How to maximize your Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express benefits

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In a Nutshell

The Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express has many benefits, but they come with a high price tag. If you use benefits like the Companion Certificate and elite status boosts, you could get your full value out of this card.

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These offers are no longer available on our site: Delta Reserve Credit Card, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

The Delta Reserve® Credit Card can be a bit of a gamble in how much value you get for the price. We’ll show you which benefits you can get with this card and how to use them so you can come out ahead. $504 our estimated bonus value

Let’s start with the sign-up bonus. If you spend $3,000 on purchases during the first three months after opening the Delta Reserve Credit Card, you’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles.

If you fly on Delta frequently and like to travel in style, the Delta Reserve Credit Card can be your best friend. Still, it comes with a super-high price tag: a $450 annual fee per year. You’ll want to get your miles out of this card.

This card offers strong value through its Companion Certificate, free checked bag, complimentary Delta Sky Club® access and elite status mileage boosters.

But did you know about the car rental insurance, travel accident insurance and the concierge service?

If you do plan to carry a balance on this card, which we don’t recommend, be aware the APR on purchases and balance transfers will be a variable rate, currently 17.49% to 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.

There is also a variable penalty APR if you miss a payment or if a payment is returned of 29.99%.

In this article, we’ll look at benefits the Delta Reserve® Credit Card offers and how to get the most out of them. After all, you’ve already shelled out for the card, so why not use the benefits you’ve paid for?

*We estimate the welcome bonus can be worth $504 when redeemed through the associated rewards program. Here’s how we calculated the dollar value: In May 2018, our editors estimated the redemption value per mile. We multiplied the number of miles you could earn through the current welcome bonus by that redemption value. You can learn more about our methodology here. The value of the welcome bonus has been rounded down to the nearest whole dollar.


4 ways to maximize your Delta Reserve® Credit Card benefits

1. Earn elite status on Delta flights

Reaching an elite level with Delta carries a lot of perks, such as complimentary first-class upgrades when available, waived fees for checked bags and priority check-in.

To reach Silver status, the lowest of four elite levels, you’ll need to accumulate at least 25,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) — Delta’s separate points system to reach elite status. Note that MQMs are not the same thing as SkyMiles.

There are several ways you can earn MQMs by using your Delta Reserve® Credit Card.

As a new cardholder, you can qualify for 10,000 MQMs and 40,000 bonus miles if you use the Delta Reserve® Credit Card to make purchases totaling $3,000 or more within your first three months.

In any calendar year, you will earn 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 or more in eligible purchases. If you spend $60,000 or more on eligible purchases in that same calendar year, you’ll earn another 15,000 MQMs and an additional 15,000 bonus miles.

If you’re close — but not quite there — to reaching a spending threshold for an MQM boost, it might make sense to use a service such as Plastiq that lets you pay your rent or mortgage with your credit card. Just note, Plastiq charges a fee for its service.

According to Jack Krupey, a credit card expert and a Delta Diamond elite member, even if you have to pay a 2.5 percent fee for a service like Plastiq to temporarily reach that next level, it is, in his opinion, “absolutely worth it to meet your minimum spend.”

2. Earn Delta flights

If you use your Delta Reserve® Credit Card, you can earn flights in two different ways:

  • If you purchase your own ticket and bring a friend within the continental U.S. (or Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, if that’s where you live), you can book your friend’s ticket using the Companion Certificate. Note that you’ll still have to pay any taxes and fees. With the Delta Reserve® Credit Card, you’ll get a new Companion Certificate each year upon renewal.
  • You can also book flights using SkyMiles, Delta’s frequent-flyer points, instead of cash. You’ll earn one SkyMile per dollar spent on everyday items, and two SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.

Good to know: Delta is one of the only airlines that doesn’t actually publish an awards chart showing how many SkyMiles are required to travel to each destination.

This can make it difficult to know how many miles are required for your flight unless you actually do a search on the main Delta website (remember to hit “show price in miles”).

However, you can get some one-way flights for as low as 10,000 SkyMiles.

3. Use the travel perks

If travel stresses you out, this card can make your life a lot easier. You’ll be eligible for priority boarding on Delta flights, so you won’t have to push through throngs of people to settle into your seat.

Tired of cramming everything into a tiny carry-on bag? You’ll get your first checked bag for free by providing Delta with your frequent-flyer number.

Your card also serves as your free ticket to get into any Delta Sky Club®. Simply show them your card and your Delta boarding pass.

You’ll also get 20 percent savings on Delta in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit, so if you need that extra bloody mary, go for it. (Good to know: this credit does not apply to in-flight wireless internet access.)

If you’re on a road trip and your car breaks down, you can call the number on the back of your card to reach roadside assistance.

This benefit provides complimentary services such as towing over short distances, pulling your car out of a ditch or delivering extra gas if you run out.

You can also call up a concierge service for simple things like restaurant recommendations and gift advice.

By calling the number on the back of your card, you can even get your money back within 90 days of an eligible purchase if a purchase is broken, lost or stolen.

Note that there are limitations to the purchase protection benefit.

4. Use the insurance programs

No one wants to think of bad things happening, but if they do, your Delta Reserve® Credit Card has you covered in a lot of ways — as long as you use your card to pay.

You’ll be eligible for car rental loss and damage insurance. Be sure to decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver to be eligible for the insurance through your credit card.

These travel benefits do have limitations and exclusions, so make sure to read about the benefits in full on your card benefit paperwork.

You’re also eligible for lost, damaged or stolen baggage insurance up to $1,250 for a carry-on bag and $500 for a checked bag. Finally, if you get sick or injured while you’re out traveling, you may get help with travel accident insurance.


At a glance: Other airline rewards credit cards to consider

No-frills elite Delta rewards card Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

 

Lower-fee Delta rewards card Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Best flexible rewards structure Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Best luxury travel rewards Platinum Card® from American Express 

 


Bottom line

The Delta Reserve® Credit Card benefits are unparalleled by any other Delta Air Lines co-branded credit cards.

Yes, you do need to pay a lot for this card. But if you’re a frequent flyer on Delta Airlines, it may be possible to make the benefits worth the annual fee by using high-dollar perks like the Companion Certificate and the extra SkyMiles to book flights.

What’s more, the card can make your life a lot easier both when you travel and when you’re at home with all its various perks, such as roadside assistance and Delta Sky Club® access.

Now all you need to worry about is packing your bags and figuring out where to go.


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