Delta American Express 90,000 Mile Offer: How To Think About The Value Of Rewards Card

I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. Citibank is an advertising partner of this site, as is American Express, Chase, Barclays and Capital One. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same). Terms apply to the offers and benefits listed on this page.

Coming out of the Great Recession initial credit card bonus offers got really lucrative. Banks were competing for customers, money was cheap, and in the case of major airlines the banks had pre-purchased large blocks of miles on the cheap from carriers strapped for cash.

At the start of the global pandemic many card issuers were quiet. It was tough to know who would be a good credit risk as companies pledged no layoffs in 2020 (would everyone suddenly lose their jobs on January 1)? People weren’t thinking about immediate travel, either, so big card bonuses seemed like the wrong tool for the moment.

Now that banks have gotten aggressive again we’re seeing amazing offers, and that’s great for consumers – as long as you understand the role that a given card is going to play in your arsenal. There are (3) basic reasons to get a card.

  1. Benefits. The card gives you benefits worth more than the card’s cost, like free checked bags, a companion ticket, or airport lounge access. But that’s not a reason to spend money on the card, except as required to access those benefits. You keep the card, but don’t spend much on it.

  2. Up front bonus. An offer can be so compelling, you pay immediate attention and should apply because the bonus offer is just that good. But that doesn’t make the card one you’ll use for a lot of ongoing spend.

  3. Rewards for spending because of the valuable currency you receive, or the rate at which you’re earning (such as triple or quadruple points for dining spend). This is a card that’s top of wallet.

The Delta co-brand cards, it seems to me, offer lucrative initial bonus offers making them attractive to get. Delta flyers can a lot of benefits from having them. But the primary reason you’d put spending on one of these cards, I think, is if you’re using it as a tool to earn or keep elite status. Delta by the way has extended elite status for current SkyMiles Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Dela 360 members for the 2022 membership year.

Right now American Express is back with big up front offers for the Delta cards, through November 10, 2021. You can earn as much as 90,000 miles, making for one of the most compelling offers we’ve seen, and that’s true even with partner awards much more expensive than they used to be..

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is the card to get for a big initial bonus at no first year cost, if you don’t fly Delta often but want some benefits on the occasion that you do.

If you do fly Delta then the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card‘s 90,000 mile initial offer is incredible, since the card can help earn Delta elite status. And the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is great for that and lounge access, too – complimentary access into the Delta SkyClubs for you when traveling on a Delta flight, and to Centurion Lounges when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve Card.

Delta’s co-brand business cards have elevated offers as well.

In general I prefer American AAdvantage miles over SkyMiles, and bank transferable currencies especially, but the offer of as much as 90,000 miles with a new card is incredibly compelling. The interesting thing about devaluation is that makes previously earned miles worth less (so spend them don’t hold onto them) and up front bonuses keep rising.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card click here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Q. How to think about the value of a reward card?
    A. If the reward is SkyMiles, close to zero.

  2. Man… tough love with SkyMiles…..
    I just got my wife to apply for 125k mile offer on Amex Reserve couple of weeks ago. Some said it’s targeted but it almost seems like a public offer for frequent delta flyers. Just googled Amex Reserve and found the link easily.
    I am sure United chase offer of 100k is better but with 5/24 rule, it was easy for her to get the Amex one. and I value SkyMiles at 1.3c a mile at least. Yes, international redemption value went to the gutter but I often find great value on domestic routes, easily getting the redemption value exceeding 1.3c a mile minimum but not rare to exceed 2c a mile.

    So I value my wife’s 125k Amex Reserve signup bonus offer at $1000 easy but more like $1500. But of course your mileage may vary.. if you are interested in premium cabins only or oversea long-haul then I wouldn’t bother.

  3. @ Gary — That’s alot of typing to say “Delta miles are worth 1.1 cpm. Do your math, open desired card, get bonus, place in sock drawer, get Companion cert, close card. The only exception being if you wish to earn MQMs through big spend. That path has become less valuable as the value of DL miles has approached 1.0, and let’s not forget Delta screwing everyone with the removal of the redeemable Mile Boost.

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