If you’re loyal to one airline and need a card that rewards you for all your purchases, an airline-branded business credit card can be a smart choice.
One partnership that has become very popular among small business owners is the American Express and Delta suite of business credit cards. Like their consumer-geared cards, there are various levels of card fees and associated benefits. Which of the three is right for you?
We break down the perks and pros for each class of business card below:
This is considered the entry level card for those wanting to pair Amex customer service and purchase protections with an existing Delta SkyMiles account. As there is an annual fee of, which is competitive with other “gold” status business cards on the market.
The gold card has many of the perks you would expect from a travel card, including no foreign transaction fees and premier Delta-specific savings opportunities. These include 20% back on in-flight purchases, priority (zone 1) boarding, discounted Delta Sky Club® access, and a free checked bag for flights purchased with your card.
For the business owner who wants to maximize benefits, you would be wise to take advantage of the free cards feature for employees. Their purchases will add to your miles and perks earnings without the need to pay any additional annual card fees. Some business owners have accelerated additional earnings with the exclusive OPEN SAVINGS® partners program; this allows for a 5% statement credit for select partner purchases. (Unlike some programs, the partners actually make sense, and include business-friendly brands, such as FedEx and HP.) All receipts and transactions for your workforce can be easily managed, tagged, and itemized with the Spend Manager Mobile App.
Ready for something a bit more rewarding? The Platinum level of card bumps up perks to the next level, but you’ll pay more than twice that of the Gold card in annual fees for the privilege (). Benefits include those listed for the gold level, plus a free companion air travel certificate (cabin use only.)
If the thought of aannual fee doesn’t make you flinch, then you’ll love the benefits the Reserve card gives members. In addition to all of those mentioned for the Platinum and Gold cards, you’ll get quite a few freebies. Perhaps the most coveted is the complimentary access to the Sky Club, which gets you snacks, drinks and a place to call home between flights at more than 200 airports worldwide. If you’re one who will use this perk regularly, it’s a good deal; an annual lounge membership is $495 – about what you’ll pay in annual fees for this card.
The benefits don’t end there. The free companion certificate is good for business class – not just cabin. Flyers will get upgrade priority over other Medallion passengers, and will be given Sky Priority access by default. (This means first in line – your own line – when checking in, making flight changes and boarding.)
A couple of lesser-known benefits for this class of card include the American Express concierge service. While not something everyone will use, it’s a nifty convenience that gets you help when arranging travel, booking hotels or managing the mess that can occur when flight delays make your plans chaotic. Some travelers have found the complimentary 24/7 concierge to be a lifesaver when away from home and unfamiliar with the services in the area. If you’re feeling generous, you can also choose to gift your MQMs to a family member or friend, an option that’s unique to the Reserve cardholder program.
Sweeten the Deal With Bonus Offers
As credit card providers fight to get business, their enrollment offers will become more competitive. American Express is no exception, and they have done an excellent job of getting new card holders to their Delta partner program with a few appealing intro offers. All three card levels offer bonus miles for purchases within the first three months, as well as some statement credit or MQM bonus options.
Here is what each of these cards is currently offering (subject to change and credit approval):
The Right Card for You?
Are one of these cards worth it? For a traveler who makes more than a couple of business trips a year, and is anyway brand loyal to Delta, it’s a good bet. In fact, in a time where many airline partnerships are showing dwindling rewards, it’s nice to see a card that lets you get first in line with a free checked bag and a smile – even at the lowest benefit level.
For businesses who aren’t ready to make a large commitment, getting a taste of the program through the gold level is a wise choice. You can see if the travel perks are worth it, without spending any annual fee the first year. If you like it, you can always upgrade at a pro-rated annual membership cost – even before your first year is up. Just speak to any American Express rep, and they’ll be happy to make the upgrade for you.
This article was originally written on September 15, 2017 and updated on February 8, 2023.