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Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express – Review


Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Published or updated:December 19, 2016

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The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express is an airline credit card for frequent Delta flyers who like to travel in comfort and style. The rewards scheme is similar to the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card, with the important addition of a loyalty component that accelerates heavy spenders’ progress toward Delta’s coveted Medallion status tiers.

Used properly, the Medallion benefit can be incredibly valuable, and arguably alone makes Platinum Delta SkyMiles worthwhile. Aside from the rewards program, this card has a host of generous perks and benefits that collectively outshine those of many competing cards.

On the other hand, Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business’s generous travel rewards come at a price: a $195 annual fee, charged from the first year onward. If you don’t take ample advantage of this card’s rewards and benefits, it may wind up costing more than it’s worth. On the other hand, if you use this card as it’s meant to be used, you’ll reap the rewards (literally).

Key Features

  • Sign-up Bonus: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business’s sign-up bonus has 3 distinct components. First, you get 35,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles when you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of account opening. That’s enough for at least 1 domestic economy round-trip ticket, or up to 3 domestic economy one-ways. Second, also when you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening, you get 5,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), which count toward Delta’s Medallion loyalty status. Third, when you make a Delta purchase with your card within 3 months of account opening, you get a $100 statement credit.
  • Delta Medallion Program: Prospective Platinum Delta SkyMiles cardholders need to understand how Delta’s Medallion status program works. The program has four tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. All are designed to reward frequent Delta flyers with benefits such as priority boarding, waived fees (such as baggage and standby fees), complimentary class and preferred seating upgrades, and accelerated MQM and SkyMiles earnings. Benefit generosity increases with each status tier, with Diamond members enjoying complimentary Delta Sky Club membership and 2 complimentary Global Entry application vouchers. To achieve these tiers, you need to earn requisite combinations of MQMs (multiples of total flight distance flown on each flight, usually 100% of distance flown on economy flights and 200% of distance flown in first class)  orMedallion Qualification Segments (MQSs, or Delta flight segments)andMedallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs, or certain fare dollars spent with Delta: base fares, surcharges, and some upgrades) within a calendar year. Once earned, Medallion status remains in force for the remainder of the current year and the entire following year. Status level requirements are as follows: Silver Medallion status, 25,000 MQMsor30 MQSsand$3,000 MQDs; Gold Medallion status, 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs; Platinum Medallion status, 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $9,000 MQDs; and Diamond Medallion status, 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and $15,000 MQDs.
  • SkyMiles Rewards and Redemption: All Delta purchases (airfare, in-flight purchases, Sky Club airport lounge passes, and other incidental expenditures) earn unlimited 2 Delta SkyMiles per $1 spent. All other purchases earn 1 SkyMile per $1 spent, also with no limits. The best way to redeem your SkyMiles is for Delta airfare. Redemption thresholds generally start at 10,000 SkyMiles for certain domestic economy one-ways, or 12,500 SkyMiles for a wider range of domestic flights on flexible travel dates. However, redemption requirements are subject to change, and some travel times, dates, and destinations (such as peak-season weekend flights to popular vacation destinations) require more SkyMiles. Importantly, SkyMiles’ redemption values vary, generally falling between $0.005 to $0.02 per mile at redemption, but sometimes higher or lower. Delta’s new Pay With Miles feature, an exclusive benefit for Gold and Platinum Delta SkyMiles cardholders, lets you use SkyMiles for partial airfare redemptions and pay the remainder of the ticket value with cash. Such redemptions always value SkyMiles at $0.01 each and require at least 5,000 SkyMiles – for example, a 5,000-SkyMile Pay With Miles redemption produces a $50 fare reduction. Finally, you can redeem SkyMiles at the Delta SkyMiles MarketPlace for merchandise, special experiences (such as musical performances), and gift cards. Miles redeemed for MarketPlace purchases are usually worth less than miles redeemed for airfare – in some cases, far less than $0.01 apiece. On the bright side, MarketPlace redemption sometimes require as few as 2,000 SkyMiles.
  • Companion Certificate Benefit: Every year your card account remains open and in good standing, you receive 1 companion certificate. Companion certificates can be redeemed for 1 domestic economy round-trip fare, provided the flyer travels with the primary cardholder and both tickets (or, in the companion fare’s case, government taxes and fees) are purchased with the primary cardholder’s Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card.
  • Annual SkyMiles and MQMs Bonus: If you charge at least $25,000 to your card in a calendar year, you receive 10,000 bonus SkyMiles and 10,000 bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles. If you charge at least $50,000 within a calendar year, you get another 10,000 SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs. This equates to a total annual spending bonus of 20,000 SkyMiles and 20,000 MQMs.
  • MQD Waiver With Sufficient Spending: If you earn enough MQMs or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) to reach a given Medallion status level and spend at least $25,000 in the same calendar year, Delta waives the Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirements for that tier. For example, if you earn 75,000 MQMs – enough to qualify for Platinum Medallion status – you don’t need the $9,000 MQDs normally required to actually earn Platinum status.
  • Regular APR: There is no introductory APR or balance transfer APR (as balance transfers are not permitted). The regular purchase APR is a variable 15.74-19.74%, with the exact APR depending on prevailing rates and your personal creditworthiness. The penalty APR is 29.74%, and the cash advance APR is 25.74%.
  • OPEN Savings Benefit: As part of American Express’s OPEN business credit card family, Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business entitles cardholders to 5% discounts on purchases made with the company’s OPEN Savings partners, including 1-800-Flowers.com and FedEx. (See the full list here. Discounts are automatically applied to your billing statement at the close of the purchase month.)
  • Delta Travel Benefits: In addition to the companion certificate benefit, Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business has other valuable Delta travel benefits: 1 free checked bag for the cardholder (a $25 value per segment); 20% off all in-flight purchases (including food and entertainment); priority boarding; and up to 3 discounted Delta Sky Club (airport lounge) passes at $29 each per trip (regular value $5 each).
  • Additional Travel Benefits: Platinum

    Delta SkyMiles Business’s additional travel benefits, all underwritten by American Express, including baggage insurance for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage; complimentary loss and damage coverage for rental cars charged in full to the SkyMiles card; 24/7 roadside assistance; 24/7 global assistance for long-distance travelers; and accidental death and dismemberment travel insurance.

  • Shopping Benefits: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business has some useful shopping benefits underwritten by American Express, including purchase protection (reimbursement) for items broken or stolen within 3 months of purchase and up to 1-year extended warranties on items with original warranties of 5 years or less.
  • Additional Business Benefits: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business has some non-travel benefits for business owners, including digital receipt storage; the flexibility to designate an employee as your account manager (privileges include the ability to resolve transaction disputes); access to the OPEN Forum, a knowledge base with insights sourced from fellow Amex business cardholders and recognized business experts; and category-based expense tagging and tracking.
  • Important Fees: There is a $195 annual fee, but no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments both cost up to $38.
  • Credit Required: This card requires excellent credit.

Advantages

  1. MQM Bonus and MQD Waiver Dramatically Accelerate Medallion Status Progress. Once you reach $25,000 in annual spending with this card, you earn a 10,000 MQM bonus and an MQD waiver, which renders MQDs irrelevant in status tier calculations for the remainder of the current year. If you hit $50,000, you earn another 10,000 MQMs, for a 20,000-MQM bonus in total. Put another way, that’s 80% of the way to the next-highest status tier (Diamond excepted).
  2. Awesome Sign-up Bonus. Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business has a generous, 3-part sign-up bonus: If you spend at least $1,000 and make a single Delta purchase within 3 months, you get 35,000 bonus SkyMiles (good for up to 3 domestic one-way fares), 5,000 MQMs (20% of the way to Medallion Silver status, the lowest Medallion tier), and a $100 statement credit. This is a better deal than most other business travel cards, including competing American Express and Delta credit cards.
  3. Free Companion Airfare Every Year. This card awards a complimentary companion airfare certificate every year your account remains open and in good standing. This benefit is redeemable for any domestic round-trip fare, pegging its potential value at several hundred dollars. Companion fare benefits are distressingly rare in the business travel card space, and those that exist – such as Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Business’s $121 companion fare – aren’t as attractive.
  4. Annual SkyMiles Bonus Can Fund 1 Round Trip or 2 One-Ways. This card’s total annual SkyMiles bonus – 20,000 SkyMiles when you spend at least $50,000 per year – is sufficient to cover 2 free domestic one-ways or 1 free domestic round trip. That’s a nice little bonus, especially considering you’ll likely have Medallion status (translating, potentially, to a free class upgrade) by the time you redeem your award.
  5. OPEN Savings Benefit Boosts Spending Power at Popular Merchants. This card awards 5% off spending with OPEN Savings partners – an effective 5% cash back rate on purchases with popular merchants such as Hertz (potentially popular with business travelers) and FedEx. This is a big advantage over non-Amex cards, which don’t belong to the OPEN Savings network.
  6. Discounted Airport Lounge Passes. This card’s airport lounge benefit – $30 off Sky Club passes for you and up to 2 companions – is worth up to $90 every time you fly. If you have time to kill between flights, why not take advantage?
  7. No Foreign Transaction Fee. If you travel outside the U.S. often, you’ll love this card’s lack of a foreign transaction fee. It’s not super hard to travel internationally and remain loyal to Delta, as the airline and its partners serve plenty of international destinations.

Disadvantages

  1. High Annual Fee. Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business’s $195 annual fee is higher than many competing business cards’, and isn’t waived during the first year your account is open. To make this recurring charge worthwhile, you need to use this card (and its non-SkyMiles benefits) heavily.
  2. Airfare Rewards and Redemption Aren’t Versatile. SkyMiles aren’t the most versatile travel rewards currency in the world – they’re only good for award travel on Delta. If you don’t want to feel pressured to remain loyal to Delta, or don’t live near an airport served by Delta, consider a general purpose travel card such as American Express Business Platinum or Capital One Spark Miles for Business.
  3. Non-Delta Spending Earns Rewards Slowly. Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business accrues just 1 SkyMile per $1 in non-Delta spending. That’s a decidedly mediocre rate. If earning rewards quickly is important to you, look for a business travel card that earns 1.5 points per $1 spent (Capital One Spark Miles Select) or 2 points per $1 spent (Capital One Spark Miles) on all spending – though remember that SkyMilescanbe worth more than Capital One’s No Hassle Miles.
  4. MarketPlace Redemptions Offer Poor Value. The SkyMiles MarketPlace is usually not a good place to redeem your accumulated SkyMiles. That’s because MarketPlace redemptions often value points at well under $0.01 apiece, compared with upwards of $0.01 apiece (in many cases) for airfare redemptions. It only makes sense to redeem SkyMiles at the MarketPlace if you don’t plan to travel anytime soon – and, if that’s the case, you should strongly consider ditching this card anyway.

Final Word

Many U.S. business owners live close to an airport served by Delta, a huge airline with 3 principal U.S. hubs, several major “focus” cities, and hundreds of domestic and international destinations. If you’re one of them, you probably won’t have trouble earning and redeeming SkyMiles with the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express.

On the other hand, if you don’t live near a Delta airport, another business travel credit card (perhaps a more general card, such as Capital One Spark Miles) is probably a better bet. And, if your credit isn’t in excellent shape or you’re just not sure you’ll earn rewards fast enough to offset this card’s annual fee, a less costly (and less generous) card is likely to suit you better.

Brian Martucci is a blogger-journalist who writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time-, money- and stress-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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Category: Business card

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