Delta American Express Card Loses Its Mileage-Earning Prowess

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m not a huge fan of the Delta Skymiles program, at least in terms of the value of a mile relative to a mile in many other programs.

The Delta award chart is expensive, availability tends to be tight relative to Star Alliance nad oneworld carriers, and the program unfriendly (they’re getting rid of US and Canadian departure fuel surcharges but they still have a partner fee and won’t hold itineraries when booking by phone). Plus since I like international first class awards, the Delta program doesn’t match up well, though they still do permit Singapore Airlines first class redemptions — and though I haven’t tested it yet I believe they still charge very hefty fees on those (several hundred dollars but worth it).

That said, I am a fan of bonus miles. Double miles are fantastic and make an otherwise pricey program worth accruing miles in. I’d take two Delta miles over a single United mile, for instance. Which is why I could often recommend the Delta American Express card products. Delta flyers need the cards for their bonus qualifying mile offers and the Reserve Card in particular to get bumped up in the upgrade queue.

But the regular miles collector could always use the Delta American Express for their popular ‘always double miles’ on “supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, home improvement and hardware stores, on qualifying purchases at the U.S. Postal Service, on wireless phone bill payments, and qualifying Delta purchases.”

Sadly, that benefit is now pulled and the always double miles stops with billing statements that begin on or after January 1, 2009 (or if your card was opened on or after November 1, 2007, this change goes into effect a year from when the card was opened).

So unless you’re using the card to top off towards elite status or other special purposes, there’s little competitive advantage in the card any longer.

Discussion of the change is taking place in this Flyertalk thread.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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