Most people don't realize this Delta credit card comes with an annual companion plane ticket - it can be an incredible value if you use it right

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Delta Airbus A321 interior 2


  • When you have the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, you'll earn a free companion pass each year when you renew the card.
  • The companion pass or certificate is basically a buy-one-get-one coupon for domestic main-cabin tickets. When you book a round-trip ticket for yourself, you can get a second one for someone else for the cost of only minimal taxes and fees.
  • This perk more than outweighs the card's annual fee, which is why I'm keeping the card indefinitely. In the fall, I used my first year's companion pass to fly with my wife to pick up our new puppy, Murray.
  • Until April 3, the card is offering double its usual new member bonus: You can get 75,000 SkyMiles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Another Delta card, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, is also offering a limited offer until April 3.
The two main Delta credit cards - the Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express and the Platinum version - come with a lot of perks for Delta flyers, like free checked bags, priority boarding, discounted lounge access, and in-flight discounts. You can read more about the two cards and those perks here.Advertisement

These, plus the opportunity to earn miles - including huge sign-up bonuses if you apply before September 19 - provide a lot of value to cardholders.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card offers a benefit that's even more valuable, but most people aren't fully aware of how it works - or even that it exists.

After your first year with the card, each year on your cardmember anniversary you'll get a companion pass.

A companion pass is essentially a buy-one-get-one coupon. When you book an economy-class flight (in the "main cabin," as Delta calls it) for yourself anywhere within the continental US, you can get a second ticket for only the cost of minimal taxes and fees.

For me, the companion pass blows away the card's $195 annual fee, which isn't waived the first year. My wife and I fly domestically at least a few times a year, whether to visit family or friends or go on vacation, and I just save the pass until we're taking a flight that costs more than $195 each.While the certificate is restricted to specific fare classes within the economy cabin - L, U, T, X, and V fares, if you want to get technical - this covers most of the cheaper and mid-priced economy fares, as well as some pricier ones. In numerous searches I've run from New York City-area airports, I've had no trouble finding eligible flights, as long as I'm booking at least 25-30 days in advance.Advertisement

I opened the Platinum Delta card in January of 2017, and in the fall, I used my first companion pass. My wife and I got a new puppy and had to fly to pick him up and bring him back home.

Booking was easy. Once the pickup date was set, I logged into my Delta account, found the pass stored in my account management page, and clicked on it to search for eligible flights. I also searched for the same flights in a different browser to price compare - everything matched up. Because the flights were more than $195, I used the companion pass to book.

From that point, it was just as if we had paid for the tickets normally. As an added bonus: We were both still eligible for complimentary first class upgrades since we both hold frequent flyer Medallion elite status with Delta.Advertisement

Delta Sky Club Sky Deck JFK

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The flight up was easy - we got the airport with time to spare before boarding, and popped into the Delta Sky Club for breakfast - we had access through a different credit card, the regular Platinum Card from American Express. The Sky Club at JFK's Terminal 4 has a wonderful outdoor space, so we brought our yogurt, pastries, and coffee outside to enjoy the mild weather and watch planes taking off.

Delta Connection CRJ-900 First Class

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The flight was on a small CRJ-900 regional jet, which has a 12-seat first class cabin in a 1-2 configuration. When our complimentary upgrades processed, we were both automatically assigned seats on the side with one seat per row. The flight was only an hour, but it was nice to have a little more space, and to enjoy a cup of coffee pre-departure and in-flight snacks.

We landed in Rochester where we were picking up Murray, and met him (and a wonderful person who had been taking care of him for the past few weeks) outside the airport. We had a few hours until our return flight, so we hung around outside and tried to tire Murray out.

Delta Pet In Cabin Rochester Airport ROC

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We went to the check-in counter to get our boarding passes and pay Delta's in-cabin pet fee - although I had to call reservations ahead of time to add a pet to our trip, I had to pay the fee in-person so the agents could confirm that Murray was in an approved carrier. It wasn't busy at all at check-in, and Murray was a hit with the whole Delta crew.

Airport Dog Murray

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Boarding was easy since it wasn't a full flight, although Murray was a little too curious to put his head inside the carrier.Advertisement

Airplane Dog Murray

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We were upgraded again as we boarded our Embraer E170 for the flight back home - this time we were seated next to each other. We declined the pre-departure beverages this time since we had Murray, and eventually coaxed him to pull his head into the carrier. After that, he settled down for a nap. We put his carrier under the seat in front of me for take-off, and pulled it back out after to make sure he was okay.

Delta Wings Dog

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We had snacks and drinks during the flight - and the flight attendant (who was a dog lover) even offered us a set of Delta wings - usually given to kids on request - to put on Murray's harness!

Ultimately - especially after the experience using my companion pass - I'm planning on keeping my Delta Platinum card long-term as long as that benefit remains. The card pays for itself as long as you fly Delta domestically with companions each year, so I have no reason not to keep it.

Our tickets were $225 each, and with the companion pass, we only had to pay about $25 in taxes and fees for her ticket - so we actually ended up $5 ahead, comparing to the card's $195 annual fee.Advertisement

Considering that eligible domestic fares can be as high as the $500s and $600s - for instance, on trans-continental flights - that $195 annual fee in exchange for a companion pass is a phenomenal deal.

Learn more about the Platinum Delta AmEx card from Insider Picks' partner The Points Guy

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