Best American Express Airline Credit Cards

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American Express, Member FDIC, has long had a reputation as a service-oriented company, so it makes sense that it offers a wide range of airline credit cards tailored to the needs of various travelers. However, currently, the American Express line of airline credit cards is tied solely to Delta Airlines.

About American Express Airline Credit Cards

What this means is that American Express has a great range of options for Delta flyers, but those flying other airlines might want to look into using a different card issuer.

Here are the four best airline credit cards offered by American Express, with explanations of how they differ and what type of flyer might be most appropriate for each card.

Credit Card Best For APR Features
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Regular Delta Flyers 17.99% to 26.99% APR – 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after you make $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
– $39 Delta Sky Club access per visit/per person
– 20% back on in-flight purchases
– $100 credit for Global Entry or $85 credit for TSA Pre Check®
– First checked bag free
– Priority boarding
– 10,000 MQMs after $25,000 AND $50,000 in eligible purchases in a year, up to two times
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Casual Delta Flyers 17.99% to 26.99% APR – Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new card in the first 3 months
– $100 Delta flight credit, after $10,000 spent in the first year
– 20% back on in-flight purchases
– First checked bag free
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card One-Time Delta Flyers 17.99% to 26.99% APR – Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in eligible purchases on your new Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express card in the first 3 months
– 20% back on in-flight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Upper-Tier Elite Delta Flyers 17.99% to 26.99% APR – 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after you make $3,000 in purchases in first 3 months
– 20% back on in-flight purchases
– Access to complimentary upgrades
– Complimentary access to SkyLounge and Centurion Lounge
– Two one-time guest passes to lounge annually
– Companion travel certificates
– $100 credit for Global Entry or $85 credit TSA Pre Check®
– No charge for first checked bag
– Priority boarding
– 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in a year, up to four times per year
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Best Credit Card for Regular Delta Flyers: Delta SkyMiles Platinum

If Delta is your preferred airline but you don’t live in an airport, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express card might be the right card for you.

The card offers a 50,000 mile welcome offer bonus if you spend $2,000 in the first three months of card ownership. If you meet the spend requirement, you’ll also earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) — not to be confused with regular miles, MQMs build toward Medallion Status, which offers more benefits.

Additional Perks

Additional airline perks that a regular Delta flyer may enjoy include 20% back on in-flight purchases, a $100 fee credit for Global Entry every four years or $85 credit for TSA Pre Check every 4.5 years, priority boarding and a free checked bag every time you fly. The card also offers discounted access to the Delta Sky Club, at just $39 per visit per person.

Mileage kickers of three miles for every dollar apply to Delta purchases and those made directly with hotels, making the card a bit more enticing even for non-Delta flyers. The card also offers double miles at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants, in addition to one mile for each dollar on all other purchases.

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Annual Fee

A $250 annual fee comes with card membership, however, which is why it benefits regular travelers the most, as they’re more likely to earn enough points to offset the fee.

Heavy spenders can earn an additional 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after spending $25,000 in a calendar year, a maximum of twice.

Best Credit Card for Casual Delta Flyers: Delta SkyMiles Gold

If Delta is your preferred airline but you don’t fly too frequently, the first year $0 annual fee Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express card might be more your speed. After the first year, the annual fee is $99.

For the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express card, new cardholders can earn a significant 40,000 bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first three months after account opening.

Additional Perks

Like the SkyMiles Platinum card, the SkyMiles Gold card offers a free checked bag on all flights, in addition to priority boarding and 20% back on in-flight purchases, all conveniences that even an infrequent traveler can enjoy. After $10,000 spent in the first year, cardholders can also receive a $100 Delta eCredit for a flight.

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The card also offers double miles on U.S. supermarket and worldwide restaurant purchases, as well as purchases made directly with Delta.

Annual Fee

With no annual fee for the first year, this is the perfect card for the occasional flyer to keep in their wallet for the times they do hop on a Delta flight. The annual fee increases to $99 after the first year.

Best Credit Card for One-Time Delta Flyers: Delta SkyMiles Blue

If you’re looking for an American Express airline card and don’t expect to fly too much, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card might offer value for you.

This card has a welcome offer of 10,000 miles after you spend $500 in eligible purchases in the first three months.

Additional Perks

For those times you do fly on Delta, the card also offers 20% back on in-flight purchases. Cardholders also earn 2x miles on dining and purchases made directly with Delta.

Annual Fee

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express card does not have an annual fee, so there’s no need for occasional Delta flyers to worry about earning enough points to make this card worth it.

Best Credit Card for Upper-Tier Elite Delta Flyers: Delta SkyMiles Reserve

Frequent Delta flyers looking for the best perks from a credit card will appreciate all the features and benefits of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express card.

For starters, you can earn a 50,000-mile plus 10,000-MQM welcome offer by spending $3,000 in the first three months after account opening. Additionally, you’ll earn 3x miles on purchases made directly with Delta.

Additional Perks

In addition to complimentary access to the Delta SkyLounge and the American Express® Centurion lounge, cardholders are offered two one-time guest passes. Additional features and benefits include the following:

  • 20% back on in-flight purchases
  • Access to complimentary upgrades
  • Companion travel certificates
  • $100 credit for Global Entry every four years or $85 credit for TSA Pre Check® every 4.5 years
  • Fee waiver for the first checked bag

Annual Fee

The biggest drawback to this card is the hefty $550 annual fee, but customers that fly Delta a lot can easily get more value out of the card.

The bottom line is that for frequent Delta flyers, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express provides a host of attractive features and services.

Which American Express Airline Credit Card Is Right for You?

American Express airline credit cards are designed to reward users for their purchases in airline miles, which can be used for flights, travel upgrades, Delta vacation packages, Delta gift cards, donations and magazine subscriptions.

The right American Express airline credit card for you depends on how much you will use the card for eligible purchases, as well as if you will be able to take advantage of many of the card’s benefits and perks.

For example, if you’re not a frequent flyer, applying for a card that rewards a higher number of miles but includes a steep annual fee doesn’t make financial sense. Instead, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express card might be a better fit because it only requires you to make $500 worth of eligible purchases within the first three months to earn the 10,000 bonus miles. Plus, the card rewards you 2x miles for dining purchases.

The best strategy is to choose a card that will allow you to maximize your ability to earn and spend rewards while offsetting any annual fees.

Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.

Rates, offers and fees are subject to change. All information is accurate as of Sept. 2, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

All information about American Express card offers has been collected independently by GOBankingRates and has not been reviewed or approved by American Express. These offers are not available through GOBankingRates.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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