American Express Delta Reserve Personal & Business Credit Card Review

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American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card Review

American Express is the sole provider of Delta co-branded credit cards.  They offer four versions of Delta co-branded cards: Blue, GoldPlatinum, and Reserve.  Today we are going to review the Delta Reserve Business and Personal credit cards from American Express which are the ultra premium cards of the Delta portfolio.

We will be reviewing the business version and personal version at the same time since they are pretty much the same card.  You are able to get both versions though since they are considered separate products.

Current Sign Up Bonus vs Historical High

The current sign up bonus for the Delta Reserve is:

  • 40,000 Delta Skymiles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of card membership
  • 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of card membership
  • The $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year

This matches the historical high for the Delta Reserve’s welcome bonus.


CLICK HERE to compare this card with other travel rewards credit cards

Bonus Restrictions

Note that American Express currently has a “one bonus, per product, per lifetime” policy. You are only eligible for this bonus if you have not had this card before.

American Express also limits the amount of credit cards that you can have to 5 cards at one time (occasionally 6).  This does not include charge cards.

American Express does sometimes have targeted offers with no once per lifetime language.  Reports say people are able to get the bonus a second time when using these offers.

Earning Structure

The American Express Delta Reserve card comes with the following earning structure:

  • 2X miles on purchases directly with Delta
  • 1X miles on all other purchases

Cardmember Perks

The Delta Reserve card from American Express comes with the following cardmember perks:

  • Complimentary Delta lounge access when flying Delta
    • Discounted rate of $29 per guest for up to 2 guests
  • Bonus miles and MQMs with Miles Boost
    • Earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 on purchases with your card in a calendar year
    • Earn an additional 15,000 MQMs and an additional 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $60,000 on purchases with your card in a calendar year.
  • Annual companion certificate
    • Receive a domestic first class, Delta comfort+ or main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • First checked bag free (up to 9 guests on the same itinerary)
  • 20% discount on in flight purchases
  • Pay with miles feature available to cardholders (1 cent per mile redemption towards flights)

American Express increased the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) waiver via credit card spend from $25,000 to $250,000 this year which is a big blow to loyal cardmembers.

This only applies to top tier Diamond status though.  You can still earn the MQD waiver by spending $25,000 for all other tiers.  Platinum status, which still gets a MQD waiver at $25,000, comes with waived award change fees which is one of the bigger perks of status.


CLICK HERE to compare this card with other travel rewards credit cards

Fees

The American Express Delta Reserve card has a $450 annual fee which is NOT waived.

Sign Up Bonus Value – $500 (Net $50)

Delta Skymiles are valued at 1.25 cents a piece.  That puts the value of 40,000 Delta Skymiles at $500.  The net value of the bonus is $50 after accounting for the annual fee.

This calculation does not take the 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles or the Delta Lounge access into consideration.

Summary

The Delta Reserve card from American Express is aimed at a very targeted demographic.  It is best suited for the traveling business person who values lounge access and elite status.

There is also a small subset of people who find the card useful for manufacturing elite status with Delta. Delta is one of the only airlines that allows you to earn elite status simply from credit card spend.  If you earned both spending bonuses ($30K and $60K) you would have 30,000 MQMs each year.  That is enough for Silver status on it’s own.

If you had the personal and business version of the Delta Reserve card and reached the threshold on both cards you would earn 60,000 MQMs each year which is enough for Gold status.

Outside of customers who are chasing status this card isn’t a good fit for most.  The lounge access has the same rules as the American Express Platinum card, which comes with a better earning structure.

Not allowing guests into the lounge free of charge puts this card behind similar competing cards from American and United Airlines.  The fact that it isn’t a true membership, you need to be flying Delta in order to access the lounge, also tarnishes the value some.

The annual companion pass offers some yearly value but it is highly restricted.  Only certain fare categories qualify which makes it substantially less valuable than a true buy one get one free offer.

The earning structure of the card is the same as the lower end Gold Delta Skymiles card, outside of the large spend bonuses.


CLICK HERE to compare this card with other travel rewards credit cards

 Long Term Keep or Cancel

For people who use these cards to manufacture elite status with Delta this is a long term keeper.  The lounge access and companion certificate help offset the annual fee. The only real reason to keep the card(s) is the Medallion Qualification Miles bonus at $30,0000 and $60,000 worth of spend.

For everyone else this is not a long term keeper.

Conclusion

The American Express Delta Reserve credit card is a great tool for Delta flyers looking to achieve status quicker or to bump up to the next level of status.

The card comes with a few nice perks, lounge status and a first class companion certificate.  But if lounge access is your goal you are better off getting an American Express Platinum card which comes with Delta lounge entry, a Priority Pass membership, and Centurion Lounge entry.  The Delta lounge access rules are the same for both cards.

For the casual flyer, or someone who isn’t loyal to Delta, this card doesn’t make much sense.  The value from the sign up bonus is almost entirely wiped out by the annual fee. The Delta Reserve’s earning structure is the same as cheaper versions in the Delta lineup, like the Delta Gold Skymiles credit card.

 


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