“If it’s Delta miles you want, there are other cards that will earn Delta miles faster,” read the e-mail from awards expert Gary Leff, who writes the View From the Wing blog. I needed that pointed message about award points.
I have been a stubbornly devoted user of the Delta-branded American Express credit card since it was launched in 2009, charging everything from cable bills to cups of coffee to earn miles for award flights and upgrades. My allegiance also brings with it a free checked bag on Delta flights for me and my family, early boarding and double miles on Delta purchases. Since Delta dominates at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, I reasoned, all the talk of maximizing points by finding the right credit card didn’t apply to me.
A story in Travel last week made me wonder if my thinking was flawed. It noted that airline points are getting more difficult to accrue and use, and that credit card companies are offering great deals as the economy revs up.
I turned to Leff for advice. He said I should keep my Delta-branded card since it provides perks I enjoy, but I shouldn’t necessarily use it. I’d be paying the annual fee to access those benefits, he added. But to garner more points, I should actually spend using a different credit card.
“Delta miles tend to be the least valuable of any major airline’s. And having points with credit card programs that transfer to a variety of airlines is most useful,” he said.
He suggested the free Amex Everyday card. Points transfer 1-to-1 into Delta or a variety of other airline mileage programs. Use the card 20 times a month, and you earn a 20 percent bonus on all spending, “so more Delta miles or other airline miles than you earn with the Delta card.” I’m applying.
Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.