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Last year I signed up for the Delta Amex and received 50K bonus miles with the first year fee waived. I just cashed it in for a flight and paid an $11.50 fee with the Amex that grants me priority boarding and one free checked bag.

I want to cancel the card before the first year is up to avoid the $100 annual fee. However, the flight I purchased with the miles is after this date.

Will there be any consequences to canceling the card right now? For example, will I lose the free checking or priority boarding? Worse yet, would the flight itself be canceled?

I'm sure all these cards from all the airlines are different, but I was hoping there would be a common thread in regards to this question.

  • @pnuts I figured the airplane specific question was better suited for travel.se than money.se, as perhaps someone here has been in a similar situation before. – Matthew Moisen Jul 4 '15 at 4:02
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    The credit card and the mileage redemption is not linked that closely. You don't need to worry about cancellation causing a retraction of your miles except under some very specific situations (fraud, refunds on the card, and so on). – Calchas Jul 4 '15 at 15:48
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PassKit's answer is correct, but I wanted to add some more detail.

First off, just to confirm, your ticket will still be valid, but you'll lose the extra bag and priority boarding. Those privileges only apply if you're an active Delta co-branded cardholder at the time of the flight. Delta's computers will be aware of whether you are an active cardholder or not and the boarding zone and extra free checked bag will be added automatically if you are. If you are an active cardholder, this will also be printed at the top of your boarding pass. Additionally, these benefits apply to all people on your reservation, for a total of up to nine people. So, if you're traveling round-trip with at least one other person and both checking a bag, the bag fee benefit alone is worth more than the card's annual fee (though only by $5 in that case.)

It's unlikely that you'd be able to successfully flash the cancelled card, since, as I mentioned, Delta's computers are aware of if the card is active or not and these benefits are granted automatically, not manually by the gate or check-in desk agents. Maybe this would work if you cancelled the card after printing your boarding pass, but that would only work within 24 hours of the flight (and, even then, I still wouldn't count on it.)

In addition to the suggestion of calling and asking if they can waive the annual fee (which may or may not work,) if your flight is soon after when you'd need to pay the fee, you can try waiting until after the flight to cancel it. AmEx will normally refund the entire annual fee if you cancel within a few weeks after the anniversary date. I think they also refund a pro-rated annual fee if you cancel later, but I could be remembering that incorrectly.

If you usually fly Delta domestically with at least one other person on your reservation at least once per year, one option you might want to consider is switching from the Gold Delta SkyMiles card to the Platinum one. While the annual fee is higher ($195 vs. $95,) the Platinum Delta co-branded card includes a free companion economy-class domestic (within the continental 48 states) round-trip once per year on your cardholder anniversary date, which can be used for up to a year from that date. While you don't get said voucher during the first year as a cardholder, you would get another sign-up bonus, which will usually be worth even more than the voucher (I got a 60,000 SkyMiles + 10,000 MQM sign-up bonus for it, for example.) Since domestic round-trips are generally worth more than $195, the voucher alone more than covers the cost of the annual fee, provided you use it. For a trans-con round-trip, this benefit alone is usually worth $400-$500, for example.

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If the ticket has been paid for and issued, you should have no problems travelling after cancelling the card.

However, if boarding privileges and free check-in are a benefit of the card and not your status with the airline, then it is reasonable to expect that these benefits will be retracted after you cancel the card.

That being said, check-in staff are not the most diligent and I have frequently got away with flashing an expired frequent flyer card. The trick to this is to use a card from a partner airline, since the staff have less ability to validate your true status.

If your spending on the card has been significant, it is always worth calling them and asking if they would be willing to waive the annual fee. Simply state that you love using the card, but you have better, fee free options.

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