About Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Jun 22, 2017

The Delta Reserve from American Express is an airline rewards credit card offering a dual intro bonus of 10,000 free miles and 10,000 tier miles.

What makes this card different from other airline rewards cards is that it has a higher annual fee, a testament to the card’s luxury benefits that you’d normally find with credit cards not linked to a certain travel brand: The Chase Sapphire Reserve and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve are two great examples.

As one of the few branded luxury cards in the travel card world, the Delta Reserve finds itself in a unique position and, because of that, the card deserves a good examination of what it offers.

Does the Delta Reserve stack up well against other luxury travel credit cards? How much better is it than other airline rewards cards like the Delta Gold SkyMiles and the United MileagePlus Explorer?

We’re going to answer these questions by working through all the important features of this card:

  • Short- and long-term benefits
  • Rates and fees
  • Reviews from other sites
  • Comparison to other credit cards

We’ll finish up our review with a condensed list of pros and cons along with our opinions on who this card is good for.

The Benefits of the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

Credit cards – not including credit cards for bad credit – usually have two sets of benefits.

The first set are short-term perks you usually get within the first year of owning the card. These short-term benefits include free bonus miles for spending a certain amount as well as a waived annual fee and/or an introductory interest rate.

The second set of benefits are long-term benefits. These are the perks that extend beyond the first year and usually recur every year you have the card.

Common long-term benefits on travel cards are points bonuses for buying certain things with your cards. In the luxury space, you can expect yearly travel credits and entrance into airport lounges.

Delta Reserve Card’s Short-Term Benefits

In our opinion, the Delta Reserve’s short-term benefits are pretty sparse compared to what you’d get with other travel or luxury rewards cards. We’ll do comparisons later in this review, but, for now, here’s a quick list of the specific benefits you get in the first year with this card:

  • 10,000 Delta SkyMiles
  • 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles

These miles will be credited to your Delta SkyMiles account about 6-8 weeks after you make your first purchase on the card.

Delta SkyMiles

Your Delta SkyMiles are frequent flyer miles you can use to book rewards seats on a Delta flight. In our opinion, the introductory 10,000 SkyMiles you get aren’t that valuable because most Delta seats will cost you between 25,000 and 30,000 miles for a one-way flight.

Medallion Qualification Miles

The 10,000 MQM’s you get are a little more interesting because they’re put toward the Delta Medallion program, which is an elite level of frequent flyer benefits.

The Medallion program is split into four levels: silver, gold, platinum and diamond.

You can achieve these different levels through spending a certain amount of money each year on Delta flights or getting a certain amount of Medallion Qualification Miles.

For the purposes of this review, we’ll limit our discussion to getting Medallion status through miles since MQM’s are what you get with the Delta Reserve card.

You can earn Silver Medallion status by getting 25,000 MQM’s in one year. Your Silver status gets you:

  • Unlimited free first-class upgrades
  • Unlimited free Comfort+ upgrades
  • No baggage fees
  • Priority boarding

The final two benefits on this list are pretty standard with American Express airline credit cards, so there’s nothing really glamorous there. The real strength of Silver status are the free upgrades.

The benefits you get with Silver Medallion are the main reason we think the intro 10,000 MQM’s are more valuable than the 10,000 SkyMiles.

Pro tip: The intro bonus offer expires one year after you’re approved for the card.

Delta Reserve Card’s Long-Term Benefits

Whereas the Delta Reserve’s short-term benefits are pretty weak, we believe that the airline rewards card has some strong long-term benefits.

Free Delta Sky Club Access

Delta Reserve cardholders get free access to the Delta Sky Club network of airport lounges where, according to Delta’s websites, you can “enjoy snack and beverages, Wi-Fi access, satellite TV, personalized flight assistance private restrooms and more at the Club.”

This benefit is only good for same-day flights where the name on the reservation matches the name on the Delta Reserve card.

The card’s terms and conditions also point out that you can’t use a codeshare ticket to get into a Sky Club. So, if you book a Delta flight but another airline is operating the flight, you won’t be allowed into a Sky Club.

Pro tip: There are 49 Sky Club lounges in North America.

Up to 30K Free MQM’s and SkyMiles Per Year

The second main-long term benefit you get with the Delta Reserve is a miles bonus for spending at least $30,000 in a calendar year. If you can hit that spending mark, you’ll get 15,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles.

It gets better, though. If you can spend another $30K on top of that ($60K total), then you’ll get another 15,000 MQM’s and SkyMiles.

Pro tip: Spending is based on the calendar year, which means you have less time to hit $30K your first year assuming you get your card in the middle or end of the year.

Free Companion Certificate

Ever year that you pay your annual fee, you’ll receive a free round-trip ticket you can use for someone who travels with you.

We read through the terms and conditions for companion passes and found out some interesting facts you’ll want to know:

  • You have to purchase a flight in order to get the companion ticket. Web fares, sale fares and rewards fares don’t count
  • Must be purchases up to 14 days in advance and your return flight has to happen at least three nights after and no more than 30 days after
  • Once the companion ticket is books, that’s it; no returns or replacements

Free Baggage

Whenever you fly, you’ll get one free checked bag. Like the companion certificate, you need to be aware of a few restrictions.

First, free baggage is only allowed when you book with your SkyMiles number.

Also, you’ll only get your free bag on flights Delta or Delta Connection operates. Not sure? The easiest way to know if you’re flight is operated by Delta is that you check in at a Delta ticket counter or Delta’s website.

Points on purchases

Whenever you make purchases directly through Delta you’ll get 2 SkyMiles for every $1 you spend. All other purchases will get you 1 SkyMile for every $1.

Pro tip: You won’t get points for fees, charges, balance transfers, cash advances or buying/reloading prepaid cards.

In-flight Purchase Discount

The final main perk you get with the Delta Reserve is a 20% discount on any in-flight purchases, which includes food, beverages, movies, internet and more.

The discount isn’t taken off at the point of purchase but credited to your statement. It will take, Delta says, between 6 and 8 weeks for those credits to show up on your account.

Fees and Rates for the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

Here’s a quick breakdown of the Delta Reserve’s rates and fees:

  • APR: 16.74% - 25.74%, depending on your credit scores
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Late fee: Up to $38

The APR on this card is one of the highest you’ll find among luxury cards. The low-end APR is similar to what you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but the high-end APR is greater than all the competition.

When compared to the four luxury credit cards we ranked in our Best Luxury Credit Card of 2017 guide, the Delta Reserve definitely has the worst APR.

In addition to that, you’ll get hit with a 29.99% APR if you make one late payment or a payment is returned. That APR will be applied to all purchases for at least six months, at which point AmEx will review your account and determine whether they’ll give you your old APR back.

How the Delta Reserve Stacks Up Against Other Cards

Because the Delta Reserve card has a $450 annual fee, we’re going to compare it to other luxury travel cards with similar annual fees.

There really isn’t much discussion to be had – all four of the luxury cards we reviewed offer better overall perks than the Delta Reserve. The AmEx Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige also have better intro offers.

We also believe that several of the cards we ranked in our Best Airline Rewards Credit Card of 2017 guide offer better introductory offers.

Reviews of the Delta Reserve from American Express

The reviews we’ve read from other sites note that the Delta Reserve is at its best when the cardholder flies Delta often and spends at least $60,000 a year.

Another site noted that the American Express Platinum card offered better value for travelers than the Delta Reserve.

Our Thoughts About the Delta Reserve from American Express

The Delta Reserve card has some clear pros and cons and we think there’s a specific kind of person who will benefit most from this card.

Pros of the Delta Reserve

We think this card’s strength is the opportunity to earn 30,000 MQM’s as well as the free companion pass. The free baggage is a nice perk, but it’s also something you get with the $95-a-year Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express.

Cons of the Delta Reserve

The Reserve’s high APR and its relatively sparse long-term benefits make this card a hard sell for someone who doesn’t fly Delta often.

Who the Delta Reserve Is Good For

We believe the best fit for this card is someone who will spend at least $60,000 on their card every year and who flies Delta frequently.

Hitting that high spend amount will unlock Silver status in the Medallion program, which means free upgrades to first class and a few other boarding benefits.

The Final Word: There’s Good and Bad

When we compare this card to other luxury cards, the Reserve just doesn’t offer the same value. However, if you fly Delta a lot, the chance to get Silver Medallion status is a huge perk.

If you aren’t convinced about how good this card is, then we encourage you to read through our articles on the best airline rewards and luxury credit cards of 2017. Each article takes a comprehensive approach to the cards we examine, which means you can figure out which card is best for your situations.

Also, check out our review of the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, a newcomer to the luxury travel card space and a worthy choice.

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Read 2 Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 3.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 1 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 1 1 star:  0
Bottom Line: 50% would recommend it to a friend
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  • Leave it at home

    How terribly disappointing that AMEX wants to jerk you around for up to 90 days in awarding you the bonus MQM's. Sad commentary considering what you pay for the card, especially considering that they can delay you long enough to cause you not to achieve the higher Medallion status from the extra MQM'S.

    I don't think they really want my business and they probably won't get it again.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • Customer service at its optimal best.

    If I were to choose and carry just one card, it must be American Express! I'm yet to see another credit card that gives the personal and professional services as Amex. A massive amount of love, you guys absolutely rock. Our 12-year relationship has been joyful.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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