For frequent Delta flyers, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card and the Platinum Card from American Express are both great options – we’ll help you figure out which one is best for you.
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If you fly more than a few times a year, it’s worth investing in a travel credit card. The miles, perks and other financial rewards you earn often dwarf the annual fee you pay.
For general travel cards, we like The Platinum Card® from American Express, especially, because you also gain access to a ton of valuable perks, including up to a $200 airline fee credit for incidentals, up to $200 worth of Uber credits annually and other lucrative benefits.
But like many of the finer things in life, the Platinum card is notoriously pricey, charging $695 a year.
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, by contrast, offers a more modest benefits package and significantly fewer miles per dollar spent. But it’s a surprisingly good value for what you pay – especially when you take into account how much you save on checked baggage. If you don’t mind sticking with the same airline and want a more affordably priced travel card, then you may find that the Delta card’s benefits – including priority boarding, free first checked bag and a 2-mile bonus on Delta purchases – more than make up for the card’s $99 annual fee.
Still not sure which travel card is right for you? Here’s what else you should consider when comparing the two cards:
See Related: Which Delta SkyMiles card is best for you?
American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles vs. American Express Platinum Summary
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
|Annual fee||$99 ($0 intro for first year)||$695|
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)||$464||$1,402|
|Who should get this card?|
American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles
At first glance, it seems hard to believe that the Delta SkyMiles Gold can compete with the elite Amex Platinum card. However, the “best credit card” isn’t always the flashiest card but instead delivers the best value according to how you operate.
Crunching the numbers shows that the Delta SkyMiles Gold card may be the more competitive choice if you’re not a constant globe-trotter, or if offsetting a triple-digit annual fee makes you break a sweat even with a trove of luxury perks.
Loyal Delta flyers that prize saving money on the flight over saving money at the destination might find the Delta SkyMiles Gold card a more rewarding travel partner.
Best card for someone who doesn’t want to pay a high fee: The Delta SkyMiles Gold card
If you can’t see yourself paying hundreds of dollars a year to own a credit card, you’re not alone. For many travelers, a $695 annual fee is too much, no matter how good the card’s benefits. If you don’t want to invest so much up front, but are still interested in premium card benefits, then you’re better off the Delta SkyMiles Gold card.
Best card for occasional travelers: The Gold Delta SkyMiles card
Not only is the Delta SkyMiles Gold card less expensive, but it’s also easier to recoup the modest $99 annual fee. For example, if you fly Delta just twice a year round-trip, you’ll save at least $120 in baggage fees. American Express also has a $0 intro for the Delta card’s annual fee in the first year, so you can try out the card risk-free – without the fee eating into your significant intro bonus. With the Platinum card, by contrast, you have to invest $695 right away.
Naturally, the Platinum card isn’t a great choice if you don’t plan on traveling often. Most of the perks it offers – such as fee credits, airport lounge access, hotel benefits and more – are tailored for frequent travelers. So is the card’s travel-centric rewards program. As a result, if you don’t plan on traveling more than a few times a year, it’s unlikely you’ll accrue enough value from the card to make up for its high fee.
Best card for someone who wants traditional airline benefits: The Delta SkyMiles card
Where the Platinum card falls short is in its airline benefits. For example, unlike the Delta SkyMiles card, it doesn’t offer priority boarding. For some cardholders, that’s a big deal. Priority boarding not only helps you cut short your wait time; it also makes it more likely you’ll find space in the overhead luggage compartment above your seat and you won’t have to gate check your bag or stow it far away on the plane.
For cardholders who fly Delta regularly, the Delta card’s free baggage allowance also beats the Platinum card’s airline fee credit. For example, if you regularly fly round-trip using your Platinum card, you’ll use up your $200 airline fee credit with just four trips. The Delta SkyMiles card, by contrast, allows you to fly as many times a year as you want and you’ll never have to pay the $30 per flight baggage fee again. Plus, if you usually spend at least $10,000 per calendar year with your credit card, the Delta SkyMiles Gold card will provide a $100 Delta travel credit to cover other airline costs.
Best card for Delta air travel purchases: The Delta SkyMiles card
The Delta card’s free baggage credit alone could save you hundreds of dollars in airline fees if you’re a heavy traveler. But are those savings high enough to make it a better pick than the rewards-rich Platinum card?
It depends on how often you fly Delta and whether or not you plan to use the card for other purchases. For many travelers, the Platinum card is a better bet. For example, Platinum cardholders get 5 membership rewards points on flights booked directly with an airline, while Delta SkyMiles Gold cardholders get just 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
Platinum cardholders can also convert their points on a one-to-one basis to a variety of airlines, including Delta. When you pair your rewards with Delta’s loyalty program, you’ll also earn an additional 5 miles for every dollar you spend, bringing your total haul to 10 miles per dollar spent. With the Delta SkyMiles Gold, by contrast, the most you’ll be able to earn is 7 SkyMiles for every dollar you spend.
How much free Delta travel you’d earn if you spent $2,000 on Delta purchases
Gold Delta SkyMiles
American Express Platinum
7 miles per dollar (2 card points + 5 base points) x $2,000 x 1.61 cent mile value = $225
10 miles per dollar (5 membership rewards points + 5 SkyMiles) x $2,000 x 1.61 cent mile value = $322
Here’s where it gets tricky, though. As we wrote about earlier, the Platinum card’s airline fee credit only covers up to $200 worth of airline incidentals such as baggage fees – which likely covers less than four round-trip flights. Once cardholders use up that credit, they’ll be stuck paying about $60 for every round trip flight that requires luggage – canceling out some of the rewards savings you get when you use the Platinum card instead of the Gold Delta SkyMiles card.
To get a sense of how this works in practice, let’s do the math. We estimate that Delta SkyMiles are worth around 1.61 cents each. So if you fly round-trip seven times a year, spending roughly $400 per flight, you’ll earn around $451 in free Delta travel using the Platinum card (assuming you also joined Delta’s loyalty program). With the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, by contrast, you’ll earn roughly $316 – a $90 difference. But when you factor in the savings you get from Gold Delta SkyMiles card’s free baggage allowance, the Delta card just narrowly edges out the Platinum card, delivering $15 more value.
Earnings if you fly round-trip 7 times a year, spending $400 per flight
Gold Delta SkyMiles
American Express Platinum
7 miles per dollar (2 SkyMiles + 5 SkyMiles) x $2,800 x 1.61 cent mile value = $316
10 miles per dollar (5 membership rewards points + 5 SkyMiles) x $2,800 x 1.61 cent mile value – $150 in baggage fees = $301
That said, if you don’t typically check your luggage, then you will earn more overall using the Platinum card.
American Express Platinum
As one of the top credit cards American Express has to offer, the hefty price tag is the biggest bottleneck for those considering a travel rewards card. If up-front money is less of a concern for you, then you may want to consider the American Express Platinum card.
Besides the impressive rewards rate, you’ll find the most valuable way to make up the cost is by taking advantage of the laundry list of annual credits, luxury hotel and travel privileges plus sought-after card protections.
Best card for someone who wants a lot of travel benefits: The Amex Platinum card
One of the chief reasons why super-premium cards get such good press – including from us – is because they offer such a considerable amount of value in exchange for a high fee. For example, the Platinum card is best known for offering an up-to-$200 airline fee credit, up to $200 worth of Uber rides, up to a $189 fee credit for CLEAR® membership, up to $200 in hotel credits for select reservations (minimum two-night stay required), airport lounge access and more.
If you take advantage of all these benefits, you’ll more than recoup the cost of your annual fee – and that’s without taking into account the additional rewards you’ll earn. The Platinum card also offers a number of less well-known benefits, including exclusive hotel perks, free Wi-Fi, premium travel insurance and more.
Best card for vacationers: The Amex Platinum card
The Platinum card is also more well-rounded than the Gold Delta SkyMiles card and offers more travel value overall. For example, in addition to offering 5 points for every dollar you spend on air travel, it also offers 5 points for every dollar you spend at select hotels.
The Platinum card truly shines once you’ve reached your destination. A rich platter of shopping credits, travel protections, hard-to-beat airport lounge access and luxury hotel privileges (including complimentary status upgrades) show why the Amex Platinum remains a standout name among travel cards.
The American Express Platinum card is also more versatile. For example, you can transfer your points on a one-to-one basis to a wide variety of airlines. You can also earn points on air travel from any airline, not just Delta.
Which is right for you?
The biggest factor to consider in finding the right credit card for you is how much time and money you save after your card’s features cover the annual fee. Whether you can justify the cost of the American Express Platinum card comes down to your hotel and air travel frequency, how much flexibility you need among travel carriers and if you prefer higher-end travel can take full advantage of its luxury perks.
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to take on a whopping recurring fee and you want more airline-oriented benefits for less-frequent travel, the Delta SkyMiles Gold card will better reward your loyalty by paying for itself several times over.
Although the Delta card offers more traditional benefits you’d expect from an airline card, take a look at our side-by-side comparison to see which card’s features are up your alley.
Gold Delta SkyMiles card vs. American Express Platinum card perks
Gold Delta SkyMiles
American Express Platinum
If you’re a Delta fan and are just looking for value without all the bells and whistles, then the Gold Delta SkyMiles card is probably your best bet. The Platinum card is a great pick for well-heeled travelers who enjoy a little extra luxury. But the math doesn’t always work out in its favor when you compare it side by side to the Gold Delta SkyMiles card – especially if you don’t plan to use all the Platinum card’s perks.
See related: 15 ways to earn more Delta SkyMiles
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