Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Juan Ruiz
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If you’re a frequent Delta flyer, there’s a strong chance that you either have a Delta-branded credit card or have considered getting one. It’s a logical option if you fly often with the airline and want access to inflight benefits, elevated SkyMiles earnings, and expanded redemption options for Delta flights.
While having a Delta-branded credit card certainly has value, which card you select makes a difference in the benefits you receive, how quickly you earn miles, and whether you’ll realize enough bottom-line value to offset any annual fee.
Since there are so many Delta-branded cards, selecting the card that aligns with your travel style might also present a challenge.
In this article, we focus on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, one of the best Delta-branded cards.
The Delta Reserve card is packed with so many benefits for Delta flyers, it should be high on the list of considerations for a frequent Delta traveler. Let’s jump into the long list of reasons this card stands out above the others and see if it’s truly the right Delta-branded card for you.
Welcome bonuses change, but you can count on jump-starting your earnings with tens of thousands of SkyMiles after meeting minimum spending requirements in the first 3 months after card approval for the Delta Reserve card.
New cardholders can also qualify, during this period, for Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) that count toward SkyMiles Medallion elite status.
Delta loyalists will love the fast track to Delta elite status, lounge access, baggage benefits, and upgrade priority with the Delta Reserve card.
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a stellar option for frequent travelers who always fly with Delta thanks to its lounge access, status boost, annual companion certificate, and many other great benefits.
Here is a full look at everything the Delta Reserve card can offer to you to help you decide whether the card deserves a place in your wallet.
Every purchase you make with Delta earns 3x miles per dollar spent on the card. Qualifying purchases include flights purchased with Delta, upgrades, miles, seat selection, Delta Sky Club membership, and inflight Delta purchases of food, beverages, and headsets. Purchases made with Delta Vacations also qualify for 3x earnings.
On an annual spending estimate of $5,000 in Delta purchases per year, you’ll earn 15,000 SkyMiles, which we value at around $180.
Every purchase you make will earn 1 Delta SkyMile for every eligible dollar spent on the card.
On an estimated monthly spend of $2,500, you’ll earn 30,000 SkyMiles from non-bonused spending annually, which we value at around $360.
Hot Tip: There is no limit to how many miles you can earn by spending on your Delta Reserve card.
If you can refer 1 friend every year, we estimate that you will earn 10,000 SkyMiles per year, which we value at $120.
The Delta Reserve card is loaded with benefits you can enjoy when traveling with Delta.
Receive complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying the same day on a Delta-operated or Delta-marketed flight. You can bring up to 2 guests into the club with you for a discounted rate. We value this benefit at $200, though you can get a much better value depending on how often you fly Delta.
*Effective 2/1/25, Reserve Card Members will receive 15 Visits per year to the Delta Sky Club; to earn an unlimited number of Visits each year starting on 2/1/25, the total eligible purchases on the Card must equal $75,000 or more between 1/1/24 and 12/31/24, and each calendar year thereafter.
Cardholders traveling on a Delta-operated or Delta-marketed flight booked with their Delta Reserve card can enjoy access to prestigious Centurion Lounges. Although Centurion Lounges are generally much nicer than Delta Sky Clubs, we value Centurion Lounge access at around $200.
After card approval and at each card anniversary, the primary cardholder will receive 2 complimentary Delta Sky Club one-time use guest passes.
Because single-visit passes have been discontinued and companion guest passes now cost $50, we’ll value 2 one-time-use guest passes at $100.
Add authorized users to your Delta Reserve card and you will earn miles when they spend on their card.
Authorized users do not receive most of the benefits that are offered to primary card users. However, they do get complimentary access to Delta Sky Club when flying on a same-day Delta flight and Centurion Lounges when you book your Delta flight with your Delta Reserve card.
The Delta Reserve card charges $175 for each additional authorized user per year — far less than you would pay for an annual lounge membership (rates & fees).
We’ll value this benefit at around $100.
Make sure your Delta SkyMiles number is added to your reservation and enjoy Main Cabin 1 priority boarding for you and up to a maximum of 8 additional passengers traveling with you.
We estimate this benefit to be worth around $50 per year.
You’ll save plenty of money with the free checked bag benefit available to you and up to 8 additional travelers on the same Delta flight reservation. Most commonly, your first checked bag is around $30, so we estimate the value of this benefit at around $100 per year; you might save much more than $100 per year.
At each card anniversary, you’ll receive a First Class, Comfort+, or Main Cabin companion certificate for just the cost of the taxes and fees (which cannot exceed $75).
Tickets must be for travel within the 48 contiguous states. For details on how to use your Delta companion certificate, access our article with everything you need to know.
Since this ticket is valid for a ticket all the way up until first class, we peg this benefit at $500.
Delta Reserve cardmembers who have Medallion elite status will have priority for complimentary upgrades over other passengers within the same Medallion tier and fare class grouping. We value this benefit at $5 because the upgrade odds don’t change appreciably from this benefit.
Delta Reserve cardmembers who do not have Medallion elite status will be eligible for complimentary upgrades after Medallion members. Having upgrade priority is great, but you’ll have the most bottom-of-the-barrel upgrade priority. Essentially, you’ll only get upgraded ahead of travelers flying on Delta who don’t have SkyMiles accounts. We value this benefit at $5.
Receive 20% back as a statement credit when using your card for inflight Delta purchases such as food, beverages, and headsets. Assuming you spend $100 per year on inflight purchases, this benefit translates to a value of $20.
You won’t have trouble using your SkyMiles, as there are so many ways to redeem them. Having the Delta Reserve card allows you to earn more SkyMiles, so we’ve included additional redemption options for using those miles, not just those limited to having the card.
Delta doesn’t publish an award chart, but award flights generally start at 10,000 SkyMiles. Delta also runs frequent flash sales where award flights are discounted. Cardholders receive a 15% discount on award flights. We value the ability to redeem SkyMiles for Delta award flights at least $50.
You can use miles to book award flights on SkyTeam Alliance airlines and on other partner airlines. This used to be a lot more valuable, but Delta has since devalued its miles relentlessly, so we value this perk at $50.
Hot Tip: For some of the best ways to redeem your SkyMiles, check out our list of creative ideas for award redemptions.
Cardmembers can pay for all or a portion of their qualifying Delta flight with miles. A minimum of 5,000 miles is required and every 5,000 miles equates to $50 in value toward the cost of an eligible fare.
In general, Delta SkyMiles award redemptions yield around 1.2 cents per mile, which is better than the Pay with Miles benefit. But in the event of blackout dates or other complications, having Pay with Miles can be useful. We value this benefit at $25.
Use your SkyMiles to purchase an upgraded seat during the booking process or upgrade a qualifying existing reservation using miles.
In addition, you can use your miles to pay for ticket change fees, award redeposit fees, and same-day confirm fees. We value this benefit at $50.
Redeem your miles on the SkyMiles Marketplace and select from over 6,000 items including hotel rooms, rental cars, appliances, electronics, apparel, and accessories.
Your miles can also be used to purchase gift cards and magazines or make a charitable donation.
Because this is a pretty low-value way to redeem SkyMiles, we peg this benefit at $10 — we’d only recommend this if you never intend on flying on Delta or SkyTeam partners ever again.
To achieve elite status with Delta, each year you must fly the required miles or segments (Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) and spend a specific level with Delta (Medallion Qualifying Dollars, or MQDs).
Delta Reserve cardholders have the opportunity to earn elite MQMs that count toward elite status, waive revenue requirements by spending on their card, and gift earned MQMs.
*MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different from the miles you earn towards flights. Effective 1/1/24, this benefit will no longer be available, and there will be a new way to earn toward Medallion Status with the Card. Learn more at delta.com/skymilesprogramchanges.
You can earn MQMs that count toward Medallion Elite status for spending on your card.
Purchases can earn up to 60,000 MQMs with Status Boost per year. After you spend $30,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 MQMs 4 times per year, getting you closer to Medallion Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different from the miles you earn toward flights.
This benefit allows you to qualify for the MQMs portion of Gold status from credit card spending alone; and you’ll end up getting pretty close to Platinum status, too. For this reason, we value this benefit at $1,250.
When you spend $25,000 in a calendar year on your Delta Reserve card, you waive the MQD requirement for Silver, Gold, or Platinum Medallion elite status. Spending $250,000 on your card in a calendar year will waive the MQD requirement for top-tier Diamond Medallion status.
When you really think about combining both Status Boost (MQMs) and the MQD waiver, you can qualify for Gold status from credit card spending alone and possibly even Platinum status with some butt-in-seat flying.
We value Gold status at around ~$2,000, while Platinum status is worth around ~$3,000. So if we take the average of the 2 statuses, we’ll arrive at a value of $2,500. We split the value of both the Status Boost and MQD waiver evenly in half, which is how we value each benefit at $1,250.
As a Delta Reserve cardholder, you can gift the Medallion elite qualifying miles earned with Status Boost to another SkyMiles Medallion member. However, the value of Status Boost has been incorporated in the benefit above, so we won’t duplicate any value there.
The Delta Reserve card comes with trip protections and benefits that can save you money and provide assistance when things go wrong during your travels.
Pay for your round-trip ticket with your Delta Reserve card and receive up to $10,000 per trip, $50,000 per calendar year. We value this coverage at around $100.
If your trip is delayed 6 hours or more, you could receive up to $500 reimbursement for incidentals. We value this coverage at around $200 because delays seem to be a more prevalent part of traveling nowadays.
Receive up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and $500 for checked baggage that is lost, stolen, or damaged. We value this benefit at around $25.
Reserve and pay for your rental car with your Delta Reserve card, decline the rental agency’s collision damage coverage, and you could be covered for damage and theft of your rental car.
This coverage is secondary to any other car insurance covering such a loss. We estimate the value of this benefit to be $50.
Get help with emergency transportation, finding an English-speaking doctor, a legal referral, or assistance with other travel emergencies.
The referral service is free. However, the cardholder is responsible for any actual services provided. This benefit is worth around $25, by our estimates.
Receive 24/7 assistance with dinner reservations, tickets to events, and more. If you’re able to maximize this benefit, you’ll probably get a value of around $25.
Take your card with you when you travel, as no foreign transaction fees will be charged on your purchases (rates & fees). Foreign transaction fees are usually around 3%, so we assume you’ll get a value of $100 every year if you make around $3,333 of foreign transactions every year.
Purchase an eligible item with your card, and if the merchant won’t accept a return within 90 days from the date of purchase, you could receive a return protection benefit of up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per cardmember account per year.
We value this benefit at around $30.
For purchase protection, receive up to $10,000 per eligible item purchased with your card if the item is damaged or stolen. Coverage is for 120 days (90 days for New York residents) from the date of purchase and the maximum benefit is $50,000 per year.
We value this benefit at around $100, though you can save thousands of dollars if you file a claim on a valuable item.
When you make a purchase with your card, any manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years or less on an eligible item will be extended for 1 additional year. This warranty is worth around $100 by our estimates, but it depends on what types of purchases you make.
Receive a discounted price on your new vehicle, up to $2,000 in post-purchase benefits, and be able to charge at least $2,000 of the purchase price on your card when you buy a car using the American Express Auto Purchasing Program. We value this benefit at around $100.
Cardholders and authorized users receive up to $1,600 in cell phone protection (2 claims per year with up to $800 for each claim) against theft and damage, including cosmetic damage (like a cracked phone screen). Each claim has a $50 deductible and your monthly phone bill should be paid with your Delta Reserve card to receive coverage.
Assuming you make 1 claim, you’ll get $750 of value after the $50 deductible.
If you’re a frequent Delta traveler, the benefits of having the Delta Reserve card are many, especially if you’re currently paying for a Delta Sky Club membership.
An annual Executive Sky Club membership that includes 2 guests can cost far more than the annual fee on the card, making it a wise choice if you value lounge access and are paying for it.
The addition of access to Centurion Lounges is also valuable, as this is a perk that cannot be purchased separately.
If you can use the companion certificate, free checked bag, and other Delta-related benefits that come with the card, it’s a solid choice.
If you fly additional airlines frequently, you may consider The Platinum Card® from American Express which also offers complimentary Centurion Lounge access and Delta Sky Club access (when flying Delta same-day) plus a long list of premium benefits including hotel elite status and statement credits.
To help you decide which card is best for you, take a moment to review our comparison of the Amex Platinum card vs. the Delta Reserve card.
For the car rental collision damage coverage benefit of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, car rental loss and damage insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the commercial car rental company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. For the baggage insurance plan benefit of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, baggage insurance plan coverage can be in effect for eligible persons for eligible lost, damaged, or stolen baggage during their travel on a common carrier (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus) when the entire fare for a common carrier vehicle ticket for the trip (one-way or round-trip) is charged to an eligible account. Coverage can be provided for up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage, in excess of coverage provided by the common carrier (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus). For New York state residents, there is a $10,000 aggregate maximum limit for all covered persons per covered Trip. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. For the purchase protection benefit of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, purchase protection is an embedded benefit of your card membership and requires no enrollment. It can help protect covered purchases made on your eligible card when they’re accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost, for up to 90 days from the covered purchase date. The coverage is limited up to $10,000 per occurrence, up to $50,000 per card member account per calendar year. Coverage limits apply. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. For the trip cancellation and interruption insurance benefit of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, the maximum benefit amount for Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance is $10,000 per Covered Trip and $20,000 per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Visit americanexpress.com/
For frequent Delta flyers, the card is worth it.
For example, if you are currently paying for a Sky Club membership, or thinking about getting a membership, you could save a lot of money by having the Delta Reserve card. An individual annual Sky Club membership is $545 plus $39 per guest, per visit.
Additionally, the first class companion certificate can alone be worth the annual fee. Add in the benefits of a free checked bag, priority boarding, and complimentary Sky Club guest passes, and you’ve found enough value to make the card worth it.
No, you do not receive Delta Medallion elite status with the Delta Reserve card.
However, the card does offer a faster way to qualify for elite status by spending on the card. With Status Boost, you earn qualifying miles that count toward elite status.
When you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year, you receive 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) toward elite status. For every $30,000 of additional spending, you’ll receive another 15,000 MQMs, up to a total of 60,000 MQMs per year.
You also have the option of gifting these MQMs to another SkyMiles Medallion member.
While you cannot transfer your miles to another airline, you can redeem your miles for award tickets on several airline partners including SkyTeam Alliance airlines.
When booking a qualifying flight, Delta-branded credit cardmembers have the option to pay for all, or a portion, of their flight with miles.
Each mile you redeem with the Pay with Miles option results in a 1 cent credit towards the cost of your flight. For example, redeeming 30,000 miles will reduce the cost of your flight by $300.
Additionally, you will earn MQDs and MQMs on the portion of your ticket that is paid for with cash.
The minimum amount of miles you can redeem for Pay with Miles is 5,000.
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