Delta Reserve Credit Card: $550 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 TsosieSep 20, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Our Take

5.0

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

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$550

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • Free checked bag
  • Early boarding
  • Companion benefit

Cons

  • Has annual fee
  • Requires good/excellent credit

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$550

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $99

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

For those who enjoy visiting Delta Sky Club lounges and flying first class, the  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.

To view rates and fees of the , see .

Card type: .

Annual fee: .

Welcome offer: 

Rewards:

Delta miles at each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer or more in value from your Delta miles.

Benefits: 

Status Boost bonuses: Earn 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 MQMs after spending $60,000. Terms Apply.

APR: 

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Normally, you’d have to pay $545 for one year of individual access to the Delta Sky Club lounges — but with the , membership is included. If you’re frequently looking for a reprieve from long layovers, this perk could largely 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. Plus, every year you'll get two one-time guest passes to Delta's lounges. Your card will also get you into American Express Centurion Lounges when you're flying Delta. Terms apply.

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.

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.

» MORE:

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  is different. It comes with a generous welcome bonus:

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 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 MQMs after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year, up to four times in a calendar year. Terms apply.

In the pantheon of Delta credit cards, the  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

Here's how the stacks up with the rest on key benefits. (Table shows current earning rates. for changes taking effect in January 2020.)

The annual fee isn't cheap: It's . 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 , which has a much lower annual fee and 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.

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 . The card only gets you into Delta Sky Club locations. And as of this writing, there are just over 50 of those. And while the card also gets you into American Express's own Centurion Lounges when you're flying Delta and use your card to book the flight, there are only nine of these lounges in the U.S., as of this writing.

If you want Delta Sky Club, Centurion lounge access and additional airport lounge options, consider . This card, which has a similarly hefty annual fee, offers access not just to Delta Sky Club, but also to a network of over 1,300 lounges in 130 countries, as of this writing. It also comes with a great welcome offer (see ).

The 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.

For more options, check out NerdWallet's list of .

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 , see . To view rates and fees of , see .