Delta companion certificates quick guide

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Delta SkyMiles Cards Zoom

Both the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card and the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express offer a free companion certificate each year upon renewal.  This means that once per year you can buy a round trip flight for two people and pay for just one (plus taxes and fees, capped at $75, for the other).  Here are the tips you need to know to get the most value from your certificates…

  • Live in Hawaii (or an island, or Alaska) and visit the mainland with a friend.  Companion tickets are valid only for round trip flights within the 48 contiguous United States.  But, there is an exception for those who live in the US, but outside of the contiguous 48 states: “Residents of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) must originate from there to the 48 contiguous United States and have an address on their SkyMiles account in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the USVI”.
  • Buy tickets early.  Companion Tickets are only valid for economy discount fare classes L, U, T, X, V and, for the Reserve card only, first-class fare classes A, and I.   If you wait too long before booking your tickets, you may not find two available seats in those fare classes.
  • Snag the exit row.  If you have elite status, you’ll be disappointed to discover that companion tickets do not qualify for elite upgrades, not even to Comfort Plus.  Fortunately, with your elite status you’ll still be able to select preferred coach seating, including better legroom exit row seats.
    April 6 2017 Update: Companion Tickets are now upgradeable to both Comfort+ and First Class!
  • Assign the primary ticket to the person chasing status.  Only the primary passenger earns redeemable miles, medallion qualifying miles, and medallion qualifying dollars.  The companion gets nothing but a free flight… and pretzels.
  • Splurge for first class.  This tip applies only to Delta Reserve card holders, since the Platinum companion pass can’t be used to book first class.  When tickets are particularly expensive across the board (during holiday travel, for example), you may find that first class tickets are only moderately more expensive than coach.  In those cases, you can use the certificates to get two first class tickets for less than two coach tickets would have cost without the companion certificate.
  • Complete travel within 1 year.  Certificates expire 1 year after they are issued.  And to use a certificate, it is not enough to book a flight before it expires: you must fly, and complete the round trip, before it expires.
  • Take the bird in the hand.  Imagine that you have an opportunity to use a companion certificate for a $300 flight.  You may be tempted to pass up that opportunity and wait for a flight that costs much more.  But, if you do so, you risk letting the certificate go entirely unused before it expires.  Unless you are certain that you’ll have later better opportunities, I’d recommend taking advantage of the small opportunity you have now rather than waiting and hoping for a better opportunity in the future.
  • Be generous and book others.  Just because a companion certificate is in your Delta account does not mean that you have to fly to use it.  You can book the tickets for anyone.  If you have a soon-to-expire certificate that you can’t use, let others know.  Most people with plans to fly two people on Delta will be thrilled for the chance get one ticket nearly free.
  • Earn 5X and companion fee reimbursements.  A strange quirk of the Delta companion ticket is that you have to pay with an American Express card, but I’ve found (despite terms that say otherwise) that you do not have to pay with a Delta American Express card.  Any Amex card will do.  So, if you have a personal Platinum card which earns 5X for airfare, you might as well use that!  One great side benefit I’ve found is that the taxes and fees for the second passenger count towards the Platinum card’s annual $200 in airline fee credits.
  • Earn 3X.  If you don’t have an Amex card that earns 5X for airfare, how about earning 3X?  The Premier Rewards Gold card, for example, earns 3X for airfare.  Also both the Business Gold Rewards card and the Simply Cash Plus Business Credit Card have airfare as an optional 3X category.

Do you have any tips for using Delta companion tickets?  Please comment below.

Hawaii Maui

Maximize value from your Delta Companion Certificates by living in Hawaii. You were looking for an excuse anyway, right?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. […] Both the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card and the Delta Reserve card offer a free companion ticket each year upon renewal.  That is, you won’t get the companion ticket when you first sign up, but every 12 months after that you will (as long as you keep the card).  For details about these companion tickets, please see: Live in Hawaii to maximize value from Delta companion certificates (and 10 other tips). […]

  2. […] After the first year, when you renew the card, you receive a a free companion certificate.  This will allow you to essentially buy two tickets to and from anywhere in the continental US for the price of one.  Unlike the companion certificate that comes with the Delta Platinum card, this one allows purchasing first class tickets.  Note that the companion does not earn miles or MQMs.  Also, there are some fare class restrictions to these certificates.  I like to use these certificates either on regional jets that don’t have first class or as a way to buy two first class tickets for the price of one.  Personally, I value this benefit at about $250.  See also: Delta companion certificates quick guide. […]

  3. […] After the first year, when you renew the card, you will receive a a free companion certificate.  This will allow you to essentially buy two tickets to and from anywhere in the continental US for the price of one. Unlike the companion certificate that comes with the Delta Reserve card, this one only allows economy tickets, not first class.  Note that the companion does not earn miles or MQMs.  Also, there are some fare class restrictions to these certificates.   Personally, I value this benefit at about $150.  See also: Delta companion certificates quick guide. […]


    • 0 affiliate links in the post. The links in the post go to pages that give more info about each card. I’ve previously linked to my Best Offers page in the past for more info, but there was no easy way to take the reader directly to the card in question. By having a separate page for each card, readers don’t have to search for info. I do this now regardless of whether I have affiliate links for each card.

  1. They are getting very stingy with availability. I am trying to book JFK – SEA for 3 possible weekends in October. Though no seats are booked on some flights (only basing on seat map which I know is not 100% accurate) They have zero L,U,T,X,V tixx available……ridiculous.

    • Wow, that surprises me given how far in advance you’re trying to book! I wonder if they haven’t yet opened up discount fares but will later. You might be able to get a hint of that by attempting flights not as far in advance to see whether there’s a pattern of when the LUTXV seats appear.

      Another option: I can’t promise anything, but one friend of mine had success calling in when it looked like nothing was available online. Might be worth a shot.

  2. Can someone else other than myself (the card member) be the primary? Meaning, can I have my brother and his wife use these tickets?

  3. nice picture, it shows one of my favorite beaches in Maui, Ulua….Who needs to travel for vacation if you live in Hawaii? the Marriott nearby just got renovated and now has some nice pools including some water slides.

  4. Last thanksgiving a (soon to be lost) first class companion was the only companion fare available to get our kids home. Worked out to be less than economy fare, and made them a little bit happy.

  5. What if you upgrade your delta gold card to one of these. Do you get the companion pass upon upgrade or upon renewal a year later?

    • Yes. Actually, it’s possible that you would get the companion pass as soon as your next renewal happens. I haven’t tested this idea, but say you’ve had the Gold card for a couple of years and the next annual fee is going to be due in about 2 months. If you then upgrade, it’s possible that you’ll get the companion pass in 2 months time.

      Has anyone else tried this? Curious what others have found?

  6. Just doing some math on this. In order to get the companion pass for the Platinum, you have to
    Pay $195 first year
    Pay $195 second year
    Get companion pass which is capped at $75 and can only be redeemed for economy.
    Total: $195+$195+$75 = $465

    So, you’re paying $465 for a companion pass if companion pass is the target for applying?

    • I wouldn’t do the math that way. The first year annual fee is more than covered by the signup bonus (which often comes with both miles and a $100 statement credit that is very easy to get).

      So, the question is whether to keep the card after the first year for $195 per year. For those who need a Delta card for free checked bags, this card is $100 more than the Delta Gold card, so the cost of keeping the card for that group is $100 per year. For those who don’t need card perks, the cost is the full $195. Taxes and fees for the companion ticket are more typically around $40. $75 is just the most it can be.

    • Taxes and fees typically don’t exceed $30. If you’re only holding it for 1-2 years, sure that’s the math. But if you’re holding it longer, you’re able to amortize the first year’s fee over a longer period.

  7. Aloha and Mahalo (thank you) for your recent article on Hawaii travel perks for companions. Its not often we get deals

    Unfortunately for us “lucky to live” in Hawaii, get totally hammered on airline tickets. Tickets are expensive and upgrades to premium economy, business class or 1st are equally costly and nearly prohibitive.

    Amazing but true the cost for locals to travel interisland is $130 r/t on sale. FYI, for all intents and purposes we have only Hawaiian Air to service interisland travel. Most of us know we are being overcharged to finance Hawaiian Air expansion to Asia and soon Europe.

    You can fly from YVR, SEA, SFO, LAX to Asia Business Class often for less than $2000 but from Hawaii its $3500-$5000 or more.

    Europe? Forget about it…great fares and deals all the time but if you live in Hawaii, we have to pay the R/T to get from Hawaii to the departure city. More often than NOT that airfare exceeds USA to Europe portion.

    HNL to LAS is economy is mostly $500-$600 or so. To Las Vegas, add another $150 if you want to fly non-stop.

    If an when you get the time, more articles about how Hawaii residents get the shaft will bring more publicity to our plight. That would be good.

  8. Can the delta companion ticket be booked to fly from one city and back to another? Say BOS to SFO and then back to RSW?

  9. How usable is the first class companion certificate? Is it limited to a very few seats or can it be used on any flight?

    • If fare classes A and/or I are available for your desired round trip domestic travel, then you can book it. I find that it is usually available on any flight I want if I book well in advance. If trying to book a particularly busy time and not too far in advance, you might have more trouble. For example, if I wait until a month or so before holiday or spring break travel, I sometimes find that my desired flights don’t have those seats available.

  10. We will be sailing across the Atlantic and flying Delta back from Amsterdam. Can I use a companion certificate and book round trip for both of us and not use the return since we are booked on a separate PNR back home out of AMS? It’s cheaper than buying 2 one-way tickets. When I worked for Delta if someone didn’t use a flight all other down-line flights were automatically cancelled but maybe that was only if they were on the same PNR. Has anyone done this?.

  11. I reread my post and realized I didn’t make myself clear. We’ll be flying out of DFW to TPA to board the cruise. The portion I’m asking about is the DFW-TPA trip, not the AMS.

  12. Yes, Greg. That’s correct. I was just unsure about throwing away the domestic return portion since the companion ticket has to be round trip. I didn’t think it would matter but you seem so knowledgeable that I thought it wise to ask. Thank you so much for your quick reply!

  13. Hi Greg hoping you can help me on this
    I booked 3 one way flight from NYC to SAN using DW delta account to book with DL points and for the return 3 one way with amex bp/2 under my account. my brother in law had a delta companion ticket that he isn’t using and since I will also be traveling with a lap infant he offered for me to take it and get an extra seat for the baby. my question is can I use his companion pass without my BIL flying? and how would I go about getting it as a round trip if the reservations are under 2 diff accounts/names- is it possible? any guidance is much appreciated

  14. I have a delta voucher that I need to use by 2/26/18 and I’ll get the companion ticket on 1/31/18. Will I be able to pay for the primary ticket using the voucher?

  15. I dont understand why the companion tickets are not transferable once issued. I planned a trip with a boyfriend and we are now split up. My choice is go alone, go together and have a really akward trip, or lose it completely. The only other option I saw was to pay $200 each plus any cost over orig ticket price to change them. Considering it was only a $300 ticket that doesnt make any sense. Why does Delta care if its him or we change it to my bestie?? Same seat….
    Any advice??

  16. Hi Greg,

    I’m a Amex Delta Gold card holder. Will I be able to book a roundtrip flight with a companion pass I bought from a friend? Say SEA to LHR? I’m just inexperienced with companion passes and didn’t know if I had to contain a Delta Reserve / Platinum card.


  17. Hi Greg,

    Do you get the companion certificate exactly 1 year after your account is opened, or after you pay the annual fee the second time? I’m not planning to cancel to avoid AF for second year, but I need to book two tickets for travel in May and my card was opened on April 24. Any idea how long it will take for the companion pass to be issued?

    • Great question. Unfortunately, I’ve had my cards for so long that I don’t know the exact date I opened them, so I can’t answer your question. Either way it could be risky to wait until late April to book for May since it is possible that the allowed fare classes would no longer be available.

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