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Blue Delta SkyMiles vs. Gold Delta SkyMiles: Which Offers More Miles?

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This article was last updated Nov 07, 2017, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the UnitedSM TravelBank Card, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. These offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or are no longer available.

deltablue170The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the first $0 annual fee option that earns Delta miles with every purchase. But it comes with less benefits than the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express including key perks like priority boarding and free checked luggage. Which one is better for your wallet? Here’s the short answer on getting the new Delta card:

  • You can earn more miles from the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express over the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. With the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express you can Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.  The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express earns 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases. If you spend $500 on dining and Delta flights every month and $1,000 everywhere else, you would earn 36,000 SkyMiles® annually, versus 30,000 miles with the same spend on the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express – a difference of at least $60 in value for Delta flights.
  • If you fly Delta main cabin enough to benefit from priority boarding and free checked bags, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is your best choice. Checking luggage on two round trips alone will save you $100, making up for the annual fee, while priority boarding gets you overhead bin space first.
  • While both cards come with accidental death and dismemberment insurance, secondary rental car insurance, return protection, accidental damage and theft protection, and extended warranty benefits, neither card offers trip delay or trip cancellation coverage.
  • If already have or previously held the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, your decision to apply for the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express should be based on your personal spending habits, and what other cards you plan to apply for in the next two years. We’ll help you break down the pros and cons in this article.

This table shows the key differences between the two credit cards:

BenefitsBlue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American ExpressGold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Bonus categories2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta and at US Restaurants.2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta.
Free checked luggageNoFirst checked bag free
Priority boardingNoPriority boarding
International transaction feesYesNo
Annual feeNo annual fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Delta SkyMiles cheat sheet for using your miles.

Pros and Cons: Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Pros

Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.

The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is unique for the fact that you can Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants. If you use this card for $500 in dining alone every month, our calculator estimates you would earn 12,000 points annually, or $120 in Delta travel rewards at a value of one cent per mile.

$0 annual fee

Although $0 annual fee rewards cards are becoming more common, Delta is the first airline to offer a $0 fee card that earns actual miles (its nearest competitor, the UnitedSM TravelBank Card, offers cash back towards United flights). Even if you do not fly Delta regularly, there is a lot of upside to holding a card that earns miles with no costs to justify.

Good travel insurance benefits

Even more rare is a $0 annual fee card that offers travel insurance benefits. When purchasing an airline ticket or rental car with the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, you automatically get accidental death and dismemberment insurance and secondary rental car insurance when you decline the collision damage waiver. The rental car insurance alone could add major value in the event of an accident.

Cons

No free checked luggage or priority boarding

Unlike other Delta branded cards, the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express does not come with at least one free checked bag, nor does it come with priority boarding. If you are traveling with just carry-on luggage and are boarding in the later groups, you could ultimately be forced to pay an increased fee to check your bags, or gate check to your destination – even though you hold a Delta credit card.

Least number of benefits while flying Delta

As the saying goes: you get what you pay for. Because this is the only Delta card that has a $0 annual fee, it also comes with the least amount of benefits. You won’t get a discounted Delta Sky Club day pass with this card, and you can’t use it to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles towards elite status. Even the 20% in-flight discount only applies to purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets – in-flight Wi-Fi isn’t included.

International transaction fees

Finally, the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the only Delta card that charges international transaction fees. Anytime you make a payment in a foreign currency, you will be charged 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars. While that doesn’t sound like much, it can add up over the course of multiple purchases: if you spent $1,000 on the card during a vacation abroad, you would come home to $27 in fees.

Pros and Cons: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Pros

Free checked bag and priority boarding

Arguably, the biggest benefits of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express are the first free checked bag and priority boarding access. When you have the card and use your Delta SkyMiles number during booking, the free checked bag benefit applies to yourself and up to nine people traveling with you on the same reservation. If you were traveling with three other people each checking one bag, you would save $200 in one round trip, or $25 for each person each way.

With the priority boarding, you and your party will board with Zone 1 Priority Boarding – after Medallion elite and Delta Comfort+ flyers, but before everyone else in the main cabin and basic economy. This gives you the first opportunity to use overhead bin space before all other economy passengers, ensuring you do not have to gate check your carry-on luggage.

Reduced cost for Delta Sky Club® passes

Although the card does not come with complimentary Delta Sky Club® access, you can still get in at a lower price than other passengers. When you present your Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and a same-day boarding pass at any Delta Sky Club®, you can buy a one-time pass for yourself and two guests for $29 each – the same price members pay for guests. The regular price for a one-time pass is $59, so using the card to get into a Delta Sky Club® is a savings of $30.

Pay with Miles and “Fly Now, Earn later” options

When you hold the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, you may also have access to two additional ways to use your miles for flights: Pay with Miles and “Fly Now, Earn Later.” Pay with Miles allows you use cash and miles to pay for your airfare, with miles valued at 1 cent each. For example: if your flight costs $250, you could apply 20,000 Delta SkyMiles® to pay $200 of the airfare, and pay the remaining $50 in cash.

Delta also has a targeted program called “Fly Now, Earn Later,” which will allow selected cardholders to “borrow” miles towards an award and earn them back with their card in six months. If you should come short of earning back all the borrowed miles, you would have to pay them back at a rate of 2.5 cents per mile.

Cons

No bonus categories

Compared to the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, one downside of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the lack of bonus categories. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases. As a result, your opportunities to earn Delta SkyMiles® are limited.

No Medallion Qualifying Miles for spending

Another con of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is that it is the only Delta credit card with an annual fee that does not allow you to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles towards elite status. Both the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card grant bonus award miles and Medallion Qualifying Miles for meeting spending goals. If you fly enough to earn Medallion elite status and want the boost towards status with spending, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express may not offer the best overall value.

No companion certificate option

Finally, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is the only one in the Delta card family to have an annual fee, but not offer a companion certificate. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers a main cabin companion certificate every year you hold the card, while the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express offers a first class or main cabin companion certificate every year. If you take a flight on Delta at least once a year with a friend or family member, the companion certificate can offer better value than the benefits of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.

Should I get the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express?

If you already have the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and want to earn miles at U.S. restaurants, the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express makes sense. For the $0 annual fee and the bonus category, this card can work very well as a partner to your Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express by giving you more miles for spending and a free checked bag with priority boarding.

Before you apply, be sure to look at your overall application strategy. When you apply, American Express will make a hard credit pull, which temporarily lowers your credit score and could put you up against other bank rules.

Is there another no annual fee alternative?

If you do not fly aboard Delta regularly, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is another good $0 annual fee alternative. This card offers 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. Plus, you can also earn a 20% Membership Rewards® bonus after using the card a minimum of 20 times in a month.

Membership Rewards® points transfer directly to Delta SkyMiles at a one-to-one ratio, and can be used towards discounted flights immediately. Excluding the sign-up bonus, our calculations estimate the The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express could earn over 34,000 points every year.

What other Delta SkyMiles® credit cards are available?

If Delta is your primary airline and you plan on flying more than twice per year, you could benefit even more from a higher tier Delta SkyMiles® card. American Express offers two higher-end cards: the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.

With a $195 annual fee, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers upgraded benefits for frequent flyers. This includes the opportunity to earn 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles towards elite status after spending $25,000 every year, along with an annual domestic economy companion certificate.

For the $450 annual fee, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express offers all the benefits from lower cards, along with complimentary Sky Club access when flying Delta and baggage insurance. Holding the Delta Reserve card also gives you upgrade priority over other flyers if you hold Medallion elite status.


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