The Amex Platinum Card vs. Delta Reserve Card [Detailed Comparison]

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If you’re a frequent Delta Air Lines flyer, considering a Delta-branded credit card is a logical choice. You’ll receive a variety of benefits that make your travel on Delta more comfortable, savings with benefits such as free checked baggage for you and your travel companions, and a faster path to elite status.

If you fly a variety of airlines, Delta included, considering another premium travel rewards card might also be a logical choice. You’ll receive some of the same benefits as a Delta-branded card plus additional benefits that apply no matter which airline you’ll be flying.

Using these travel scenarios as a basis, we’ve selected one of the most popular travel rewards cards ever and paired it up against the top premium Delta-branded rewards card. We’ll compare earnings, redemption options, benefits, and ultimately, the value each card provides for the frequent traveler.

The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express both stand tall and respected as premium travel rewards cards. Whether one is better for your situation than the other is our focus today.

Let’s get started with a unique comparison of these premium travel rewards cards.

Welcome Bonuses

The Value of a Welcome Bonus

Amex Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum card offers Membership Rewards points as a welcome bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements in the first 90 days after card approval. These points can be redeemed for 1 cent each towards travel when booking with Amex Travel.

This valuation results in a 60,000 point welcome bonus having $600 in travel value or a 100,000 point bonus equaling $1,000 in travel value.

You may receive greater value for your Membership Rewards points when transferring to airline and hotel travel partners.

Delta Reserve Card

Welcome bonuses for the Delta Reserve card vary but you can count on tens of thousands of miles after meeting minimum spending requirements. Delta flyers striving for elite status with Delta will also enjoy the opportunity to receive Medallion Qualification Miles with their welcome bonus, which count towards elite status, when signing up for the card.

Virgin Atlantic Delta Partnership
Earning points or miles that can be redeemed for free flights is one of the benefits of having the Amex Platinum card or the Delta Reserve card. Image Credit: Ceri Breeze via Shutterstock

Membership Rewards Points vs. Delta SkyMiles

Comparing Earning Potential

The Amex Platinum card earns valuable Membership Rewards points while the Delta Reserve card earns Delta SkyMiles. Membership Rewards points may be more valuable but Delta SkyMiles are easy to earn if you’re spending on the Delta Reserve card and flying on Delta Air Lines.

Let’s look at the earning power of each card.

CardEarnings
Amex Platinum card
  • 5x Membership Rewards points for flights purchased directly with the airlines, flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, and premium flights booked with the International Airline Program
  • 1 point/$1 spent on all other purchases
Delta Reserve card
  • 2 SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta
  • 3 SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta effective January 30, 2020
  • 1 SkyMile/$1 spent on all other purchases

Bottom Line: If you spend a lot on flights (any airline) and pre-paid hotels, you could earn significantly more rewards with the Amex Platinum card versus the Delta Reserve card. 

Comparing Redemption Options

Membership Rewards points are a flexible currency earned on the Amex Platinum card while the Delta Reserve card earns SkyMiles which have narrow redemption options.

While both rewards currencies are generally worth about 1 cent each when redeemed for flights, you can elevate their value by either transferring the points to travel partners (Amex Platinum card) or using your miles to book good value partner airline award tickets (Delta Reserve card).

CardBest Redemption OptionsAdditional Redemption Options
Amex Platinum card
  • Transfer to airline partners
  • Redeem for flights on Amex Travel
Transfer to hotel partners, redeem for travel on Amex Travel, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, Amazon, Ticketmaster, donate points
Delta Reserve card
  • Award tickets with Delta and partner airlines
Seat upgrades, gift cards, hotels, Apple products, cruises, car rentals, pay with miles for flights, and bid for experiences

To learn more about the best ways to redeem Membership Rewards points and Delta SkyMiles for maximum value, check out our creative guides.

Hot Tip: You can use Membership Rewards points earned on the Amex Platinum card to book Delta airline tickets via Amex Travel and earn Delta SkyMiles on your flight. You can also transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles at a ratio of 1:1.

Airport Lounge Access

The Amex Platinum card rates highest in the lounge access category with its complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. The Delta Reserve card focuses on airport lounge access for Delta-specific flyers.

CardLounge Access
Amex Platinum card
Delta Reserve card
  • Delta Sky Club when traveling same-day on a Delta ticket; additional guests currently $29 per person/per visit*

*$39 per person/per visit and 2 free guest passes per year, effective January 30, 2020

  • The Centurion Lounge (effective January 30, 2020) for cardholder traveling on Delta; 2 guests at $50 each, per visit

Comparing Authorized Users Lounge Access

Authorized users added to the Amex Platinum card or the Delta Reserve card receive the same lounge access benefits as the primary cardholder. This includes access for the cardholder and any allowable guests.

Bottom Line: The Amex Platinum card is known for its superb worldwide airport lounge access benefit that is second to no other travel rewards card. The complimentary lounge access benefit alone is worth more than the annual fee on the card. 

Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Restaurant
Receive benefits such as complimentary breakfast with hotel elite status that comes with the Amex Platinum card. Image Credit: Hilton

Hotel and Rental Car Program Benefits

Hotel Program Benefits — Amex Platinum Card

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

Gold level Marriott Bonvoy elite status comes with the opportunity for upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi, welcome bonus points, 25% more earnings at Marriott, and late checkout.

Hilton Honors Gold Elite Status

Hilton Honors Gold elite status offers some great benefits, starting with complimentary breakfast, a Hilton fan favorite. You’ll also receive upgraded rooms when available, free Wi-Fi, and earn 18 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts

When you stay 2 nights or more at Fine Hotels & Resorts, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • Room upgrades, when available
  • Complimentary breakfast for 2 each day
  • Noon check-in and late checkout
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Local amenity valued at $100

The Hotel Collection

On stays of 2 nights or more, you’ll receive a $100 credit towards on-site property amenities including dining, spa, and resort activities. You’ll also be earning 5x Membership Rewards points on prepaid bookings.

Hotel Program Benefits — Delta Reserve Card

The Delta Reserve card does not offer any hotel specific benefits.

Rental Car Program Benefits — Amex Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum card comes with these rental car program benefits:

  • Avis Preferred Club — Receive a 25% discount on base rates and a 1 car class upgrade based on availability.
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards — Receive a 1 car class upgrade when you rent an intermediate size vehicle or greater.
  • National Emerald Club Executive — Select an upgraded preferred car, experience easy returns, rent full size or greater and receive a 1 class upgrade, plus qualify for accelerated earnings towards free rentals.

Rental Car Program Benefits — Delta Reserve Card

The Delta Reserve card does not offer any rental car program benefits.

Bottom Line: When we compare hotel and rental car program benefits, the Amex Platinum is a clear winner. With hotel and rental car program elite status, special amenities, perks, discounts, and property credits, the card delivers plenty of value in these benefit categories. 

Delta Plane at Gate
Both the Amex Platinum card and Delta Reserve card offer Delta Air Line benefits you can use. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Comparing Delta Specific Benefits

For the Delta frequent flyer, there are plenty of benefits realized by having a Delta-branded card. However, let’s compare Delta-specific benefits that are offered on each card and see how they measure up.

Delta BenefitAmex Platinum CardDelta Reserve Card
Free checked bag, priority boarding, for the cardholder and up to 8 travel companions, upgrade priority for cardholder over those at the same status level who do not have the Delta Reserve cardNoYes
Pay for Delta flights using rewards points/milesYes, by using Membership Rewards on Amex Travel or by transferring points to DeltaYes, by using Delta SkyMiles
Complimentary access to Delta Sky ClubsYes, for cardholder only when traveling same-day on DeltaYes, for cardholder only when traveling same-day on Delta
Access to Centurion LoungesYes, when flying on any airline; cardholder plus 2 guests at no extra chargeYes, when flying on Delta (effective January 30, 2020); up to 2 additional guests at $50 each per visit
Faster path to Delta Medallion elite statusNoYes, the ability to waive revenue MQD requirements and earn Medallion Qualification Miles by spending on the Delta Reserve card
Annual Delta Companion TicketNoComplimentary main cabin, Comfort +, or first class companion ticket each year
Savings on DeltaDiscount on Delta Private Jets card which includes 20% off Delta Private Jets commercial flights20% statement credit for in-flight food and beverage purchases

Bottom Line: Delta travelers may receive benefits with the Amex Platinum card that other travel rewards cards do not offer, such as Delta Sky Club and worldwide lounge access. While the Delta Reserve card offers Delta-specific benefits, Delta Medallion elite flyers who already receive these benefits may find greater overall value with the Amex Platinum card. 

Statement Credits and Additional Benefits

Statement Credits

Statement credits can deliver direct economic value if you can use these benefits. Here are the statement credits available with each card when you make an eligible purchase.

CardStatement Credits
Amex Platinum card
  • $200 airline incidental fee credits
  • $200 Uber credits each calendar year
  • Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit
Delta Reserve card
  • Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (effective January 30, 2020)

Travel Benefits and Protections

Since both the Amex Platinum card and Delta Reserve card are premium level cards issued by American Express, they have the same travel and shopping benefits/protections, except where noted.

  • No foreign transaction fees — neither card charges foreign transaction fees.
  • Global Assist Hotline — 24/7 assistance for planning your trip and during your travels. Have access to customs information, emergency transportation assistance, weather, currency conversion, lost luggage assistance, and more.
  • Rental car loss/damage insurance — receive complimentary secondary rental car insurance that covers damage, theft, and loss of use. You’ll also have access to purchase low-cost Premium Car Rental Protection.
  • Baggage insurance — you could receive a benefit if your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged. The Amex Platinum card offers up to $3,000 for carry-on and $2,000 for checked baggage. The Delta Reserve card limits of coverage are $1,250 for carry-on and $500 for checked baggage. Limits on both cards are per covered person, per trip.

Shopping Benefits and Protections

  • American Express Auto Purchasing Program — save up to $2,000 on your car purchase and be able to charge $2,000 or more on your eligible card.
  • Purchase protection — purchase an eligible item with your card and if it is damaged or stolen, you could receive up to $10,000 per incident/$50,000 per year. You’ll have coverage for 120 days (90 days for New York residents) from the date of purchase.
  • Return protection — if a merchant won’t accept the return of an eligible item you purchased with your card (within 90 days), you could receive up to $300 per item, $1,000 per year.

This is not an all-encompassing list of benefits and protections. Access each card’s individual membership benefits for full descriptions and for the terms and conditions of each coverage.

Bottom Line: The Amex Platinum card offers a higher amount of statement credits than the Delta Reserve card. If you use these benefits, you could partially offset the cost of of the annual fee on the card. Travel and shopping benefits and protections are similar on both cards. 

Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users

Annual fees on the Amex Platinum card and Delta Reserve card are increasing. You can expect to pay between $450 and $595 depending on when you are approved for each card. Follow the links for rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card and the Delta Reserve card.

The Amex Platinum card charges $175 total for adding up to 3 additional authorized users.

The Delta Reserve card charges $175 for each additional authorized user.

Final Thoughts

The Delta Reserve is geared towards the Delta loyalist who travels primarily on Delta Air Lines. The card comes with enough benefits to make a positive difference in your travels with Delta and also help you qualify for elite status.

However, for Delta Medallion elites who are also frequent international travelers flying on a variety of airlines, the better value may be realized with the Amex Platinum with it’s higher earnings on flights and its collection of luxury travel perks.

The Amex Platinum card isn’t airline-centric like the Delta Reserve card but still offers Delta flyers plenty of benefits.

Which of these cards makes sense for you will depend on how much you’ll use the benefits offered on each card, your level of spending on flights, your redemption preferences, and your frequency of international travel.

 


FAQ

Which card is better, the Amex Platinum card or the Delta Reserve card?

The best card for your situation will depend on your travel profile, spending priorities, and whether you can use the offered benefits.

The comparison of these cards is unique because the Amex Platinum card comes with the ability to transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta, allows you to purchase flights on Delta and earn SkyMiles, and has complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club.

The Amex Platinum card can be a better card for the frequent international traveler who is already a Delta Medallion elite and receives core Delta benefits through elite status.

If a traveler flies predominantly Delta domestically and will not use the international lounge benefits or other Amex Platinum card benefits, the Delta Reserve card could deliver more bottom-line value.

Does the Delta Reserve card come with Delta elite status?

The Delta Reserve card does not come with complimentary Delta Medallion elite status.

The card does offer a faster path to qualification with the ability to earn Medallion Qualification Miles towards elite status by spending on the card. It also offers a waiver of the Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirement (MQD) needed to qualify for elite status by reaching spending levels of $25,000 for all elite levels except top Diamond elite which requires $250,000 spending to waive the revenue MQD requirements.

Can I transfer my Delta miles to other airlines?

While you cannot transfer your Delta SkyMiles to other airlines, you can use your SkyMiles to purchase award flights on SkyTeam alliance airlines that partner with Delta.

There are over 2 dozen partner airlines with which you can book using your SkyMiles. The majority of partners can be booked online at Delta.com but a few you must call Delta to book using SkyMiles.

Also, it is worth noting that Delta SkyMiles never expire.

How do Membership Rewards work?

Membership Rewards points are earned on several American Express cards.

The rewards are earned for every dollar spent on the cards and then made available to be redeemed after your credit card statement closes each month.

There are several ways to redeem Membership Rewards points including using them for travel by booking through Amex Travel or transferring the points to airline and hotel partners. These are the methods that result in the highest value for your points.

You can also redeem your points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, Amazon, Ticketmaster, or you can donate your points. However, these redemption options may result in lesser value.

Membership Rewards points do not expire as long as you have an active Membership Rewards-earning credit card.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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