Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Is turning their passion into a money-making venture
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need
Hits the road often, whether for work or play
The Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card is best for business owners who fly Delta, and want to do so in style. That means access to exclusive airport lounges, free checked bags, priority boarding—the works. Like other premium cards, there’s a hefty annual fee and you have to spend a lot to maximize the bonuses. But if you can meet the requirements, you’ll be well on your way to Delta’s elite Medallion flying status.
Leg up for big spenders to earn elite flying status
Airport lounge access
Hefty annual fee
Rewards rate could be better
- Leg up for big spenders to earn elite flying status: Normally you’d have to do a lot of flying to earn Delta’s elite Medallion status, which comes with a myriad of VIP perks that get more and more lavish with each tier. But if you spend enough with this card, you’ll be fast-tracked with a slew of so-called Medallion Qualification Miles. Spend $30,000 in a calendar year and get 15,000 MQMs; spend $60,000 or more, and get another 15,000 MQMs.
- Companion certificate: Renew your card each year, and get a round-trip companion certificate for a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+ or Domestic Main Cabin flight.
- Airport lounge access: Cardholders have complimentary access to the 50 Delta Sky Club lounges (valued at $545 annually). You can also bring along up to two guests at rate of $29 per person. Beginning Jan. 30, 2020, cardholders will also have access to American Express Centurion Lounges. (And the fee for Delta Sky Club guests will increase to $39.)
- Hefty annual fee: There’s no getting around the fact that this is one of the higher-priced business travel cards on the market, and the annual fee is going up to $550, effective Jan. 30, 2020. The additional card member fee of $175 is also steep. You can get up to 99 additional cards to help you earn miles, but those users will not get all of the benefits as the main cardholder, like the free checked bag. If you know you can maximize all of the card’s benefits, you can still out-earn the fees, but it’s harder to do if you’re only an occasional Delta flyer.
- Rewards rate could be better: For such a high-fee card, getting just 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases (and 1 mile per $1 everywhere else) isn’t exactly high flying. If you do a lot of business spending in other categories or aren’t totally committed to Delta, you can find comparable travel perks with more flexibility and higher earnings rates elsewhere.
Delta and American Express will relaunch their SkyMiles cards on Jan. 30, 2020. Besides the increase in the annual fee and benefits changes, the rewards-earning rate on this card will improve. You’ll earn 3 miles on Delta purchases, and if you spend $150,000 on your card in a calendar year, you’ll earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all non-Delta purchases after that.
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card Welcome Offer
You’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of opening an account. According to The Balance’s latest rewards valuation, a Delta mile is worth an average of 1.60 cents when redeemed for airfare, so we value this bonus at $640.
This is hardly the best offer available for business travellers, either in terms of the number of miles or total dollar value. Some cards offer sign-up bonuses worth $1,000 or more.
Where this welcome offer stands out, though, is the 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) that you’ll get after you meet the $3,000 spending requirement. You need those MQMs (otherwise earned by flying) to earn Delta's elite Medallion status. This can provide lots of VIP benefits, from free flight upgrades to rental car benefits with Hertz—and the higher the elite tier, the more benefits you get.
Delta’s status earning system can get confusing. MQMs are miles flown. MQSs are the number of flights you take. MQDs are the dollars spent. For Silver status (the first tier), you need to earn 25,000 MQMs (or 30 MQSs) plus $3,000 MQDs (the amount spent on flights). If you earn this credit card’s welcome offer and the first Miles Boost (after spending $30,000 on the card), that’ll fulfill the 25,000 MQM requirement.
Earning Points & Rewards
If you’re booking any flights or making any purchases with Delta, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll want to use this card to earn 2 miles on every $1 spent. Beyond that, all other purchases award 1 mile per dollar.
You can also add employee cards to your account so that their spending can help accumulate even more miles.
The purpose of this card is to redeem your miles towards Delta flights. You can use miles to book flights on Delta or with more than 20 SkyTeam partner airlines such as Air France, Virgin Atlantic, and Korean Air. Delta does not black out any dates for award flights, although Delta partners may do so at any time.
Delta does not have an award chart, which can make planning ahead difficult. You’ll need to search for individual flights to find out the number of miles you’ll need. Our research found that Delta miles are worth an average 1.6 cents apiece when redeemed for flights—a respectable value, though lower than the frequent flyer miles offered by United Airlines or American Airlines.
You can also use the miles you earn on this card to make partial payment on a flight, too. For every 5,000 bonus miles redeemed, you’ll get up to $50 off the cost of a Delta ticket. Of course, flight prices fluctuate, so you should do your research and track changes to try to score the best deal.
Miles redemptions must be in 5,000 mile increments, with a minimum of 5,000 miles, and the number of miles redeemed will be rounded up to the nearest 5,000 mile increment.
Besides flights, you may use miles to shop for magazines, merchandise, or to make a donation to a charity. However, going these routes will get you less value than booking flights. Since Delta miles don’t expire, you’re better off saving them to use for when you have to book a trip.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Besides spending at least $3,000 in the first three months to earn your welcome offer, you can maximize this card by using it for all of your (and your employees’) Delta flights. Ideally, you’ll also want to reach the spending threshold to earn one or both of the MQM boost offers, so you can inch closer to Delta Medallion status, which has a whole host of its own benefits to enjoy.
If your business expenses are higher in other spending categories beyond airfare, you might want to add a general business rewards credit card to your repertoire so that you can earn higher rates of either cash back or rewards on that spending.
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card’s Excellent Perks
There are lots of benefits offered by credit cards, but some stand out for their exceptional value. The Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card offers seven perks our editors consider “excellent”:
- Airline companion pass: Every year on your card membership anniversary, you’ll receive a companion certificate good for one round-trip first class, Delta Comfort+ or main cabin companion ticket. You’ll still have to cover fees and taxes, however.
- Delta Sky Club access: Get free access to Delta’s Sky Club lounges when traveling on a Delta flight and bring up to two guests for an additional fee ($29 through Jan. 29, 2020. $39 after that).
- Free checked bag: Baggage fees are waived for your first checked bag and for up to eight travel companions on the same itinerary.
- Free towing and other roadside services: Premium roadside assistance allows towing up to 10 miles, winching, jump starts, flat tire change if there’s a workable spare, lockout service when key is in vehicle, and delivery of up to two gallons of fuel—up to four times per year.
- Priority boarding: Card members enjoy Main Cabin 1 priority boarding on Delta flights. Benefit is limited to basic card members (and not additional card members).
- Travel accident insurance: Get up to $500,000 in benefits for accidental death or dismemberment when traveling on a common carrier on a fare paid for with the card.
- Insurance coverage for lost luggage: If your baggage is lost or stolen, you can get up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage.
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card’s Other Features
- Discounts on in-flight purchases
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Extended warranties
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
- Travel and emergency hotline
American Express is known for its top-notch customer support, and even earned a second place ranking in JD Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction study. Cardholders have 24/7 access to customer assistance, and there’s a mobile app to manage the account. There is also a variety of expense management tools designed to help business owners, including monitoring employee cards and merging data into QuickBooks.
The security features on this card are standard for the industry. American Express also offers free credit scores via its MyCredit Guide tool.
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card’s Fees
Beyond the high annual fee, other fees for this card are comparable to those charged by other cards in the category.