AMEX Delta Skymiles Reserve Card
The Delta Skymiles Reserve Card is Delta's premium credit card. It takes the perks of the Delta Skymiles Platinum Card and bumps them up a notch and adds several additional perks including Delta SkyClub Membership and a bump in upgrade priority. It's a great card for anyone that continuously flies with Delta Airline that want to have the best experience!
Delta Skymiles Value
Delta Skymiles are valued at about 1.2 cents each when used to book flights with Delta Airlines, but can be worth a lot more or less depending on the date and destination. They have the best value when it comes to either international travel, long distance travel (i.e. New York to California), and when Delta has their Flash Sales every so often. Skymiles can be earned in several ways outside of flying and using credit cards by booking travel with partners, eating out, and transferring rewards earned in hotel loyalty and bank reward programs directly to your Skymiles account.
The Delta Reserve Card features one bonus category which is Delta purchases. There is no limit to the amount of Skymiles you can earn with the Delta Reserve card. Below are the details on the earning structure of this card.
2x Delta Purchases
The Delta Reserve Card earns 2x Skymiles per $1 spent on Delta purchases. American Express counts eligible Delta purchases as purchases where Delta is the merchant of record, such as purchases via Delta.com, phone reservations, or ticket counters, upgrades, miles, seat selection, Delta Sky Club® membership or passes, pre-purchased meals, in-flight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights. Do note that in-flight wireless internet access is not counted as a Delta purchases.
All seven of the Delta Skymiles credit cards earn double Skymiles which equals out to being a 2.4% return if you peg them at 1.2 cents each. I would not grab up this card based on it's earning potential, but rather the perks that comes with it. If you do not have a card that earns a better return, then using this card for Delta purchases is perfectly fine. If you're looking to earn the most Skymiles, Membership Reward Points is probably the best way to go since you can transfer them at a 1:1 ratio. The AMEX Platinum Card earns 5x on airfare purchases, offers Delta SkyClub Access, and is packed with tons of other luxury perks that even authorized users can use. Another good choice would be the AMEX Gold Card which earns 3x on airfare and 4x on restaurant and grocery purchases. Of course, both cards have annual fees so you will have to make sure either card is worth picking up and using over the Delta Skymiles Reserve. If you're not looking to transfer points and/or just want a good return, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi ThankYou Premier are also good options. Both cards allow you to earn a decent return from airfare along with other travel categories. If you're looking for the no annual fee route, the Barclay Uber Card earns 3% cash back per $1 spent on airfare.
Any spending done on the Delta Skymiles Reserve Card outside of Delta Purchases will earn 1x SkyMiles per $1 spent. I do not recommend putting all non-Delta purchases on this card. The best approach is to find a card(s) that earn big in the categories you frequently spend in. If you're looking to earn on everyday purchases such as restaurants, gas, and grocery, the Membership Reward Points Program will be the best option. You can also find a few solid cash back cards that earn big on everyday expenses such as the Barclay Uber Card which features 10 bonus categories and features high returns on restaurants (4%), bars (4%), and UberEats (4%). If you're not looking to get a bunch of cards, the best option would be a good no-fee flat rate earning cash back card such as the Citi Double Cash (2% cash back) to put all non-Delta purchases on.
Perks and Benefits
Delta Reserve Bonus MQMs and Miles
Spending $30,000 on the Delta Skymiles Reserve Card will earn you a 15,000 MQM bonus along with 15,000 Skymiles. The MQM and SkyMiles bonus can be obtained a second time by spending an additional $30,000. This means a total spend of $60,000 on the Delta Reserve Card will earn you a 30,000 MQM bonus and 30,000 Skymiles. This will guarantee at least Delta Silver Medallion Status in Delta's frequent flyer program which earns you complimentary upgrades, the ability to roll over additional MQMs, and an additional earning of 7x Skymiles per $1 spent.
The Delta Platinum Card offers a similar bonus, but slightly scaled down. A bonus of 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 Skymiles after spending $25,000 can be obtained twice with the Delta Platinum. Both the Delta Skymiles Business Platinum and Delta Skymiles Business Reserve also feature the same bonuses as their personal counterparts.
First Class Companion Ticket
The Delta Skymiles Reserve Card offers an annual First Class companion ticket on the card anniversary. You will not receive this companion ticket upon signing up for the Delta Reserve Card. At the start of the second year (meaning after paying the annual fee for the second time), the ticket will be deposited into the card member's account and they will have up to a year from that point to use the Delta companion ticket. The ticket is good for flights within the 48 contiguous states and for flights that originate outside of the contiguous states so residents of Alaska and Hawaii can use it the companion ticket as well. Do note that the companion ticket is not completely free, as you must still pay the taxes and fees which usually does not surpass $75. Only the base ticket price will be covered. The same Delta first class companion ticket is also offered on the Delta Skymiles Business Reserve Card.
Delta Companion Ticket Example
A Delta first class ticket from Lansing, Michigan to Los Angeles, California costs $1,011 which consists of a base fare of $898 and taxes/fees of $113. This means a ticket for you and one companion would cost $2,022. If you use the Delta Reserve Companion ticket, you will have to pay the $1,011 for your fare and the $113 in taxes for the one companion. The companion ticket would cover the base fare of $898 saving you a great deal of money. All-in-all, you would only end up paying $1,124 for the round-trip first class Delta flight.
The Delta Skymiles Platinum Card and Delta Skymiles Business Platinum Card offers the same companion perk, but for Main Cabin travel instead. The same rules and regulations apply. If you don't care for a First Class companion ticket, the Platinum cards can offer a similar experience at a lower price point. There are plenty of other airlines that offer companion tickets as well including Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
Delta Free Checked Bag
Delta Skymiles Reserve cardholders will have their first checked bag fee waived. If you don't have Delta Medallion Status, this will save you $50 per round-trip which could save you hundreds if you fly Delta a few times a year. On top of that, passengers on the same reservation as the card member will also get their first checked bag fee waived too! This perk alone saved me and my family $600+ the first year (I was actually using the Delta Gold at the time). This perk is present on six of the seven Delta Credit Cards. It is not offered on the Delta Skymiles Blue Card, which is Delta's no annual fee card. It's also worth noting that you do not have to use any Delta card to get the bag fees waived. Having any of the six eligible Delta Credit Cards attached to the account will automatically waive the fee. This allows you to use a different rewards card when paying for Delta airfare so that you can get the best return!
Delta Reserve Upgrade Priority
Delta Reserve cardholders will receive upgrade priority over other Delta members within the same Delta Medallion elite status level and fare class. This works great for routes out of big cities and Delta hubs like Atlanta and Detroit. The upgrade priority can also be good for smaller cities as well since you'll have a better chance of securing a front row seat on a smaller plane. This and it's business equivalent are the only two Delta Cards that offer this perk and while I wouldn't get the card solely off this perk alone, it's worth considering if you're thinking about picking the card up!
Complimentary Delta SkyClub Membership
Delta Reserve cardholders will receive complimentary Delta SkyClub access. You will need to show your Delta Reserve card upon entering and the name on the card has to match the same-day boarding pass. Up to two guests can accompany you paying a reduced rate of $29 per person. This is a great addition to the perks already offered on the Delta Reserve Card. The Delta Business Reserve also offers this perk. You can also get Complimentary Delta SkyClub access with the AMEX Platinum Card and AMEX Business Platinum Card. Both of the Platinum Cards also grant complimentary access to Centurion Lounges and 1,000+ Priority Pass lounges located worldwide. To make matters better, authorized users on both the Platinum and Business Platinum gain access to the majority of the luxury perks offered on both cards which includes SkyClub access!
Delta isn't the only airline that allow complimentary access using high-end credit cards. United Airlines offers complimentary access with both the United MileagePlus Club and Business Club cards and the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card grants entry into American Airline's Admiral Clubs. These are great ways to make airline travel more relaxing and convenient.
20% Off In-Flight Purchases
The Delta Skymiles Reserve Card offers 20% Off In-Flight Purchases. This discount is applied to your statement as a credit. It applies to eligible pre-purchased meals, in-flight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages, and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights. In-flight internet purchases are not included. Several other airline cards offer savings when it comes to in-flight purchases including the JetBlue Card (50% off), all 7 America Airline Credit Cards (25% off), and the United Airlines Explorer Card (25% off).
Pay With Miles
All Delta Skymiles credit card holders will be allowed to cover some or all of there flight with the Pay With Miles option when purchasing Delta Airline tickets. Miles must be redeemed in 5,000 mile increments with a minimum of 5,000 miles. When redeemed this way, 5,000 Skymiles are worth $50 off ticket purchased on the Delta site. This is a value of 1 cent per point.
Standard AMEX Benefits
The Delta Skymiles Reserve Card comes with the standard AMEX benefits and perks such as, but not limited to, AMEX Offers, return protection, roadside assistance, ShopRunner membership, purchase protection, and extended warranty.
Sign Up Bonus
The standard Delta Reserve sign up bonus is 30,000 Skymiles and 10,000 MQMs. The extra 10k MQMs can be useful if you're going for Delta Medallion status. The 30k Skymiles can usually get you a domestic one-way trip and possibly a round-trip during Delta's Flash and weekend sales. Delta does not have a published award chart so you will need to pull up their website to see how far 30,000 Skymiles miles can get you. You can also calculate the cash value of Skymiles using the Delta Skymiles Value Calculator.
Credit Card Fees
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The annual fee for the Delta Skymiles Reserve Card is $450. This is in line with luxury travel cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Hilton Aspire Card. If you value the Delta Reserve first class companion ticket for its cash value, this perk alone pays the fee. Add that to any savings you will earn from the Free Checked Bag along with other perks such as the upgrade priority and you have yourself a card worth the annual fee.
Authorized User Fee
There is no fee to add authorized users to the Delta Skymiles Reserve Card. These free authorized users will not gain any real benefit with the exception of earning extra Skymiles when using the card for purchases and they will be able to enter the Delta SkyClub at the reduced rate of $29 per person.
If you want additional users to have complimentary Delta SkyClub Access, there is a fee of $175 for each additional Delta Reserve card. This could be useful if you end up paying the SkyClub fee six or more times a year ($29 x 6 = $174). But then again, that user could get their own Delta Reserve Card for additional $275 and end up with their own Delta Reserve First Class Companion Pass, complimentary Delta SkyClub access, and other perks.
Foreign Transaction Fee
There is no foreign transaction fee for using the Delta Skymiles Reserve Card meaning you will not be penalized for using the card outside of the United States. Due to the earning structure of this card, you will only earn 1x Skymiles per $1 spent for non-category purchases, so there isn't much value to using this card outside of Delta Purchases.
Upgrade and Downgrades
Cards in the AMEX Delta family can be upgraded and downgraded assuming you're in good standing with AMEX. AMEX occasionally offers upgrade bonuses. These are usually in the form of a pop-up or added link when logging into the AMEX My Account page. Upgrades can be done on the page that lists all AMEX credit cards or it will be on the far right column (on the side of posted transactions). Pulling up a Delta card (other than the one associated with the account) on the AMEX site will usually replace the 'Apply Now' button with 'Request an Upgrade' option. Pressing on that button will get the upgrade process started. AMEX only allows sign up bonuses once per lifetime so upgrading can cause great sign up bonuses to be missed. I do not recommend upgrading unless you really, really have to or if it's presenting a good upgrade bonus.
Downgrade from Delta Reserve to Delta Platinum
If the Delta Skymiles Reserve card is beyond what you're looking for, the Delta Skymiles Platinum Card is a good card to step down to. The Platinum offers slightly reduced versions of the perks offered on the Reserve. A bonus 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 Skymiles can be earned twice by spending $25,000 both times for a total of 20,000 MQMs and 20,000 Skymiles after $50,000 spend on the Delta Platinum Card. It also offers a Delta Companion Ticket good for domestic Main Cabin travel which has a significantly higher value than the $195 annual fee. You'll also still get the Delta First Checked Bag Free Perk!
Downgrade from Delta Reserve to Delta Gold
If you don't plan on putting thousand of dollars worth of spend through cards and/or not too pumped about the Delta Companion Tickets, the Delta Gold Card is a good choice. This card's main benefit is the Delta First Checked Bag Free perk. It's a solid choice for anyone that does not hold Delta Medallion status and wishes to save on bag fees.
Downgrade from Delta Reserve to Delta Blue
The last stop and lowest on the Delta Card totem pole is the Delta Blue Card. This card would benefit anyone that wants to earn double Skymiles spending at restaurants. It also still allows members to use the Pay with Miles option. The Delta Blue does not offer free checked bags so you will not be saving on that front, but it does have a $0 annual fee so that is a plus.
You can use this rewards calculator to calculate how many points, miles, or cash back you can earn based on your spend per category. This calculator will also give you the dollar value of the card based on rewards earned and how much each benefit is worth to you minus the fees. You can click the Compare A Card button to compare this card against another card in the same calculator.
All category spend entered in the primary card's column will carry over to all credit card pages on the site so you don't have to re-enter the same information over again.
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