American Express (AmEx) has unveiled significant updates to its Delta SkyMiles credit cards, introducing a range of new benefits aimed at appeasing customers disheartened by the SkyMiles loyalty program issues that surfaced last year. Let’s delve into the key details:
New Benefits, Higher Fee: AmEx introduces updates to Delta SkyMiles cards with added benefits.
The enhancements, however, come with a higher annual fee.
AmEx asserts that the additional perks provided will outweigh the increased cost.
Flight Credits: Users can now earn flight credits of $200 after reaching a certain spending threshold.
Restaurant Credits: AmEx adds $120 to $240 in restaurant credits specifically for reservations made through Resy.
Rideshare Credits: Cardholders will receive $120 to $240 in credits for popular rideshare apps such as Lyft and Uber.
Medallion Qualifying Dollars: Higher-tier cards will include $2,500 in “medallion qualifying dollars.”
These dollars aim to bring users closer to achieving elite status on Delta Air Lines.
Expanded Companion Certificate Usage: Delta cardholders can now use companion certificates on a more extensive range of flights.
Corporate Ties: Delta Air Lines and AmEx have maintained deep corporate ties for decades, proving lucrative for both entities.
AmEx customers enjoy various benefits, including access to Delta’s airport lounges and the ability to transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta.
Financial Partnership: In 2023, Delta received a substantial $6.8 billion from American Express as part of its co-brand credit card partnership.
This significant sum is derived from the fees that AmEx collects from the billions of dollars spent on the cards by cardmembers.
Impact on U.S. Economy: Delta CEO Ed Bastian highlighted the scale of impact, revealing that approximately 1% of the entire US economy is spent on Delta’s credit cards.
Loyalty Program Changes: Delta faced criticism for alterations to its SkyMiles loyalty program last year.
Changes included increased spending requirements for elite status and restrictions on lounge entries based on status.
Customer Backlash: Following the loyalty program changes, many AmEx customers expressed dissatisfaction on social media.
Some even declared their intention to cancel their cards due to Delta’s alterations.
Apology and Rollbacks: Delta CEO Ed Bastian later apologized for the changes, recognizing the discontent among customers.
As a response, Delta rolled back some proposed changes and delayed others for another year.
Timing of Changes: AmEx typically plans credit card updates with a lead time of 18 to 24 months.
The changes announced on Thursday were in progress before Delta made adjustments to its SkyMiles program.
Joint Efforts to Retain Customers: The recent updates from both companies align with a shared goal to retain customers who expressed dissatisfaction after last year’s SkyMiles changes.
Statements from AmEx: Howard Grosfield, President of U.S. Consumer Services at AmEx, emphasized the benefits of the updated cards.
In his words, “These cards offer a plethora of new benefits to help consumers and business owners enjoy premium travel, access new credits and more value, and get closer to Medallion status.”
Fee Increases: The adjustments in benefits are reflected in changes to the annual fees for the Delta credit cards.
The Delta Gold Card’s annual fee increases to $150 from $99, Delta Platinum rises to $350 from $250, and Delta Reserve sees an increase to $650 from $550.