American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card Review

Milana Vrachar's picture

Huge Delta fans who would love to experience more when flying with their favorite airline might want to get the Delta Reserve. This credit card comes with a hefty annual fee of $450, which is nothing compared to benefits you’ll enjoy as a card member. However, before all, you should take into account its flaws as well, because the Delta Reserve is far from excellent. Let’s see why.

OverviewThe Delta Reserve

• Earn 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after your first purchase.
• Earn 2x miles on Delta purchases.
• Earn 1x mile on all other purchases.
• Earn 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 on the card in a year.
• Earn 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $60,000 on the card in a year.

Service & Benefits
• Complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges and reduced rates for up to two guests.
• Delta Reserve Companion Certificate.
• Free checked bags for you and your travel companions on Delta flights.
• Priority Boarding on Delta flights.
• 20% in-flight savings on Delta flights.
• 24/7 Delta Concierge.
• Entertainment Access.
• Year-End Summary.

Security & Protection
• Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance.
• Travel Accident Insurance.
• Baggage Insurance Plan.
• Global Assist Hotline.
• Return Protection.
• Purchase Protection.
• Extended Warranty.
• Zero Liability.

• $450 annual fee.
• No foreign transaction fees.
• Purchase APR: 16.49% to 25.49%.
• Balance transfer APR: 16.49% to 25.49%.
• Cash advance APR: 25.99%.
• Balance transfer transaction fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
• Cash advance transaction fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
• Penalty fees:
     - Late payment: Up to $38.
     - Returned payment: Up to $38.
     - Penalty APR: 29.99%.
     - No over-the-credit-limit fees.

What We Like
Guaranteed Silver Medallion for big spenders
the Delta Reserve credit card offers 10,000 MQMs right after your first purchase on the card, but you can potentially earn up to 30,000 MQMs, depending on how much you spend on your card in a calendar year.
If you spend at least $30,000 on your Delta Reserve card within a year, and earn $3,000 MQDs, you will qualify for Silver Medallion status, and enjoy elite travel experience. Delta Silver Medallion benefits include:

Delta Silver Medallion Benefits
However, you will be much closer to reaching Gold if you make $60,000 in purchases in a year, since you will earn 40,000 MQMs. To become a Gold member, you will need 50,000 MQMs and $6,000 MQDs.

Free access to Delta Sky Clubs
As a card member, you will enjoy access to Delta Sky Clubs free of charge. The individual annual membership would usually cost you $495, with the possibility to bring up to two guests along, who would pay a reduced fee of $29 instead of $59. There is also the executive membership ($745/year), which might be a better option if you usually travel with someone, since it offers free Delta lounge access to up to two people traveling with you. However, the Reserve card comes with the individual package.

In-flight savings on all Delta flights
Delta rarely offers free meals on short-haul, domestic flights, but you will enjoy 20% off in-flight food, alcohol and audio headsets each time you fly Delta. A rather valuable benefit if you’re super busy and don’t always have much time to eat before you take off.

No checked bag fees
To you and up to eight people traveling on the same reservation, Delta and Delta Connection offer free first checked bags. This means one person can save $50 per round-trip flight – or a total of $450 if a group of nine is heading somewhere with Delta.

Delta Reserve Companion Certificate at Renewal
The Certificate is valid for one round-trip First Class (A and I classes) or Main Cabin (L, U, T, X, V classes) ticket, excluding any applicable taxes and fees, to anywhere within the 48 contiguous United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Alaska or the USVI. You will receive the Companion Certificate when you renew your credit card account. To make the most of it, you should book first-class tickets – this way, the value of the certificate can be greater than $1,000. The fine print does not state whether a cardholder may book his or her ticket with points, and use the certificate for the second ticket, but it’s worth giving it a try.

What We Like Less
Poor earning scheme

Despite the fact this credit card offers great bonus miles and bonus MQMs, the standard earning scheme is rather poor. You will earn 2x miles on Delta purchases on top of what you usually earn as a SkyMiles member, but only 1x single mile on all other purchases. Delta award flight tickets require at least 10,000 miles, meaning that you’d need to spend $10,000 to earn a short-distance flight ticket somewhere within the U.S. Finding 10,000-mile award flights can be quite hard and rarely possible. Earning 10,000 miles can last forever, especially if you don’t spend much on Delta purchases, and don’t shop through Delta’s online shopping portal.

Not one-size-fits-it-all
With a $495 lounge membership, free checked bags, and many additional perks, the Delta Reserve is valuable enough. Yet, since it’s designed for rich travelers, who can afford to pay a $450 annual fee, even if they don’t fly the airline exclusively, chances are, many other Delta devotees will find this card to be a rather lousy one. And indeed, how can one value benefits when there are less than 50 Delta lounges, guests still have to pay a lounge access fee, and in-flight discounts are restricted to three options? Zone 1 Priority Boarding is available on Delta flights only, and it’s not that much of a priority either, since there are two other travel groups that get to onboard before you.

No hotel perks
Premium travel credit cards – whether co-branded or not – should offer both hotel and air travel perks. It’s an unwritten rule. Delta obviously missed something when crafting this credit card offer. We’re not surprised. It’ Delta, after all.

Whom is this card good for?
• Die-hard Delta fans who earn and spend a lot.

Who should not get this card?
• Anyone else.

Which card should I get if I don’t like this one?
1. Platinum Delta SkyMiles
For a somewhat lower annual fee of $195, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles offers many benefits you will surely enjoy:
• 5,000 MQMs and 35,000 bonus miles after your first purchase;
• a $100 credit after you make a Delta purchase within the first three months of account opening;
• a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate;
• free first checked bags;
• 20% off select in-flight purchases;
• a discounted Delta Sky Club fee, $29 /pp for you and up to two guests;
• Miles Boost: earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000; an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs when you spend $50,000 in a year.
• Great Amex benefits.

As you can see, this credit card offers similar benefits, and it might be a good choice for those who love Delta, but not that much so that they would pay $450 for a Delta-branded credit card. You can easily offset the $195 annual fee by purchasing four Delta roundtrip tickets, because you’ll save $50 on free checked bags per trip = $200 > $195. With the bonus miles, you can book free flights, and save even more money as a card member.

2. The Platinum Card from Amex
The Platinum card opens the door to a world of supreme benefits and incredible experiences. The enhanced version of this charge card left all other premium cards behind by adding new features to the existing suite of perks and advantages card members could enjoy. The Platinum now offers up to $200 in annual Uber credits, 5x points on select hotel bookings, and free Gold cards – in addition to airline travel credit, TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry fee credit, exclusive benefits and treatment at select hotel brands, Gold Hilton Honors and SPG status, and much more. If you really want a premium card, this one is the one you need. Its $550 annual fee is definitely worthwhile.

3. JetBlue Plus Card
If you don’t need a bunch of quasi-perks that you can barely take advantage of because of the incredible number of unnecessary restrictions, but you do want to enjoy every minute of your flight, then you don’t need a premium credit card. You need an excellent airline. JetBlue is one of the best domestic airlines, and, believe it or not, its products are rated better than any of the three major U.S. airlines. The JetBlue Plus is a $99 rewards card, offering just what you need to enhance your flight experience a bit more. Those benefits include 50% in-flight savings, free first checked bags for you and up to three people traveling with you, annual bonus points, a $100 statement credit when you buy a Vacation Package with JetBlue, no foreign transaction fees, family pooling and more! Plus, you will earn 6x points on JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1x TrueBlue point on all other purchases. If you spend $50,000 on the card, you will qualify for Mosaic, and enjoy even more privileges.

Bottom Line
Even though the benefits offered on the Delta Reserve are worth more than its annual fee is, I tend to think it’s only because Delta’s generally too expensive. Unless you’re really into Delta products and always choose to fly with the airline, you should really consider getting, for example, the Amex Platinum. Indeed, it’s a $100 more expensive charge card, but if you’re looking for a card with exclusive travel benefits, you will not find any better. With a Delta Reserve, you can enjoy certain benefits as well, but only when you fly Delta or Delta Connection, while your lounge access is limited to a number of Delta clubs across the States. I would never pay $450 for such a “limited” credit card.

the Delta Reserve. This credit card comes with a hefty annual fee of $450, which is nothing compared to benefits you’ll enjoy as a card member. However, before all, you should take into account its flaws as well, because the Delta Reserve is far from excellent. Let’s see why." data-share-imageurl="">