As someone who travels occasionally but isn’t a road warrior racking up dozens of flights a year, I’ve found the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card to be an invaluable tool in my wallet. This mid-tier Delta credit card offers an excellent balance of perks and value aimed at casual Delta flyers.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share 11 key things you should know about the Delta Gold Amex, from its rewards rates to travel protections and everything in between. After reading, you’ll have all the details you need to determine if this airline credit card is a good fit for your needs and travel habits.
1. A Generous Welcome Bonus
The Delta Gold card offers new cardholders the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months (see rates and fees). Based on CreditPolice valuations, 40,000 Delta miles are worth approximately $564. This makes the welcome bonus quite generous, especially considering the card’s annual fee is waived for the first year.
Just keep in mind that you may not be eligible for the bonus if you currently have the Delta Gold Amex or have earned the bonus before. Luckily, American Express will notify you if you’re pre-qualified for the bonus when you submit your application.
2. No Annual Fee in the First Year
The regular annual fee on the Delta Gold card is a reasonable $99. But it’s waived for the first year for new cardholders, so you can enjoy the card’s benefits and earn the signup bonus without paying anything upfront (see rates and fees).
After the first year, decide if you’re getting $99 in value to justify keeping it. For me, the free checked bag benefit alone more than offsets the fee.
3. How You Earn Miles with the Card
Let’s dive into how the Delta Gold card earns miles through everyday spending:
- 2x miles on Delta purchases
- 2x miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery
- 2x miles at U.S. supermarkets
- 1x mile on all other eligible purchases
Based on CreditPolice1.4 cent valuation, you’re getting around a 2.8% return on Delta purchases, dining, and U.S. supermarket spending. That’s solid for a no-annual-fee airline card.
While the 2x categories are nice, I primarily use this card when buying Delta flights to get the free checked bag and other perks. For non-bonus purchases, I use a card that earns more rewarding points.
4. Valuable Delta Perks
Let’s get into some of the top benefits that make the Delta Gold Amex a winner for regular Delta flyers:
- Free First Checked Bag: You and up to 8 companions on the same reservation receive a free first-checked bag when flying Delta. With Delta bag fees being $30 each way, just one roundtrip flight can offset the $99 annual fee. This perk alone makes the card worth it for me.
- Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding: You and your travel companions also get priority boarding, allowing you to settle in sooner and find room for your carry-on bags. Main Cabin 1 boards after Delta premium cabins but before the majority of economy passengers.
- 20% Back on In-Flight Purchases: When you use your Delta Gold card to buy food, drinks, or entertainment while onboard a Delta flight, you’ll get 20% back as a statement credit. This perk adds up quickly if you buy in-flight amenities often.
- $100 Delta Flight Credit: After spending $10,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn a $100 Delta flight credit to apply toward future travel. If you frequently fly Delta for work or personal trips, this threshold is attainable.
5. Perks That Improve Award Travel
The Delta Gold card also includes a couple of valuable perks specifically for SkyMiles award ticket bookings:
- 15% Miles Back When Redeeming: You’ll receive a 15% miles rebate when you redeem SkyMiles for Delta award flights. For example, if a round-trip costs 50,000 miles, you’d get 7,500 miles back, reducing the net cost to 42,500 miles. This discount makes redeeming miles go further.
- No Close-in Booking Fees: Delta normally charges a $75 fee for award tickets booked within 72 hours of departure. But with the Delta Gold Amex, this close-in booking fee is waived. This can save you $75 on last-minute award tickets.
6. Strong Trip and Purchase Protections
The Delta Gold card provides a suite of travel and purchase insurances when you pay with the card, including (see terms for details):
- Baggage insurance plan – Up to $3,500 for carry-on and checked bags
- Trip delay reimbursement – Up to $300 for expenses like meals and lodging
- Extended warranty protection – Extend eligible warranties by up to 1 extra year
- Purchase protection – 120 days of coverage for items stolen or damaged
I once had Delta lose my checked bag and was thankful for the baggage insurance from this card, which reimbursed me for replacement toiletries and clothing.
7. Areas Where It Falls Short
While the Delta Gold Amex is a solid choice, it does have a couple of weak spots to note:
- No airport lounge access
- Doesn’t help earn Medallion elite status
- Mixed earning rates on non-bonus categories
For lounge access, I supplement this card with another that offers lounge visits like The Platinum Card® from American Express. And if your goal is to earn Medallion status through spending, consider the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Amex or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Amex instead.
8. Alternatives to Consider
While the Delta Gold card is a great fit for casual Delta flyers, other cards may suit you better depending on your needs:
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Amex – Higher-tier card with better perks including an annual companion certificate. But also has a higher $250 annual fee.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Amex – Top-tier Delta card offering Delta Sky Club access. $550 annual fee but could be worth it for frequent Delta flyers.
Flexible travel cards – If you don’t care about Delta perks, a card like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns transferable points. But you’d miss out on free checked bags.
The Verdict: A Keeper for Casual Delta Flyers
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card punches above its weight when it comes to benefits, especially for a mid-tier airline credit card. The opportunity to earn 40,000 bonus miles from the welcome offer is enticing.
But what seals the deal for me are the lasting travel perks like an annual free first-checked bag, Main Cabin 1 boarding, and discounts on Delta purchases. For a once-a-year Delta flyer like myself, that’s more than enough value to justify the $99 annual fee after the first year.
Of course, your calculus may be different if you rarely check bags or care about early boarding access. But as an occasional Delta flyer who loves the free bag perk, I can confidently say the Delta Gold Amex will retain a prime spot in my wallet for years.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions about this popular airline credit card! I’m happy to provide more details from my years of experience carrying it.
All information about The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card from American Express has been collected independently by CreditPolice. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
To view rates and fees of the American Express® Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card, see this page.