Delta Bonuses Hit Stratosphere, Amex Promises Phone Rescue, & a New 'Debit Later' Card

Credit card news you may have missed this week

Weekly Credit Card News Lowdown

Some things haven’t changed that much since we started working from home in our pajamas last March, like credit card interest rates lately. But the past week has been filled with more exciting news bites, such as sizable Delta card bonus upgrades, a backup plan for some Amex cardholders’ smartphones, and innovation in the “buy now, pay later” realm. 

This weekly credit card news roundup contains what you should know about the cards in your wallet, other available offers, and new product announcements or reports that took our minds off the terrible things Gen Z is saying about our skinny jeans and side parts. 

What’s the Lowdown?

Here’s what has caught our attention since Feb. 26, 2021: 

Delta SkyMiles Card Bonuses Jet to the Stratosphere 

Following uplifting vaccine news that made us all excited about near-future travel, Amex announced generous offer updates for it’s suite of Delta Skymiles-branded credit cards on Thursday. The new bonuses are huge, teasing prospective new cardholders with twice as many miles (or more) as previous offers had. The business card offers are particularly grand, considering the statement credits and elite status-qualification boosters that come with:

 Card Name  New Welcome Offer  New Bonus Value (SkyMiles & statement credits)
Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card 70,000 miles for spending $2,000 within 3 months $1,078 (up 100%) 
Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card 70,000 miles and a $50 statement credit for spending $2,000 within 3 months $1,128 (up 83%)
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card 90,000 miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months $1,386 (up 125%)
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card 90,000 miles and a $100 statement credit for spending $3,000 within 3 months $1,486 (up 114%)
Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card 80,000 miles and 20,000 MQMs for spending $5,000 within 3 months $1,232 (up 78%) 
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card 80,000 miles, 20,000 MQMs, and a $200 statement credit for spending $5,000 within 3 months $1,432 (up 132%) 

These are first-rate offers compared to other airline card bonuses right now, so if you are already a Delta fan (or wouldn’t mind flying with the airline when you embark on a post-pandemic adventure), consider snagging one of these offers before they end on April 28. 

Amex Dials In Card Benefits With Cellphone Insurance 

Given that some of us would rather go without coffee and chocolate than our cellphones, a broken or stolen phone can lead to a very dark and lonely place. Fortunately, Amex is promising (financial) rescue for some cardholders if that happens. On April 1, a dozen upper-tier Amex cards will offer a rare credit card insurance perk—cellphone coverage. 

With the new benefit, eligible cardholders can request reimbursement for cellphone repair or replacement costs if their phone is stolen or damaged (up to $800 per claim, minus a $50 deductible). Cellphone coverage includes up to two approved claims totalling $1,600 each year. Cardholders will just need to pay their phone bill with the same card to get access to this perk.

The American Express Platinum Card, Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card, and Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card are a few of the cards getting the new benefit. To see if your Amex will cover pricey smartphone mishaps, call the customer service number on the back of your card or review the benefit guides Amex hosts online. 

Affirm Debit Card Will Let You Pay for Big Purchases Later

It’s not a credit card, but the upcoming Affirm payment card will give cardholders access to another increasingly popular financing option: buy now, pay later. 

The Affirm Card will give shoppers two choices in the Affirm app after they make a $100+ purchase: Pay for the purchase directly from their bank account (just like a debit card), or spread out the cost over four, interest-free payments. 

Purchase financing plans (like the ones offered by some credit card issuers now, a la My Chase Plan or Citi Flex Plan) often come with some sort of additional cost, either in the form of interest or origination fees, but this card has neither. Shoppers will be able to use the card in the real world outside of the online network of Affirm partner stores, too.

The card isn’t available quite yet, but if you’re interested, you can add your name to a waitlist on the Affirm website. 

Credit Card Interest Rates Are Chillin’

Advertised credit card purchase and balance transfer interest rates didn’t change a bit in February, according to our latest average APR report. The average credit card interest rate is still 20.28%, below its pre-pandemic peak and unchanged since December. That means it still costs slightly less to carry a card balance than in the before times, and those of us seeking a new card will see more appealing offer terms. 

It’s been a while since our average credit card APR has changed dramatically. If you recall, at this time last year, the Federal Reserve had just announced its first emergency federal funds rate cut and was gearing up for a second cut as the coronavirus pandemic started toppling over the economy. That Fed rate drives the prime rate most credit card interest rates are based on, so we watched card APRs fall for a few months from our home offices. 

These days, credit card rate changes are few and far between. When we do record an APR update in our database of 300+ cards, it’s because of a revamped card offer, an adjustment for lending risk, or a small advertised cash advance rate tweak—all things that impact new cardholders, not necessarily existing ones. There haven’t been many bright spots to the pandemic, but steady, lower APRs have been one of them.

This period of calm won’t last forever, but it should hang around for a while, as the Federal Reserve has maintained that it won’t start adjusting rates until the U.S. economy has really recovered. 

What Else Is Happening?

  • Extended Access to Free Weekly Credit Reports: In normal times, you can request one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) every year, but as we know, these are not normal times. Back in April 2020, the bureaus started offering free weekly reports to people keeping close tabs on their finances right now. Thanks to an offer extension announced Tuesday, you can now check your credit reports for free each week through April 20, 2022.
  • Latest Apple Card Daily Cash Offer Takes Bite Out of Tech Purchases: If you apply for the Apple Card right now, you can get 6% cash back on new Apple product purchases for a limited time. Considering the hefty price tag of many of the brand's products, that’s a swell return. It even tops the 5% back that cards like the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature and My Best Buy Visa offer for in-store purchases, including for Apple products.