Amex, Delta Refresh SkyMiles Cards with New Benefits
American Express and Delta have announced updates for their co-branded credit cards — including higher annual fees.
About the revamped cards:
Starting with the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express card, customers will now be able to take advantage of an annual $100 Delta Stays credit. This will allow them to get up to a $100 statement credit to book prepaid hotels or vacation rentals through Delta Stays. Additionally, those who spend at least $10,000 per year on their card can unlock a $200 Delta Flight Credit (up from $100 previously).
Next, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express card (not to be confused with the American Express Platinum Card) has even more new benefits. Similar to the SkyMiles Gold, the SkyMiles Platinum has also added a Delta Stays credit. In this case, cardholders can earn up to $150 in statement credits per year on Delta Stays bookings.
On top of that, the card has added new credits for Resy and rideshare. Cardholders can now earn up to $10 a month in statement credits on eligible purchases with Resy (locations in the United States only). Plus, cardholders can also earn up to $10 per month in statement credits on eligible rideshare purchases made with the card.
Lastly, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express card will now gain a $200 per year Delta Stays credit, the same $10 per month rideshare credit as the SkyMiles Platinum, and a $20 per month credit on eligible Resy purchases.
In addition to those benefits, both the SkyMiles Platinum and SkyMiles Reserve cards will see enhancements made to the Companion Certificates. Now, in addition to being valid for flights in the contiguous United States, certificates will include round-trip flights to Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America. These Companion Certificates are awarded each card renewal year and include Main Cabin bookings for SkyMiles Platinum cardholders, while SkyMiles Reserve cardholders can use them for First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin bookings.
With Delta switching to a loyalty status system based purely on Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), the SkyMiles Platinum and SkyMiles Reserve cards have also added MQD Boost and MQD Headstart perks. Both cards will now allow cardmembers to earn $2,500 MQDs automatically. These MQDs will be deposited into cardholders’ SkyMiles accounts within six to eight weeks after the start of the Medallion Year each February. For context, Medallion Status starts with the Silver level, which requires $5,000 MQDs per plan year. On top of that, SkyMiles Platinum cardholders can earn $1 MQD for every $20 spent on their card, while SkyMiles Reserve customers will earn $1 MQD for every $10 spent on the card.
Unfortunately for consumers, the revamped SkyMiles cards also come with increased annual fees. The Delta SkyMiles Gold card will now carry a $150 annual fee versus the previous $99 fee. Additionally, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum will increase to $350 annually (from $250) and the Delta SkyMiles Reserve will climb from the current $550 per year to a new annual fee of $650 per year.
Current welcome bonuses:
In conjunction with these card updates, Amex has also rolled out new welcome bonuses for these SkyMiles cards. Currently, new SkyMiles Gold cardholders can earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on their card in their first six months. Additionally, the new $150 annual fee is being waived for the first year.
Meanwhile, new SkyMiles Platinum cardmembers can earn 90,000 bonus miles after making at least $4,000 in purchases on the card within their first six months. Lastly, the SkyMiles Reserve offer is a whopping 100,000 bonus miles after spending $6,000 on the card during your first six months as a cardholder.
Anyone who’s been paying attention to Amex’s strategies in recent years probably saw something like this coming. Just as we saw with the company’s flagship Platinum Card a few years ago, American Express has found success with increasing the number of benefits and credits that cardholders can use while raising the annual fee. Of course, the catch is that some of these credits may not be easy for all cardholders to use — and they’re often divided into smaller monthly credits, which keep customers using their card.
A prime example of this is the $10 per month Resy credit. While a $120 credit sounds great, most customers will probably be spending way more than $10 a month at Resy locations in order to use their credit. Furthermore, looking in my area, there’s only one nearby restaurant available on Resy. This would suggest that cardholders who don’t live in major metropolitan areas will likely not see much benefit from this new perk,
Also notable is that, at $650 per year, the SkyMiles Reserve is nearing the American Express Platinum card’s $695 annual fee. Personally, it’s not really a contest as to which makes more sense in my situation. And, with new restrictions to the Reserve card’s Skyclub access coming in 2025, I am a bit surprised to see Amex/Delta choosing now as the time to hike the fee.
With all of that said, there are still situations where these SkyMiles cards may make sense — and some flyers may even see lower effective annual fees if they manage to use all of the credits offered. But, I have a feeling that many Delta flyers will only be further disappointed with these updates.