American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card Review
American Express is the sole provider of Delta co-branded credit cards. They offer four versions of Delta co-branded cards: Blue, Gold, Platinum, and the Delta Reserve. Today, we will review the Delta Reserve credit card–both the Reserve Business and Reserve Personal versions. These are the ultra premium cards of the Delta portfolio.
We will review the business version and personal version at the same time, since they are pretty much the same card. You are able to get both versions, though, since they are considered separate products.
Current Welcome Offer vs Historical High
The current welcome offer for the Delta Reserve expires April 1, 2020. The welcome offer is the same for both the business and the personal card:
- 80,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of card membership
- 20,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of card membership
- 20,000 Delta SkyMiles after your first card anniversary by paying the annual fee and keeping the card
- The $550 annual fee is NOT waived the first year
- Learn More
This is the historical high for the Delta Reserve’s welcome bonus.
American Express also limits the amount of credit cards that you can have to 5 cards at one time (occasionally 6). This does not include charge cards.
The American Express Delta Reserve card comes with the following earning structure:
- 3X miles on purchases directly with Delta
- 1X miles on all other purchases
- For the Delta Reserve business card only, earn 1.5X miles on all purchases starting after you spend $150,000 in a year
The Delta Reserve card from American Express comes with the following primary cardmember perks:
- Complimentary Delta lounge access when flying Delta
- Discounted rate of $29 per guest for up to 2 guests
- Receive 2 one-time guest passes each year to bring guests into the Delta lounge with you
- Access to The Centurion Lounge when flying on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. The eligible flight must be booked on a U.S. issued Amex card.
- Bonus miles and MQMs with Miles Boost
- Earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 on purchases with your card in a calendar year
- Receive this benefit every $30,000 in spend up to four times per year
- Annual companion certificate
- Receive a domestic first class, Delta comfort+ or main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card.
- MQDs Waiver
- Waive the MQDs requirement towards Platinum, Gold, or Silver Medallion Status by spending more than $25,000 on the card per year
- If you don’t have Medallion Status, your Card adds you to the Complimentary Upgrade list, after Medallion Members.
Secondary Credit Card Perks:
- No foreign transaction fees
- First checked bag free (up to 9 guests on the same itinerary)
- 20% discount on in flight purchases, given as a statement credit
- Pay with miles feature available to cardholders (1 cent per mile redemption towards flights)
- Main Cabin 1 priority boarding group on Delta flights
- Learn More
American Express increased the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) waiver via credit card spend from $25,000 to $250,000 last year which was a big blow to loyal cardmembers.
This only applies to top tier Diamond status, though. You can still earn the MQD waiver by spending $25,000 for all other tiers. Platinum status, which still gets a MQD waiver at $25,000, comes with waived award change fees, which is one of the bigger perks of status.
The American Express Delta Reserve card has a $550 annual fee which is NOT waived.
Welcome Offer Value – $1,000 (Net $450)
Delta Skymiles are valued at 1.25 cents a piece. That puts the value of 80,000 Delta Skymiles at $1,000. The net value of the offer is $450 after subtracting the annual fee.
This calculation does not take the 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles or the included Lounge access into consideration.
The Delta Reserve credit card from American Express aims for very targeted demographic. It is best suited for the traveling business person who values lounge access and elite status.
There is also a small subset of people who find the card useful for manufacturing elite status with Delta. Delta is one of the only airlines that allows you to earn elite status simply from credit card spend. If you surpass the spending bonuses (every $30K of spend, up to 4 times), you could achieve have 60,000 MQMs each year. That is enough for mid tier Gold status.
Outside of customers who are chasing status, this card isn’t a good fit for most. The lounge access has the same rules as the Amex Platinum card, which comes with a better earning structure.
The annual companion pass offers some yearly value, but it is highly restricted. Only certain fare categories qualify, which makes it substantially less valuable than a true “buy one, get one free” offer.
Long Term Keep or Cancel
For people who use these cards to manufacture elite status with Delta, this is a long-term keeper. The lounge access and companion certificate help offset the annual fee as well. Both of which loyal and frequent Delta flyers will find very useful. The only real reason to keep the card(s) is the Medallion Qualification Miles bonus from every $30,0000 worth of spend and the accompanied lounge access.
For everyone else, this card is probably not a long term keeper.
The American Express Delta Reserve credit card (personal or business version) is a great tool for Delta flyers looking to achieve status quicker or to bump up to the next level of status. The welcome offer is also attractive and makes this a good card in the first year.
The card comes with a few nice perks, lounge status, and a first class companion certificate. However, if lounge access is your goal you are better off getting the Amex Platinum card, which comes with Delta lounge entry, a Priority Pass membership, and Centurion Lounge entry. The Delta lounge access rules are the same for both cards.
For the casual flyer, or someone who isn’t loyal to Delta, this card doesn’t make much sense past year one. The high annual fee cuts the value from the welcome offer in half. The high annual fee is not offset by the perks in years 2 and onward.