5 reasons I signed up for a Delta credit card even though the SkyMiles program no longer publishes an award chart

Even though Delta no longer publishes an award chart, you can get good value from your miles thanks to frequent award deals.

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Even though Delta no longer publishes an award chart, you can get good value from your miles thanks to frequent award deals.
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Delta Air Lines

Most frequent flyers have a love-hate relationship with airline loyalty programs. They love them when they’re able to cash in their miles for flights on their own terms, but they hate it when airline programs announce a big devaluation, they can’t find the award availability they want, or burdensome program rules make it harder to get the most from their miles.

Still, some airlines catch more flack than others. Delta SkyMiles is one loyalty program that probably gets more than their share of ire from rewards enthusiasts, mainly because it no longer publishes an award chart. It’s insanely difficult to plan a rewards strategy when you have no idea how much a flight will cost when you’re ready to book, let alone whether the price will change from one day to the next.

Many rewards enthusiasts also complain incessantly about the high cost of Delta One flights in points, particularly on international routes. And of course it went over like a lead fart last year when Delta began offering award tickets in Basic Economy.

Every reason I signed up for the Delta Gold Amex

But, despite these changes, I still signed up for the Delta Gold Amex. Call me crazy, but I truly believe I can get excellent value out of Delta SkyMiles if I am patient and flexible enough. Here’s every reason I signed up, and why you may want to consider doing the same.

1. I scored a huge welcome bonus

Because American Express credit cards come with a restrictive “once per lifetime rule,” it always makes sense to sign up for one of their credit cards when the welcome bonus is the highest available. While I have considered the Delta Gold Amex before, I was tempted into signing up this time by a targeted offer I received in the mail.

My targeted offer came with 75,000 Delta SkyMiles – 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within three months and another 25,000 miles after spending an additional $1,000 within the first six months of account opening. I also received a $200 statement credit for spending $1,000 on flights within the airline within the first six months, which I was able to take advantage of right away.

Read more: 10 lucrative credit-card deals new cardholders can get now

2. Free checked bags

In addition to a sign-up bonus, the Delta Gold Amex comes with another perk I can take advantage of quite often. Cardholders receive a free checked bag on Delta flights, which typically means a savings of at least $30 for each leg you fly.

While I’m not huge on checking baggage and prefer to pack carry-on luggage instead, I have several long trips this year where I will probably need to pack more than usual. I anticipate this perk saving me at least $240 on eight separate Delta one-ways I have planned this year.

3. Priority boarding

Another perk the Delta Gold Amex offers is Priority Boarding. I’m usually slumming it back in economy, so for me it’s not about where I sit. I do prefer boarding the plane as early as possible for a few reasons. Not only do I like getting on early so the plane doesn’t run out of room for carry-on luggage, but I prefer to claim the luggage bin directly above my seat (versus having my carry-on stored somewhere else on the plane).

It’s also nice to get acclimated to my surroundings and to prepare myself with noise-cancelling headphones before herds of other people settle into their seats.

4. Discount entry to Delta Sky Clubs

While I already have a Priority Pass Select Membership that grants access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I do have a penchant for Delta Sky Clubs. I used to get access for free when I flew Delta when I had the Platinum Card® from American Express, but I no longer carry that card. The lounges are usually spacious, and they almost always offer a selection of food broad enough to avoid a pricey meal.

The Delta Gold Amex comes with discounted Sky Club access to the tune of $29 per person for the cardholder and up to two traveling companions. I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying $29 if I only needed to kill an hour between flights, but I think this perk offers tremendous value if you have a long layover like I sometimes do.

Read more: Amex Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card offers superior airport lounge access, according to a frequent flyer

5. Delta has plenty of deals

Finally, Delta SkyMiles really does offer some decent award fares for both domestic and international travel despite their lack of an award chart. I’ve found round-trip flights to Europe in the main cabin for as little as 32,000 miles (plus taxes and fees) and domestic flights for less than 20,000 miles round-trip in economy during recent searches. Heck, an open-jaw flight I’m considering for late winter out of Indianapolis to Paris (CDG) and home from London (LHR) is currently 38,000 miles!

Delta’s SkyMiles deals program also rolls out an array of sale fares that change every month. If your dates are flexible, you can frequently find round-trip economy flights to Europe for as little as 32,000 miles and round-trip flights for as little as 16,000 miles. You do have to act quickly on these deals, but they can work well if your dates are flexible and you are ready to book when one you like comes along.

The bottom line

Delta may no longer offer an award chart, but the SkyMiles program still offers enormous value – at least for some flights. That’s part of the reason I signed up for the Delta Gold Amex. With my welcome bonus, I had at least enough miles for two-round trip flights to Europe or three to four domestic flights. The fact that this airline credit card offers free checked bags, priority boarding, and discounted Sky Club admission was just icing on the cake.

Click here to learn more about the Delta Gold Amex from our partner The Points Guy.