My parents live in area predominantly serviced by Delta Airlines, so they both use the Delta-branded American Express cards that get you miles when you buy things with them. Check your first bag free on every Delta flight – that’s a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four. Delta recently announced that on September 1st, Gold and Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card holders will also get free priority boarding for themselves and companions (less dealing with crazy lines and fighting for carry-on space). Finally, there is 20% off in-flight purchases like food, beverages, and movies.
These are nice benefits if you don’t fly enough each year to make an “Elite” level, and can often pay for the card’s annual fee even if just travel once or twice a year. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles after making just $500 in purchases in the first three months, enough for a free “saver” round-trip ticket or a flat $300 off any Delta airfare. The annual fee is $95, but is waived for the first year.
*(Expired) A lesser-known perk is that you get a $99 companion ticket with the Gold card (becomes a free companion ticket with the upgraded Platinum Skymiles card). These companion vouchers are actually useable unlike some others, although they do have some restrictions. I’ve used them a few times now when my parents weren’t using theirs, and the paid fare I booked never cost more than about 15% above the lowest priced fare on Expedia. Since the 2nd person travels for $99, after everything the companion tickets usually saved me and my wife at least $100 each time when traveling cross-country. If you live in Hawaii, the companion tickets even work from Hawaii to the mainland US and back. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t work from mainland US to Hawaii or Alaska.) If you travel regularly with someone with Delta, these are actually worthwhile.
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