Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card Review

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments we receive from our advertising partners. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card from American Express offers some of the most sought after perks frequent flyers crave, including complimentary airport lounge access. You won’t earn a lot of miles for award flights on non-travel purchases, but your Delta spending will put you on the fast track to elite status in the airline frequent flyer program. If you love traveling in comfort and you’re loyal to Delta Air Lines, this card warrants consideration.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card

overall rating
2.5
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card
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 (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 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
1.8
for Fees
1.7
for Rewards
2.4
for Credit
3.7
Current Offer

Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Top Rated For

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 See more cards
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
    Deal Seeker
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Brand Loyalist Persona
    Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty See more cards
    Brand Loyalist

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card is best for Delta loyalists who want upscale travel perks like airport lounge access and priority boarding. This card will give you a leg up toward earning elite status with the airline’s loyalty program—and even more perks. If you have good or excellent credit and fly Delta often enough to take advantage of this card’s benefits, the steep annual fee can be well worth it. 

Pros
  • Complimentary airport lounge access

  • Elite status earning potential through credit card spending

  • Plenty of frequent flyer perks

Cons
  • Steep annual fee

  • Lounge access limitations

Pros Explained

  • Complimentary airport lounge access: The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card comes with Delta Sky Club membership as well as access to American Express Centurion Lounges in destinations like Houston, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong.
  • Elite status earning potential through credit card spending: This card offers a headstart on status with 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) when you reach the welcome offer’s spending threshold. You can also earn 15,000 more elite status miles up to four times per year when you reach increasingly higher spending thresholds. You could make it all the way to Platinum Medallion Status with Delta by only spending with the card. 
  • Plenty of frequent flyer perks: This card gives frequent Delta flyers upgrade priority, complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, first checked bag free for you and up to eight companions on the same itinerary, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, and a companion flight certificate, among other perks. 

Cons Explained

  • Steep annual fee: The annual fee on this card jumped to $550 in January of 2020, which may be higher than some frequent flyers can justify. Also note that comparable airline credit cards that include airport lounge access with other airlines come with lower annual fees. 
  • Lounge access limitations: While access to Delta Sky Clubs and Centurion Lounges is a big bonus, keep in mind that you can only visit the lounge when you fly a same-day Delta operated or Delta marketed flight. You can enter Delta Sky Clubs when you’re flying on a Delta partner flight that isn’t marketed by Delta, but you’ll have to pay a $39 fee per visit. Also, guests aren’t free—you’ll pay a $39 per guest rate for up to two guests in Delta Sky Clubs and a $50 per guest rate for up to two guests in a Centurion Lounge. (This card does give you two complimentary, one-time-only Delta Sky Club guest passes every year, however.)

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card's Welcome Offer

Spend $3,000 on your card in the first three months following account opening, and you’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward elite status.

To offer a bit of flexibility during the pandemic, you may have more time to earn your new cardholder bonus, if you haven’t already earned it. For more information, see “Credit Card Deals Help You Earn and Use Travel Benefits During COVID-19”. 

The Balance values Delta SkyMiles at 1.54 cents each, so the bonus miles are worth about $616 when used for airfare.

Overall, this is a pretty underwhelming offer for a high annual fee airline card. You can get the same number of bonus miles and nearly the same number of MQMs for a lower spend requirement with the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Credit Card, too.

Earning Points & Rewards

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card lets you earn 3 miles per $1 on all your Delta purchases, but you’ll also earn 1 mile per $1 on everything else you buy. While the earning rate on regular purchases is lackluster, earning 1 mile per $1 is also common among airline credit cards. On the upside, Delta Sky Miles never expire. 

The real value in this card’s earning structure is the ability to use it to earn elite status just by spending. Besides the initial 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) that come with the welcome offer, you can earn 15,000 more MQMs each time you reach one of four tiered spending thresholds—$30,000, $60,000, $90,000, and $120,000.

If you’re a big spender who can use your card for $120,000 in purchases within a calendar year, you’ll reach Platinum Medallion Status without ever getting on a plane.

Redeeming Rewards

Miles earned with this card can be used on flights with Delta and more than 20 partners including Virgin Atlantic, Alitalia and Korean Air (although you must book partner flights through Delta). Unfortunately, Delta’s lack of an award chart means you may have no idea how many miles you’ll need for a flight until you go to redeem. 

Round-trip domestic flights will normally set you back a minimum of 30,000 miles in economy, although it’s possible to find better deals. Round-trip international flights typically start at 60,000 miles, on the other hand, though it depends on your destination and dates. If you want to redeem miles for a seat in the most luxurious class, Delta One, you’ll typically need to fork over a few hundred thousand miles for the privilege. Also note that all award flights require you to pay government-mandated taxes and fees.

In addition to flights, you can also cash in Delta SkyMiles for Delta Sky Club membership, seat upgrades, Delta vacation packages, private jet travel, Delta gift cards, or purchases in the SkyMiles marketplace. 

To see how the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card’s miles stack up, check out our in-depth analysis of what credit card points are worth.

For more tips about earning and redeeming miles, check out our complete guide to the Delta SkyMiles program.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Because this card doesn’t reward you with extra miles for popular spending categories like restaurants or supermarkets, you can’t really stack up miles by focusing your spending in those areas. Do use the card for all of your Delta purchases, of course, to scoop up the 3 miles per $1 spent. And you should use it everywhere else, even though it only returns 1 mile per $1 spent. That’s because this card is all about gaining Delta SkyMiles status, and spending with the card gets you there faster.

If you normally spend at least $30,000 in a calendar year on credit cards, we recommend putting those purchases on this card in order to earn 15,000 MQMs and Silver Medallion status with Delta SkyMiles. This level of status would help you earn a base rate of 7 miles per $1 on Delta flights plus 3 miles per $1 when you pay with the credit card, and you would also get perks like unlimited complimentary upgrades on day of departure, complimentary preferred seats, and priority waitlisting.

In terms of stretching your miles as far as they can go, you should strive to be as flexible as you can with your travel plans when it comes to award flights. Delta doesn’t have an award chart, but you can find great deals if you’re willing to consider multiple dates and even destinations for your trip. 

Delta’s SkyMiles Deals page collects all of the airline’s best award flight deals in one place. It’s updated irregularly, so check in frequently just in case a flight that matches your travel plans shows up. 

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card's Excellent Perks

This airline credit card features several card perks we consider “excellent”:

  • Airline companion pass: Receive a companion certificate good for a round-trip first-class, Delta comfort+ or main cabin ticket, upon renewal of your account. You’ll still have to cover taxes and fees, though.
  • Airport lounge access: Complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs and American Express Centurion Lounges when you fly on Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flights. 
  • Free checked bag: This benefit is good for a free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions on the same itinerary. 
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement: Receive up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership. This credit is available every four years for Global Entry membership or every 4.5 years for TSA Precheck. 
  • Priority boarding: Board the plane early with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding for you and up to eight companions on your flight itinerary.
  • Insurance coverage for lost or damaged luggage: You’re covered for the cost to replace lost luggage on a trip paid for with the card for up to $500 for checked bags and $1,250 for carry-on.
  • Insurance coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay: If your entire trip is paid for with your card and unexpected weather or injury cancels your plans or cuts your vacation short, you’ll be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip and a maximum of $20,000 per year. The benefit for a delay is up to $500 per trip, twice a year.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve 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
  • Travel and emergency hotline   

Customer Experience

American Express placed second of 11 credit card companies in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, with a score of 838 out of 1,000 possible points. This survey considered the user experiences of more than 28,000 credit card customers nationwide.

American Express has a highly rated app that allows you to track your spending and pay your bill from any mobile device. If you fly with Delta often, however, you should download the Delta app since it lets you track your rewards, search for award space, and access all your Delta reservations in one place.

Security Features

American Express offers standard security features like encryption technology, automatic login time-outs, and email confirmation and password recovery on its credit cards. The American Express mobile app also lets you set up alerts that notify you when a purchase is made, your bill is due, and more.

Fees

While the annual fee on this card is high, other fees are typical for the industry. This includes not having to pay foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, which is standard among premier travel credit cards.

Next Steps
For Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card
Compare This Card
See how this card stacks up to the competition
CURRENT CARD
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card
overall rating
2.5
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 (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 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.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Delta. "Get to Know Medallion Status: Benefits at Each Tier." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  2. J.D. Power. "2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study." Accessed: January 29, 2020.

  3. J. D. Power. "2019 U.S. Credit Card Mobile App Satisfaction Study." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.