might hit that target faster than you expect. You’ll also earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend in a year, which can help you reach Silver or Gold Medallion status in relatively quick fashion.

SkyMiles can be redeemed for flights on Delta—which doesn’t blackout any travel dates for award flights—or any of its 20-plus partner airlines. You can also redeem miles for a partial payment on a flight, with 5,000 miles good for a $50 discount. Seat upgrades, merchandise and charitable donations are just a few of the other rewards available in exchange for SkyMiles.

Pros of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Credit Card

  • Earn elite status quickly with substantial annual spending
  • Free companion travel pass (economy or first class) with annual renewal
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club and American Express Centurion Lounge access when flying on Delta
  • Insurance coverage for cancellations, interruptions or delays on trips purchased with the card (up to $10,000 per trip for cancellations and $500 per trip for delays, each limited to two per year)
  • Discounts on in-flight purchases
  • Extended warranties
  • Refunds on purchases when original merchant won’t accept return

Cons of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Credit Card

  • Very high annual fee of $550 (plus $175 for each additional authorized user)
  • Low miles-per-dollar earning rate on non-Delta purchases

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Final Thoughts on the Best Delta Credit Card Options

If you’re a true Delta loyalist, carrying one of the Delta-branded American Express credit cards is a no-brainer. You’ll enjoy a wide range of travel perks and earn miles redeemable for flights and merchandise, and some of the cards will even help you reach elite Medallion status in record time.

On top of that, opening a Delta credit card account delivers a lucrative welcome bonus that puts you on your way to earning valuable rewards—so what are you waiting for?