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Opening a new credit card for perks and rewards can be exciting. In the midst of that excitement, you might forget all the benefits a particular card offers and, perhaps, make a few mistakes.
If you’re a frequent Delta Air Lines flyer, consider applying for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. It comes with lots of perks and a $550 annual fee. Terms apply.
Trust us: Once you’re approved, you don’t want to forget to do the following five things.
1. Earn the welcome bonus
A credit card welcome bonus is like a gift from someone you’re really close to: You know what’s in the box, you just have to wait until your birthday to open it.
With the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you know you’ll get a nice welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Terms Apply.
Make sure to hit that minimum spend within the first three months. If you miss that deadline, you won’t get the bonus miles.
2. Apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers an enrollment fee credit to those applying for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. The reimbursement comes in the form of a statement credit after you apply for one of the programs and pay $78 for TSA PreCheck or $100 for Global Entry. Terms apply.
The credit is given once every four years toward Global Entry and every 4.5 years toward TSA Precheck, and you want to make sure you use it as soon as possible to restart the clock. After the initial application fee, PreCheck renewal only costs $70 if completed online, so you're more than covered on that front. If you’re already enrolled in either program, feel free to use the credit on a friend or a family member and enroll them instead, as the credit doesn’t have to be used by the primary cardholder. Terms apply.
3. Find Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge locations
As a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card member, you can access Delta Sky Clubs and Centurion Lounges at no extra cost with a same-day Delta boarding pass. You'll also receive two complimentary Delta Sky Club guest passes per year. After using those, you'll have to pay the guest fee of $39 per person. Guest access to Centurion Lounges costs $50 per person (limited to two guests per visit). Terms apply.
Once you receive your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, research whether your home airport has a Delta Sky Club or a Centurion Lounge and their locations in the terminal. Also look for these lounges at your frequently visited airports. You never know when your short delay turns into a long wait, and hanging around a lounge is much better than sitting at the gate. Keep in mind you can only access Delta Sky Clubs up to three hours before your departing flight (unless you have a layover).
4. Learn about the Delta SkyMiles program
If you’re going to start collecting Delta SkyMiles, you should know how much a SkyMile is worth.
Delta doesn’t publish an award chart — the number of miles you need for an award flight is based on a dynamic pricing system, meaning the award price can fluctuate based on things like time of year. Get a feel for how far your miles can take you by searching for some sample award flights on Delta’s website.
NerdWallet values Delta SkyMiles at an average of 1.5 cents each when redeemed for economy flights.
Award flights aren’t the only way to spend your SkyMiles. From Delta Flash Sales and Pay with Miles (which lets you redeem SkyMiles to reduce the cost of a cash ticket — an option available to co-branded cardholders only) to Sky Club membership and Dom Perignon Champagne in the Sky Club, you’ll find many ways to spend your SkyMiles.
Not all these redemption options will be worthwhile to you, but that’s all the more reason to learn the ins and outs of Delta SkyMiles.
» Learn more: Delta Airlines SkyMiles program: The complete guide
5. Enroll in ShopRunner
American Express cards come with a complimentary ShopRunner membership. As a ShopRunner member, you qualify for free two-day shipping and returns at more than 100 online retailers. If you shop online often, you can save quite a bit of money with this benefit, but you have to enroll first. Terms apply.
The bottom line
When you open a premium travel rewards credit card, it’s important to maximize its full potential. You want to get as much value back from your annual fee as possible. With a little planning and organization on your part, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card can pay for itself over time.
All information about the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express 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:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card