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Amex and Delta Unveil Upgraded SkyMiles Card With Higher Fees

American Express and Delta have introduced a revamped version of their co-branded SkyMiles credit cards.

The new cards, announced Thursday (Jan. 31), offer a series of benefits to both frequent and occasional flyers, and comes as a majority of consumers are embracing card-linked offers for travel-related purchases.

According to an American Express news release, the upgraded cards now let customers use companion certificates to travel outside of the continental U.S. for the first time, with the program open to trips to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean. 

In addition, customers can earn credits for making purchases at Resy restaurants and rideshare purchases with select providers in the U.S., along with prepaid Delta Stays hotel and vacation rental bookings.

With the new perks come higher fees. For example, holders of the Delta SkyMiles American Express Reserve and Reserve Business card will pay $650 per year, up from $550. The new fees go into effect at cardholders’ next renewal dates on or after May 1.

Last year saw Delta experience some negative feedback from consumers after it changed the SkyMiles program, shifting the criteria for earning frequent-flier status from a combination of spending and flights to just spending.

CEO Ed Bastian later said the airline had gone too far with the changes, and said the program would be modified.

PYMNTS Intelligence research has shown that 64% of consumers say they are very or extremely likely to use card-linked offers to make local travel purchases, while 60% reported they intend to do the same for purchases related to long-distance travel.

These figures spotlight the opportunity travel industry merchants have to boost engagement and retain customers via more personalized and relevant card-linked offers, according to Leveraging Item-Level Receipt Data: How Card-Linked Offers Drive Customer Loyalty,” a collaboration between PYMNTS and Banyan.

Meanwhile, Delta forecast far-from-sunny skies when it released quarterly earnings this month, with Bastian noting a litany of macreonomic pressures.

He told analysts that “the geopolitical front continues to be quite testy, it’s an election season around the world, energy prices are volatile. And to me, the supply chain costs and constraints continue unabated.

“We are not making progress,” he added. “If anything, every bit of news seems to be worse, not better. We should hope to overachieve. In 2024, demand for air travel remains strong, and our customer base is in a healthy financial position with travel a top priority.”