Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card review: Serious perks at a serious price

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In a Nutshell

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers plenty of luxury perks for cardholders loyal to Delta Air Lines. The annual companion certificate, complimentary first-class upgrades and premium lounge access stand out as excellent benefits. But the high annual fee and fine print might make you think twice.

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

Pros Cons

Strong welcome bonus offer

Big annual fee could ground your plans

Annual companion certificate offers lots of potential value

Companion certificate not available in your first year of card membership

Complimentary first-class upgrades

Upgrades are based on availability and not guaranteed

Relax at the airport with complimentary Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Club access

 

4 things you should know about the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Here’s a quick breakdown of the card’s most important features.

  1. The bonus miles could take you far
  2. Annual companion certificate helps offset the annual fee
  3. Terrific luxury perks, but with a catch
  4. Elite airline status is within reach 

1. The bonus miles could take you far

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers a welcome bonus

  • You’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles (and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles, or MQMs) after spending $3,000 on purchases during the first 3 months of card membership.

If you get the offer those 40,000 bonus miles are worth an estimated $872 toward Delta flights, based on Credit Karma’s point valuations.

The welcome bonus is especially nice because you might have trouble earning many miles elsewhere with the card. You’ll earn three miles for every $1 you spend on Delta purchases and one mile per $1 on all other eligible purchases. But if you don’t fly Delta especially often, it might be tough to add to your rewards balance.

2. Annual companion certificate helps offset the annual fee

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card bears a huge $550 annual fee, making the card more expensive than many domestic round-trip flights with the airline.

But the fee doesn’t have to ground your travel plans, because you’ll also receive a companion certificate each year after your account anniversary. When you buy a ticket for yourself, this certificate allows your companion to tag along for no more than $75 in taxes and fees on most round-trip domestic flights.

Depending on where and how you fly, that certificate could cover the bulk of the annual fee.

3. Terrific luxury perks, but with a catch

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card features some of the best perks we’ve ever seen from a co-branded airline credit card. It offers airport lounge access and the possibility of complimentary upgrades, both of which could be very valuable to those in the market for luxury treatment when they travel.

When you fly with Delta, you’ll receive complimentary Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge visits. These airport lounges are part of what make the Platinum Card® from American Express a regular top pick for luxury perks, and they’re included on this card, too.

You’ll also be eligible for complimentary upgrades to first class, Delta Comfort+, and even the super-exclusive Delta One, when you book a main cabin ticket that’s not basic economy. That chance at extra comfort sounds great, but there’s a catch. The complimentary upgrades may prove elusive if you don’t have elite status, because you’ll have to wait at the back of the line behind all Medallion members before getting your chance. By the time it’s your turn, there might not be any premium seats left.

On the other hand, if you already have Delta Medallion status, you’ll receive upgrade priority over other Medallion members in the same fare class who don’t have the card.

4. Elite airline status is within reach

If you like the perks that come along with Medallion Status — like complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, waived baggage fees and even a chance at boosted rewards — the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card could help you get there more quickly. Here’s what it takes to become a Delta Medallion member.

 

Medallion Qualification Dollars

Medallion Qualification Miles or Medallion Qualification Segments

Silver

$3,000

25,000 MQMs

30 MQSs

Gold

$6,000

50,000 MQMs

60 MQSs

Platinum

$9,000

75,000 MQMs

100 MQSs

Diamond

$15,000

125,000 MQMs

140 MQSs

As we mentioned earlier, you could earn 10,000 MQMs from the card’s welcome bonus alone. But you’ll also receive a status boost of another 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend on the card, up to four times per calendar year.

Delta will also waive the MQD requirement for Silver, Gold and Platinum status if you spend at least $25,000 in eligible purchases on your card each year, and for Diamond status if you spend at least $250,000 in eligible purchases per year.

That might be worth it for some cardholders who already fly frequently or plan to put a lot of expenses on this card. But we certainly wouldn’t encourage you to spend more money just to earn airline status.

Other ways this card makes your trip more comfortable

There are other, less luxurious perks that come with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.

  • First checked bag free for you and up to eight guests traveling on the same reservation
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding for you and up to eight guests traveling on the same reservation
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit for things like food and drinks (but not inflight wi-fi)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee statement credit of up to $100 every four years

Who is the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card good for?

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is geared toward luxury travelers who are loyal to Delta.

If you enjoy treating yourself to a nice vacation every now and then, and don’t mind splurging on luxury items like premium-class tickets and airport lounges, this card could give you more bang for your buck.

But even if you prefer booking economy seats to save money or just want a shortcut to Medallion status, this card still might work for you if you fly at least once or twice a month and take advantage of the annual companion certificate. Otherwise, the high annual fee might be hard to make up.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

If the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card seems a bit too pricey for what you get, you might be interested in another travel rewards credit card that works well for Delta flyers.