There’s some big news regarding the Delta SkyMiles American Express credit cards. There have been changes to the existing benefits, new benefits have been added, and unfortunately, the annual fee for many of the cards has increased. When such changes happen, it’s natural to think about how they’ll affect us. For instance, should we continue with our current card or switch to a different one? You can rightfully ask if the Delta co-branded AMEX cards are still worth it.
I currently have the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card, so that’s where I’m going to start. For the old $99 annual fee, I get good value. It provides a free checked bag for up to 9 people on my reservation, 15% off the cost of award tickets booked with SkyMiles and priority boarding. Although the card offers other benefits, I don’t take advantage of them because they don’t make sense for my situation. However, I know people who spend $10,000 for a $100 Delta flight credit because they feel it’s a good deal.
American Express and Delta released the updated card benefits earlier today. Here are the highlights:
- The Delta flight credit will increase to $200 after spending $10,000 in a calendar year
- A new $150 Delta Stays credit for hotel stays or vacation rentals booked through Delta
- The annual fee will increase from $99 to $150
Increase in Delta flight credit
Previously, you’d receive a $100 flight credit after spending $10,000 on your card. That credit has doubled to $200 for the same amount of spending. For me, this turns the credit from something that I’d not think about earning to something I’d consider. Simple math shows that you’ll earn 2% extra back if you spend exactly 10K. That is, if you have no issues spending a $200 Delta credit.
New $150 Delta Stays credit
I’m unfamiliar with the Delta Stays program, where you can reserve hotels or vacation rentals at delta.com/stays. On a quick look, it’s a travel portal site powered by Expedia. According to the landing page, SkyMiles members earn 2 miles per dollar spent on stays booked through Delta (excluding taxes and fees).
I’m not sure how many people previously used this travel portal, but I’d be interested to see how competitive the prices are with the other travel portals. However, with a $150 credit in your pocket, you can afford to pay a few more bucks for a room. Since this is a third-party portal run by an OTA, I doubt you’ll get any stay credits or loyalty perks for rooms booked through the Delta Stays website.
Increased Annual Fee
Delta has recently increased the annual fee for both the personal and business SkyMiles Gold Cards to $150. I was previously willing to pay $99 for the older version of the card. I’m now wondering if it’s worth paying an extra $50 to keep the new version for another year. Whether it’s worth it or not will depend on whether I am planning to earn the $200 credit by spending $10,000, and if I’ll actually use the $150 Delta Stays credit.
There are a couple of options open to me:
- Keep the card and try to take advantage of one or both of the new credits. I was probably already getting close to $150 in value from the card between checked bag fees and the 15% lower award prices.
- Cancel the card and get the Platinum Card instead. Since American Express has put into place a family rule, you can only get better versions of the cards you’ve previously held. Since I’ve only had the business Gold Card, I can get the Platinum and earn another bonus. That card now has a $350 annual fee but is currently offering a 90,000 mile sign-up bonus.
- Cancel the card and go without a Delta American Express Card. This is an unusual thing to consider since we fly with Delta more than other airlines. However, I could use the Air Travel Credit from my Platinum Card and Ritz Carlton Cards to pay for the baggage fees and seat assignment fees to cover the costs. I was already considering getting rid of one of our co-brand airline cards and Delta might have made my mind up for me.
These are some big changes to the Delta American Express Card lineup. Going to a $150 annual fee for the entry point is something no other airline has tried. There’s no going back and lowering it, so we’ll have to see if United, American, Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, and the other airlines will follow. And if they do, what benefits will they add to their cards to justify the higher annual fee?
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