Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
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You fly so often you’re on a first-name basis with the gate agents and the flight attendants know how you like your coffee. If you rack up thousands of dollars a year to get from place to place, you’re the type of traveler the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express is tailor-made for.
Yes, it’s pricey. But for the right person, the $450 annual tag on the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express is worth it. The main reason people ultimately choose to sign up for this card is not the just-OK earning rate of 2 SkyMiles for every $1 spent on Delta: it’s for the boost towards elite status.
Delta’s Medallion Status program offers increasing levels of rewards and extras the more you fly, based on distance, segments flown, and annual spending. There are four tiers of status and each have progressively more perks, like mileage bonuses, automatic seat upgrades, and priority boarding.
The Delta Reserve Credit Card will give you a big boost towards higher Medallion status by granting you 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 40,000 bonus miles after you spend at least $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of opening an account.
For the biggest spenders, this card offers annual mileage boosts of 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs for those who spend $30,000 or more a year on the card and an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs for those who spend $60,000 or more a year on the card. If you sign up for the card and spend $60,000 or more in the first year, you’ll earn 40,000 MQMs, which might be enough to move you up to the next level in Medallion Status.
Beyond the MQMs, there’s another big perk with this card: the free round-trip domestic companion ticket given each year after the first year of card ownership. The certificate is not only good for the main cabin but also for first-class or Delta Comfort+ tickets.
Yet another potentially meaningful benefit that comes with this card is a free membership to the Delta Sky Club airport lounges, which are otherwise only accessible by paying $59 per visit, shelling out $450 for the annual membership fee, or by attaining the Diamond level of Medallion status. Sky Club Members are also allowed to bring a guest at a reduced $29 guest pass fee.
If you’re willing to fork over the hefty fee in exchange for the plush perks, these extras are what give this card the edge over the $195 Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. With the Reserve version, you’re essentially paying an extra $255 for Delta lounge access, a companion ticket that’s good for premium classes, and the chance to earn more MQMs if you spend enough. If your spending habits are more modest, the Platinum card is likely a better choice.
Who should get this card
Big spenders who spend a lot on travel and want to qualify for a Delta Medallion status level.
Fees and APR
- There’s a $450 annual fee to own this card.
- The variable APR on purchases and balance transfers is 16.74 percent to 25.74 percent.
- A penalty APR of 29.99 percent may apply for a minimum of six months if you pay late or miss a payment, plus a late fee of up to $38 may apply.
- Balance transfers are subject to a 3 percent fee of the amount being transferred and can only be done within the first 60 days of opening the account.
- There are no foreign transaction fees with this card.
Extras, perks and using points
This card comes with access to a Delta concierge, and travel accident and auto insurance and protections.
Cardholders get one free checked bag, which can save up to $50 on a round-trip flight, and 20 percent off in-flight purchases. Owners of the card also get priority boarding and baggage insurance, extended warranty and price protections.
There are no fees and no blackout dates when redeeming miles on Delta Airlines. You can use your miles to book flights, upgrade existing flights, or redeem for a Delta Vacation. Delta Reserve card holders can use their miles to reduce the cost of their ticket, starting at 5,000 miles. Mileage can also be used to pay for select merchandise through the Delta SkyMiles Marketplace, or donated to charity.
As an American Express card, you also get presale access to select concerts and other entertainment events.
How this card compares
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express offers big rewards and benefits, but with a $195 price tag. After the first year of card ownership, you can get a domestic round-trip companion certificate at card renewal, which could be worth far more than the annual fee.
The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has a $450 annual fee, and gives 75,000 miles if you spend $7,500 in purchases within the first three months. With that hefty price tag also comes membership to the swanky Admirals Club, a $100 Global Entry application fee reimbursement, and one free checked bag for you and up to eight of your traveling companions.
The Platinum Card from American Express sets the bar high with a steep annual fee and a high rewards rate. It also has best-in-class travel perks like extensive airport lounge access-including their exclusive Centurion lounges, a Global Entry fee credit, hotel upgrades and more comprehensive travel and auto protections than most other cards.
The Citi Prestige Card gives air travel rewards at a rate of 3X points to the Amex Platinum’s 5X points. But it comes with one perk that could make it worth more to you: When you book four or more nights at a hotel through the Citi concierge, you get the fourth night free. For some, this benefit could exceed the cost of card ownership.
Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.