Big changes to Delta Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards

101

With no advanced warning, Amex today introduced big changes to their suite of Delta SkyMiles cards. Annual fees have increased, but Amex has made up for that by throwing in “coupon book” rebates plus a few exciting enhancements…

Big picture

Delta Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards now have higher annual fees, new rebates, and new and improved perks. Most new perks are available immediately (although pre-issued companion certificates don’t seem to include the enhancements). Existing cardholders won’t get charged the new fees until their next renewal on or after May 1 2024. In other words, if your card renews before then, you’ll be able to lock in the old annual fee for another year while also benefiting from new perks.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold changes

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card have new increased annual fees, increased Delta flight credits after $10K spend, and a new prepaid hotel credit…

  • Annual Fee: $150 (up from $99)
  • Flight credit: $200 Delta flight credit after $10K in purchases in a calendar year (prev: $100 flight credit for the same spend)
  • Prepaid hotel credit:
    • Consumer Delta Gold Card: Get up to $100 back per year as a statement credit for prepaid hotels or vacation rentals booked through Delta Stays on delta.com/stays
    • Business Delta Gold Card: Get up to $150 back per year as a statement credit for prepaid hotels or vacation rentals booked through Delta Stays on delta.com/stays

My Take on the Delta Gold changes

I’m not a fan of these changes. Previously I thought of the Gold cards as an inexpensive way to get a free checked bag for each passenger. It was never a rewarding card for actual spend and that hasn’t changed. Yes, the increased Delta flight credit has made the first $10K of spend a bit more rewarding but not enough for me to recommend people move their spend to this card.

What about the prepaid hotel credit? I took a look at Delta Stays and found that the prepaid rates appear to all be non-refundable. Ick! In my opinion, you shouldn’t value these credits anywhere near face-value because you should be able to find the same hotels through other sites for potentially lower prices and with refundable bookings.

Update since first publication: While my original quick search of Delta Stays only showed nonrefundable pay-now options (even when checking the “fully refundable property” checkbox), it turns out that plenty of hotels can be prepaid and are fully refundable. This changes everything about my take on these “coupon book” changes!

Updated Take: The finding that you can book prepaid refundable hotels in order to earn the new hotel credits changes my recommendation. I now think that the changes are very good since most people can likely make use of a hotel credit throughout the year. The business version, in particular, with its $150 hotel credit is a great choice.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum changes

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card have new increased annual fees, multiple new rebates, new perks, and greatly improved companion tickets (earned each year upon renewal)…

  • Annual Fee: $350 (up from $250)
  • Rebates:
    • $150 or $200 Prepaid hotel credit:
      • Consumer Delta Platinum Card: Get up to $150 back per year as a statement credit for prepaid hotels or vacation rentals booked through Delta Stays on delta.com/stays
      • Business Delta Platinum Card: Get up to $200 back per year as a statement credit for prepaid hotels or vacation rentals booked through Delta Stays on delta.com/stays
    • $120 Rideshare Credit: Enroll and earn up to $10 in statement credits each month after using your Card on U.S. rideshare purchases with Uber, Lyft, Curb, Revel, or Alto.
    • $120 Dining Credit: Up to $10 per month in statement credits on eligible purchases with U.S. Resy restaurants
  • New Perks:
    • $2,500 MQD Headstart: Cardmembers automatically get $2,500 MQDs (Medallion Qualifying Dollars) towards elite status each year.
    • Earn MQDs with spend: Earn 1 MQD (Medallion Qualifying Dollar) for every $20 spent on the card. Note that this is very poor compared to the Delta Reserve card which earns 1 MQD per $10.
    • Complimentary Upgrade List: Card Members without Delta Medallion elite status will be added to the Complimentary Upgrade list, after Delta SkyMiles Medallion Members and Reserve Card Members.
    • Hertz Five Star Status: Register at delta.com/mypromos/eligible, and “Enroll in Promotion” at delta.com/hertz
  • Improved Perks:
    • Annual companion ticket: Get an economy companion ticket (subject to taxes & fees) each year upon card renewal. Previously these were only valid for travel within the lower 48 United States, but now they can be used to fly to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Specifically, the new certs will be valid for round-trip flights originating within the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and flying to the following destinations: the United States, Puerto Rico, USVI, Mexico, Antigua, Aruba, Bermuda, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, and El Salvador.

My Take on the Delta Platinum changes

Overall, I like it. First, and most importantly, I’m super excited about the enhancements to the companion tickets. If I can use this each year to fly two to Hawaii for the price of one, I’m sold. Plus, even though I’m not a fan of the coupon book credits they added, it shouldn’t be hard to get at least $100 of value from them each year in order to make up for the card’s higher annual fee.

Above, in the Gold card “My Take” section, I touched on issues with the prepaid hotel credits. The rideshare credits are annoying mostly just because they’re only $10 per month. If we can earn the credits by buying Uber or Lyft credit for future rides, though, that would be pretty cool (to be clear: I do not know if that would work). And the dining credit is an issue for me because none of the restaurants I go to regularly are on Resy. And, if I ever go to one on Resy, will I remember to bring my Delta card? Probably not.

Updated Take: The finding that you can book prepaid refundable hotels in order to earn the new hotel credits makes me like the Delta Platinum changes even more than before. The business version, in particular, with its $200 hotel credit is a great choice!

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve changes

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card have new increased annual fees, multiple new rebates, new perks, and greatly improved companion tickets (earned each year upon renewal)…

  • Annual Fee: $650 (up from $550)
  • Rebates:
    • $200 or $250 Prepaid hotel credit:
      • Consumer Delta Reserve Card: Get up to $200 back per year as a statement credit for prepaid hotels or vacation rentals booked through Delta Stays on delta.com/stays
      • Business Delta Reserve Card: Get up to $250 back per year as a statement credit for prepaid hotels or vacation rentals booked through Delta Stays on delta.com/stays
    • $120 Rideshare Credit: Enroll and earn up to $10 in statement credits each month after using your Card on U.S. rideshare purchases with Uber, Lyft, Curb, Revel, or Alto.
    • $240 Dining Credit: Up to $20 per month in statement credits on eligible purchases with U.S. Resy restaurants
  • New Perks:
    • $2,500 MQD Headstart: Cardmembers automatically get $2,500 MQDs (Medallion Qualifying Dollars) towards elite status each year.
    • Earn MQDs with spend: Earn 1 MQD (Medallion Qualifying Dollar) for every $10 spent on the card.
    • Complimentary Upgrade List: Card Members without Delta Medallion elite status will be added to the Complimentary Upgrade list, after Delta SkyMiles Medallion Members and Reserve Card Members.
  • Improved Perks:
    • Annual companion ticket: Get an economy or first class companion ticket (subject to taxes & fees) each year upon card renewal. Note that while these can be used for Premium Select seating, they cannot be used for Delta One. Previously these were only valid for travel within the lower 48 United States, but now they can be used to fly to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Specifically, the new certs will be valid for round-trip flights originating within the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and flying to the following destinations: the United States, Puerto Rico, USVI, Mexico, Antigua, Aruba, Bermuda, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, and El Salvador.
    • 4 Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes per year (previously 2 passes per year)
  • Sky Club Access change (reminder):
    • Delta Sky Club access when flying Delta on any fare except Basic Economy. Starting Feb 2025 Delta Reserve cardmembers will be limited to 15 Sky Club visit-days per year (unless cardmember has spent $75K in a calendar year)

My Take on the Delta Reserve changes

Meh. I’m not a fan but it’s hard to explain why. The annual fee only increased by $100, but they added $560 in credits ($610 for the business card). That should be a big win, right? And it is a huge win for those who regularly book restaurants through Resy, who rideshare monthly, and who are fine with booking nonrefundable hotels. After all those rebates, it’s like getting Sky Club access, companion certs, and more almost for free (after rebate). But for me, at least at the moment, it seems more like a big headache to worry about using those credits month after month. Still, I’ll see how it goes. If it turns out that using the credits is easier than I’m thinking at the moment, maybe I’ll become a fan of the changes. For now, though, not so much.

I should mention too that I am excited that the Delta Reserve card’s annual companion certificate has greatly improved, but the Delta Platinum companion certs have also improved and so I’d be just as happy with those.

Updated Take: The finding that you can book prepaid refundable hotels in order to earn the new hotel credits makes me like the Delta Reserve changes after all. The business version, in particular, with its $250 hotel credit is a great choice, but with either one, the $100 increased annual fee is more than offset by the hotel credits and other new perks.

Bottom Line

The Delta Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards have increased annual fees. In exchange, we get some improved perks and a bunch of coupon-like credits that could make up for the annual fee, but probably won’t for most of us. My guess is that anyone who previously thought that their Delta card was worth keeping will continue to feel that way. Maybe they’ll eke out enough value from the new credits to make up for the higher annual fee. Some will feel like the enhanced perks make up for the higher fees even without the credits (for example, I’m very excited by enhancements to companion tickets). Similarly, I’d guess that almost anyone who previously didn’t think a Delta card was worth paying for will continue to think that. The rare exception will be those who think they’ll get great value from those coupon-like rebates.

Updated Take: The finding that you can book prepaid refundable hotels in order to earn the new hotel credits makes me like card changes more than before. The business version of each card, in particular, are great choices because they offer $50 more in hotel credits than their consumer card counterparts.

For more details about each card discussed here, please see our updated guides:

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

101 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments