Amex sweetens rewards, boosts annual fee on Delta co-brand cards

Register now

American Express Co. is sweetening rewards and raising the annual fee on many of its co-brand cards with Delta Air Lines Inc. after the two renewed their longtime partnership earlier this year.

Annual fees on six Delta cards will rise, AmEx said Monday in a statement. Platinum cards for consumers and small businesses will increase to $250 from $195, while Reserve cards go up by $100 to $550. Gold cards will rise slightly from $95 to $99.

The moves bring the higher-end Delta cards closer to AmEx’s own premium offerings and may put pressure on other airline-bank alliances, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. Card issuers across the industry are rolling out new perks to lure consumers. AmEx is betting that high-end customers will focus on rewards instead of the steeper annual fee.

“There’s so much value being added to these products that I don’t think we’re worrying about the fee increases,” said Eva Reda, who leads AmEx’s co-brand efforts. “It is a major relaunch of the entire Delta AmEx portfolio.”

Delta is AmEx’s largest co-brand partner, representing 8% of spending on the company’s cards and 20% of the company’s loans, and the airline has said it expects the partnership to contribute nearly $7 billion to its revenue by 2023. In April, the two agreed to extend their partnership through 2029, with AmEx telling investors the renewal would add $200 million in marketing and business development costs for the issuer this year.

“We wanted these cards to be a no-brainer for existing portfolio customers to absolutely love,” Sandeep Dube, vice president of customer engagement and loyalty at Delta, said in an interview. “The benefits we’ve added far outweigh any increase with this.”

AmEx Chief Executive Officer Steve Squeri touted the Delta partnership in April, saying, “We’re going to grow this thing so big and we’ll be in each other’s DNA so much that come renewal time” there shouldn’t be a protracted negotiation.

That strategy is beginning to take shape: The refreshed Delta Reserve card will now give users access to AmEx’s Centurion Lounges, the first time AmEx has offered such access on a co-brand card.

AmEx and Delta are adding rewards for spending at restaurants and supermarkets for Delta Gold and Platinum consumer cards, plus a fee credit for TSA Pre or Global Entry for its Delta Reserve consumer and small-business cards. The Gold card for small businesses will offer extra rewards on spending on advertising and shipping.

Bloomberg News
Credit cards Payment processing Loyalty and rewards