Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express Review: Is It Worth the Annual Fee?
The Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express is an airline rewards credit card that combines an average sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles and several different ways to earn SkyMiles from purchases.
The card is one of two Delta-sponsored credit cards designed to give business owners various rewards and perks when they fly Delta. The other card, the Platinum SkyMiles Business card, has a higher annual fee and more robust rewards and benefits.
Throughout this review, we’ll do quick comparisons between the Gold card and the Platinum card as we cover the Gold card’s rewards, benefits, and its rates and fees.
Once we work through our analysis of those sections, we’ll do a comparison of the Gold card with the United MileagePlus Explorer Business card from Chase and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard.
Most rewards credit cards give you a sign-up bonus you can earn by spending a certain amount of money in the first three months and various rewards bonuses when you use your card to buy things whether business or personal.
Sign-Up Bonus of 30,000 SkyMiles
Obtaining this bonus is very easy. You need to spend $1,000 in the first three months of owning the card, at which point American Express will take about 6-8 weeks after you hit the mark to send the bonus to your Delta SkyMiles account.
Your SkyMiles account is the frequent flyer account Delta runs and, if you don’t have one when you apply for the card, Delta will set one up for you if you are approved.
You redeem these miles for rewards seat, which have varying values depending on when you fly, where you fly and which part of the cabin you want to sit in (more on that later).
Also, if you make a purchase from Delta within the first 90 days, you’ll earn a $50 statement credit.
Spending Bonuses on Delta and Other Purchases
This card will give you SkyMiles points for nearly every purchase you make. How many SkyMiles you get depends on what you’re buying.
If you use your card to make purchases directly from Delta, then you’ll earn 2 SkyMiles for every $1 you spend.
The card’s fine print explains exactly which types of purchases count as “Delta” purchases. The following abbreviated list pulls some examples from that fine print:
- Delta phone reservations
- Delta ticket counters
- Payment for seat upgrades, miles, seat selection, Delta Sky Club® membership or passes, and pre-purchased meals
- In-flight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights
As you can see, there are a wide variety of Delta-related purchases you can make that will earn two SkyMiles per $1 you spend.
For all other purchases you will earn 1 SkyMile per $1 you spend, minus a few exceptions that include interest payments you make on your account as well as other card-related fees, traveler’s checks, gambling deposits, and a few other purchases.
How many points you can earn is wholly dependent upon your average yearly spending. For sake of example, we’re going to say you’ll spend $40,000 a year with this card. Around $2,000 of that will pay for Delta purchases. At that rate, you’ll earn 42,000 SkyMiles per year.
The Value of Delta SkyMiles
Over the past year or so, most airlines have streamlined and normalized their rewards bookings such that every airline, in most cases, offers fares on popular routes for 25,000 points for basic economy seats.
In our research of flights from San Francisco to New York City, we found basic economy seats for 21,000 SkyMiles, which is 2,000 below the average fare. Now, on shorter flights it takes fewer miles to book. For example, a round-trip flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles costs 10,000 SkyMiles.
Keep in mind that, when you book through the Delta website, you’ll have three types of seats you can book: main cabin, Comfort+, and First Class.
Prices for seats on the San Francisco to Los Angeles flight were 10,000 for the main cabin, 11,000 for Comfort+ and 14,000 for First Class. Seats on the San Francisco to New York flight were 21,000, 37,000 and 132,000, respectively.
According to Delta, their Comfort+ seats offer more legroom, a free meal, bigger screens and access to Delta’s in-house library of entertainment. First Class provides priority check-in from the point you drop off your baggage to when you board the plane. You also get a host of extra amenities and perks that aren’t available in Comfort+.
Aside from the rewards that you get with this card, you also receive a host of complimentary benefits you can use for Delta travel, general purchases, and business accounting:
When you use your Gold SkyMiles Business card to book Delta flights, you’ll get one free checked bag and priority boarding on your Delta-operated flight.
The free checked bag you get is good for up to nine travelers on your reservation. So, if you book a flight for you and your eight other family members, each person gets a free checked bag, provided the bag isn’t oversized or overweight.
According to the fine print, “priority boarding” means you get to board in Zone 1, which is the first main cabin boarding group. Like the baggage perk, this one applies to up to eight other people on your reservation.
You’ll also get a 20% discount on in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and headphones. The 20% “discount” is added as a credit to your credit card statement.
When you make purchases with your Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card, certain items you buy will get complimentary purchase protection and extended warranty coverage from American Express.
According to American Express, the purchase protection covers items you buy that are accidentally damaged or stolen up to 120 days after you bought it.
The extended warranty coverage will double the manufacturer’s warranty on things you buy that have a manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less.
You’ll also get complimentary car insurance rental when you use your card to book a car rental.
The final main benefit you get is baggage protection. When you book travel with your card, you could be reimbursed up to $1,250 if your baggage is lost, stolen or damaged during travel by “plane, train, ship or bus.”
These benefits have specific rules and exclusions, so read through the benefits guide you get when you receive your card in the mail.
American Express offers its business customers several different business tools. You can upload photos of receipts that AmEx’s app will match to the corresponding transaction on your statement.
Also, you able to upload your credit card statements to QuickBooks.
The Rates and Fees
In the event that you make a late payment, carry a balance or do a cash advance, you’re going to pay fees and interest rates. Here’s a list of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card’s rates and fees:
- Purchase APR: 17.74%, 21.74% or 26.74%
- Cash advance APR: 27.24%
- Penalty APR: 29.99%
- Annual fee: $0 1st year, $95
- Late/returned payment fee: Up to $38
- Cash advance fee: 3%
The purchase APR you get with this card is industry standard for cards that offer travel rewards.
The penalty APR is the only red flag among these rates and fees because it can apply to your account for up to 12 months if, after late payments or failing to meet minimum payments, AmEx decides to apply it to your account.
The card’s annual fee is on par with other travel cards for business owners. Both the United MileagePlus business card and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage card have a similar annual fee they waive the first year.
Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express vs. Other Business Airline Rewards Cards
At this point, you have a good idea of what the Gold Delta AmEx Business card has to offer. One way to test how solid the card’s features and benefits are is to compare it to other business airline rewards cards.
The following chart does a comparison of four cards based on $40,000 of overall yearly spending and $2,000 spending on flights:
|AmEx Gold Delta SkyMiles Business||AmEx Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business||Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business||CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select|
|Sign-Up Bonus||30,000 miles||50,000 miles||50,000 miles||70,000 miles|
|Yearly Rewards||42,000 miles||52,000 miles||57,000 miles||47,000 miles|
|Free Checked Bag||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Status Upgrade Points||No||Yes||No||No|
|APR||17.74% - 26.74%||17.74% - 26.74%||17.99% - 24.99%||17.74% - 25.74%|
|Annual Fee||$0 1st year, $95 after||$195||$0 1st year, $95 after||$0 1st year, $99 after|
In this chart, we’ve included AmEx’s other Delta business card to give you an idea of what your other Delta option would be.
Based on the research we presented in our review of the AmEx Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card, we believe it offers much more than the Gold card even though its annual fee is $195. The card’s miles bonuses, rewards rates and companion pass translate to superior value.
The same can be said, based on our research, about the United MileagePlus Explorer Business and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.
Both of them offer bigger sign-up bonuses as well as more rewards per year. The American Airlines card from CitiBusiness has the added advantage of providing a companion pass if you can spend $25,000 in a year, although the pass will cost you $99 plus tax.
The United card has a better high APR while the American card has a better low APR.
It’s for these reasons we believe the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card isn’t as good of a value as the three other cards listed in the chart.
How You Can Use the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express to Your Advantage
Based on what we’ve learned about this card, we believe the best way to take advantage of it is to fly exclusively with Delta and to use the card for all Delta purchases you make.
When you approach the card with this methodology, you'll earn double points on your Delta purchases and your baggage will be covered by the card’s baggage protection benefit.
That being said, if you fly Delta often and want a business card that provides you the most rewards and benefits possible, we believe the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card is the best choice for you.
At $40,000 in yearly spending, you’ll earn more SkyMiles each year because you get a free 10,000 SkyMiles when you spend at least $25,000 a year.
Plus, you get a free companion pass every year which, in our opinion, is well worth the extra $100 you’d pay each year to own the Platinum.
If you want to learn more about the card, take a moment to read through our review of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from America Express Open.