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Don't yet have an airline that you call home? The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express makes a compelling case for business travelers to give their loyalty to the nearly 100-year-old airline (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser). In exchange for an attractive sign-up bonus and perks like priority boarding and in-flight discounts, Delta checks off many of the boxes on most business travelers' must-have lists.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express' best features:
Delta flies to 900 destinations around the world -- a business traveler's dream. For members of this group who haven't yet leveraged a loyalty credit card to enhance their travel experience, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express offers several perks and benefits to incentivize them.
First, there's the sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you make $2,000 in purchases in the first three months (this offer requires your application be received by Nov. 9, 2016). Most business travelers can meet this threshold within a month and in return earn enough miles for a domestic round-trip flight (one-way award tickets start at just 10,000 miles) or to partially offset the cost of a Delta Comfort™ or first-class ticket. Additionally, you can earn a $50 statement credit after making a purchase with Delta within the first three months of card membership.
The card comes with no annual fee for the first year and no foreign transaction fees, saving business travelers who fly internationally up to 3 percent on every purchase. Aside from those fees, the most attractive perks also help travelers avoid the typical grievances most people now have with airlines -- checked baggage fees, expensive in-flight purchases and all the nickel-and-diming that further inflates ticket costs.
Checked baggage is $25 a bag on Delta, but with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, your first bag flies free. Cardholders also get a 20 percent discount in the form of statement credit on in-flight purchases they make with their card. You earn two miles for every dollar on Delta purchases and one mile for every dollar on everything else. Miles never expire, so you can redeem them anytime and take advantage of priority boarding, another card benefit.
The best way to maximize your rewards is to join Delta's SkyMiles Frequent Flyer Program. When you join the program, you can earn additional miles above what you get with the the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express. The way to do this is to achieve SkyMiles Medallion Status.
There are four Medallion status tiers, ranging from silver to diamond, with qualification miles ranging from 25,000 to 125,000. Annual spending on Delta flights also factors into the tiers, but Delta waives this requirement -- called Medallion Qualification Dollars -- for card members who spend at least $25,000 with the airline within a calendar year. Unfortunately, tickets paid for in miles don't count toward earning miles for Medallion status, so business travelers can't use their sign-up bonus to achieve this perk faster. However, if you achieve Medallion status, you can expect to earn a mileage bonus of anywhere from two additional miles per dollar (silver status) up to six additional miles per dollar (diamond status). That means Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express card members who also are in the frequent flyer program earn a minimum of four miles per dollar on every Delta purchase.
Some travel rewards cards, like the The JetBlue Plus Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, offer a redemption bonus when you redeem miles through their portals or online travels centers, giving cardholders a discount of between 10 and 20 percent for redeeming their rewards. Delta doesn't offer this bonus.
Another significant drawback is that the annual fee jumps to $95 after the first year. With a value of a little more than 1 cent per mile for most flights, you'd need to earn at least 9,500 miles a year or spend about $396 a month on Delta purchases to offset this fee -- a target that should be easy for business travelers to hit.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express also doesn't offer an introductory low APR rate. Its APR ranges from 15.49-19.49 percent, which will eat into your rewards if you don't pay your balance off in full every month.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card isn't strictly a business card, but it can certainly be a benefit to business travelers.
It offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, the equivalent of $625 in travel when cardholders redeem their points through Chase's travel portal. This gives Chase's points a value of 1.25 cents, slightly higher than the valuation per mile of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers two points per dollar for travel and dining and one point for all other purchases, similar to Delta except that Chase has dining as an additional bonus category. Both cards have no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee the first year, but their annual fees increase to $95 after this period. Chase also has seven airline partners (British Airways and Southwest among them) and four hotel partners (Marriott and IHG among those) to which cardholders can transfer points at a 1-1 value. Delta has 15 airline partners. Trips on these carriers ticketed by Delta earn miles based on the ticket price, but those not ticketed by Delta earn miles based on the distance flown (and yes, this arrangement is largely too convoluted for most travelers to track). And, some of the trips on these partner airlines do not count toward Medallion status (Hawaiian Airlines and WestJet are two examples).
Another advantage of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card? It offers a 20 percent discount when you redeem your points through its travel center. If you want more redemption flexibility, Chase offers the better deal. Otherwise, the cards are pretty even in terms of points and perks.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express vs. United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
Neither card has an annual fee the first year and their fees increase to $95 thereafter. The tiered points structure also is similar, as both the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card and Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express offer two miles per dollar on their respective airlines and one mile per dollar on all other purchases. However, the two miles per dollar with United is just for ticket purchases. Delta offers two miles per dollar on all airline-related purchases, including in-flight purchases and Delta vacation packages.
Both cards offer free checked baggage for one piece of luggage, no foreign transaction fees, and rental car and travel insurance. However, United offers lost luggage reimbursement for up to $3,000 per passenger and 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 on your card each calendar year. Aside from these two features, the differences between the two cards are negligible.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express vs. Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business credit card offers a significant amount of flexibility for business travelers who are committed to a particular airline for their travels. In addition, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business credit card's annual fee is only $59, which is waived for the first year, making it less expensive to carry.
With the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business credit card, you'll earn a flat two miles for every dollar you spend, so there's a good opportunity to rack up some miles toward upcoming trips. Furthermore, you aren't tied to a particular airline with the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business; in fact, there are no blackout dates or restrictions on when and how you can redeem your miles.
Still, because this is a general travel rewards card, you do miss out on a few airline-specific perks that you get with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express card, such as a free checked bag and discounts on in-flight purchases.
If you already fly with Delta, why not be rewarded for your loyalty? Any business professional who travels frequently with the airline can earn free flights and save a ton of money alone on checked baggage fees -- at least $25 per trip. Delta flies to over 900 locations worldwide, so the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express could help you stock up enough rewards for that dream vacation.