Middle Age Miles

An Amex Delta Upgrade Offer to Refuse

At Middle Age Miles, we’re generally big fans of the upgrade offers that Amex periodically gives on its charge and credit cards. Given that Amex’s sign-up bonuses are once-per-lifetime, the upgrade offers are a way to continue earning outsized returns of points for our spend. With an upgrade offer, we may be able to earn a bonus on a card we’ve previously held. Upgrade offers may also be helpful for those of us who are constrained by Amex’s 5-credit-card rule.

We’ve seen (and taken advantage of) upgrade offers on Amex’s Membership Rewards (MR)-earning cards, and also on Amex co-branded cards, like its portfolio of Hilton cards. We’ve even been known to strategically upgrade and downgrade cards to try to maximize our points earnings and chances of receiving an upgrade offer.

For these reasons, you’ll see articles on Middle Age Miles extolling the virtues of Amex upgrade offers, and often recommending that you accept them. This is particularly true when you’ve previously held the card you’d be upgrading to.

Yesterday, however, we saw a targeted Amex upgrade offer on a co-branded Delta business card that was a definite “no,” except for someone in a very limited circumstance that we’ll explain later. The offer had no additional points bonus, and little in the way of benefits. And it would have foreclosed the cardholder from getting a bonus in the future on the card that would have been upgraded-to.

Details & Analysis

This particular upgrade offer was received for an Amex Delta Gold SkyMiles Business card. The targeted offer was for the Gold cardholder to upgrade to the Amex Delta Platinum SkyMiles Business card. In short, the offer was simply to get the normal benefits of the Platinum card, plus a little relief on the following year’s annual fee.

To be clear, the “Annual Miles Boosts” of 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 10,000 redeemable SkyMiles at the $25k and $50k annual spend thresholds are standard benefits of the Platinum card. The only actual benefit of the upgrade offer would be a statement credit of $100 to offset the difference between the $95 annual fee of the Gold card and the $195 annual fee of the Platinum card.

Unfortunately, by taking this upgrade offer, you’d be foreclosing yourself from receiving a sign-up bonus on the Amex Delta Platinum Business card if you’ve never held that card before. Using our referral link, the sign-up bonus on the Amex Delta Platinum Business card currently sits at 70,000 SkyMiles, plus 10,000 MQMs. [Amex’s public offer for this card is currently 50,000 SkyMiles, plus 10,000 MQMs, plus a $100 statement credit.] That’s way too much to give up, in exchange for the minimal benefits of the upgrade offer.

Therefore, if you’ve never had the Amex Delta Platinum Business card before, you definitely should not accept this upgrade offer.

Would This Upgrade Offer Make Sense for Anyone?

Maybe, but the circumstances would be very limited. First, you would have to have had the Amex Delta Platinum Business card before so that you’re ineligible for a new sign-up bonus. Next, remember that Amex often gives upgrade offers that include points bonuses. This one doesn’t, so it may be best to simply wait and hope for an offer where you’d earn SkyMiles for upgrading. Other than that,

  • It’s possible that the prospect of earning 10,000 MQMs for $25k spend and perhaps another 10,000 MQMs at the $50k spend threshold would push the cardholder to a higher level of elite status with Delta. That’s a lot of spend in a very short time period (only 2.5 months remaining in this calendar year). But if it was enough to push you to Diamond and you don’t have a good alternative to pick up the necessary MQMs, maybe that’s worth it.
  • The other possibility would be if the Platinum card’s Companion Certificate would be valuable enough to cause you to accept the upgrade offer now. Amex Delta Platinum SkyMiles Business cardholders receive a domestic main cabin round-trip Companion Certificate each year upon renewal of the card. The companion’s travel is free, except for payment of taxes and fees that is capped at $75 (and should be somewhat less). I can see a situation where a person might be near the end of their cardholder year and have known upcoming travel where the Companion Certificate might have enough value to make the upgrade offer worth it.

In either of these situations, the cardholder should strongly consider downgrading the card back to Gold after receiving the benefit. The cardholder would typically receive a prorated annual fee at the time of the downgrade, thus saving some money.

All-in-all, we thought this was a very weak upgrade offer, and we wanted to provide you our analysis of a time that an Amex upgrade offer is one you should refuse.

Did you receive this or a similar offer on an Amex Delta co-branded card? What were your impressions? Did we miss anything in our analysis? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!

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