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Premium airline credit cards are known for their frequent flyer perks. However, some luxury airline cards also come with money-saving and shopper-friendly benefits. While the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers a valuable welcome bonus and perks designed for Delta loyalists, it also offers purchase protections, airport lounge access and discounts on certain purchases. If you tend to shy away from hefty annual fee cards, consider a few of the underrated benefits, like the Delta companion certificate, to assess whether or not the $550 annual-fee Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a good fit for you.
But first: The well-known reasons
Here’s a list of the well-known benefits of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.
Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership. Terms Apply.
Bonus miles on Delta purchases: Earn 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and 1 SkyMile per dollar on all other purchases. Terms apply.
First checked bag free: The primary cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation for a domestic flight can check a bag for free, saving $60 per person round-trip. Terms apply.
Priority boarding: The primary cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation can board the plane early with the Main Cabin 1 boarding group. Terms apply.
TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit: Worth up to $100. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program: The complete guide
Annual companion certificate
If you plan on flying at least once a year with a friend, partner or family member, the Delta Companion Certificate can offset a large part of the card’s $550 annual fee.
Every year after renewing your card, you earn a certificate good for one round-trip Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ or first class ticket for a companion who flies on the same reservation as yours. Terms apply, and you’ll have to pay taxes and fees on your companion booking. Obviously, your value will vary depending on the specific seat and flight you book, but it is not difficult to get several hundred dollars of value out of a round-trip companion certificate.
Fast track to Delta elite status
Delta has four Medallion elite status tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. Each tier offers incremental benefits, like complimentary upgrades and fee waivers. To earn status, you typically must meet a combination of flight and spending requirements. For example, to earn Silver status, you must:
Earn 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles or 30 Medallion Qualification Segments, and
Spend at least $3,000 on flights to earn 3,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars.
But Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card customers get that MQD requirement waived for Silver, Gold and Platinum status if you make $25,000 or more in eligible purchases during the calendar year. The MQD waiver for Diamond status requires you to make $250,000 or more in eligible purchases during the calendar year. This is a nice feature for less-frequent flyers who wouldn’t otherwise meet the elite status requirements. Terms apply.
In addition, cardholders can earn MQMs with the card’s Status Boost program. Here’s how it works:
Spend $30,000 on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card to earn 15,000 MQMs.
Spend $60,000 to earn another 15,000 MQMs.
Spend $90,000 to earn another 15,000 MQMs.
Spend $120,000 to earn another 15,000 MQMs.
Between the card’s welcome bonus MQMs and the Status Boost program, you could reach a higher tier of Delta elite status without having to fly at all. Terms apply.
Airport lounge access
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card holders can relax in any of the 13 luxurious American Express Centurion lounges when they book their flight with the card. Cardholders not flying out of an airport with a Centurion lounge enjoy complimentary access to Delta SkyClubs. Terms apply.
Save money shopping with AmEx Offers
As an American Express cardholder, you get exclusive access to AmEx Offers, which give you opportunities to earn statement credits or save money on purchases you might already be planning, including cell phone bill payments and dining out at local restaurants. Limited-time offers are added frequently. Just log in, browse the available offers and add them to your card.
Eligibility for this offer is limited. Enrollment is required in the Amex Offers section of your account before redeeming.
» Learn more: How to add money-saving travel offers to your AmEx card
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers three complimentary protections for shoppers. Terms apply.
Extended warranty: Get up to one extra year added to a manufacturer’s warranty on eligible purchases.
Purchase protection: If an eligible item you bought with the card is accidentally damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase, you’re covered up to $10,000 per incident and up to $50,000 per year.
Return protection: If a merchant won’t take back an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase, American Express may refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.
The bottom line
While the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card has a steep $550 annual fee, it offers many valuable perks that can more than offset the cost. Besides the welcome bonus, one of the most valuable features is the card’s companion certificate, which saves you round-trip airfare for a friend, partner or family member and is valid for Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+, or first class tickets. Delta loyalists looking to earn elite status without having to meet the standard flying requirements can do well by taking advantage of the card’s Status Boost benefits. Terms apply.
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 2021, 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