The changes are coming by the dozens for American Express cards! In fact, they announced that the Amex Delta cards are being revamped in 2020. All seven Delta cards will receive changes to their earning structures and perks starting on January 30, 2020. Furthermore, six of the seven cards will see annual fee increases as well.
American Express and Delta have extended their long-time agreement until 2029. Changes coming to their co-branded cards is not very surprising. In fact, the changes have been long-awaited by points and miles enthusiasts. The details that were announced today are what’s even more surprising.
This post covers the four personal Amex Delta cards. Another post will cover the three Delta business cards.
The Delta Blue Card has no annual fee and will continue to have no annual fee into 2020. This card is changing for the better regardless of how you look at it. Cardholders will receive:
- Enhanced earning structure (2x SkyMiles at Restaurants worldwide)
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Access to Delta’s Pay With Miles feature
Not much is changing for the Delta Blue Card. But the changes that are happening are good ones. For example, Amex is removing foreign transaction fees. This is a move that should have been done from the beginning. But I am glad that Amex is correcting themselves sooner than later.
Overall, these changes are positive as cardholders will receive a little bit more for having no annual fee. Still, the only reason to get the Delta Blue Card is as a downgrade path from one of the more expensive Delta cards.
The Delta Gold Card is receiving a few more changes than its no annual fee “sibling”. Most of them are positive, especially for casual Delta flyers. The Delta Gold Card will receive the following changes on January 30, 2020:
- New earning structure (2x SkyMiles at Grocery Stores stateside and Restaurants worldwide)
- Cardholders can earn a $100 flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year
- The Delta Gold card will no longer offer a Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver starting in 2020
- The Delta Gold card will no longer offer discounted access to Delta SkyClubs after January 2020. The discounted rate is currently $29 per person.
- The annual fee is increasing to $99
American Express and Delta are positioning the Delta Gold Card towards casual Delta travelers. Most of these changes show their positioning well, especially getting rid of the MQD waiver. Most casual Delta flyers do not spend enough to earn MQDs without credit card sign-up bonuses.
Losing the discounted access to Delta SkyClubs will hurt for some Gold cardholders. However, American Express did something similar when they excluded non-Platinum and Centurion cardholders from entering their Centurion Lounges. This is likely because of overcrowding.
I would not put any spend on this card, even though it’s earning structure is being improved greatly. However, the Delta Gold Card can still be a long-term keeper because of its generous free baggage perk.
The Delta Platinum Card is being enhanced, but mostly for the negative. The Delta Platinum Card will receive the following changes:
- New earning structure (3x SkyMiles on Delta purchases and hotels; 2x SkyMiles at Grocery Stores stateside and Restaurants worldwide)
- Cardholders will receive a TSA Pre-Check credit every four years
- The card will continue to offer 10,000 bonus MQMs when you spend $25,000 and an additional 10,000 bonus MQMs when you spend $50,000 (as it does now), but it will no longer offer 10,000 bonus redeemable miles at each of these thresholds
- The Delta Platinum card will increase the discounted cost of Delta SkyClub access to $39
- The annual fee is increasing to $250
Thank goodness this card is keeping its free baggage and Annual Companion Certificate perks. You will need to extract as much value as possible from these perks because of the $55 annual fee increase.
Heavy Delta flyers could put some spend on their Delta Platinum Card because of its vastly better earning structure. This is the first time in recent memory that this card is offering four bonus categories. Plus, the categories that are chosen put the Delta Platinum Card more in line with several competing airline cards.
The discounted SkyClub rate is increasing to $39 likely due to overcrowding and both companies wanting to make more money. Many Delta Platinum cardholders have this card for the lower SkyClub rate, making this devaluation a tough one.
Overall, the Delta Platinum Card can be a keeper for the right traveler. But the increase in annual fee and other devaluations are enough to make current cardholders reconsider keeping it.
The Delta Reserve Card is receiving the most changes of the bunch.
- Enhanced earning structure (3x SkyMiles on Delta purchases)
- Cardholders can earn 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $90,000 and $120,000 in a calendar year (currently the thresholds are just $30,000 and $60,000)
- The card will offer increased potential to earn MQMs, but you won’t earn bonus redeemable miles when passing $30,000 or $60,000 of spending (previously you’d earn 15,000 bonus MQMs and 15,000 bonus redeemable miles at each threshold)
- Cardholders will receive two complimentary Delta SkyClub passes annually (in addition to the membership offered with the card)
- Complimentary Centurion Lounge access when flying Delta same day, though guests will cost $50 each
- SkyPriority security access is being cut
- Cardholders will receive a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every four years
- Complimentary upgrades for non-elite members
- The annual fee is increasing to $550
The Delta Reserve Card is truly meant for big spenders who often fly Delta. However, I don’t suggest putting any spend on the Reserve Card. That’s because most travelers could earn much more in value for spending $30,000 (or multiples thereof). Nonetheless, its still nice that the Delta Reserve is giving cardholders the opportunity to earn extra MQMs. But the catch is that you won’t earn bonus redeemable miles anymore.
The Delta Reserve is adding some nice perks to counter the $100 annual fee increase. For some, these perks are enough to withstand the additional annual fee. For example, Centurion Lounge Access and the SkyClub passes could be worth hundreds to the right traveler.
The three Delta business cards (Gold, Platinum, and Reserve) are receiving all the same perks as their personal counterparts. However, their earning structures are a more centered towards businesses:
- The Delta Business Gold Card will earn 2x SkyMiles at restaurants and on US shipping and advertising
- The Delta Platinum Business Card will earn 3x SkyMiles on Delta purchases and at hotels, and 1.5x miles on purchases over $5,000 (up to 50,000 bonus miles annually)
- The Delta Reserve Card will offer 3x SkyMiles on Delta purchases, and 1.5x miles on all purchases after spending $150,000 annually
American Express and Delta are finally revamping their co-branded cards in a much-awaited move. The Delta cards are some of the best for Delta-related perks. But they are not the best to spend your money on, even though all four personal cards are receiving updated earning structures.
Similar changes are afoot for the Delta business cards. A separate post will cover those changes for the sake of brevity.