How Do I Know If the Delta Reserve Credit Card From American Express Is Right for Me?

Alex Cramer
By Alex Cramer 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a high-fee and high-earning credit card that can turbocharge your SkyMiles earnings if you’re a frequent Delta flyer. However, the steep annual fee means you’ll need to think carefully about whether the benefits of this card outweigh the costs.

Here, we'll take a deep dive into the perks and expenses of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, so you can decide if this card is right for you.

You don’t mind the high annual fee

The card’s annual fee of $550 puts it in line with the most expensive premium rewards cards on the market, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. However, it's still cheaper than the The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Keep in mind that the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card does provide a wide array of benefits that can justify its high price for the right cardholder. Terms apply.

You’re looking for a big welcome bonus offer

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers a decent welcome bonus offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Terms Apply.

NerdWallet values SkyMiles at 1.5 cents each, which means that your card welcome bonus offer is worth a good chunk of change.

Because the welcome bonus offer is one of this card’s most valuable perks, if you can’t qualify for it without incurring serious debt, then this card isn’t right for you. You may want to look at cards with lower spending requirements, such as the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card or the American Express® Green Card. The welcome bonus offers on these cards are lower, but so are the minimum spending requirement. Terms apply.

You’re a big Delta spender

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card earns 3 Delta SkyMiles per $1 spent on Delta flights and Delta Vacations. All other spending earns 1 SkyMile per $1 spent. Terms apply.

If you regularly fly Delta on paid fares, then the 3X bonus can help you accrue lots of miles. Then, if you decide to book an award fare with those points, you'll get 15% off with Delta's TakeOff 15 deal. Terms apply.

You can make use of the Companion Certificate

One of the strongest perks of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is the Companion Certificate that is awarded every card anniversary. Terms apply.

When you book a ticket on Delta, you can redeem your Companion Certificate for a ticket of equivalent value for a travel companion. The Companion Certificate is valid on domestic economy, Delta Comfort+ or first class travel. All you have to pay are taxes and fees.

Because your Companion Certificate is eligible to be redeemed for a first class ticket, this single perk could potentially be worth far more than the card’s annual fee.

You could use a status boost

Spending on your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card will help you earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward elite status.

Cardholders who spend $30,000 on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card will earn 15,000 MQMs. This can be repeated up to four times per year. This means that you could potentially earn up to 60,000 MQMs through spending on your card every year. Terms apply.

Cardholders who spend at least $25,000 in a year also receive a Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver. Normally, Delta Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion statuses require $3,000 to $9,000 worth of spending with Delta Air Lines (note that spending thresholds are increasing in 2023, read more here). By charging $25,000 worth of spending to the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, these requirements are waived. Terms apply.

You want travel perks

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card also comes loaded with smaller perks that most frequent flyers would find to be highly valuable. For example, cardholders receive complimentary Sky Club access when flying Delta up to three hours before departure (unless they have a layover). It also comes with two one-time Sky Club passes that they can use for guests. Terms apply.

More notably, the card now offers complimentary access to American Express Centurion lounges when flying on a Delta fare booked with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Terms apply.

Other travel perks include the first checked bag fee waiver, Main Cabin 1 boarding and a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Terms apply.

The bottom line

When applying for a high-fee travel rewards card, it's important to make sure that the benefits you accrue will be worth more than the costs of keeping the card open.

Because the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card doesn’t have broad bonus spending categories or perks outside of purchases made through the airline, you would need to be a frequent flyer on Delta to justify the expense of adding this card to your collection.

So if you like Delta but only fly a few times a year, then this card isn’t for you. But if you’re the type of frequent Delta flyer who knows your flight attendants and pilots by name, then this could be exactly the card to turbocharge your SkyMile and MQM earnings.

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express® Green Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:

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