With all the news about Delta and Alaska Airlines this week, a couple of local readers wanted my opinion when Delta sent out a targeted offer to Seattle residents for the Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card. We’re being tempted with 50,000 SkyMiles after spending $1,000 in the first three months as well as a $200 statement credit after making a Delta purchase within the first three months. The $95 annual fee is also waived the first year. For comparison, a typical offer is only 35,000 miles and no statement credit.
So is this a deal worth taking, or should you pass? Delta already made an even more generous offer to Seattle residents at the end of last year with a higher minimum spend, so I wonder how “limited” such a limited-time offer really is now that they are making a second go around. Targeting Seattleites is nothing new. However, the real questions you should be asking yourself are (1) Do I need the benefits this card provides, and (2) Do I value the sign-up bonus?
If you don’t fly on Delta, then you probably don’t need a Delta credit card. Delta hopes the argument is more compelling now that they have more flights departing Seattle and have made plans to end some of their reciprocal elite benefits with Alaska Airlines, which have allowed some Alaska customers to get free checked bags on those occasions when they fly with Delta instead. Only you can decide if you fly often enough and check bags often enough that you need a fee waiver. I think that applying for such a credit card can work well for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to earn elite status.
As for the miles, just how valuable do you think those will be? Delta has announced that it is moving to a new, five-tier award chart in 2015. It claims this will mean more award availability at the “lower levels,” but that doesn’t mean more availability at the lowest level. It’s possible that Delta will reduce availability at the lowest award tier and increase it at the second-lowest or middle tiers. More availability, but more miles, too, making those miles from the sign-up bonus less valuable.
I really don’t know what they’re going to do. I’m just saying big numbers aren’t necessarily attractive when you dig below the surface.
Finally, there is one reason to get this card even if you don’t check bags often and don’t value the miles. You could apply for the card and use it as a $200 coupon off your next ticket. Since there’s no annual fee the first year, the only cost to you is a temporary hit to your credit score.
Personally, I would recommend someone who plans to become a regular Delta Air Lines customer to apply for the more expensive Platinum Delta SkyMiles card. It has a $195 annual fee that is also waived the first year and includes a smaller $100 statement credit. It only provides 35,000 SkyMiles for its sign-up bonus but also includes 5,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles and the chance to earn more SkyMiles and MQMs when you reach certain spending thresholds during the year. Amol has written previously about using this and another Delta credit card to facilitate earning elite status with a minimum of actual flying.