Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card review
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Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card Overview
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card soars above other SkyMiles cards as the best Delta Air Lines credit card when it comes to luxury benefits and Medallion Status reward opportunities.
It lands on the expensive side with a $550 annual fee and bonus mile rates that mainly reward heavy Delta spending, so it’s probably best for loyal business travelers. However, other Delta airline cards and American Express travel cards will probably provide better value at a lower annual fee if you’re looking for more diverse bonus categories.
What are the pros and cons?
- $550 annual fee
- Limited redemption options
- Unless you’re a Delta Medallion Status fanatic, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card are probably better values
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 3X miles on Delta purchases; 1X miles on all other purchases or 1.5X miles on purchases for the rest of the year after spending $150,000 in one calendar year.
- Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Annual fee: $550
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 16.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable
Current welcome offer
New cardholders can earn 60,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
Delta SkyMiles aren’t the most valuable miles on the market (they’re worth 1.41 cents each according to The Points Guy’s latest valuation). The card’s welcome offer has a pretty solid value as far as travel cards go, but it certainly isn’t the highest value you can get for the elite card price tag—mainly on account of Delta SkyMiles’ lower rewards value. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $550 annual fee and provides only 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months. However, the Sapphire Reserve’s 50 percent redemption value boost for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards bumps up its intro offer to $750, or even up to $1,000 with the right transfer partner (based on TPG’s 2 cent point estimation).
But just keep your eye out for a higher-caliber intro bonus when it comes time to apply since the SkyMiles Reserve Business has offered a better deal quite recently. Its most recent offer provided 110,000 bonus miles after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
The Delta Reserve Business card earns frequent flyer miles mainly on Delta purchases. They aren’t the most flexible rewards in the world, but they definitely suit Delta loyalists.
You’ll earn 3X miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases, which include flights, seat upgrades and eligible in-flight goods. All other purchases will earn you 1 mile per dollar until you spend $150,000 within a calendar year. After you spend $150,000 on your Card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 miles per dollar on eligible purchases the rest of the year. That’s an extra half mile per dollar. If your purchase qualifies for a category that has a higher mileage accelerator, only the higher rate will apply (for instance, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on Delta purchases instead of 1.5 miles).
This is a pretty big requirement for a few more Delta miles, so utilizing the Reserve Business card’s other methods to earn miles can help maximize your spending until you reach that bar. Booking flights with any of Delta’s airline partners will also earn you 3 miles per dollar, plus the Delta SkyMiles Dining program can serve you anywhere from 1 mile per $2 up to 5 miles per dollar on business meals.
However, combining this spending with the Status Boost benefit will net you a trove of MQMs and unlock this card’s potential. Reaching Delta’s Medallion Status requirements opens the door for 7 to 11 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and the airline’s best travel benefits.
The SkyMiles program’s biggest flaw is how rigid its redemption options are. The best use of your miles by far is to book travel or upgrade your seats.
Although Delta and its SkyTeam alliance partners have over 1,000 destinations with no blackout dates, you can’t fully transfer miles to partner airlines—only book with them through Delta.
The only other uses for miles are for travel experiences, merchandise, magazine subscriptions and gifting miles to another account or charity. Other travel rewards programs, such as American Express Membership Rewards, have more varied options that include cash back and additional travel booking methods.
How much are miles worth?
This lack of flexibility could be why Delta SkyMiles only have a market value of 1.41 cents, according to The Points Guy. That’s pretty low compared to the chart-topping 2 cents per Amex Membership Rewards point.
Keep in mind when you’re comparing cards that your miles are worth 1 cent toward flights within Delta—on paper. “Pay with Miles” only allows you to redeem in 5,000-point intervals for $50 discounts, but a mile’s value may vary with the cost of each flight since Delta doesn’t use a defined award chart.
The true meat of this card’s value comes from the premier travel benefits, elite status modifiers and luxury companion perks that you can’t get with any other Delta card.
With Status Boost®, earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, up to four times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status.
Companion travel perks
You can bring a business partner, client or guest on a domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+ or Main Cabin round-trip flight with your annual complimentary companion certificate. This is an especially valuable benefit when used for an expensive flight.
Plus, you can experience complimentary Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Club Access when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve Business Card. And you’ll receive two Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes each year.
Luxury travel benefits
As the premier Delta credit card, Reserve Business cardholders receive a wealth of travel and purchase benefits, including:
- Complimentary upgrades (after Medallion Status members)
- Main Cabin 1 priority boarding
- Free first checked bag
- Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit
- Travel insurance for trip delay, trip cancellation and interruption, baggage and car rental loss and damage
- Purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty
- 20 percent statement credit discount on eligible in-flight purchases
- Complimentary travel concierge service
Rates and Fees
All of the Delta Reserve Business card’s premium benefits notably come at a premium price: a $550 annual fee. This could be quite steep if your business expenses can’t maximize your reward miles. Consider whether you spend more than $1,084 per month on Delta flights (based on the 1.41-cent TPG mileage value). Although it’s a sizable spend, your bonus miles alone will offset the annual fee at that rate. However, achieving Medallion Status and employee card spending can greatly expedite the process when you’re trying to recoup the value that the companion certificate and free first checked bags don’t offset.
The downside is that there are no intro zero-interest APR periods. The ongoing APR is 16.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable, which fortunately could be below the current average interest rate, depending on your creditworthiness.
How the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card compares to other travel cards
The SkyMiles Reserve Business outclasses the benefits and loyalty features of all other Delta business cards. However, you must decide whether a much lower annual fee and hotel, dining and advertising bonus categories are more in line with your business’ spending than MQM-earning and lounge access opportunities.
Compared to other travel credit cards, the Reserve Business card is incredibly niche for the price. For a bit more money upfront, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can provide more valuable rewards with potentially better benefits—such as more extensive airport lounge access and complimentary hotel elite status—for a $695 annual fee.
The Delta Reserve Business card’s serious annual fee merits consideration about whether these airline-specific features are more or less valuable to your business than the premium benefits these competing cards offer:
Best cards to pair with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card is perhaps the best Delta card to couple with the Reserve Business. Its unlimited 2X miles on select U.S. media advertising, U.S. shipping and restaurants purchases in addition to your Delta category can reap bonus miles on business expenses outside travel. Meanwhile, the Delta Gold Business card’s lower $99 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year) makes taking on another card more palatable.
As we previously mentioned, the Business Platinum Card from American Express earns stronger travel rewards, plus it brings a wide portfolio of additional travel benefits. The biggest draw is that Delta is one of Amex’s 1:1 transfer partners.
The American Express® Business Gold Card might be a better complement to the Delta Reserve Business card, though. That way, you can earn 4 points per dollar on eligible U.S. advertising, U.S. gas station purchases, U.S. restaurants, U.S. shipping and select U.S. tech purchases (up to a combined $150,000 in two select categories per year, then 1X points).
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card worth it?
Frequent Delta business travelers will get the most value from the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card’s flight rewards, luxury travel benefits and Medallion Status boost features.
But if the better MQM reward rates and airport lounge access aren’t worth the $550 annual fee with your budget, your business might benefit more from the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card’s nearly identical rewards.
On the other hand, if you aren’t a Delta loyalist, applying the $550 annual fee toward American Express’ Business Platinum Card instead would offer even more flexibility and similar luxury perks.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Business Platinum Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business, 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.