June 26, 2016

Why I'm Going Big With Delta

I've stayed loyal to United for the past 16 years given that I've lived in United hubs (Boulder then DC and now Denver) and they can generally get me to where I need to be nonstop.  But without higher elite status (currently a lowly United Silver) it just doesn't matter all that much.  I can essentially replicate Silver benefits with the United Explorer Visa card.  So I have begun diversifying my paid travel based on schedule and price vs. solely based on carrier.

As it relates to award travel, I've been playing the field for awhile.  Since I'm generally flying in a premium cabin, elite status within a given alliance doesn't impact the experience.  Despite that, I have yet to fly within the Skyteam (led by Delta) alliance during the last four years of heavy international travel.  As of a month ago, I had less than 1,000 Delta SkyMiles in my account.

One of the challenging things about applying for loads of credit cards is that eventually you start to run out of options.  Amex has a "once in a lifetime" signup bonus restriction and Chase/Citi let you receive signup bonuses every 24 months.  So when there is a compelling offer that I can take advantage of, I usually do.  And that is why I am going big with Delta.

I recently wrote about Amex's increased offer for the Delta SkyMiles Gold card.  I signed up and referred Emily for an extra 10,000 bonus miles.  I've also added the business version of the card.  For those keeping score, that is 175,000 Delta SkyMiles from three signup bonuses.  The annual fee is waived on the three cards for the first year and I also received $150 in Delta fee credits.  I used two credits for flights and bought a gift card (which I resold) for the third.

Next up is the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex.  The current offer is 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 in 90 days with a $195 annual fee and $100 Delta statement credit.  I plan on signing up for the card personally as well as for my business.  Given the annual fee, I'm on the fence about signing up for a third card for Emily.  Even with the two additional cards, I'll earn another 124,000 SkyMiles for $390.  I'm confident I'll use the Delta statement credits so I'll rationalize the fees down to $190 total.  

SkyMiles Platinum Offer

When you add it all up, we'll have 299,000 SkyMiles.  While Delta doesn't publish an award chart anymore, I've been playing around with their search engine and found great availability to Europe, Asia, and Australia!  Roundtrips (in business class) range from 80,000 - 100,000 miles per person each way.  Delta is an American Express Membership Rewards partner meaning I can transfer MR points to Delta to top up my account should I need additional points for an award.

While I'm not exactly sure how I'll use my newly minted stack of SkyMiles, I'm confident that I'll find a great use for them.  Given Amex's "once in a lifetime" bonus structure, it pays to take advantage of great offers...especially when you're limited on new cards to add to your wallet.

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