Great Rewards Credit Cards for Delta Flyers

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For most flyers, a great travel-rewards credit card is one of the cards that awards miles in the program hosted by the airline they're already loyal to. There's no sense in signing up for a Southwest-linked credit card if you're a United partisan, right?

What may come as a surprise, however, is that the card that awards the most miles in a particular program might not be that program's own co-branded card.

First, the usual suspects, two of the airline's own co-branded cards:

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta and U.S. restaurant purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on other spend.
  • Welcome offer: 10,000 miles after spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $0.
  • APR: 17.24%-26.24% variable, depending on credit.
  • Comment: Card benefits include a 20% statement credit on eligible Delta inflight purchases.

*Terms Apply

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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on other spend.
  • Welcome offer: 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, plus a $50 statement credit after the first Delta purchase within 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
  • APR: 17.24%-26.24% variable, depending on credit.
  • Comment: Card benefits include free first checked bag and priority boarding.

*Terms Apply

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Next up for consideration are non-Delta-branded cards, also issued by American Express, which enjoys a special relationship with Delta.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

  • Earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for other spends.
  • Welcome offer: 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $195, waived the first year.
  • APR: N/A
  • Comment: Travel perks include a $100 airline fee credit, a $75 credit at select hotels. Membership Rewards points transfer 1:1 to miles in Delta's SkyMiles program, as well as 16 other airline programs and 3 hotel programs.

*Terms Apply

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The Platinum Card from American Express

  • Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines and some hotels.
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for other spends.
  • Welcome offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $550.
  • APR: N/A
  • Comment: While the card's annual fee is among the very highest, it also comes bundled with a robust set of travel perks, including lounge access, $200 statement credit for bag fees, and 5 points per $1 for flights booked direct or with American Express. Membership Rewards points transfer 1:1 to miles in Delta's SkyMiles program, as well as 16 other airline programs and 3 hotel programs.

*Terms Apply

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Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at participating Starwood and Marriott hotels.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 for other purchases.
  • Welcome offer: 25,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
  • APR: 16.74%-20.74% variable, depending on credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Comment: Starwood points are convertible to miles or points in 34 airline programs, including Delta's, typically at a 1:1 transfer ratio. And there's a kicker: When 20,000 points are transferred, there's a 5,000-mile bonus, yielding a total of 25,000 miles. In that scenario, you're effectively earning 1.25 miles per $1 spent.

*Terms Apply

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There is no categorically best card for all Delta loyalists. Which card works best for you will depend on your budget, your spending habits, and the frequency of your travel.

If you travel regularly on Delta, it might be worthwhile paying the $550 annual fee for the long list of travel perks that come bundled with the Platinum Card from American Express, including access to Delta's airport lounges, the airline fee credit, and so on. Earning five miles per $1 spent on Delta tickets can't be beat. And those 60,000 points on offer as a welcome bonus can be converted to 60,000 Delta miles, among other options.

At the other end of the spectrum, the no-fee Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express would be a sensible choice for occasional flyers who want to earn miles but want to pay as little as possible for the privilege.

And then there's the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, which can generate Delta miles at the rate of 1.25 miles per $1 spent, when 20,000 points are converted to miles. That, plus the convertibility of Starwood points into other airline currencies, make a highly desirable combination for travelers looking for convenience and flexibility in their earnings.

Editor's Note: This content is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the aforementioned entities.

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