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American Express courts the jet-set-in-training with new Delta credit card

  • American Express is competing with JPMorgan Chase for customers willing to pay high fees for travel credits and other perks.
  • The airline's new card has no annual fee.
  • Cardholders will get two miles for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants.
American Express cards
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

American Express and Delta are looking to hook new travelers into becoming mileage junkies.

The credit card issuer on Wednesday is launching a new card, called Blue Delta SkyMiles, that's aimed at new travelers, mainly millennials.

It's a shift in the battle for credit-card holders. American Express has been trying to beat back rival JPMorgan Chase for customers willing to pay high fees in exchange for fat travel credits and other perks, such as airport lounge access.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a $450 annual fee but has proven so popular that the bank said it cost it some $200 million in profits last year and has forced it to slash sign-up bonuses. American Express earlier this year raised the annual fee of its rival Platinum card to $550. To lure more sign-ups, American Express added a $200-a-year credit for Uber.

For Delta, the card aims to enlist ranks of new travelers among its loyal flyers, as the airline and its rivals grapple with low airfares.

"We purposefully designed this product with this new traveler and casual traveler in mind," said Sandeep Dube, who runs Delta's SkyMiles loyalty program.

The new American Express-Delta card has no annual fee. In comparison, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card has a $95 annual fee. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card has a $195 annual fee, while its Reserve Delta SkyMiles card has a $450 annual fee.

Cardholders of the new American Express card will receive two SkyMiles for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants.