The Best Credit Cards for Delta Flyers [Lounge Access, Upgrades, Priority Boarding & More]

Delta Air Delta One

We may be compensated when you click on links from one or more of our advertising partners. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone. Terms apply to offers below. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details.

If you fly Delta even a few times a year, chances are you’ll benefit from having a Delta-branded credit card. Lounge access, priority boarding, free checked bag on Delta flights, earning Delta SkyMiles, and improving your chances for an upgrade are all great reasons to be a cardholder.

In addition to Delta-branded credit cards, however, there are other credit cards that can help you earn free flights and even provide you with complimentary Sky Club lounge access. Today we’re going to explore credit card options that provide benefits specifically for Delta flyers.

If you’ve made Delta your airline of choice but haven’t pursued the additional benefits of a Delta credit card, you’re in luck. All the information you need to select the right card for you is here.

Let’s take a look at the best credit cards for Delta flyers.

Best Credit Cards for Delta Flight Purchases and Benefits

No one enjoys paying for checked bags or priority services. Having a Delta-branded credit card can eliminate some of that expense and deliver additional benefits.

General Flight Benefits

Having one of the following Delta-branded credit cards qualifies you for a free checked bag, priority boarding, and a 20% inflight food/beverage purchase statement credit.

Delta Pay with Miles
The Delta Pay with Miles benefit can be used when booking a qualifying flight. Image courtesy of

The Pay with Miles Benefit

All cardholders for the above Delta credit cards qualify for Delta’s Pay with Miles benefit. This benefit allows cardholders with at least 5,000 SkyMiles in their frequent flyer account to use those miles toward the purchase of flights.

Each 5,000 miles is worth $50 toward the flight purchase. For example, you could use 20,000 miles to reduce the cost of a ticket by $200.

If a selected flight qualifies, you will see the Pay with Miles option on your screen. You’ll have the option to pay for the entire ticket with miles, use a combination of both miles and money, or pay with your credit card.

Earning SkyMiles for Delta Purchases

All Delta-branded credit cards earn 2 SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.

Bottom Line: Six Delta credit cards come with a free checked bag, priority boarding, 2 miles per dollar earnings on Delta purchases, 20% inflight food/beverage credit, and Pay with Miles benefits. The Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card (which is not included in those 6), offers 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and the discounted inflight food/beverage purchase credit. 

Delta Air Lines Economy
Share your travel experience with others using a Delta Companion ticket. Image courtesy of

Best Credit Cards for Delta Companion Tickets

A valuable benefit of certain Delta-branded credit cards is the option to purchase a ticket and receive a companion ticket for just the cost of the taxes/fees. This companion certificate is offered each card anniversary year.

There are 4 Delta credit cards that offer the companion pass:

Limited Time Offer

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Learn More
(at Amex's secure site)
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 Bonus Miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 60,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 MQMs four times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Receive a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+® or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Complimentary access into the Delta Sky Club® for you when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge – The Centurion® Studio Partner when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn 3x Miles on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1x Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve card, click here.


Must Reads: For more info on the Delta Reserve card, see our insights on its benefits and our full review.

Not all fare classes or destinations are available. The certificate is good for 1 year from the date earned and valid for travel within the 48 contiguous states.

Cardholder must pay the applicable taxes and fees on the companion ticket (not to exceed $75).

Delta Air Lines First Class
Some Delta credit cards can increase your chances for an upgraded seat. Image courtesy of

Best Credit Cards for Delta Sky Club Lounge Access

If you travel frequently on Delta Air Lines, you’re going to want access to the Delta Sky Club lounges. To gain access to the Delta Sky Club lounges, you can either purchase a membership or use your Delta Reserve card, which offers complimentary access to the Club. If you purchase a membership, a single annual membership currently costs $545 annually.

Having a credit card that provides complementary or discounted lounge access can save you hundreds of dollars. Let’s take a look at the cards that provide access to Delta Sky Clubs.

Even having to pay an annual fee on a credit card that offers complimentary access could result in net savings versus purchasing an annual lounge membership.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great choice for Delta travelers who value complimentary lounge access, since it offers additional access to several lounge network properties, not just Delta Sky Clubs.

This can be an extremely valuable feature when Sky Clubs are unavailable or you’re traveling with others. Amex Centurion, Priority Pass, and Plaza Premium lounges usually allow 2 guests and have a far greater footprint worldwide.

Hot Tip: If worldwide lounge access is important to you, the Amex Platinum card should be at the top of your consideration list. The card offers complimentary access to over 1,300 global lounges for you and 2 additional guests, and it offers a long list of additional luxury travel benefits. 

Best Credit Cards for Delta Elite Status and Upgrades

For those Delta flyers who strive for Delta Medallion Elite status, having a credit card that accelerates the process can be valuable.

Let’s look at what it takes to achieve Delta Medallion Elite status and how a Delta-branded credit card can help you get there.

Medallion Elite Status Qualification Requirements

To reach Medallion Elite status, you must earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or fly the required number of segments. You must also reach certain levels of required Elite Qualifying Dollars derived from flight purchases (MQDs).

Requirements must be met each calendar year.

  • Silver: 25,000 MQMs or 30 segments + $3,000 MQDs or meet the MQD waiver
  • Gold: 50,000 MQMs or 60 segments + $6,000 MQDs or meet the MQD waiver
  • Platinum: 75,000 MQMs or 100 segments + $9,000 MQDs or meet the MQD waiver
  • Diamond: 125,000 MQMs or 140 segments + $15,000 MQDs or meet the MQD waiver

For more information, see our in-depth article on Delta’s Loyalty Program which goes into detail on their Elite Status levels.

How Delta Credit Cards Help You Qualify

All Medallion MQD requirements, with the except of Diamond level, can be waived when you spend $25,000 on a Delta-branded credit card in a calendar year.

For Diamond level, the waiver requires $250,000 in spending on a Delta-branded credit card.

You can also earn Medallion Qualifying Miles when reaching certain spending levels each year on your Delta-branded credit card.

The business versions of these cards offer the same corresponding MQM-earning benefits.

Seattle SkyClub
Relax between flights at a Delta Sky Club lounge. Seattle Sky Club image courtesy of

Hot Tip: Want more information? Check out our guide to credit cards that help you earn airline elite status.

Best Credit Card Rewards for Transferring to Delta

If you’re a Delta flyer and have credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points, Ultimate Rewards points, or Marriott Bonvoy points, you can utilize these transfer programs to book flights on Delta.

Membership Rewards Points

If you hold an American Express credit card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can transfer those points at a 1:1 ratio to Delta.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

While Ultimate Rewards points do not transfer to Delta, you can transfer points to SkyTeam Alliance partners Air France (Flying Blue) or Virgin Atlantic and use those miles to book on Delta.

You can also use Ultimate Rewards to book Delta flights via the Ultimate Rewards travel portal and earn miles on those flights.

Marriott Bonvoy Points

If you have an excess of Marriott Bonvoy points and need to top off your Delta frequent flyer account for an award redemption, you can transfer Marriott points at the rate of 3 Marriott points to 1 Delta SkyMile.

You also receive a 5,000 mile bonus when transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points.

Our complete guides tell you how to earn lots of Marriott Bonvoy points and how to receive maximum value when redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for flights.

Additionally, you can transfer points from these hotel and car rental loyalty programs to Delta:

Bottom Line: Earning credit card rewards that can be transferred to Delta or Delta’s SkyTeam alliance partners is another option for booking Delta award flights. However, it’s important to ensure you’re receiving good value; in many cases the transfer ratios are poor. 

Additional Benefits

All of the credit cards we’ve mentioned in this article offer additional American Express member benefits that vary by specific card.

These benefits can include:

To view the benefits and protections that come with each of the American Express cards we’ve mentioned, you can access the benefits policies.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a Delta frequent flyer and you can utilize the benefits that come with any of these credit cards, it makes sense to be a cardholder. Gaining complimentary lounge access, earning Elite Qualifying Miles, receiving upgrade priority, and saving on a companion ticket each year are all benefits that deliver value.

And while Delta credit card welcome bonuses vary, you can usually count on thousands of bonus SkyMiles when you’re approved for a Delta-branded card and meet the initial minimum spending requirements. Welcome bonuses can easily offset any first-year annual fee.

The Delta Reserve card is the best Delta-branded credit card for Delta flyers. It comes with a higher annual fee, but there are plenty of benefits that make it a good choice: Delta Sky Club access, an annual first-class companion certificate, and upgrade priority, for example.

If you travel frequently, fly on several different airlines, and value global lounges access, you may fare better with a premium travel rewards credit card like the Amex Platinum card, another good choice for Delta frequent flyers.

The information regarding The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Is a Delta credit card worth it?

Yes, a Delta credit card is worth it if you frequently travel on Delta Air Lines.

The welcome bonuses alone bring enough value in the first year to make the card worthwhile. Beyond the first year, just a few flights receiving a free checked bag or lounge access can bring value beyond that of any annual fee.

You’ll also be earning Delta SkyMiles that can be redeemed for free flights or applied towards paid tickets with the Pay with Miles benefit.

Can I transfer SkyMiles to other airlines?

Unfortunately, you cannot transfer SkyMiles to other airlines.

Delta SkyMiles can be redeemed for award flights which can be operated by SkyTeam partner airlines. You can also use SkyMiles to pay for qualifying flights on with the Pay with Miles feature.

Do Delta SkyMiles expire?

Delta SkyMiles do not expire. When you earn SkyMiles, they are deposited into your SkyMiles account and are safe as long as that account is open, even if you close your Delta credit card.

Many airline frequent flyer programs set your miles to expire so this is a great benefit of having a SkyMiles account.

How does the Delta companion pass work?

Each anniversary card year on the Delta Reserve card and the Delta Platinum card (and business versions of these cards), you receive a certificate good for a companion ticket.

When you purchase 1 ticket, you receive the second ticket for just the cost of the taxes and fees, which cannot exceed $75.

The certificate is good for flights within the contiguous 48 United States and is good for one year from the date it is earned.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

Travel prices are about to surge from pent-up demand.

Use this points strategy to lock in pennies-on-the-dollar pricing in 2021, all without being a frequent flyer...

How do I only pay $30 to go to Hawaii, $200 for business class to Asia or just $150 to Europe?

Discover the real-life strategies that anyone can use to enjoy limitless travel (even on a limited budget!)

Just sign up below and I’ll send you the Limitless Travel Playbook instantly:

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. Click here to see a list of advertisers that we work with.