Editorial Review

Delta Reserve Credit Card: $450 Annual Fee, Companion Certificate

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.

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  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

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Our Take

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.

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Annual Fee 
$450
Regular APR
17.99% - 26.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Annual Fee 
$450
Regular APR
17.99% - 26.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No foreign transaction fee
Cons
  • Has annual fee

recommended credit score

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

Full Review

For those who fly first class regularly, the $450 (This offer is no longer valid on our site)-annual-fee Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express might pay for itself. That’s thanks to the uncommonly valuable annual companion certificate it comes with, which can be redeemed for a round-trip domestic first-class ticket.

That perk makes the question “Should you get this card?” fairly clear-cut. If you’re sure you can use this benefit every year and get more than $450 (This offer is no longer valid on our site) worth of value out of it, that alone could justify the cost.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

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $450 (This offer is no longer valid on our site)

Welcome offer: Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply. (This offer is no longer valid on our site)

Rewards:

  • 2 miles per dollar spent 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: 

  • 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).

  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access.

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

  • Priority boarding.

  • Terms Apply.

Spending 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.

APR: The ongoing APR is 17.99% - 26.99% Variable APR

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Why you should get the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

You're 100% sure you can use that companion certificate

The most valuable feature on the Delta Reserve® Credit Card, hands-down, 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 only be used 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.

You want access to Delta Sky Club

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 more than make up for the card’s steep annual fee.

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.

You’re chasing status with Delta

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: Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply. (This offer is no longer valid on our site)

That gets you significantly closer to Silver status, which you can earn after hitting 25,000 MQMs in a calendar year. That gets 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.

Why you should choose a different card

You aren’t able to maximize the companion certificate

If you rarely or hardly ever fly first class, you probably won’t be able to get as much value out of the companion certificate on the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express — and that’s fine. It’s not the only good card choice for Delta devotees.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, which carries a lower annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95, might be a better pick for you. Like the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers 2 miles on every purchase made directly with Delta and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. It also offers a fee waiver on first checked bags for you and up to 8 people traveling on the same reservation and features a sweet welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

You’re looking for luxury, but not necessarily with Delta

The Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express is a slam-dunk choice for cardholders who fly with Delta frequently and are willing to pay more for luxurious benefits. If you don't fly much with Delta but still crave some swanky perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® could be a more compelling and flexible choice.

This card, which carries an annual fee of $450, starts off with a compelling sign-up bonus: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® . It also comes with a $300 annual travel credit, which renews every cardholder anniversary, and Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to a large network of airport lounges. It offers 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed through Chase's travel portal; they can also be transferred to several other loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.

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.

All information about the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. This card is no longer available through NerdWallet.