Delta Reserve Credit Card From American Express Review

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The Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express offers some of the most important perks frequent flyers crave, albeit with a steep annual fee and low redemption values. If you love traveling in comfort almost as much as you love Delta Air Lines, this card warrants careful consideration. 

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

overall rating
3.2
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 26.49% variable
Annual Fee $450 ($550 if your application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile per $1 on other eligible purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.6
for Fees
2.0
for Rewards
4.0
for Credit
4.0

Earn 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMS) and 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 10/30/2019.

Top Rated For

  • Best Delta Credit Cards

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Brand Loyalist Persona
    Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
    Brand Loyalist
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker

The Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express is best for Delta loyalists who want upscale travel perks like first-class seating and airport lounge access. If you’ve got good credit and charge at least $2,500 a month, this card’s rewards may be worth the hefty annual fee.

Pros

  • Airport lounge access

  • Earn elite travel status faster

Cons

  • Steep annual fee

  • Miles are worth less than competitors' miles

  • Airport lounge isn't free for guests

Pros Explained

  • Airport lounge access: Considering a membership for Delta Sky Clubs would otherwise cost $545 a year, getting the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express pays for itself if you regularly seek refuge during long layovers. However, this perk is changing on Jan. 30, 2020. After that date, you'll get free access to American Express Centurion Lounges.
  • Earn elite travel status faster: This card’s welcome offer gets you well on your way to earning Delta’s elite Medallion flying status, even before you get on a plane. In fact, if you spend enough in your first year, you’ll reach the first Medallion tier and get all its perks, including complimentary first-class upgrades. 

Cons Explained

  • Steep annual fee: At $450, the annual fee on this card is a serious investment, even if other premium cards with similar perks charge just as much. What's more, that fee is going up to $550 next year after American Express makes card program changes in January 2020. If luxury travel isn’t crucial, you may be better off with a less expensive card.
  • Miles are worth less than competitors’ miles: According to research by The Balance, the miles you’ll earn aren’t as valuable as those you’d earn on cards partnered with American Airlines or United Airlines. (See Redeeming Rewards for more.)
  • Airport lounge isn’t free for guests: While you’ll get into Delta Sky Clubs for free, your family is another story. Two guests (plus children under 21) are allowed in, but at a rate of $29 each ($39 after Jan. 30, 2020). This is relatively stingy, given many premium travel cards don’t charge for guests.

Delta Reserve Amex's Welcome Offer

If you spend $5,000 within three months of opening your account, you’ll get 75,000 bonus miles and 10,000 so-called Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). We value the 75,000 miles at $675 when redeemed for flights, which isn't too shabby considering SkyMiles aren't as valuable as other airline miles.

However, this offer could be better considering you can get nearly the same offer for a lower spend requirement and lower annual fee by opening the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card.

Earning Points & Rewards

Once you sign up for the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express, you’ll earn 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else. That’s not unusual for an airline credit card, though some competitors offer extra rewards for dining, groceries, gas or other spending categories. On the plus side, there are no limits to the number of miles you can earn with this card.

Beyond that, you’ll find more value from this card if you’ve got a big spending budget month in and month out. If you charge at least $30,000 on your card within a calendar year—$2,500 a month—you’ll earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (the ones that help you get Delta’s elite flying status.) If you spend at least $60,000 in a calendar year, you’ll get double that—30,000 bonus miles and 30,000 MQMs. However, after Jan. 30, 2020 big spenders will only earn extra MQMs, not additional SkyMiles.

Since MQMs are typically earned through flying, these awards help you reach elite Medallion status considerably faster, perhaps before even setting foot on a plane.

If you maximize the bonuses on this card, you’ll get as many as 40,000 MQMs, and the spending requirements for flights will be waived. That’s more than enough to qualify for silver Medallion status and almost enough to qualify for gold.

Redeeming Rewards

Miles earned with the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express carry a mediocre value, so if you’re not loyal to Delta, you may want to consider another airline card. We found that each mile is worth just 0.9 cents, on average, when redeemed for flights. By comparison, miles for flights redeemed with United Airlines cards are worth 1.57 cents, and for American Airlines cards, 2.95 cents.

Miles earned with this card can be used on flights with Delta and more than 20 partners including Virgin Atlantic, Alitalia and Korean Air. (Delta doesn’t impose any blackout dates, but makes no guarantees about its partners.)

Round-trip domestic flights on Delta usually require at least 20,000 miles (plus taxes and fees), while round-trip international fares often require at least 40,000 miles. Since there is no fixed award chart, the number of award miles required can vary dramatically and can easily soar around peak travel dates.

Check the Delta site regularly for SkyMiles deals on select domestic and international flights. For example, a round-trip economy flight from Indianapolis to Paris that would normally cost $629 plus taxes and fees recently required as few as 38,000 miles. If you booked this flight normally, it could cost 50,000 miles or more. 

You can also redeem Delta SkyMiles for seat upgrades, Delta vacation packages, private jet travel, Delta gift cards, or when you shop in the SkyMiles marketplace. 

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Beyond making sure you meet the spending requirements for the welcome offer and the annual elite status bonus miles and MQMs, don’t forget to avail yourself of the free Wi-Fi and complimentary cocktails in the Delta Sky Clubs.

If your budget allows, charge $5,000 on your card each month during your first year calendar year to receive 30,000 more MQMs. That will get you silver Medallion status and access to all its perks right out of the gate.

You already need to spend a lot, fly with Delta often, and enjoy the travel benefits to recoup the high annual fee costs of this card, but all that will be even more important come January 2020 when American Express raises the annual fee to $550.

Delta Reserve Amex's Excellent Perks

You’re likely to get this card for the perks, and there are a lot of them. Besides the free access to Delta Sky Clubs, here are some we think are particularly noteworthy:

  • Companion certificate: Each year, when you renew your card, get a free companion ticket for a U.S. flight with a qualifying paid fare. This perk is even good for a first-class ticket, but keep in mind you can’t use miles for the paid fare and airline taxes and fees will still apply. 
  • Free checked baggage: Check one bag free on Delta flights. This is good for the cardholder and eight other people traveling under the same reservation.
  • Coverage for lost luggage: Get up to $1,250 per carry-on bag and up to $500 per checked bag if your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged on a trip paid for with your card. This applies to the cardholder as well as his or her spouse or children.
  • Travel accident insurance: Receive up to $500,000 in the event you die or are dismembered in an accident while on a trip paid for with your card. 
  • Priority boarding and checkpoint: Board your plane earlier than most and use an expedited security line at select airports. 

Delta Reserve Amex's Other Features

  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy) 
  • Roadside assistance hotline 
  • Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item 
  • Free shipping through ShopRunner membership 
  • Extended warranties 
  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases 
  • Discounts on in-flight purchases   

Customer Experience

J.D. Power ranked American Express second in its 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, and the company is known for its responsiveness on social media and its handy online chat feature. 

Security Features

The Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express has pretty standard security features, like personalized account alerts. One exception is that if your credit card is lost or stolen, you can usually get an instant card number that lets you continue charging while your new card is being mailed. 

Delta Reserve Amex's Fees

The Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express has fairly typical fees for travel cards. There are no foreign transaction fees, but just remember that the annual fee is increasing by $100 next year.

For Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

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CURRENT CARD
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
overall rating
3.2
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 26.49% variable
Annual Fee $450 ($550 if your application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile per $1 on other eligible purchases.

Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.