Delta Reserve Credit Card Review (2022)

Delta Reserve Credit Card Review (2022)

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs | $550
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs | $550
Earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs)
Complimentary Delta SkyClub Access
First Checked Bag Free
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American Express and Delta have had a close relationship for many years. As part of that, they issue seven co-branded Delta Amex cards, including the Blue, Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards (except for the Blue product, all the others have both a personal and business version).

Delta Reserve American Express Card Basics For August 2022

In this post, I wanted to look at the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card. This is the most premium of Amex’s four co-branded personal Delta cards, and it comes with some fantastic benefits.

Delta Reserve Amex Bonus: 50,000 SkyMiles & 10,000 MQMs

The Delta Reserve Card offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 SkyMiles & 10,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 within the first three months. This is a nice bonus — I value SkyMiles at 1.1 cents each, so to me, those miles are worth $550.

Redeem your SkyMiles for Virgin Atlantic business class

Card Eligibility

The welcome bonus offer on the card is “once in a lifetime,” so it’s not available to you if you currently have the card, or if you’ve had the card in the past. However, you can get each version of the Delta Amex, so you are eligible for the Reserve if you’ve only had the Gold or Platinum before, or if you’ve had any of the business versions of the cards.

You can read more about Amex’s general application restrictions here.

Delta Reserve Credit Card Annual Fee

The Delta Reserve Card has a $550 annual fee (Rates & Fees).

Earning Miles With Delta Reserve Card

The Delta Reserve Card has fairly limited bonus categories for spending. You can earn:

  • 3x SkyMiles for purchases directly with Delta (including flights and Delta Vacations)
  • 1x SkyMiles on all other purchases

Ironically other Delta cards with lower annual fees have more robust bonus categories. The logic is probably that there’s another huge incentive to spend on this card (which I’ll get into below), so they don’t feel they have to offer great bonuses to get people to spend.

The Delta Reserve Amex is the best card for earning MQMs and getting an MQD waiver, which is important for earning status.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

If you spend on the Delta Reserve Card, the good news is that there are no foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees), so you can efficiently use the card abroad.

Earning Status With The Delta Reserve Card

What makes the Delta Reserve Credit Card most worthwhile for many is how easy it is to earn elite status with the card. If you put enough spending on the card:

  • You can earn up to 60,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) per year
  • You can also get a full waiver on the Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) requirement, which ordinarily requires you to spend anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 per year with Delta to earn status

How does this work?

The Delta Reserve Card can help you earn status

Earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs)

Delta is one of the airlines that makes it easiest to earn status through credit card spending. The Delta Reserve Card is the best Delta credit card for earning status. With the Delta Reserve Card you:

  • Earn 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $30,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn an additional 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $60,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn an additional 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $90,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn an additional 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $120,000 in a calendar year

All MQMs earned with Delta credit cards even qualify toward lifetime status in the SkyMiles program.

Delta Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) Waiver

To earn status with Delta, you need to earn a certain number of Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs), and you also need to earn a certain number of Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs).

With the Delta Reserve American Express, you can receive a waiver of the MQD requirement for qualifying spending:

  • Spend $25,000 on the card within the qualification year to get an MQD waiver for Silver, Gold, or Platinum status
  • Spend $250,000 on the card within the qualification year to get an MQD waiver for Diamond status
Spending on this card can help you earn status

Lounge Access With The Delta Reserve Card

One of the primary things that sets the Delta Reserve Credit Card apart from other Delta Amex cards is the lounge access perks that it offers. The card offers SkyClub access, Centurion Lounge access, and even a couple of SkyClub passes.

How does that work?

Complimentary Delta SkyClub Access

Just for having the Delta Reserve Card, you receive complimentary Delta SkyClub access when flying Delta the same day. You can buy discounted access for guests at a rate of $39 per guest.

Getting complimentary Delta SkyClub access with this card is a great perk.

Get SkyClub access with the Delta Reserve Card

Two Delta SkyClub Guest Passes Annually

In addition to the primary cardmember getting SkyClub access when flying Delta the same day, they also receive two SkyClub guest passes annually.

These can be used by the primary cardmember to guest others into the lounge, allowing you to skip the $39 guesting fee twice.

Complimentary Centurion Lounge Access

The Delta Reserve Card also offers complimentary Centurion Lounge access when traveling on Delta on the same day. The primary cardmember is entitled to access, and bringing additional guests costs $50 each.

Centurion Lounges, for the most part, offer a significantly improved food and beverage offering compared to most domestic airline lounges in the United States, so this is a nice option to have.

The Delta Reserve offers Centurion Lounge access

Delta Reserve Card Perks & Benefits

The Delta Reserve Credit Card has a huge bonus, though if I were just looking for the best welcome bonus offer I would go for the Gold or Platinum version of the card, since the cards have significantly lower annual fees.

The reason you want to get the Reserve version of the card is because of the valuable long-term perks that it offers. Above I’ve talked about how the Reserve Card can help you earn status and can help you access lounges, though there are lots of perks beyond that.

Let’s take a look at some of those benefits.

Annual Companion Certificate

Every year upon renewal of your card you receive a domestic roundtrip companion certificate. This can be used for fares ranging from first class to economy, so the flexibility offered by that is pretty awesome, and for many will more than justify the annual fee.

You just have to pay the government-imposed taxes and fees for the companion. If redeeming the certificate there are some things to be aware of, including:

  • It’s valid for roundtrip travel within the 48 contiguous United States
  • Residents of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, or the USVI with SkyMiles accounts registered in those regions can use the certificate for travel from their home territory to the 48 contiguous United States
  • You have to pay the government taxes for the second traveler on the reservation
  • Companion certificates are only valid for travel in the I and Z fare classes in first class, the W fare class in Comfort+, and the L, U, T, X, and V fare classes in economy
  • Travel has to be completed by the expiration date of the certificate

First Checked Bag Free

Just for having the Delta Reserve Card you get a first checked bag free, which would otherwise cost $30 one-way per person:

  • This benefit is limited to the primary cardmember and anyone traveling on the same reservation with them (up to nine people)
  • You don’t have to pay for your flight with your Delta Amex, though you do need to have your SkyMiles number in the reservation

This is a great value, given that you’ll usually pay $60 per person roundtrip for a checked bag. So if you’re traveling with someone then you’re looking at $120 roundtrip in fees.

Delta 737
Save on checked bag fees with the Delta Platinum Amex

Priority Boarding

Just for having the card you receive Main Cabin 1 priority boarding. This helps maximize your odds of finding space for your carry-on and getting to your seat sooner. Just make sure the primary cardmember’s SkyMiles number is linked to the reservation.

20% Delta Inflight Savings

If you have the Reserve Delta Amex then you can save 20% in the form of a statement credit for eligible pre-purchased meals, and in-flight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages, and audio headsets, on Delta flights. Allow 8-12 weeks for the statement credit to post.

Pay With Miles

Delta has a Pay With Miles feature, where if you have a Delta co-branded credit card you can redeem miles for one cent each toward a Delta flight purchase (in increments of 5,000 miles per $50). That’s not the best deal in the world, though this is a feature that’s exclusively available to those with an eligible card.

Some people find this to be useful since they can redeem their miles toward flights, and then they still earn elite miles for taking those flights.

Pay With Points is a feature that many SkyMiles members value

Upgrade Priority

Having the Delta Reserve Card gets you priority for complimentary upgrades, assuming you have Medallion status. That’s because the card acts as a tiebreaker.

If you have the Reserve Card you get upgrade priority over other Medallion members within the same Medallion level and fare class. Given how competitive upgrades are, this can make a material difference in terms of whether you clear or not.

Upgrades To First Class & Comfort+ For Non-Elite Members

The Reserve Card offers complimentary first class and Comfort+ upgrades on eligible flights for non-elite members. You will be toward the bottom of the upgrade list, but there are lots of situations where this could help you score a good Comfort+ seat, or in some cases even a first class seat.

Complimentary TSA PreCheck & Global Entry

Those with the Delta Reserve Card receive a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit (This benefit applies once every 4.5 years for the application fee for TSA PreCheck® and every 4 years for Global Entry). This can save you big time both at security and immigration and is something I highly recommend signing up for if eligible.

The Delta Reserve now offers a TSA PreCheck credit

Amex Offers

One of the great features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which offers savings or bonus points on purchases with all kinds of retailers. There’s huge value to be had in getting as many Amex cards as possible, so that you can get these offers on multiple cards.

Amex Offers could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can access these offers by logging into your account and scrolling down to the bottom of your account summary page.

ShopRunner Membership

For having the Delta Reserve Amex you get a ShopRunner membership, which gets you free two-day shipping on eligible items at a network of 100+ online stores. You just have to enroll in your complimentary membership and can then start taking advantage of it.

Is The Delta Reserve Amex Worth It?

The Delta Reserve Credit Card has a steep annual fee, but the card also offers great benefits for Delta flyers. With this card you can earn up to 60K MQMs per year.

Then there are all of the other perks, ranging from lounge access, to a first checked bag free, to inflight savings, to priority boarding, to improved upgrade priority. This is a really perks-rich card.

This card isn’t for the casual Delta flyer, but for someone who flies Delta moderately or often, I’d say this card is well worth considering.

Looking For A Business Credit Card Instead?

If the Delta Reserve Amex sounds interesting to you but you are instead looking for a card for your small business, consider the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card.

Most of the benefits of the card are the same, with the added bonus of an even better welcome bonus offer. The only significant difference is that the business card earns 1.5x miles on all purchases after spending $150,000 annually, which could be useful for big spenders.

Amex Platinum Vs. Delta Reserve Card

Many people might be trying to decide between The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) and the Delta Reserve Card. The cards have some overlapping benefits:

  • Both give you access to the Delta SkyClub when flying Delta same day
  • The Amex Platinum gives you Centurion Lounge access no matter what airline you’re flying, and the Delta Reserve will give you access to Centurion Lounges when flying Delta same day

But that’s largely where the similarities end:

  • While the Amex Platinum Card has a $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees), it offers lots of perks that help offset it, including a $300 annual Equinox credit, $240 annual digital entertainment credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $200 annual airline fee credit, $100 annual Saks credit, up to $189 back on a CLEAR membership every year, Priority Pass membership (enrollment required), and much more; this is one of the best cards out there for lounge access
  • The Delta Reserve Card is worth getting specifically if you’re a Delta flyer, since having the card can help you earn status with Delta, and it also offers lots of Delta specific perks that you don’t get with other cards
The Amex Platinum offers Centurion Lounge access regardless of what airline you fly

Delta Reserve Card Vs. Delta Platinum Amex

The Delta Reserve Credit Card is Delta’s most premium credit card, though is it worth it compared to the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (review), which has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees)?

  • The cards are similar in that they both offer a first checked bag free, 20% savings on inflight purchases, priority boarding, and more
  • While both cards allow you to earn elite status with spending, you can earn a lot more MQMs with the Reserve than the Platinum
  • While both cards offer a companion certificate, the Platinum one is only valid for economy, while the Reserve one is even valid for first class
  • The Reserve offers complimentary lounge access, while the Platinum doesn’t
With the Reserve Card the companion certificate is valid for first class as well

Bottom Line

The Delta Reserve Card is Delta’s most premium credit card. While the card isn’t for everyone, I do think it’s well worth considering if you’re a frequent Delta flyer, and could benefit from lounge access, the companion ticket, improved upgrade priority, and the ability to earn status through credit card spending.

If you want to learn more about the Delta Reserve Amex Card or apply, follow this link.

To the Delta loyalists around here, do you have the Reserve Card? Why or why not?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (Rates & Fees), and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Rates & Fees).

Conversations (4)
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  1. Anthony Diamond

    Critical card for me. Spending on this card through the pandemic has helped me build up Delta status, which has come with a ton of tangible benefits just over the past few months (meaningfully more upgrades, regional upgrade certificates that have gotten me Delta One upgrades on long flights). The companion pass has also been useful. For those alone, the card is a keeper for me. I also have Amex Platinum, so lounge access from...

    Critical card for me. Spending on this card through the pandemic has helped me build up Delta status, which has come with a ton of tangible benefits just over the past few months (meaningfully more upgrades, regional upgrade certificates that have gotten me Delta One upgrades on long flights). The companion pass has also been useful. For those alone, the card is a keeper for me. I also have Amex Platinum, so lounge access from this card is less important, but it does provide an option to drop Amex Platinum over the long run.

    Anecdotally I have start to see more and more of these cards out there in public, I think Amex is really pushing this card.

  2. Omar Guest

    I wish I could see a stat that showed the percentage of people who get an upgrade based on the reserve card who wouldn't have otherwise. I bet it's almost zero and mostly a marketing gimmick.

    1. DLPTATL Gold

      Omar, I agree, but possibly for a different reason. The folks most interested in this card are already Delta's top flyers that typically have high-level status. I can personally confirm that I have edged out others in my party with the same status, fare class, etc. but without the Reserve card (including my wife a few times, but that's another story).

    2. Dave Guest

      I’ve gotten numerous upgrades due to my medallion status I earned through the card and not flying.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Dave Guest

I’ve gotten numerous upgrades due to my medallion status I earned through the card and not flying.

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DLPTATL Gold

Omar, I agree, but possibly for a different reason. The folks most interested in this card are already Delta's top flyers that typically have high-level status. I can personally confirm that I have edged out others in my party with the same status, fare class, etc. but without the Reserve card (including my wife a few times, but that's another story).

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Anthony Diamond

Critical card for me. Spending on this card through the pandemic has helped me build up Delta status, which has come with a ton of tangible benefits just over the past few months (meaningfully more upgrades, regional upgrade certificates that have gotten me Delta One upgrades on long flights). The companion pass has also been useful. For those alone, the card is a keeper for me. I also have Amex Platinum, so lounge access from this card is less important, but it does provide an option to drop Amex Platinum over the long run. Anecdotally I have start to see more and more of these cards out there in public, I think Amex is really pushing this card.

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