This week it was time for me to apply for a new Citi card, and I decided to throw in an AMEX card as well. I had planned to open a Starwood Preferred Guest business card as it’s been over a year since I closed my last one, but… 25K? Really? Come on, AMEX, bring us a summer promotion! So I decided instead to add some Delta miles to my balance which was emptied out booking travel for the four of us to Australia and New Zealand for this November.
I have already burned my one personal Delta Gold card, and recently opened the business Delta Gold card, each with 50K mile signup bonuses and no annual fee for the first year. So the natural next card, with a solid 60K signup bonus, was the Platinum Delta card. It gets some attention from status-seekers because it earns 10K Medallian Qualifying miles. Whatever those are. Actually I know what they are, but I could care less about them. All I see is an easy 62K miles, an easy $100 statement credit, and a $195 annual fee. Since AMEX prorates the annual fee when you close a card, I’ll likely wind up with a fee that more or less offsets the $100 credit. This offer and its business version, along with the Gold 50K offers, expire temporarily June 30th, but they’ll likely be back in a few months. If you’re after status, there’s also the Delta Reserve card that features some MQMs but no redeemable miles signup bonus, a $450 fee and access to Delta clubs. Unless AMEX learns from Citi how to get cheapskates like me to apply for premium cards, I say no thanks to the Reserve card. Unless it’s going to push you over the top for Platinum or higher level status, you should do the same.
I was approved instantly for both the Citi AT&T Access More and the AMEX Delta Platinum cards, and declined for an Alaska Airlines card from Bank of America. No bait and switch this time. The last step was pretty cool – AMEX actually gave me my real card number, with the full credit line, at the end of the process. If one of the cashback portals had been offering 2% or better on AMEX gift cards, I could have applied and met the spending requirement on the same day!
Putting Delta miles to good use
Virgin Australia from LAX to Australia and New Zealand – I’ve covered that one, and it’s the one Delta international premium cabin redemption that jumps out as being far better than United and AA.
Virgin Atlantic to Britain – great for getting to England if you have VS service, with lots of positioning potential for the rest of us with service to Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, New York and San Fransisco. Availability is good, and there are no surcharges as long as your ticket originates in the U.S. (one-way or roundtrip).
Aeromexico and Aerolíneas Argentinas to Central and South America – AM is really frustrating to me. Mexico City (on several airlines) is about the only ticket that is consistently inexpensive from here in San Antonio. But AM opens like no award seats on their SAT-MEX flights, so I’d have to pay at least $75 in extra taxes to connect to the flights that do have award seats. From some cities, you could fly to MEX on Alaska Airlines and continue on AM. There are some decent possibilities here, a few better than AA or United even if positioning flights are required.
Delta to Alaska – this is the one award that families should consider actively collecting Delta miles for. If you haven’t been to Alaska, you should go. Seriously. Let’s look at the options for getting there:
Alaska Airlines has good availability from the West coast at 12.5K Alaska or AA miles each way. Or 12.5K Delta miles. So they’re all equal there. Seats from most of the rest of country are typically 20K Alaska miles each way and can’t be booked with other programs.
American has very little to no Saver availability to Alaska, particularly in the summer. Aanytime rates are 40K-65K each way. Nuts!
United increased the cost of Saver awards to Alaska in 2013, along with reducing their service to Alaska while no longer opening Saver level seats. Standard level award seats are 35K miles each way. If you do find Saver level seats that work for you, they should be booked with Air Canada, Singapore, Lufthansa or ANA miles.
While Delta only has a few dates with 12.5K each way, 17.5K to 20K seats can be had all summer long. From the Southeast, this is nearly as far as Europe, and offers the best price to Alaska from everywhere. Not just the few cities that Alaska airlines serve.
Domestic tickets on Delta – this isn’t glamorous at all. But for those without Southwest service, and frequently for expensive last minute fares, it gets you there and can save a ton of money and/or more ‘valuable’ miles. Delta’s $0 close-in booking fee (AA and UA charge $75 for non-elites) cements this when comparing non-saver awards for family trips that you can’t schedule.
That’s our take on Delta miles:
- A few great uses on Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic
- Niche opportunities on other partners
- Our best option to Alaska
- Worth keeping a few around for close-in tickets or emergencies
- With all of the different AMEX offers out there, it’s easy to earn a whole bunch of them! Even if you missed out on the dying Suntrust Delta debit card.
Through the end of June, Delta 50K Gold and 100K Platinum card offers can be found here for Gold personal, Gold business, Platinum personal and Platinum business cards. These ‘Platinum’ Delta cards are not to be confused with AMEX Platinum charge cards. Some existing Delta card holders may have referral offers, but mine seem to be only for 35K bonuses. No thanks.
Always be sure to use a fresh incognito/private/cookie-free browsing sessions for all AMEX card offers and applications, and take screenshots of each step! Clicking on these links in ANY browser that has ANY AMEX cookie from ANY login can mess up the bonus offer. Cookies are evil!
Disclosure: While Delta miles can be useful, paying interest on credit card debt in order to earn them would be just plain stupid. If you have any outstanding credit card debt, please focus on that and pay it off before attempting to use any rewards program! This post contains no affiliate links.