Here’s everything you need to know about the Delta Reserve card…
Here are the current offers for both the consumer and business versions of the Delta Reserve card:
Should you apply?
Many cards are worth earning for the welcome bonus offer alone. In this case, though, it’s important to consider the card’s $550 annual fee which is not waived the first year. I recommend signing up for this card only if you highly value the card’s perks, or if you are counting on using the card’s MQM offer and/or big-spend bonus to earn or retain Delta elite status.
If you’re primarily interested in earning Delta SkyMiles, then consider signing up for one of the less expensive Delta cards:
Are you eligible?
In most cases with Amex, if you’ve had the same card before, you can’t earn a welcome bonus offer when applying. Consider, though, that each variation of Delta card is considered a different product. Over time, it’s possible for you to earn the welcome bonus offer on all of the following cards since each one is a separate product:
|Card Offer Mini|
Here are additional Amex application tips:
Amex Application Tips
Check application status here.
How to meet minimum spend requirements
Eligible purchases to meet the Threshold Amount do NOT include fees or interest charges, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, purchases of gift cards, person-to-person payments, or purchases of other cash equivalents.That said, many techniques for meeting minimum spend are perfectly fine. Here are some techniques that are safe for meeting Amex minimum spend requirements (click each link for more information):
- Domestic first class companion certificate (subject to taxes & fees) each year upon card renewal. See: Delta companion certificates quick guide.
- Delta SkyClub access when flying Delta. Pictured above is the Delta SkyClub at Washington National (DCA).
- 2 Delta SkyClub one-time guest passes per year
- Amex Centurion Lounge access when flying Delta
- Complimentary upgrades: Non-elite cardholders get on the free upgrade list behind any elite members traveling on the same flights.
- 15% off award bookings: Cardholders get 15% off the mileage price of an award ticket when the entire itinerary is on Delta or Delta Connection.
- Upgrade Priority: Get upgraded ahead of other passengers within the same Medallion tier and fare class grouping
- $100 Global Entry fee credit every 4 years (or 4.5 years for TSA Precheck)
- Priority boarding
- First checked bag free.
- 20% Back on In-Flight Purchases
Elite Status Boosts
Amex shows your progress towards these status boosts when you log into the American Express website to view your account:
Elite Status Boosts are giftable... Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) earned from high spend on the Delta Reserve card can be applied to the primary cardholder's Delta account or they can be gifted to any other Delta SkyMiles member. When each Status Boost is reached, the cardholder receives an email congratulating them and offering 30 days to gift the 15,000 MQMs to someone else. If you do not gift the MQMs within 30 days, the MQMs automatically go to the primary cardholder. Note too that the 15,000 MQMs cannot be split up. You must keep all 15,000 MQMs or gift all 15,000 to a friend. The Delta Platinum card does not offer the option to gift Status Boost MQMs.
The ability to gift Status Boost MQMs makes it possible to play "two player mode" towards seeking elite status. For example, a couple could each have their own Delta Reserve card and swap back and forth each year who to assign all of the MQMs to. As an extreme example, assume that the couple spends $120,000 on each card every year (a total of $240,000 spend). In that case, the couple would collectively earn 120,000 MQMs from Status Boosts, and could assign all 120,000 MQMs to one person. This would put that person way above Platinum status with 45,000 MQMs rolling over to the next year. And that next year, the MQMs could be assigned to the other person, and so on.
For more details about earning Delta elite status from spend, see these posts:
- Premium Global Assist Hotline: The most valuable part of this benefit is emergency medical evacuation. Other benefits of the hotline include: customs info, inoculation info, passport/visa info, emergency translation, lost item & lost bag search. To use this service, call: 1-800-345-AMEX (2639). More details can be found here.
- Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance: Up to $10K per trip / $20K per year. You must pay in-part for your trip with your Delta Reserve card, but it is OK if the rest of the payment is from frequent flyer miles and/or gift cards. Round-trip travel is required, but it is OK if multiple separate one-way tickets make up the round-trip. Details here.
- Trip Delay Insurance: Coverage kicks in after a 6 hour delay. Details here.
- Baggage Insurance: Up to $500 per person for checked luggage, and up to $1,250 per person for carry-ons. Must pay transportation in full with your card to be covered. Details here.
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: Secondary car rental insurance. Must pay for rental in-full with card. Details here.
- Return protection: Limited to 90 days from purchase, up to $300 per item and up to a maximum of $1,000 per Card Member account per calendar year based on the date of purchase.
- Extended warranty: Up to 1 extra year.
- Purchase protection: Covers damage, loss, or theft up to 90 days after purchase. Details here.
- Cell Phone Protection
- Coverage includes phones that are stolen or damaged.
- Cracked screens are covered.
- Max $800 per claim or $1,600 per 12 month period.
- A $50 deductible applies to each claim.
- “You must charge your monthly Eligible Cellular Wireless Telephone bill to your Eligible Card Account.” (interestingly, the terms do not say that you must pay in full each month, but maybe that’s implied?)
- Policy details can be found here.
There are few ways to earn Delta SkyMiles with this card:
Welcome Bonus Offer
Obviously, if eligible, you can earn miles by successfully applying up for this card and meeting the minimum spend requirements:
Welcome Bonus Offer MQMs are not giftable: Note that, unlike Status Boosts, when the welcome bonus offer includes the chance to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), those MQMs are not giftable. The MQMs automatically get assigned to the primary cardholder’s Delta account.
The refer-a-friend offer shown above for the Delta Platinum card was in effect when this post was first written. Offers can and do change over time. Consider this only an example of the type of offer you may find.
By logging into your American Express account, you should be able to find an offer to earn miles when referring friends. It's often the case, but not always, that your friends can get bigger bonuses through your referral link than through a public offer.
Note that your friends can use your referral link to apply for any Delta card. They are not limited to the one that you have. For example, a friend can use your Delta Gold or Delta Platinum friend-link to apply for the Delta Reserve card. Similarly, a Delta Reserve referral link can be used to apply for the Delta Gold or Delta Platinum card. Regardless of which Delta card they apply for, you will earn a referral bonus if they are approved.
The Delta Reserve card doesn’t have any great way to earn redeemable miles through spend. For most spend, you will earn only 1 mile per dollar. With spend on Delta, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar.
The business version of the Delta Reserve card does offer a way to earn 1.5 miles per dollar for spend, but only after you spend $150K in a calendar year. For the rest of that calendar year you’ll earn 1.5X miles per dollar on all eligible purchases (except for Delta purchases which continue to earn 3X).
You don’t need a Delta credit card to redeem Delta miles for award flights, but there are a couple of features that require having a Delta credit card: 15% discount and Pay with miles…
TakeOff 15 (15% Discount on Award Flights)
We did some research to see whether Delta simply increased award prices for those without credit cards, but found instead that this is a true discount. Award prices relative to cash prices were pretty consistent before and after this feature was introduced and so we concluded that the 15% discount is real. See: No catch -- Delta’s 15% discount is real.
Pay with Miles
Delta's "Pay with Miles" feature is limited to primary cardholders of any Delta card (Blue, Gold, Platinum, or Reserve). This feature lets you pay for cash tickets in part or in full with Delta SkyMiles at a value of 1 cent per mile. You must pay in increments of 5,000 miles. Every 5,000 miles you apply decreases the ticket cost by $50. In other words, each mile is worth exactly 1 penny with this feature.
No miles earned: Flights that are paid for in this way earn full MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Dollars) and MQSs (Medallion Qualifying Segments). However, only the portion paid in cash earns redeemable SkyMiles and MQDs (Medallion Qualifying Dollars). The latter two issues reduce the value of the Pay with Miles feature.
Tip: Unless the full ticket amount is an exact multiple of $50, I recommend stopping short of paying the whole fare with miles since you'll get lower value from the last 5,000 miles. For example, if you want to use this feature and your ticket costs $228, I recommend paying 20,000 miles to decrease the cash cost to $28. Otherwise you would have to pay another 5,000 miles for that last $28 (which is a poor value).
Keep, cancel, or product change?
The decision to keep this card long term is a tough one. Yes, this card has great perks, but you can find even more perks, including SkyClub access, on the Amex Platinum card (not to be confused with the Delta Platinum card). And, unlike the Delta Reserve card, the Platinum card comes with airline fee credits and other credits to help offset the annual fee.
The biggest benefits that the Reserve card has over the Amex Platinum are the annual companion certificate, the ability to earn Delta elite status through spend, and the ability to get free upgrades if you don’t have Delta status. In other words, the Delta Reserve card makes the most sense for those who are sure to use the companion certificate towards good value each year and/or who covet Delta elite benefits. Others may do better with an Amex Platinum card or the lower priced Delta Platinum card.
One way to decide is to use our spreadsheet to compare similar cards. See: Which Ultra Premium Cards are Keepers?
Here’s a full list of Delta branded cards available in the United States:
|Card Name w Details & Review (no offer)|
If I get a reserve card and I add my spouse as an additional cardholder with a delta platinum card, if we do all our primary purchases on the platinum card and just use the reserve for Delta purchases…do the miles go to the primary cardholder account, and do the miles from the platinum card accrue per the platinum rates or the reserve rates? i.e. groceries, dining, travel, etc.
The answer to your first question is easy: yes, the miles go to the primary cardholder’s Delta account. As to the second question: I don’t know.
[…] you have a Delta Platinum or Delta Reserve card that you acquired before July 1st 2020, then you should have offers in your Amex account to […]
[…] If you’re a regular Delta flyer and you value the Delta Platinum card’s annual companion ticket and/or the ability to earn MQMs through spend, then the Platinum card probably makes sense to you. On the other hand, you might do even better with an ultra-premium Delta Reserve card. See: Delta Reserve complete guide. […]
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[…] A comprehensive Amex Delta Reserve card guide. […]
After spending $120k on the Delta Reserve can I ‘downgrade’ the card to Delta Platinum to qualify to earn more MQMs? This trick use to work in the past.
I expect so. I’m not aware of any changes that would prevent that.
I want to get 2 of the Delta cards, but on January 17, I got an Amx personal card. With a deadline of April 1, I am going to be just shy of meeting the 90 day period between applying for 2 cards. Is this a hard waiting period?
You don’t have to wait more than 5 days. “In general, you can get at most one credit card within 5 days and 2 within 90 days.”
Here something I can never find an answer to… If I have multiple LLC’s and I’ve had the Business Versions of all cards before under 1 LLC, could I technically apply and get the bonus under a new LLC for the Business Version of the card?
Not with Amex cards, no. For what its worth, Chase allows that.