Tech

Amex Delta Reserve credit card review: Best for Delta loyalists who want airport lounge access and premium perks

Regular APR

15.74% to 24.74% variable APR

Featured Reward

Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Annual companion certificate benefit, which is valid for domestic first class and Comfort+ as well as the main cabin
    • Access to Delta Sky Clubs and American Express Centurion Lounges when you’re flying Delta
    • Earns 3x miles on Delta purchases
    Cons
    • Very high annual fee
    • Doesn’t offer bonus miles on non-Delta purchases
    • Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
    • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus MQMs to help you reach Medallion Status.
    • Complimentary access into the Delta SkyClubs® for you when traveling on a Delta flight.
    • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
    • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
    • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
    • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
    • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
    • $550 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.


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    Review: Is the Delta Reserve credit card the best card for you?

    American Express issues seven personal and small-business Delta credit cards to suit every type of traveler. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is the most premium of the personal cards and currently offers a substantial welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

    With a $550 annual fee (See Rates), this card isn’t for the casual Delta flyer. However, if you can make use of perks like Delta Sky Club and Amex Centurion airport lounge access when you fly Delta, Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), complimentary upgrades, a free first checked bag, and an annual companion certificate, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is worth considering.

    You’ll earn 3x miles on Delta purchases, but just 1 mile per dollar on everything else — there are no other bonus categories. If your objective is to earn more Delta miles on your everyday spending, you’ll want to look at other Delta cards or cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points like the American Express® Gold Card
    . Delta is an Amex transfer partner, and you can convert Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

    If you don’t fly Delta often enough to maximize these benefits and justify the annual fee, there are other Delta cards that are a better fit. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card offers 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. It has an annual fee of $99, waived for the first year (See Rates), and offers decent perks for the occasional traveler, including a free first checked bag and priority boarding on Delta flights.

    Comparison: Delta Reserve Credit Card vs other Amex Delta cards

    * For 2021, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card members earn 25% more MQMs for meeting the same spending tiers

    Comparison: Delta Reserve Credit Card vs other premium airline credit cards

    * For 2021, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card members earn 25% more MQMs for meeting the same spending tiers

    How to use miles from the Amex Delta Reserve card

    According to Insider’s points and miles valuations, Delta SkyMiles are worth, on average, 1.1 cents apiece. If you get that rate or better when you compare the cost of your award flight to that of a paid ticket, you’re getting a good deal. 

    You can redeem Delta miles for flights on Delta, SkyTeam alliance partners, and non-alliance partners, including Air France, KLM, and WestJet. Delta no longer publishes an award chart, so the number of miles required for an award ticket varies depending on demand, paid ticket price, and time of year. 

    The airline sometimes runs flash sales with award tickets priced as low as 2,000 miles one-way for domestic flights and as little as 9,000 miles for international routes. These Delta SkyMiles deals usually pop up unannounced, so it’s worth checking frequently to see if the route or destination you want is on sale.

    All Amex Delta cardholders have the ability to use miles to fully or partially offset the cost of a paid ticket. The Pay With Miles program allows members to redeem at a rate of 1 cent per mile in 5,000-mile increments, so 5,000 miles is worth $50 off the cost of a paid ticket. This is helpful if you don’t have enough miles for an award or want to stretch your miles by combining them with cash.

    If you don’t want to redeem SkyMiles for flights, there are other options, but you’ll typically get a poor value in comparison:

    • Seat selection and upgrades
    • Delta Sky Club lounge memberships
    • Certain Delta fees (like ticket changes and award ticket redeposit fees)
    • Gift cards
    • Magazines
    • Tour vouchers
    • Charity donations
    • Delta Vacations packages
    • Premium drinks in Delta Sky Club lounges
    • Delta SkyMiles Experiences 

    Because Delta miles don’t expire, there’s no pressure to redeem them if you’re not ready to travel yet.

    Delta Reserve card benefits and features

    The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a premium card and comes with a wide variety of benefits that can help offset the hefty annual fee.

    Delta Sky Club airport lounge access

    The standout benefit of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is the Delta Sky Club airport lounge access it offers. Normally, an individual Sky Club membership costs $545 per year, so if that’s something you’d otherwise pay for, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (with its $550 annual fee and additional perks) is a better deal.

    Delta operates dozens of Sky Clubs at major US airports, although some are currently closed due to the pandemic. With the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you’ll get access to Sky Club lounges if you’re flying on a Delta-operated or Delta-marketed flight that day. Cardholders receive two one-time Sky Club guest passes each year, but can also bring in up to two guests at a discounted rate of $39 per person (as long as they’re also flying Delta).

    If you fly through airports with Sky Club lounges frequently, this perk can make your travels more comfortable and save you money in the long run. Delta Sky Clubs offer a quieter place to work and relax, with free Wi-Fi, snacks, light meals, beverages, and other amenities. 

    Keep in mind you can also get Delta Sky Club access (when you fly Delta) if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express
    or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
    , so those cards may be a better fit if you prefer flexibility and the other perks they offer.

    Amex Centurion Lounge access

    Amex Centurion Lounges are typically fancier than Delta Sky Clubs, and if you hold the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you’ll have access if you’re flying Delta that day and used the card to pay for your ticket. 

    Cardholders can currently bring in up to two guests (if they’re also flying Delta) at a rate of $50 per person. Centurion Lounges are known for offering premium food and cocktails and a more upscale atmosphere, but they’re at far fewer airports and some have long wait times to enter due to pandemic restrictions.

    Upgrade priority and access to complimentary upgrades

    When you have the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you’ll get upgrade priority over non-cardholders with the same Medallion status level and fare class grouping. If you don’t have Medallion status, you’ll get added to the complimentary upgrade list after elite status holders.

    Annual Delta companion certificate

    Each year on your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card anniversary, you’ll receive a Delta companion certificate valid for round-trip, domestic first class, Delta Comfort+, or economy class travel within the contiguous 48 states. If you buy an eligible paid ticket, a companion can join you for just the cost of

    taxes
    and fees on the same itinerary — and if it’s an expensive fare, you could end up saving hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

    The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card also comes with an annual companion certificate, but it’s only valid for economy class travel — so the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a better choice if you’ll book Comfort+ or first-class tickets.

    Delta Status Boost

    If you spend $30,000 or more on eligible purchases in a calendar year with your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you’ll receive 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) — up to four times — that can help you qualify for elite status. For 2021, this perk is even more lucrative, because cardholders can earn 25% more MQMs for meeting the same spending thresholds.

    Free first checked bag

    Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card members and up to eight companions on the same reservation receive a free first checked bag on Delta flights. Delta normally charges $30 each way for the first checked bag, so this perk can significantly offset the annual fee if you fly Delta often.

    Families or groups, in particular, can get a huge value — four people with a checked bag each on a round-trip itinerary would normally incur fees of $240 for their luggage.

    Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

    The Global Entry and TSA PreCheck trusted traveler programs can save you a ton of time at the airport, and if you use your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card to pay the application fee, you’ll be reimbursed (up to $100 for Global Entry every 4 years or up to $85 for TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years).

    Priority boarding

    Cardholders and up to eight companions on the same reservation receive Main Cabin 1 priority boarding — even when flying Basic Economy — which means you’ll have more time to get settled into your seat and find room in the overhead bins for your carry-on bag.

    The Main Cabin 1 group boards after passengers flying in premium cabins and most elite members, but before other economy class travelers or those flying in basic economy.  

    20% back on inflight purchases

    When you use your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card to pay for inflight purchases like drinks, food, or audio headsets on Delta flights, you’ll receive 20% back in the form of a statement credit.

    Car rental insurance

    The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers secondary rental

    car insurance
    when you use the card to pay for your rental in full and decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver. Coverage is for theft or damage only (not liability) and some rentals, vehicle types, and countries are excluded, so be sure to read the terms.

    Purchase protection

    When you pay for an eligible item with your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you can be covered for loss or damage up to 90 days from the date of purchase, up to a maximum of $1,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per year.

    Extended warranty

    Cardholders can also get an extended warranty on eligible items when they use their Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card to pay — up to one additional year added to eligible US manufacturers warranties of five years or less.

    Return protection

    If you purchased an eligible item with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and the merchant won’t accept your return, you’re may get a refund of the full purchase price (excluding shipping and handling), up to $300 per item and a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.

    Baggage insurance

    If you pay for a covered trip with your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you can be covered for baggage loss or damage, up to $500 per person for checked bags and $1,250 per person for carry-on luggage. There are exclusions for high-risk items and some states have different limits, so check the terms and conditions for specific details.

    Trip delay insurance

    You can get reimbursed up to $500 for meals, lodging, toiletries, medication, and other personal items if you’ve paid for a covered trip with your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and it’s delayed by six hours or more, up to two times per consecutive 12-month period.

    Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

    If you paid for a covered trip with your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and it’s canceled or cut short for a covered reason, you could be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per card per consecutive 12-month period.

    Cell phone protection

    One of the newest benefits of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is cell phone protection. When you use your card to pay your monthly wireless bill, you’re covered for the cost of repair or replacement if your phone is damaged or stolen, up to $800 per claim and up to two claims per 12-month period.

    There’s a $50 deductible, and you must file your claim within 90 days of the incident. Coverage is secondary (it will pay out after any other insurance you have) and it starts the first day of the calendar month following payment of your monthly bill with your eligible card. It stays in effect as long as you continue paying your bill with the card. 

    Premium Global Assist Hotline

    The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with a little-known perk that can be a lifesaver if you have an emergency while you’re away from home. Cardholders get access to Amex’s Premium Global Assist Hotline, which can help arrange things like passport replacement, medical referrals, and translation services.

    The service itself is complimentary, but you may be responsible for any third-party costs. One big difference from the regular (versus premium) Global Assist Hotline is emergency medical evacuation coverage — Amex may provide emergency medical transportation assistance at no cost if it’s approved and coordinated by Premium Global Assist Hotline.

    Regular APR

    15.74% to 24.74% variable APR

    Featured Reward

    Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

    Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Annual companion certificate benefit, which is valid for domestic first class and Comfort+ as well as the main cabin
    • Access to Delta Sky Clubs and American Express Centurion Lounges when you’re flying Delta
    • Earns 3x miles on Delta purchases
    Cons
    • Very high annual fee
    • Doesn’t offer bonus miles on non-Delta purchases
    • Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021.
    • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus MQMs to help you reach Medallion Status.
    • Complimentary access into the Delta SkyClubs® for you when traveling on a Delta flight.
    • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
    • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
    • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
    • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.
    • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
    • $550 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.


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    American Express Delta Reserve card fees and costs

    The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card annual fee is $550, and there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about, so it’s a good card to use for international purchases.

    Like most other cards, there are fees for late or returned payments and cash advances (See Rates) .

    Jasmin Baron is an associate editor at Personal Finance Insider, where she helps readers maximize rewards and find the best credit cards to fit their lifestyles. She has covered credit cards, points and miles, and loyalty programs for over seven years, and she’s a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF).

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