For its latest airline card, American Express is looking for people who don't travel. Yet.
AmEx will debut the Blue Delta SkyMiles credit card this week, offering 2 miles per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and on Delta Air Lines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else. It will be one of the few airline co-brand cards that don't come with an annual fee, a decision AmEx and Delta made to appeal to millennial travelers, said Eva Reda, the lender's executive vice president of consumer partnerships and product development.
"No annual fee — that is one of the key things that we're excited about," Reda said in a telephone interview. "This product is really for those who are just starting to travel."
The new card's benefits won't include priority boarding, free baggage check or airport lounge privileges offered with other Delta cards.
After losing a bidding war to issue Costco's credit cards and failing to renew its partnership with JetBlue Airways in 2015, AmEx has worked to increase spending on its remaining co-brand arrangements. The effort began to pay off this year when the company won exclusive rights to issue credit cards for Hilton Worldwide Holdings.
JPMorgan Chase will also roll out a no-fee airline credit card with United Continental Holdings, the lender said Wednesday in a statement. The United TravelBank Card offers 2 percent in TravelBank cash on United purchases and 1.5 percent on all other transactions. TravelBank cash can be used toward the cost of a United flight, JPMorgan said.
"We noticed an opportunity in this space for United customers — a no-annual-fee card with compelling travel benefits," Leslie Gillin, president of co-brand cards at JPMorgan, said in the statement.
Delta is expected to reap about $4 billion in cash from its AmEx partnership by 2021, the Atlanta-based airline's executives said during a conference call in July. The two companies expect acquisitions of their joint card to hit a record for the fourth consecutive year, and the new offering should accelerate that trend, said Sandeep Dube, vice president of customer engagement and loyalty for Delta.
"The Blue card really completes the credit card portfolio from a customer-needs perspective," Dube said. "Think about someone who's just starting their travel journey, they can take the Blue card. Then over a period of time as they go through life stages, we have the Gold card, the Platinum, the Reserve card."