By Jill Jaracz


5 Min. To Read

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Airline miles have long been a popular type of credit card reward, but traditionally in order to earn reward miles on a particular airline, one has to have a branded credit card for that airline--and it typically comes with an annual fee.

Not anymore. Delta and American Express have bucked this trend with their new Blue Delta SkyMiles credit card. This card offers two Delta miles per dollar spent at restaurants in the United States and on eligible Delta purchases. All other eligible purchases rack up one mile per dollar spent.

The card is geared toward younger credit card consumers, particularly in the 18 to 34 range, who are starting to travel or don't travel often and need the benefits that a branded airline card with an annual fee has.

"We purposefully built this Card with the new or casual traveler in mind. This Card delivers incredible value to those who want to earn miles in an accelerated way while enjoying the peace of mind that their miles won’t expire – all without paying an annual fee," said Sandeep Dube, Delta’s Vice President – Customer Engagement and Loyalty, in a statement. "With more than a third of these consumers saying dining is their top choice for spending, earning two miles per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants is an appealing way to earn more miles."

The Blue Delta SkyMiles credit card is the fourth in Amex's portfolio of Delta cards, which range in fees and perks. The next tier is Gold, with a $95 annual fee after the first year; Platinum, with a $195 annual fee; and Delta Reserve, with a $450 annual fee.

Of course, higher fees mean more perks, but if you don't need them very often, it could be worth it to try out the Blue card. Blue cardholders do not get any free checked bags or priority boarding on Delta, nor do they get companion tickets or discounted or free access to Delta's Sky Club. Blue cardholders would also have to pay foreign transaction fees. The other cards also waive Delta's Medallion Qualification Dollar threshold, but with the Blue card, you'd still have to meet that.

Still, for a basic, no annual fee rewards card that gives specific airline miles, it still offers decent rewards, no blackout dates for redeeming miles on Delta flights. Blue card members also have American Express' entertainment access in select cities, where you can buy tickets to special events before they go on sale to the general public. There's also a 20% discount on in-flight purchases on Delta that's credited to your statement. Cardholders also get lowest hotel rates guarantees through, return protection, roadside assistance and free membership at ShopRunner.

The APR is a variable 16.74 percent to 25.74 percent, based on creditworthiness. This rate range also applies to balance transfers. Cash advances are a variable 26.24 percent. Balance transfer and cash advance fees do apply, and foreign transaction fees are 2.7 percent of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

American Express is offering a sign-up bonus of 10,000 miles if you spend $500 on purchases with your card within the first three months of membership. The other three cards are also offering first-three-months sign-up bonuses. The Gold card is offering 30,000 bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases and a $50 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase in that same time frame. The Platinum card has a 35,000-bonus-mile plus 3,000 Delta Medallion Qualification Miles for $1,000 in purchases, and a $100 statement credit for making a Delta purchase. Delta Reserve is offering 40,000 miles, 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after $3,000 in purchases.

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