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Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card review: Premium value for Delta loyalists

The annual fee may be worth it if you’re a frequent Delta flyer looking for elite loyalty perks that can make your travel experience more pleasant

 /  15 min
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Snapshot

4.3

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5

Bottom line

If you want to fly in style and comfort, this card could be your path to upscaling your experience with airport lounge perks and more. However, only the most loyal Delta flyers may be able to justify the card’s high annual fee.

Best for Delta Sky Club fans
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5
    4.1 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

Earn 95,000 miles

Intro offer

Info

$1140

Offer valuation

Info

1X - 3X

Rewards rate

Info

$650

Annual fee

20.99%-29.99% Variable

APR

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card overview

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is the top-of-the-line Delta Air Lines card, explicitly made for frequent Delta flyers who want a first-class travel experience.

However, Delta has recently replaced two popular perks — Status Boost and the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver — with new pathways to elite status. And the card’s hefty annual fee and limited bonus categories mean it may only appeal to those who spend significant time and money with the airline. Unless you can take full advantage of the card's benefits, it might not be worth the high price of carrying this card. Other Delta cards and general-purpose travel credit cards could easily carry more value for a lower annual fee and will be a better fit if you’re focused on rewards value, not flying first class or premium perks.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 3X miles per dollar on eligible Delta flights and Delta Vacations® 
    • 1X miles on all other purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • Earn 95,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months

    Expert Appraisal: Typical

    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • Annual fee: $650
    • Regular APR: 20.99 percent to 29.99 percent (variable)

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • MQD Headstart and MQD Boost
    • Access to Delta Sky Club lounges (effective 2/1/25, Reserve card members will receive 15 visits per year to the Delta Sky Club)
    • Four annual Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes
    • Access to The Centurion Lounges
    • Annual companion certificate worth one round-trip flight to a domestic, Caribbean, or Central American destination (taxes and fees apply)
    • $240 Resy credit (up to $20 per month in statement credits on eligible purchases with U.S. Resy restaurants with enrolled card)
    • $200 Delta Stays credit (up to $200 per year as a statement credit on prepaid bookings through Delta Stays on delta.com)
    • $120 rideshare credit (up to $10 in statement credits each month on U.S. rideshare purchases with select providers
    • First checked bag free
    • Statement credit for expedited airport screening

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

Delta SkyMiles Reserve pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    You can enjoy Delta’s strongest benefit roster for luxury travel, such as complimentary lounge access, four annual Sky Club lounge guest passes and priority for complimentary upgrades.

  • Checkmark

    Valuable perks like the annual companion certificate and first free checked bag can help make up for the annual fee.

  • Checkmark

    Extensive travel protections include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance and baggage insurance.

Cons

  • The pricey annual fee can be too steep, especially if you don't earn Medallion Status with the card or maximize the card's annual benefits.

  • This card lacks luxury travel card staples like annual credits for airfare.

  • You'll only be able to earn boosted rewards for Delta purchases, a limited rewards category compared to less-premium SkyMiles cards.

Why you might want the Delta SkyMiles Reserve

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve offers a lot of bang for your buck if you take advantage of its strengths: its luxury travel perks.

Welcome offer: Decent value despite the annual fee

New Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardholders can earn 95,000 bonus miles for spending $6,000 in purchases in the first six months. According to our latest point valuations, Delta miles are worth around 1.2 cents apiece on average, so this intro offer would be worth around $1,140. 

This welcome offer is solid but other general-purpose travel cards provide more competitive offers. For example, Bankrate’s point valuations show that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card’s 60,000-point intro bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) can also be worth around $1,200 if you find the right transfer partner (based Bankrate's latest point and mile valuations, which give Chase points an average value of 2.0 cents per point). However, this sign up bonus can help offset the card's steep annual fee for the first year.

Card perks: More than make up the cost of the card

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card’s numerous luxury perks are its main selling point and where cardholders will find much of the card’s value.

Why you might want a different airline card

Despite its powerful perks, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve has a few disadvantages like high fees and a limited rewards program to consider. 

Rates and fees: High annual fee and costly to add cards 

This card’s biggest drawback is its $650 annual fee. To offset this fee with rewards earned from Delta purchases, you’ll need to spend a little over $20,000 per year with the airline. This makes the card a hard sell for occasional travelers, so achieving elite status and taking advantage of your travel benefits is key.

Another disappointing aspect of the card is that if you want to add cards to your account for authorized users, you'll pay an annual fee of $175 for each additional user. 

While authorized users have lounge access and their purchases count toward elite status for the primary cardholder, this is a high fee for adding a card. While these fees are typical for premium airline cards, plenty of more cost-effective options are available if you look at general travel rewards credit cards.

Some competing luxury travel cards charge no fee for your first few cards you add to your account. For example, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card allows you to add up to four authorized users to your account at no additional cost (See Rates & Fees).

Rewards rate: Not fitting of a luxury card 

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card only earns its 3X miles rate on Delta flight and vacation purchases, so it isn’t very rewarding outside the airport. Not only do several Delta SkyMiles cards earn higher rates on non-Delta purchases, but several general travel cards offer more rewarding rates as well. 

Delta miles don’t have a fixed redemption value for airfare, but generally your miles are worth about 1 cent. However, based on Bankrate’s latest point valuations, we estimate Delta SkyMiles are worth about 1.2 cents each on average, which is decent but still a bit on the low side compared to other airline cards. 

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Anyone who considers themselves a Delta loyalist should take a close look at the Reserve Card, according to Nick Ewen, a credit card expert at The Points Guy.

The Delta Reserve Amex carries a high annual fee, but for anyone who frequently travels with Delta, it can be a no-brainer. Even though it will begin limiting Sky Club access as of Feb. 1, 2025, it’s great to be able to relax in a comfortable lounge prior to your flight. I also love the annual domestic companion ticket it offers, which is valid for economy class, Comfort+ and first class. This year, I treated my wife and daughter to first-class flights to New York for my daughter’s birthday celebration — not only saving over $600 but helping create an amazing memory for my family.

— Nick Ewan, Director of Content, The Points Guy

How the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card compares to other travel cards

Despite its decent intro bonus and potential rewards, the Delta Reserve’s sizable annual fee means there might be better options for frugal spenders and occasional travelers, especially if you don't fly Delta often.

Image of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$650

Intro offer

Earn 95,000 miles
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 3X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$350

Intro offer

Earn 85,000 miles
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 3X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$550

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Info

Rewards rate

1x - 10x
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve

The elite status boost spending requirements means the Delta Reserve card should be your primary credit card. But pairing it with cards in the SkyMiles family and other American Express travel cards can extend its reach to earn more rewards outside Delta purchases. And once you’ve gained your elite status on the Reserve, you can let one of these cards take over the bulk of your purchasing needs.

Who is the Delta SkyMiles Reserve right for?

Given the high annual fee and numerous perks centered on the Delta SkyMiles program, the card is best suited for Delta loyalists.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Delta SkyMiles Reserve worth it?

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card’s heavy focus on premier travel benefits like lounge access and reliance on elite status rewards make it a worthwhile investment for Delta Air Lines fans who have big travel budgets and a taste for luxurious accommodations. However, these specialized features and its limited rewards could make the annual fee too steep for many travelers — especially those who mostly fly solo.

If you don’t spend much with Delta or you want more flexibility from a luxury-level card’s rewards and perks, you might be better off with a general-purpose travel credit card or one of Delta SkyMiles’ lower-cost cards.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card, please click here.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

*Effective 2/1/25, Reserve card members will receive 15 visits per year to the Delta Sky Club.

How we rated this card

We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest). 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Steve Dashiell
Editor, Credit cards

Steven Dashiell is an editor for Bankrate and CreditCards.com with expertise in rewards credit cards, financial literacy, and helping consumers build and maintain their credit.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.