How to Use Delta’s Free Companion Certificate (Platinum and Reserve Card)

One of the best perks of Delta Air Lines’ two premium credit cards, the Platinum SkyMiles and Reserve SkyMiles cards from American Express, is the Companion Certificate.

The companion certificate is good for buy-one, get-one (plus taxes) airfare on almost any domestic Delta flight. Platinum SkyMiles cardholders earn a certificate good for a main cabin round-trip or one way ticket. Reserve cardholders earn a certificate good for a round-trip in main cabin, Comfort+ or First Class.

When used correctly, this perk can be worth far more than the $195 fee on the Platinum SkyMiles card, or even the $450 fee on the Reserve card.

Small business owners and sole proprietors (and even those who do a little freelance work) can double down on this perk. The Platinum Business SkyMiles and Reserve for Business SkyMiles cards from Amex OPEN also come with companion certificates.

These Other Cards Also Come With Free Tickets

Bring a friend with you for free on a Domestic Delta flight, with the Companion Certificate included with the Delta Platinum SkyMiles and Delta Reserve SkyMiles Credit Cards, from Amex. Image by Delta Air Lines.

Earning the Companion Certificate

It takes a full year from the time a card is opened for the first Companion Certificate to post. Both cards come with some Delta purchase credits that kick in the first year, which should offset the initial fee. After the first year, cardholders earn another certificate each anniversary.

After paying the first renewal fee, the Companion Certificates can be found along with other travel vouchers in the Certificates and Ecredits section of a Delta.com account.

Choosing an Eligible Flight

Both Platinum and Reserve Companion Certificates are valid for one-way or round-trip travel between the lower 48 United States. For Delta SkyMiles members living in Alaska or Hawaii, things get a bit more complicated. More on that later.

  • Tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance.
  • The certificates are valid on most discount main cabin fare classes (specifically L, U, T, X, V). Reserve cardholders can use the certificates on full fare first class (A) and Comfort+ (W) fares.
  • The certificates can be applied to a higher fare class so long as there is space available in one of the lower fare classes.
  • In most cases, certificates must be used on round-trips lasting from 3 to 30 days.
  • It is possible to apply a cert to a one-way fare, but the certificate will be used fully in that case and you won’t have a certificate to use on a second leg.
  • Certificates expire, typically 13 months after they are issued.

Don’t worry too much about finding the appropriate fare class; Delta’s website will find eligible flights automatically.

Companion Certificates can now only be redeemed online. Follow these steps to score your companion fare.

Accessing the Certificate on Delta.com

First, log in to the Delta SkyMiles account associated with the right credit card.

How to use Delta Companion Certificate online

Once logged in to an account on Delta.com, you can access the SkyMile account menu by clicking on the account holder’s name in the upper right hand corner of the home page.

How to use Delta Companion Certificate online

Once in the account drop-down menu, click on the SkyMiles account arrow (it will say SkyMiles Member, Silver Medallion, Gold Medallion, etc.) to open the full account pane.

How to use Delta Companion Certificate

Select the Credits and Certificates icon (gift box) on the right side of the account dashboard.

The companion certificate will appear alongside vouchers from cancelled flights, gift certificates and other forms of credits.

How to use Delta Companion Certificate

In my account, the Companion Certificate appears below available Regional Upgrade Certificates.

How to book Delta Companion Certificate online

Select the Companion Certificate and click continue to begin the flight search.

Once you select and activate the companion certificate, you’ll be taken to a search dialogue box that will automatically perform a search for eligible fare classes.

How to use Delta Companion Certificate

Fill out the dialogue box normally, as you would for any other flight.

Eligible flights will appear as usual, though the Companion Certificate badge will appear at the top of the home page.

How to use Delta Companion Certificate online.

Select a flight and complete the booking process as usual.

I didn’t actually book this flight, but the booking process from here continues as usual.

Beware of Cancellations

If you cancel a flight on a companion certificate outside the 24-hour hold period, you lose the certificate. This occurs even if only one of the passengers’ itinerary is cancelled.

In other words: only book a Companion Certificate flight when your plans are certain.

The tickets can be changed, however change fees are applied on both tickets separately.

What About Upgrades

How to use Delta Companion Certificate

Your buddy could join you in Delta One, FOR FREE (well, taxes), if your Companion Certificate flight nets you a Medallion upgrade on a transcontinental Delta One equipped flight. Image by Delta Air Lines.

Last year, Delta changed the rules on upgrades to allow both passengers traveling on a Companion Certificate to enjoy complementary Medallion upgrades to both Comfort+ and First Class seats.

The upgrade is processed according to the passenger with the higher status (even if that passenger is flying on the free certificate). Both passengers must be SkyMiles members or elite members of a SkyTeam airlines.

Earning Miles

The passenger flying on the paid portion of the ticket will earn miles normally. The companion certificate passenger will earn neither SkyMiles nor Medallion Qualification miles.

Transferring and Gifting Certificates

Companion Certificates are transferrable as gifts, however Delta rules prohibit any sale or barter transactions.

What if I Live in Alaska or Hawaii?

Alaska and Hawaii residents with proof of residency can use companion certificates to either state. Bizarrely, Delta’s terms and conditions still require travel to originate in the mainland 48 states.

As written, the rules dictate that an Alaska or Hawaii SkyMiles member could use the certificate to fly from their home airport, but only as a returning flight on a round-trip originating in the lower 48.

This seems strange, and I’ve reached out to Delta’s public relations staff for clarification.

The Upshot

If used correctly, the Delta Companion Certificate is actually a great benefit. The process of redeeming the tickets online makes it easy to find applicable flights and take advantage of this perk.

 

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Comments

  1. These certificates used to be good for connecting flights as well when directs were not available. Without any announcement they seemingly did away with this option in 2018. Really disappointing for those that looking to begin or end a trip in a smaller city.

    • Hi DLPTATL,

      This is incorrect. These certificates are still very much valid for connecting flights. I just checked on the website, and was able to find flights in the Companion Cert search for flights with two and three connecting legs.

  2. I assume travel writers manage to be treated better than others.
    My experiences with Delta Companion passes can be summed up easily; if there is high demand they can not be used and if it is a period with low demand there will be tickets offered at less than half the price of the fares valid as companion fares.
    In addition, Delta was extraordinarily inflexible in helping me make this work when the only flights available involved NYC-MIA and return from FLL. It should be noted that MIA and FLL are almost interchangeable in serving South Florida and they are closer together than any of NYC’s airports.
    Quite honestly, I consider the offer to be a type of scam.

    • I don’t find this to be true at all. The fare in this example $240 to New Orleans round-trip, is near the lowest I’ve ever seen for this destination.

      I’ve had this card for several years — long before I wrote for this or any travel site — and have been able to use the Delta Companion Certificate easily on the exact flights I wanted, every time.

  3. I was wondering what Donato stated. Seems like many companion type deals force you to use certain airline or hotel booking classes that cost more than the best deal which negates much of the value unless you are super lucky. The IHG Ambassador free night cert, the BA card companion, etc. all has this same issue. The Alaska card companion certs seems like they are better. All that aside I do appreciate the good detailed blog post on this. It’s helpful in deciding if this product might work for me.

    • I find it exceptionally easy to use this one. Again, almost all discount fares (the only ones most leisure travelers ever book) are valid and can be easily booked using this method.

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