Review: The Delta SkyMiles Blue card earns bonus miles on your everyday spending, without an annual fee

Delta Skymiles Blue American Express Card review 4x3

The partnership between Delta and its credit card issuer, American Express, goes back over two decades. But the airline and bank started an exciting new chapter with an overhaul of their portfolio of co-branded credit cards in January 2020.

Among the most rewarding of the new developments is the fact that the high-end Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card now gets cardholders into both Delta Sky Clubs and Amex Centurion lounge when flying Delta, and will refund cardholders up to $100 to cover the application fee for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. It also now offers the opportunity to earn up to 60,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward elite status through spending each year. The one downside is that the annual fee has been increased from $450 to $550 going forward.

But at the other end of the spectrum, with no annual fee, the Delta SkyMiles Blue Amex card still offers some exciting benefits. Here's what you need to know.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card Details

Annual fee: $0

Welcome offer: Earn 15,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Offer expires April 1, 2020.

Earning: 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and at restaurants, 1 mile per dollar on everything else

Travel benefits: 20% back on in-flight purchases of food, beverages and audio headsets, ability to Pay with Miles when booking on Delta.com

Other benefits: No foreign transaction fees

Click here to learn more about the Blue Delta Amex card »

Here's a detailed review of the card's specific benefits.

Welcome offer

The welcome offer for the Delta Blue card is lower than those available at this time from some of the other Delta co-branded cards. For instance, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is currently offering new applicants up to 100,000 bonus miles - 80,000 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and another 20,000 miles after your first account anniversary. That said, the Delta Platinum card has a $250 annual fee and the spending requirement to earn the welcome bonus is higher, at $3,000.

By comparison, you only earn 15,000 bonus miles with the Delta SkyMiles Blue Amex card, but you only have to spend $1,000 in the first three months to qualify. That number of miles might not wow you, but it's not bad for a card with no annual fee, and thanks to Delta's frequent award flight flash sales, 15,000 miles is now enough for some economy award tickets within the US and abroad.

This is also the highest welcome offer for the Delta Blue card - in the past it's actually been just 10,000 miles after you spend $500 in three months - so if you've been thinking about applying, this current offer is probably your best bet.

Read more: The best ways to use Delta miles

Earning and category bonuses

The second way in which the Delta SkyMiles Blue card stands out is that it earns bonus miles not just on Delta purchases, but also those made at restaurants worldwide (not just in the US, as was previously the case). That's a pretty great earning formula for a no-annual-fee card.

Just to take two quick comparisons, the Blue's big brother, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, earns 2x miles on Delta purchases and at both restaurants and US supermarkets, but costs $99 per year to carry (though the annual fee is waived the first year). Meanwhile, American Airlines' card with no annual fee, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card, earns 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and at grocery stores. So the Delta Blue card is trying to get back in the game with a competitive earnings edge.

Read more: The best no-annual-fee credit cards

Travel benefits

Here's where the Delta SkyMiles Blue card might fall short for some frequent flyers. Delta's other cards offer members valuable day-of-travel perks like free checked bags and priority boarding. This card's main travel benefit is a 20% discount on in-flight purchases of food, beverage and audio headsets. Unfortunately, it does not apply to Wi-Fi purchases.

Other benefits

With the recent benefits overhaul, the Delta SkyMiles Blue Amex card no longer levies foreign transaction fees, which will make it more useful for folks traveling abroad since they won't be paying a ridiculous 2.7% surcharge on their purchases.

Read more: The best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees

The card also comes with secondary rental car insurance and typical inclusions like a one-year warranty extension benefit for items you buy and purchase protection that covers you for damage or theft up to 90 days after a purchase up to $1,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year.

Is the Delta Blue card right for you?

The Delta SkyMiles Blue card's two strengths are earning potential and the fact that it has no annual fee. These two factors make it a good choice for specific types of Delta travelers.

First, if you already earn Medallion elite status with Delta on a regular basis, you enjoy perks like a free checked bag and priority boarding anyway, without needing a co-branded credit card to provide them for you. So this card might be an attractive alternative to its more expensive brethren.

Second, if you're actually making a substantial number of Delta purchases and spend a lot at restaurants, this card's earning rate is quite good - especially considering you don't have to pay annual fee to hang onto it year after year. Finally, if you already have some of Delta's other cards and want to earn a welcome offer complete with a haul of bonus miles, then this card could be a good alternative to applying for some of the others in the portfolio.

On the other hand, if a $99 annual fee doesn't seem expensive, you're probably better off applying for the Delta Gold card. Right now, it is fielding a welcome offer of up to 70,000 bonus miles - 60,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months, plus another 10,000 miles after your first account anniversary.

The Delta Gold Amex card earns 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and at restaurants as well as US supermarkets, which is another potentially lucrative earning opportunity for everyday shoppers. Plus, if you spend $10,000 on the card in a calendar year, you can score a $100 Delta flight credit, which offsets its annual fee. Finally, this card offers several travel benefits the Blue version does not - namely, a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation, and priority boarding ahead of the general announcement.

With no annual fee, the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express card is a strong earner and a decent option for both occasional Delta flyers and those with elite status who value earning over day-of-travel perks. However, if you want to commit to Delta in a more substantial way (at least for the time being), then one of the airline's more premium cards is likely a better choice for your needs.

Earn 15,000 miles: Click here to learn more about the Delta Blue card »

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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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