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.
If you fly more than a few times a year, it’s worth investing in a travel rewards 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 a $200 airline fee credit, $200 worth of Uber credits and other lucrative benefits.
But like many of the finer things in life, the Platinum card is notoriously pricey, charging $550 a year.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, 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 checked luggage and a 2-mile bonus on Delta purchases – more than make up for the card’s $95 annual fee.
Still not sure which travel card is right for you? Here’s what else you should consider when comparing the two cards:
Gold Delta SkyMiles vs. American Express Platinum
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
|Annual fee||$95, $0 first year||$550|
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)||$464||$106|
|Who should get this card?|
Best card for someone who doesn’t want to pay a high fee: The Delta Gold SkyMiles cardIf you can’t see yourself paying hundreds of dollars a year to own a credit card, you’re not alone. For many travelers, a $550 annual fee is too much, no matter how good the card’s benefits. If you don’t want to invest so much upfront, but are still interested in premium card benefits, then you’re better off the Delta Gold SkyMiles card.
Not only is the Gold Delta SkyMiles card less expensive, it’s also easier to recoup the modest $95 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 waives the Delta card’s annual fee in the first year, so you can try out the card risk-free. With the Platinum card, by contrast, you have to invest $550 right away.
Best card for someone who wants a lot of travel benefits: The AmEx Platinum card
If money’s less of a concern for you, then you may want to consider the American Express 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 a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 worth of Uber rides, up to a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, a $100 resort credit for select reservations, 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.
Gold Delta SkyMiles card vs. American Express Platinum card perks
Gold Delta SkyMiles
American Express Platinum
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.
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. With every round-trip flight, you’ll save $60 right off the bat if you bring luggage. 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 Gold Delta SkyMiles 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 Gold Delta SkyMiles, 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 $200 worth of baggage fees – 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 – cancelling 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.
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 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.
Best card for occasional travelers: The Gold Delta SkyMiles card
The Platinum card isn’t a great choice, though, 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.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles card, by contrast, is more flexible. Thanks to the baggage fee savings, just two round-trip flights on Delta will pay for the card’s annual fee. You’ll also get a significant amount of value out of your card’s first year, since you won’t have to pay an annual fee and will pocket a decent introductory bonus.
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: Delta SkyMiles guide: The best ways to earn and use SkyMiles, Borrow Delta SkyMiles now, earn them back later, Rules for baggage perks might have exceptions, American Express Rewards guide