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American Express & Delta Relaunch (But It’s Not All Good News)

American Express & Delta Relaunch (But It’s Not All Good News)
Joe Cortez

After renewing their agreement for another decade, American Express and Delta are relaunching the benefits across all of their co-branded credit cards. The new benefits include more ways to earn miles, Centurion Lounge access for top-tier customers and options to earn Medallion Status faster through spending. But our frequent flyers are asking: Are all these changes a good thing for loyal Delta flyers?

Delta Air Lines and their credit card partner American Express are relaunching their credit card portfolio – but is it entirely a good thing? In a press release, the Atlanta-based airline outlined the changes coming on January 30, 2020.

The airline says the changes are “driven by extensive research,” and “listening to customers and a continuous effort to exceed customer expectations.” The number of benefits changing depend on which card frequent flyers hold.

At the highest tier, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card will change how and when flyers can visit the airport lounge. In addition to Delta Sky Club access when flying aboard the airline, Reserve cardholders can also visit the American Express Centurion Lounge. Flyers will receive two Delta Sky Club one-time passes for guests annually, with subsequent guests costing $39 per guest. Cardholders may also receive access to upgrades without Delta Medallion status, but the announcement doesn’t elaborate on how that will happen. Flyers will also be paying more in annual fees: to match The Platinum Card from American Express, the price will go up to $550 per year.

One of the more noticeable changes at the top end is how flyers will get elite qualifying miles through credit card spending. Through “Status Boost,” Reserve cardholders can get 15,000 Medallion-qualifying miles after spending $30,000 in eligible purchases, up to four times each calendar year. According to both companies: “With 4 Status Boosts and MQD Waiver, Card Members can now earn Gold Medallion Status just by spending on the Reserve Card.” Platinum cardholders will only receive 10,000 Medallion-qualifying miles after reaching a cumulative total of $25,000 and $50,000 in eligible purchases each calendar year. Both sets of members will no longer receive bonus redeemable miles for reaching spending goals.

With both the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card, flyers can earn two miles per $1 spent at restaurants and supermarkets. But starting in January, Platinum cardholders will get three miles per $1 spent at hotels when purchased directly through the hotel, and three miles per $1 spent on Delta flights. Card credits are also changing: Gold cardholders may receive a $100 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 cumulatively over a year, while Platinum cardholders will receive up to $100 in free credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment. At the lowest card tier, Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express cards will get two miles per $1 spent at all restaurants internationally and will pay $0 in foreign transaction fees.

How are FlyerTalkers taking the news? Although the added lounge access is good, flyers are soured on the higher annual fees, loss of reward miles for spending, and the loss of the Medallion Qualifying Dollars waiver on the Gold Card.

“The fee is $100 more and we no longer receive 15,000 Skymiles when spending $30,000,” FlyerTalker ArmyFlyer05 writes on the forums. “The new earning structure is fairly useless, so the only new benefit is you can boost multiple times and get two Sky Club entries for a guest.”

“For Platinum Delta card holders, the annual fee goes up $55, SkyClub access costs more and 10,000 [reward miles] for every $25,000 in spend goes away,” WillSkiGT notes, calling it a “major downgrade.” “The only positive change is a $100 credit that can only be used every 4 years…and a few more points when booking at Delta or using the card at restaurants and grocery stores.”

“Removing [reward miles] and increasing fees with no benefits is sad and I am especially upset about adding Reserve members to the Centurion Lounges,” writes vincentharris. “Adding anybody else is the wrong way for Amex.”

The announcement comes after American Express and Delta renewed their agreement for another 10 years in April 2019. One of the agreement terms was offering “reciprocal benefits” to cardholders, while the airline would accept American Express cards for all purchases.

 

[Image Source: Delta]

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. strickerj

    October 1, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    On the bright side, the Delta SkyMiles Blue AmEx (the free one) will offer Pay With Miles and no foreign transaction fee, which were previously reserved for their annual-fee cards. I mean, it’s nothing earth-shattering, but at least it’s not a downgrade.

  2. certils

    October 2, 2019 at 4:40 am

    What an e revise on overthinking! It’s so devious. I can just picture it, representatives of American Express and Delta sitting at a table figuring out how best to achieve their ends while figuring out the terms of a renewal. MX want you to spend as much money on the annual fee as they can so they throw a big perk in at the top tier. Delta wants to minimize how people advance up the elite status categories so they cut back on that end. The amazing thing to me, and it’s true across all the airline loyalty cards, is that the airlines have lost sight of the meaning of the word loyalty and have contorted, tweaked and manipulated the associated benefits and privileges under their programs to the point where I now I have platinum status on American and rarely fly it.

  3. Surfwriter

    October 2, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’ve got to laugh at the idea that these constant devaluations of loyalty rewards by airlines and hotel chains is “driven by extensive research,” and “listening to customers and a continuous effort to exceed customer expectations.” Is it that these loyalty program honchos think we’re stupid or is it that they don’t give a damn if we believe it or not?

  4. NotSoFrequentColorado

    October 3, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Not mentioned is that Gold cardholders no longer get the discounted day passes at lounges. It’s just about the only benefit meaningful to me, so I’ll probably cancel the card.

  5. ChinaShrek

    October 7, 2019 at 5:49 am

    Does anyone know if I can downgrade my Gold card to a Blue one? Or, should I cancel the Gold card outright and apply for the Blue one a few months from now?

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