Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Offers: Are They Right For You?

Delta Air Lines frequent flyers have been bombarded in recent weeks with enticing e-mail offers to sign up for credit cards that offer mileage bonuses and many other perks.

The cards may not be the most advantageous ones available to consumers, but they could be a sign that airlines are trying to make their cards more attractive.

Delta’s card offerings are “interesting,” says credit card expert Matt Schulz, because they give double miles for restaurant spending. Typically, cards offered by airlines only give double miles for tickets purchased for flights.

“I think this is a good indication that airlines recognize they need to step their games up to stay competitive in the credit card marketplace,” says Schulz, a senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com. “People want cards with flexible, easy-to-use rewards, and airline cards haven’t always offered that.”

On Dec. 5, Delta sent an email to its SkyMiles members that began, “Want to earn 2x miles at US Restaurants? You can with the NEW Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.”

“New” might be a stretch, because the Blue card, which heralded that card holders could earn miles without paying an annual fee, debuted in September. Relatively new, perhaps?

Delta has also sent to SkyMiles members promotional offers for its Gold card, which offers no annual fee for the first 12 months and then a $95 annual fee. The card offers a free checked bag and priority boarding on Delta flights, and a $50 credit for a Delta-related purchase, but doesn’t give double miles for restaurant purchases.

Schulz says he tends to recommend miles and points credit cards that aren’t tied to a specific airline.

His recommendations include:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred card. “50,000 miles when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.”
  • The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. “40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months, plus it’s one of the very few U.S. cards with chip-and-PIN capability.”
  • The Capital One Venture Rewards card. “50,000 miles when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.”

Schulz suggests consumers also consider a newcomer, but he adds a caveat.

“As far as new cards go, the Uber Visa card has really competitive rewards, including 4 percent back at restaurants and 3 percent back on hotel spending and airfare,” he says. “However, given all the scandal around the Uber brand lately, I’m not sure how many people will be drawn to that card, even with the strong rewards.”