Last summer I applied for a Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. I travel semi-frequently, and our family also takes periodic trips. Given that almost all of this travel (when it involves flying) is done on Delta, I thought a targeted card like this might make sense for us.
Upon approval, I was granted 20k bonus miles, 5k of which were MQMs (i.e., they count toward upgrading my flyer status), along with an extra 2500 bonus miles for my wife’s card. As far as ongoing rewards go, I earn one mile per dollar spend with double miles on purchases from Delta. I also get chunks of additional MQMs at specific spending levels (10k MQMs for each $25k spent) as well as free checked bags and one “companion” certificate per year.
All in all, it’s been a good experience. Thanks to the bonus MQMs, I’ve been able to upgrade my status such that I earn mileage at a higher rate when I fly, I get occasionally get upgrades, and I also get to reserve seats in the sought after exit row – this is no small thing when you’re 6’5″.
All of that is well and good, but how much are these rewards actually worth? I place a very high value on the status upgrade, as that pays dividends in multiple ways. But what about actual cash savings? Well…
My wife is taking two of our kids to visit family this fall. Last night, while making arrangements, I was able to use miles to snag one of the tickets (albeit at a slightly inflated price) and then use the companion ticket for a buy-one-get-one-free pair of tickets for the other two.
The reward ticket cost 32, 500 miles – a bit higher than the base 25, 000 due to availability – with a $5 booking fee. That ticket would have otherwise cost $385, so I saved $380. That works out to just shy of 1.2 cents per mile. Not the steal of the century – I’ve done better in the past – but a pretty solid deal.
As for the companion ticket, I was really pleased with this in that it was very easy to use. There were some taxes/fees that weren’t covered on the companion fare, which added $21 to the overall bill, but we got away with two tickets for $406. Not too shabby.
Adding it all up, we got three plane tickets worth $1155 for $427 out-of-pocket. Even after adding back in the $150 annual fee for the Platinum card, we ended up paying about half what these tickets would have otherwise cost us.
Sure, if we had a cash back reward card we could’ve put those rewards toward a flight, but we wouldn’t get the companion voucher, free checked bags, enough bonus MQMs to upgrade my status, etc.