Editorial Review

Delta Reserve Credit Card: $450 Annual Fee, Sky Club Access

The annual fee is steep, but it's more than worth it for those who want to travel in comfort and also bring a friend along.

Claire TsosieOctober 2, 2019

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  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

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Our Take

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: It's a luxury card for those who fly frequently with Delta and can maximize the card's rich benefits. Those seeking a lower annual fee and more flexibility have other options.

American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Annual Fee

$450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)

Regular APR

17.49% - 26.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Annual Fee
$450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Annual Fee
$450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Has annual fee

Alternate Pick: Flexible travel rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Pay for any travel expense with rewards

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers an impressive 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Those can be redeemed at a value of 1 cent apiece against a broad range of travel expenses, including hotel stays and airfares. It also comes with a robust sign-up bonus. Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Annual Fee

$450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

17.49% - 26.49% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

N/A

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

For those who enjoy visiting Delta Sky Club lounges and flying first class, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express might pay for itself — even with its steep annual fee. That’s thanks to two valuable benefits it features: complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs, and an annual companion certificate that can be redeemed for a round-trip domestic first-class ticket.

These perks make the question of “should you get this card?” fairly clear-cut. If you’re sure you can make good use of these benefits, that alone could justify the cost. And if you can’t? This card probably isn’t an ideal choice for you.

Key features of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Nerd tip: Delta and American Express have announced major changes to their lineup of co-branded credit cards, to take effect January 30, 2020. Read about the changes here.

(To view rates and fees of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, please visit this page.)

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020).

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Expires 10/30/2019. Terms Apply.

Rewards:

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. (After January 30, 2020: 3 miles per dollar on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.)

  • 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

  • Terms apply.

On average, NerdWallet values Delta SkyMiles at around 1.4 cents each for domestic flights. And you can get even more value from your miles, on average, when redeeming for international flights.

Benefits: 

  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access. (Beginning in January 2020, you'll also get two one-time guess passes to Delta Sky Clubs each year, as well as complimentary access to American Express's Centurion Lounges when flying Delta.)

  • Annual companion certificate upon renewal (good for one round-trip domestic flight in first class, Delta Comfort+ or main cabin for someone traveling with you, less some taxes and fees).

  • Concierge service.

  • First checked bag is free for you and up to 8 other passengers traveling on the same reservation.

  • Priority boarding.

  • 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases.

  • Terms apply.

Miles Boost bonuses: Earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, and another 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000. Terms Apply. (After January 30, 2020: You'll still earn the MQMs when you hit these spending thresholds, but you won't get the bonus miles.)

APR: The ongoing APR is 17.49% - 26.49% Variable APR

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Why you might want the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

DELTA SKY CLUB ACCESS

Normally, you’d have to pay $545 for one year of individual access to the Delta Sky Club lounges — but with the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, membership is included. If you’re frequently looking for a reprieve from long layovers, this perk could essentially make up for the card’s steep annual fee. And if you're planning to have an authorized user on your account, it could be doubly valuable: Additional cardholders will have the same level of access to the Delta Sky Club as the primary cardholder, American Express confirms.

These lounges generally offer complimentary refreshments, booze, Wi-Fi, showers and comfortable seats. And they’re not as easy to access as they once were; in late 2018, the airline stopped selling single-day passes to its lounges. Terms apply.

And starting January 30, 2020, your lounge benefits will get kicked up a few notches. In addition to Delta Sky Clubs, your card will also get you into American Express Centurion Lounges when you're flying Delta. Further, every year you'll get two one-time guest passes to Delta's lounges. Terms apply.

companion certificate

One of the most valuable features on the Delta Reserve® Credit Card is its annual companion certificate. Unlike most companion certificates, it’s not limited to coach tickets; you can also use it for Delta Comfort+ or first-class tickets. That makes it potentially lucrative — that is, if you regularly buy Delta tickets in these fare classes.

To be sure, the certificate comes with some limitations. It can generally be used only to purchase round-trip fares within the contiguous 48 states (although cardholders living in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can take advantage if they meet certain requirements). Terms apply. Also, to redeem it, you and your companion must be flying in the same fare class; you can’t dispatch your traveling partner to first class while you fly coach.

A way to work toward elite status

Most of the time, an airline credit card welcome offer will help you rack up miles quickly, but won’t get you any closer to elite status. The Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express is different. It comes with a generous welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Expires 10/30/2019. Terms Apply.

That gets you significantly closer to Silver status, which you can earn after hitting 25,000 MQMs in a calendar year. That snags you certain benefits when flying with airline partners, savings on Delta Vacations packages (including those booked with miles) and more. (The Delta SkyMiles program has four elite status tiers, ranging from Silver to Diamond.)

Aside from that initial bonus, you can also earn more MQMs on this card if you’re a big spender. You’ll get 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, and another 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000. Terms apply. (After January 30, 2020: You'll still earn the MQMs when you hit these spending thresholds, but you won't get the bonus miles.)

How it compares with other Delta cards

In the pantheon of Delta credit cards, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express stands out as the most premium. Out of all Delta cards, it comes with the richest benefits — and the highest annual fee. If you're looking to earn miles with Delta but want to pay a lower annual fee, consider going with one of the other cards. For more analysis, read NerdWallet's comparison of Delta credit cards.

Here's how the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express stacks up with the rest on key benefits. (Table shows current earning rates. See this article for changes taking effect in January 2020.)

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and at U.S. restaurants.

  • Terms apply.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

  • First checked bag free.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Terms apply.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

  • First checked bag free.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Companion certificate (main cabin).

  • Terms apply.

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

  • First checked bag free.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Companion certificate (first class, Delta Comfort+ or main cabin).

  • Delta Sky Club access.

  • Terms apply.

Why you might want a a different card

High Annual Fee

The annual fee isn't cheap: $450 ($550 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020). If that's a dealbreaker for you, there are other, more affordable options — and yes, they can also get you into airport lounges.

Consider the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card, which has an annual fee of $95. It comes with up to $200 in travel statement credits, including one $100 credit toward a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee, and a $100 credit for airline incidentals, for purchases such seat upgrades, checked baggage fees and day passes to lounges. That won't help you get into the Delta Sky Club, which no longer sells single-day passes to the general public. But if you're just looking for a card that helps you cover the cost of getting into another airport lounge, this could be a good pick. The sign-up bonus is also generous: Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Lounge access IS Limited to Delta

Delta Sky Club lounges offer excellent amenities — but they aren't available everywhere. While the Delta Sky Club program notes that it has a broad network of partner locations, you can't gain entry to these with the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express. The card only gets you in to Delta Sky Club locations. And as of this writing, there are just over 50 of those.

Keep in mind, though, that this will be changing in 2020, when the card will offer access to American Express's own Centurion Lounges, although only when you're flying Delta and bought your ticket with an American Express card.

If you want Delta Sky Club access and additional airport lounge options, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. This card, which has an annual fee of $550, offers access not just to Delta Sky Club, but also to a network of over 1,200 lounges in 130 countries, as of this writing. It also comes with a great welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Weak ongoing rewards

The Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express offers outstanding value in terms of side benefits, but its lackluster ongoing rewards make it a poor choice for everyday spending. It earns a piddling 1 mile per dollar for purchases made outside of Delta. Many cards — even those with no annual fee — offer richer rewards.

Is the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express right for you?

This card isn’t a cost-effective choice for travelers who can’t make good use of the companion certificate consistently. But for those who can — namely, Delta loyalists who travel in style — it’s a top-shelf pick.

To view rates and fees of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, please visit this page.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this page.