Posted by William Charles on January 29, 2020
Airline Rewards

Published on January 29th, 2020 | by William Charles

79

American Express Revamping Delta Cobranded Cards – Higher Annual Fees & Benefit Changes (Changes Start Tomorrow)

Update 1/29/20: These changes go into effect tomorrow. You can now request a metal card as well by using the American Express app

Account Services -> Card Management -> Replace a Card -> Request Metal Card

Card number will remain the same.

Update: Looks like the card redesigns are out:

Hat tip to reader SCJ

 

Original post: American Express has announced that the Delta co-branded portfolio will be receiving a revamp with changes going into effect on January 30th, 2020. In addition there will be new limited time sign up bonuses being added to these cards starting October 1st (tomorrow), we cover those in this separate post.

Personal Cards

Delta Skymiles® Blue American Express Card

This card has no annual fee and this will remain the same. The only changes are that it will be possible to pay with miles and they will be removing foreign transaction fees.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Annual fee will increased from $95 to $99
  • MQD Waiver for spend will end on December 31st, 2019
  • Delta Sky Club access for $29 will end on January 29th, 2020
  • Card will now earn 2x miles per $1 spent on restaurants & U.S. supermarkets
  • Card will offer a $100 Delta flight credit after $10,000 in spend within a calendar year

The biggest change here is the loss of the MQD waiver.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • Annual fee will increase from $195 to $250
  • Earning rate changes:
    • 3x miles on Delta spend (currently 2x)
    • 3x miles on purchases directly with hotels (currently 1x)
    • 2x miles on purchases made at restaurants (currently 1x)
    • 2x miles on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets (currently 1x)
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔ Fee Credit
  • Miles Boost to be replaced with Status Boost. Previously when you spent $25,000 in a calendar year you’d earn 10,000 MQM & 10,000 Delta miles and this could be done twice. Now you’ll just earn the 10,000 MQM but not the bonus 10,000 Delta miles
  • Delta Sky Club visit fee will increase from $29 to $39

Basically an increase of $55 to the annual fee and the benefits get worse. I guess if you’re the one person that reads this blog without access to a Global Entry/TSA Pre credit then these changes might be useful. The increased earning rates aren’t that interesting for most people as other cards earn at a higher rate, although 3x on Delta might be good for high spenders.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • Annual fee will increase from $450 to $550
  • 3x miles on Delta spend (currently 2x)
  • Miles Boost to be replaced with Status Boost. Previously when you spent $30,000 in a calendar year you’d earn 15,000 MQM & 15,000 Delta miles and this could be done twice. Now you’ll just earn the 15,000 MQM but not the bonus 15,000 Delta miles but it can be done a total of four times
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔ Fee Credit
  • Addition of 2 Delta Sky Club One-Time Guest Passes
  • Complimentary Access To The Centurion Lounge when flying Delta
  • Access To Complimentary Upgrades
  • Sky Priority Security will end January 29th, 2019

The big addition here is the access to the centurion lounge. This is particularly crazy as American Express currently has massive issues with overcrowding at these lounges and have had to introduce restrictions to help alleviate overcrowding. I can kind of see people that only care about lounge access going for this card given it comes with both centurion and sky club access, but there are no real benefits to offset the $550 annual fee.

Business Cards

Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card

  • Annual fee will increased from $95 to $99
  • MQD Waiver for spend will end on December 31st, 2019
  • Delta Sky Club access for $29 will end on January 29th, 2020
  • Card will now earn 2x miles per $1 spent on restaurants & U.S shipping and U.S. advertising in select media
  • Card will offer a $100 Delta flight credit after $10,000 in spend within a calendar year

Basically the same changes as the personal card, but one of the 2x categories is different.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card

  • Annual fee will increase from $195 to $250
  • Earning rate changes:
    • 3x miles on Delta spend (currently 2x)
    • 3x miles on purchases directly with hotels (currently 1x)
    • 1.5x miles on purchases of $5,000 or more (currently 1x)
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔ Fee Credit
  • Miles Boost to be replaced with Status Boost. Previously when you spent $25,000 in a calendar year you’d earn 10,000 MQM & 10,000 Delta miles and this could be done twice. Now you’ll just earn the 10,000 MQM but not the bonus 10,000 Delta miles
  • Delta Sky Club visit fee will increase from $29 to $39

Major difference between this and the personal card changes is that you’ll earn 1.5x miles on purchases of $5,000+

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

  • Annual fee will increase from $450 to $550
  • Card will earn 1.5x miles on purchases after spending $150,000
  • 3x miles on Delta spend (currently 2x)
  • Miles Boost to be replaced with Status Boost. Previously when you spent $30,000 in a calendar year you’d earn 15,000 MQM & 15,000 Delta miles and this could be done three times. Now you’ll just earn the 15,000 MQM but not the bonus 15,000 Delta miles but it can be done a total of four times
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔ Fee Credit
  • Addition of 2 Delta Sky Club One-Time Guest Passes
  • Complimentary Access To The Centurion Lounge when flying Delta
  • Access To Complimentary Upgrades
  • Sky Priority Security will end January 29th, 2019

Only difference between the personal card is the 1.5x miles after spending $150,000+.

Our Verdict

When American Express has revamped other cards it has increased the annual fee but also added benefits to help offset this annual fee (e.g the GrubHub credit or Uber credit) with these Delta changes some cards are having the annual fee increased and benefits removed (e.g MQM requirements no longer offering bonus Delta miles). The only card that is having a real benefit added is the Reserve with the Centurion lounge access and it’s hard to justify the $550 annual fee when the only real benefit is lounge access.

For the majority of people keeping Delta cards long term hasn’t made sense, I’d argue with these changes it makes even less sense now.



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chris
chris

They are making blue more attractive than all other cards, lol.

Joe C.
Joe C.

Yeah, I have the Delta Blue card, and I’m happy with the change.

Steven
Steven

I love AMEX but most of their products just don’t make sense anymore. Only card I can truly recommend is the BB+ and that’s a business card.

JW
JW

It seems like they are anticipating the downturn in the economy soon and want to shed some reward expenses (and mitigate loans losses by making this less attractive to middle-income folks) while keeping the crazy high spenders/business people happy.

John Robinson
John Robinson

People have been predicting the same downturn for 10 years. Would you blame any of their other decisions and revamps in the last 10 years on them expecting it? The people who most benefit from these rewards are people who are unprofitable to the bank. Maybe they are making these changes to protect themselves.

Debit
Debit

And the gold. For one year. Unless you get retention offer.

Steven
Steven

With the changes to the incidental credits I can’t recommend the Gold at all except for the sign up bonus when you can get the Uber Visa or USBank AR. All grocery stores I shop at accept Google/Samsung Pay now and most fast food does as well.

RobbTPC
RobbTPC

The AMEX Gold Card is also great and pairs well with the BBP.

Lrdx
Lrdx

BCP is still one of the best grocery cards, even with the fee factored in.

Steven
Steven

BCP is only 1.5% more rewards with $20 higher AF than the effective AF of the USBank AR and the BCP isn’t accepted at Costco which is where I do most of my shopping so it doesn’t make sense to me either.

JW
JW

Hrm, this initial post is inaccurate. On the current reserve, you get 15k Skymiles and MQMs on 30k and 60k card spend. That means you get the bonuses up to twice per year.

Now, on the new version, you will lose the Skymiles at every spend level — but they are adding two more spend levels at 90k and 120k of card spend — meaning, you can get 60k MQMs after spending 120k in card purchases.

This is the biggest downgrade, along with the incremental AF. You lose out on 30k Skymiles after 60k card spend, which is a big deal to me. Instead of giving you more MQMs to make up for the straight-up loss in Skymiles bonus, they’re giving you 1 more pt on Delta purchases — which is pretty laughable because you need to basically put at least ~$25k in Delta flights on the card to make up for all the Skymiles losses and increase in AF.

This is pretty bad for anyone who can do math… I think the strategy is pretty clear to overwhelm customers with a bunch of changes (by adding in something shiny like Centurion lounge access), but hoping people wouldn’t notice the absolute downgrade in Skymiles.

skyPESOS
skyPESOS

I’ve been doing MQD waiver on DL Plat Amex card and the lack of 10K RDM at $25K is a major devaluation… reminds me of when DL up’d the waiver from 25 to 250 for Diamond.

Joe C.
Joe C.

Yeah, with $60,000 spending on the current Reserve card, you’re basically getting 90,000 miles (1.5 miles/dollar). With the new change, it’s becoming strictly 1 mile/dollar regardless of the amount spent. In my opinion, 1.5 miles/dollar isn’t bad, but not great either. With only 1 mile/dollar regardless of spending, it seems to push things over the edge.

Danny
Danny

It kind of makes me wonder if Amex understands what benefits their other cards offer. I’m sure some Delta elite status flyers will see the benefit of the status boost, but I think it’ll have the opposite effect for the rest of the card holders. I think nowadays it’s about category bonuses and getting 2x when you can get 4x(Amex Gold) or 5x(Prestige) is probably not going to give me much incentive to put any spend on a Delta card. Even if I wanted to accumulate Delta miles, I’d almost always be better off just spending on my Amex Gold times and then transferring to Delta as opposed to spending on any Delta credit card. Without the miles bonuses for $60k spend and higher, I can’t see very many people spending the full $120k to max out those status bonuses.

N
N

Typical behavior when different departments in the same corp fight each other;)

YoniPDX

Raising the AF on Plat Delta cards – your basically paying $250 for the CP fare – which is Def YMMV – if the Blue card gets free bag and boarding it basically devalues other cards ( the free upgrade list for non-elite is basically worthless except on backwater routes).

Glad we picked up Plat Biz with the $500 statement credit with $1K Delta spend and 50K SUB and the GD biz with 70K SUB AF waived1st and $50 statement credit.

Hope they run the $500 statement credit on the Plat Biz again before end of Jan.

JB San Diego
JB San Diego

I can’t agree more that ‘it makes less sense’ on these cards. So, when the AF hits, I am certain there will be an even larger crowd dumping these cards! Including myself!

K.M.
K.M.

thanks doc for the heads up. kinda interesting/weird but when the first scheduled annual fee was coming up for my gold delta card and i messaged chat to cancel, the amex rep in chat suggested that i change my gold delta card to an employee gold delta card. im not a delta employee but it was still possible for the rep to do it. the only difference is the annual fee is waived, but everything else stayed the same. ive had it going on exactly 3 years today coincidentally, and with no annual fee paid (just verified in amex app that there is no annual fee posted today). if anyone has an annual fee coming up, see if you can get your card changed too before cancelling.

YoniPDX

It’s probably unrealistic too hope that Delta would have a no AF employee “Reserve” card – youda think that employees would get free first bag when they fly (as well as get available seats in F) so I imagine that the no AF gold card is meant to generate extra swipe fees and income from “employees”.

But sounds like a nice hack that you uncovered.

PoorChurner
PoorChurner

Still waiting on Green changes.

K-Man
K-Man

Centurion lounge access only when flying Delta per website. That’s a pretty important detail.

Miami Shmiami
Miami Shmiami

Yep, and doesn’t exactly explain how a Delta passenger can access the Centurion Lounge in D terminal in Miami when only American Airlines flies out of that terminal. :7

dddaxp
dddaxp

Delta announced they plan to make $7 billion, yes billion, on their AmEx Cards deal by 2023.

AmEx had to agree on many of these changes in order to satisfy Delta enough to get the contract renewal.

But wow, what a mess they’ve made of these cards. They already weren’t very compelling…

RobbTPC
RobbTPC

I originally got the AMEX Delta Gold and eventually upgraded to the AMEX Delta Platinum in 2018. I didn’t have Medallion status when I originally picked up the card, so I saved about ~$650 on free checked bags the first year which was more than enough for me to keep the card.

Now that I have Silver Medallion status, I don’t really “need” the card anymore for bags, but I’ve gotten a value of $250 and $395 out the two Companion Passes I’ve used and I’m about to use a third one for a value of about $290. So I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. (I will cancel my wife’s Delta Plat though… maybe…)

Ken
Ken

My wife and I both had a Delta Platinum. I had mine for >10 years due to living in a Delta hub (SLC). Just product-changed mine via AmEx chat (took maybe 3 min) to a no-fee Delta Blue as I get free bags anyway as a Delta elite, we were having to contort to use the 2 certs, the inability to use the certs for 3-way trips was often limiting, and flights are often cheaper or the same price for our most common routes via Jetblue, with more legroom in economy. We are keeping my wife’s card for now due to the free bags and with 1 cert/yr being more manageable to use vs. 2/yr. think it still makes sense to keep the card for now, but may drop the other one too as this is a purely negative change for our usage. As an aside, one of the reasons it’s been hard to use the certs was because my wife and my card anniversaries were 6 months apart, making it very inconvenient for using both for the same trip for a family of 4. I had asked AmEx if I could still pay my annual fee as usual, but for the cert to be issued 6 months later. They said no — good chance I would have kept the card if they had been able to do that, and wonder how often this may be an issue for other families with this card.

Anyway, until a few years ago, I was blindly putting $50K/yr+ on this card not knowing any better — I’m glad I found sites like DoC to help me see the light!

mjonis
mjonis

What’s the “Access to complimentary upgrades” for the Reserve card mean?

Ivan X
Ivan X

According to OMAAT, it means you’ll get bottom of the list possibility for upgrades if you don’t have Medallion status.

Lrdx
Lrdx

i.e. it means nothing.

DP
DP

Delta also says that holding the card would elevate you over other people with the same status. So say 3 people are eligible for an upgrade, but only 1 has the Reserve card, they’ll give the upgrade to the Reserve cardholder.

Jim
Jim

The Delta Platinum cards also have a 48 state companion ticket on the anniversary. Depends on destination of course but my JFK to Austin two-fer ticket saved me around $500

Gregory Rose III
Gregory Rose III

So basically delta credit cards are still a useless card to have and I’d be better off using my 2% back card?

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