Breaking Down the Changes to Delta SkyMiles Cards from American Express

A few days ago, Delta and American Express announced changes to their suite of co-branded cards. Filled with new benefits, it took me a few days to fully digest what the implications were.

The above chart lists out all of the changes each card will receive. As a Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card holder, I will solely be focusing on the changes, and what this means for my decision to keep, or cancel the card.

Positive Changes

There's a slue of changes that positively affect the customer in their direction. For one, earning rates on Delta purchases will increase from 2x miles to 3x miles. I spend probably $1,000 a year on Delta purchases, so let's call this a net of 1,000 SkyMiles. Valuing these guys at their bare minimum of 1 cent, that's a net of $10.

Card Holder Benefit Total: $10

Restaurants are also getting a bump from 1 mile to 2x miles. Let's say, I spend about $1500 a year at restaurants, although this could be a conservative estimate depending on what gets coded. Again, with a 1 cent valuation, that's an extra $15.

Card Holder Benefit Total: $25

Grocery Shopping also gets an increase. This time, it's tripling to 3 SkyMiles per dollar. That's a pretty significant upgrade. I spend roughly $1,000 a year on groceries. This change gives me 2,000 extra miles, valued at $20.

Card Holder Benefit Total: $45

For the last mileage bump, hotels are getting a bonus too. Just like groceries, these are tripling up to 3x. While I normally put hotels on my Chase Sapphire Reserve due to its 3x points, I may be inclined to put 1-2 hotels on there. These must be directly booked through the hotels, which means Expedia, Travelocity, etc. will not qualify. I'm gonna put this quite low at just $500 for me. That's 1,000 SkyMiles, or $10.

Card Holder Benefit Total: $55

The card will now also carry a $100 TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry credit. Pre-Check can be renewed every 5 years and Global Entry every 3. Delta is saying you'll get this $100 every 4 years, likely to allow you to choose which service you'd prefer. Since I have this benefit on another card, I'm not sure how much this will help. Since Pre-Check needs to be renewed every 5 years, the maximum this can actually be redeemed for is just $20 a year.

Card Holder Benefit Total: $75

And that's it.

Negative Changes

First and foremost, the fee is increasing from $195 to $250. That's quite the increase. Although I have been prepared to spend $195 in the past, the $55 increase, coupled with another card's annual fee brings me into a territory where I'd consider consolidating. This takes a huge hit on the benefit total.

Card Holder Benefit Total: $20

One of the best perks of this card is the ability to earn MQMs and waive the MQD spending requirement. Both of these hit at $25,000 spend (although the MQD could be waived if spent across multiple Delta cards). In the past, once you earned the 10,000 MQMs, you also earned 10,000 SkyMiles. This benefit is being wiped away. You will now only earn the valueless MQMs. This is a loss of $100 worth of miles.

Card Holder Benefit Total: -$80

The Delta SkyClub at Palm Beach Airport

Daily SkyClub passes are a thing of the past, except for card holders. These used to be $29, but they will be increasing to $39. I probably go to the SkyClub on a daily pass once a year, usually due to IRROPS so I can have the assistance from the agents. That's a $10 difference.

Card Holder Benefit Total: -$90

Other Items To Consider

One of my favorites (well...) perks of this card is the companion ticket. For just taxes and fees, you get a second ticket. I used to say, the card is worth it if only for that since $195 is a great deal for a ticket. Unfortunately, I have been searching for hours recently for a trip for my husband and I (who also has the card) and I cannot find a single flight which has tickets left in the restricted fare classes. In addition, the fare classes eligible are so discounted, sometimes the ticket is only $200-250 anyway. At that point, I'd rather just be paying for the ticket to earn the MQMs, MQDs and SkyMiles.

This seat cost me next to nothing on a few flights

I've had luck with this benefit in the past, including upgrades for both of us to First Class on those tickets, but I think the tickets may actually go to waste this year.

Bottom Line

I'm torn. I really am. The MQM bump has given me Gold Status over the last two years and the MQD waiver has helped, too. I did a lot of award travel this year, and without the additional MQMs and MQD waiver, I wouldn't have even made Silver. I will just hit Silver even with the 10,000 MQMs.

Not exactly an upgrade, but a nice perk

I really do value status because I almost always get a seat in Comfort+.

I guess if care about status over anything else, this card is worth it to keep. That being said, the new benefits are there to mask what's really going on - a decrease in value for the consumer. I am not sure if I am keeping the card at this point. We'll see.


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