Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express review
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Among Delta’s co-branded lineup of rewards credit cards, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express is the best pick for those jetsetters spending thousands on Delta airfare each year who are looking to both upgrade their flight experiences and get more value (and higher status) from travel spending.
The Delta Reserve’s rewards structure is similar to Delta’s other cards under American Express. You’ll earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, including flights booked directly with the airline, Sky Club membership or passes, seat upgrades and in-flight purchases. Every other purchase made with the card earns just one mile per dollar. There’s no limit to how many miles you can earn.
If you’re also a SkyMiles Loyalty Program member, which you likely are if you already frequently fly with the airline, you can earn five miles per dollar spent on Delta flights, bumping your net earnings to seven points for every dollar spent with Delta.
What really makes this card’s $450 annual fee worth it, though, is its extra perks and boosts towards Delta elite status ($550 annual fee if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) see rates and fees.
With the Delta Reserve, you can access the Delta Sky Club at no cost and bring up to two guests at a reduced rate of $29 per person per visit. You’ll also receive an annual companion certificate, eligible for a domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+ or Main Cabin round-trip ticket (not including taxes and fees) each year after your first year of card membership.
If you spend $30,000 on purchases with your Delta Reserve card each calendar year, you can earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles. Spend $60,000 on purchases in a calendar year and you’ll earn an additional 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles.
You can earn even faster the first year with the card’s limited time welcome offer. Spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening and you can earn 10,000 MQMs and 75,000 bonus miles (offer expires 10/30/2019).
Read Bankrate’s Frequent Flyer Guide to Delta SkyMiles for a breakdown of how you can best use these bonus miles to your advantage.
Is this the right card for you?
If you spend much of your time in the air and want the best perks that Delta has to offer the Delta Reserve may be the card for you.
Of Delta’s co-branded cards, the closest comparison to the Delta Reserve is the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, which costs significantly less at $195 annually ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020). It earns rewards miles at the same rate and has many of the same perks, including a comparable welcome offer, the companion certificate, mileage boost and priority boarding.
What sets the two apart, though is how the Delta Reserve takes many of these perks to the next level for premium customers. The companion certificate can be used for premium seats instead of main cabin only, the Miles Boost earnings are higher and the added Sky Lounge benefit adds another layer of luxury for frequent flyers.
The Delta Reserve comes with a variable APR ranging from 17.49 to 26.49 percent. With no introductory purchase or balance transfer APR, this card is best for those who pay off balances in full each month. Travelers can also enjoy no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
If you spend heavily on travel and you’re working towards a higher Medallion status, the Reserve is an easy choice.
How much are rewards worth?
If you spend much of your time at airports with access to a Delta Sky Club lounges, complimentary Sky Club access may be worth hundreds of dollars in value on its own. Normally, these lounges are only accessible by paying $59 per visit, $450 annually or by reaching Diamond Medallion status with Delta. If you already pay for an annual Sky Club membership, you’ll break even on the card’s annual fee just with this benefit (annual fee jumps to $550 if the application is received on or after 1/30/2020).
The other majorly valuable benefit of the Delta Reserve is the annual companion certificate. This is one of the perks that sets this card apart, because the Reserve’s companion pass is eligible for First Class and Comfort+ tickets, rather than just Main Cabin. Depending on how you redeem this certificate, that can add hundreds of dollars in additional value (taxes and fees apply).
Delta SkyMiles are notoriously criticized for their redemption value, but each mile is currently worth about 1.2 cents, according to valuations from The Points Guy. That makes the Delta Reserve’s 75,000-miles welcome bonus (after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months- offer expires 10/30/19) worth about $900. If you spend the $60,000 annually to earn the full Miles Boost of 30,000 bonus miles, that’s another $360. Since prices for Delta flights fluctuate based on availability, season and other factors, you can likely get even more value per mile is you shop smartly.
Additionally, if you’re able to qualify for Medallion status with the extra miles redemptions from this card, you can gain even more value through upgrades. Even at the lowest tier of Silver Medallion, you’ll qualify for complimentary First Class upgrades within 24 hours of departure (when available), boosting the value of the miles you spend on flights even more when you can get upgraded.
How to maximize the value of this card
To get the most value from the Delta Reserve, take full advantage of all the annual perks, such as Sky Club lounge access and premium companion certificates. You should also make sure you spend enough to qualify for the sign-up bonus and Miles Boost extras, which can help you reach the next level of elite status with Delta.
Evaluate your spending to ensure that you’re not overextending your budget to make up for the Delta Reserve’s annual fee. If you’re not a frequent flyer or don’t need premium perks like lounge access, consider another option in the Delta lineup that may be better suited to your budget, like the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express or Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.
The Delta Reserve likely isn’t a great fit for casual travelers or those who shop around with airlines. But Delta loyalists who want to upgrade their airport experience and add an extra boost to more easily achieve Medallion Status with the airline will find the card’s premium perks more than make up for its high price point.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve card, please click here.