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Sleeper Hit – This Small Benefit Quietly Changed Our Amex Strategy

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Delta TakeOff 15

Delta TakeOff 15

Delta doesn’t have many fans lately.  You’ve noticed, perhaps.  Their recent devaluation was much worse than many expected.  It was so bad, the CEO walked it back a bit, albeit without specifics on any remedy.   I’ve never achieved Delta elite status, so those changes didn’t affect me at all.  As a busy Amex applicant, I’ll be able to minimize the lounge access negative changes.  But today, I’d like to step back to early 2023 and the quiet introduction of another Amex benefit with Delta.  Why?  Because it’s changed our Amex strategy for the foreseeable future.  Let’s dive into the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit and how my wife and I have tweaked our Amex strategy because of it.

Delta TakeOff 15
A cheaper option for obtaining the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit is the Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex.

What Is Delta TakeOff 15?

Back in February, Delta announced the TakeOff 15 benefit for its Amex-cobranded cardholders.  Primary cardholders receive a 15% discount on flights booked with SkyMiles.  This benefit is available to primary cardholders of any Delta cobranded card, with the exception of the Delta SkyMiles Blue Amex.

How Does Delta TakeOff 15 Work?

Cobranded Delta cardholders should log in to their SkyMiles accounts and search for their desired itineraries, ensuring the Shop with Miles box is checked.  The flight price with the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit is automatically displayed for eligible flights.  In my experience, I’ve seen the original award price marked out, and the new TakeOff 15 rate is displayed.

There are a few minor limitations on the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit:

  • Cardholders are only eligible for the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit on flights operated by Delta or Delta connection.
  • Taxes and fees are not eligible for discount.
  • Delta TakeOff 15 isn’t applicable to Pay with Miles or Miles and Cash rates.

Officially, Delta encourages cardholders to use their “SkyMiles® American Express Card to earn miles with your Card on any taxes and fees” for their itineraries.  In my experience, I’ve successfully paid this amount with my Amex Platinum card, which earns 5x on flights.

Our Changing Strategy

At the time of this announcement, neither my wife nor I held a Delta cobranded card.  Later in February, my wife applied for a new one, and this benefit was a major reason for doing so.

I’d been periodically traveling on Delta at that point and had plans for several Delta trips later in the year.  With bookings coming up and the available credit card slot, my wife applying was a no-brainer.  A few days after receiving the card, we noticed the benefit had been automatically activated and saw the discount immediately applied in her SkyMiles account.

The allure of picking up the “best deal” for an award flight using SkyMiles on Delta metal is enough for us to keep some sort of Delta card in our portfolio indefinitely.  But perhaps that’s not the healthiest perspective.

Delta TakeOff 15
A Delta Reserve card may be in my future, one of the cards I’ve yet to pick up.

A Benefit or Method of Control?

If we’d like to continuously maintain the 15% discount which Delta TakeOff 15 provides, my wife or I will need to hold a Delta cobranded card.  That card takes one out of ten credit card slots which we collectively hold.  My wife and I each have plenty of SkyMiles currency thanks to previous card signup bonuses.  Regardless of who’s flying, we’re cool booking awards from either account.

There are plenty of Delta cards which we haven’t held, and we can feasibly keep this benefit while picking up new signup bonuses for the next few years (at a minimum).  Beyond the card slot and any related annual fee, the other cost is our time keeping up with a higher maintenance Amex game.  But to people like me, that’s already part of the fun.

But I must come to terms with how the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit is influencing my decision making.  Before this benefit existed, I only pursued Delta cards with elevated welcome offers.  I also opted for other Amex credit cards beyond Delta based on other travel goals.  With this new benefit, we’ve allowed a Delta card to become a long-term fixture in our collective portfolio and thinking.

Delta’s creation of this benefit was a shrewd move, indeed.  I imagine they’re selling more Delta cards because of it.  It’s natural to want the best deal on flights, whether in cash or miles.  And recently, they’ve taken it to a new level with their goal of encouraging more spend on their cards, including the Reserve and Platinum versions for elite status.  I won’t be doing any spending for Delta status, but I’m confident others will – regardless of how illogical that spending may seem to some of us.

Delta TakeOff 15


The “savings” provided by the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit can be a tricky consideration, as well.  Delta, maybe more than any other domestic airline, has been inflating their award rates for quite some time.  In a way, the benefit is only bringing their very high award rates down to earth just a bit.  At any rate, the small wins from holding a cobranded card, in addition to booking with Flying Blue currency, are my primary options for booking domestic Delta award flights.  I’ll do what I can to keep the gravy train moving with future Delta card welcome offers, but I must also realize I’m giving up a bit of flexibility and control due to this benefit.

Are you leveraging the Delta TakeOff 15 benefit?  How are you tweaking your Amex strategy based on it?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. In my experience, Virgin Atlantic has slightly cheaper partner rates than Flying Blue on domestic US routes? Am I missing something? Am I missing something why you would choose to use Flying Blue?

    • Nathan,
      We’ve primarily chosen Flying Blue thanks to the elevated welcome offers on the BoA Air France card and their solid-enough rates on domestic Delta flights. If you’ve found better rates with Virgin Atlantic, congrats!


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