Delta SkyMiles Reserve review 2021: Is it worth it? | finder.com
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Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card review

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The most premium Delta card with a $550 annual fee and benefits to match the cost.

finder.com’s rating: 4.3 / 5

★★★★★

A rewards card for big spenders and hardcore Delta flyers.

  • Get this card if you’re a regular Delta flyer who wants the best Delta benefits.
  • Pick something else if you want to pay a lower annual fee.
  • Apply for this card with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

80,000

Miles as welcome offer

Up to 3x

Miles

$550

Annual fee

15.74% to 24.74%

Purchase APR (variable)

Details

Annual fee$550
Welcome Offer80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards3x miles on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
Purchase APR15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APRN/A
Recommended minimum credit score670
IssuerAmerican Express

Expert review

Kliment Dukovski

Review by


Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.

Expert review

The recently refreshed Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is the flagship card from Delta. At $550 a year, it’s not cheap. You might also wish it offered more than 3x miles on eligible Delta purchases, a rate you’ll find with lower-priced Delta cards.

However, there’s tremendous value in the card’s other perks, which notably include complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs and Centurion lounges, and an annual companion certificate valid for Domestic First Class flights. Combined, these benefits can provide over $2,200 of value each year. Until April 28, 2021, this card also offers a hefty 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQM welcome offer, which can easily net you several flights and have you on your way to the next tier of Delta’s loyalty program.

How to apply for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card?

  1. Click Apply now.
  2. Complete the application form.
  3. Review the details in your application and submit it.

How long will it take to get my Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card?

American Express automates its online conditional approval, which means you could see a decision on your application in minutes. If further verification is needed, it could take a few business days up to a few weeks to get a decision.

After approval, you should receive your new card by mail within 10 business days.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card benefits

How much are SkyMiles® worth?

The value of SkyMiles® varies by the product or service you redeem them for. Here’s an example of redemption values from the provider website at the time of writing:

  • Redeem 35,700 miles for a $250 Delta gift card — or 0.70 cents per mile.
  • Redeem 26,900 miles for a two-piece Samsonite Tessera 2 set valued at $129 — or 0.47 cents per mile.
  • Redeem 72,800 miles for an iPad 9.7″ valued at $329 — or 0.45 cents per mile.
  • Redeem 10,000 miles for round-trip domestic fares starting at $130 — or 1.30 cents per mile.
  • Welcome offer. Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Putting the great bonus miles aside, the MQMs also offer a solid boost if you’re aiming for Medallion Status.
  • Earn miles. Delta purchases earn you 3x miles, and you’ll earn 1x miles for every other purchase. Redeem miles for flights, seat upgrades, gift cards, shopping and more.

What are Medallion Qualification Miles?

Medallion Qualification Miles are a way to earn higher Medallion tiers in the Delta SkyMiles® Loyalty Program. You generally earn 1 MQM for each mile in your trip with Delta and its partners, with higher MQM rewards in first and business class.

You can also achieve higher Medallion tiers by collecting Medallion Qualification Segments and Medallion Qualification Dollars.

  • Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access. Get complimentary access to all Delta Sky Clubs and two one-time guest passes after opening your account and each year you renew. You’ll get discounted access of $39 for up to two guests after using the one-time passes. Single-visit passes were once $59 each, so if you visit Delta Sky Clubs once a month, you effectively save $708 a year with this perk. And new to the Reserve card’s refresh is the addition of complimentary Centurion lounge access if you book your flight with your Delta card.
  • Companion certificate. Each year you renew your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you receive a domestic first-class or main-cabin round-trip companion certificate. This allows you to take a guest on a first-class or main cabin round-trip domestic flight for just the cost of taxes and fees. The companion certificate could easily offset the card’s annual fee.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card companion certificate: A stellar travel benefit

The card’s companion certificate is especially valuable if redeemed for a domestic first-class flight. Our March 2019 analysis finds it could be worth over $1,000, which easily covers the card’s annual fee.

This isn’t the only Delta card with a companion certificate. The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card offers one too, albeit only for domestic Main Cabin round-trip flights.

  • First checked bag free. Save up to $60 round-trip with your card, which waives fees for your first checked bag. This benefit applies to up to nine passengers traveling on your reservation.
  • Status boost. Spend $30,000 on purchases in a calendar year and get 15,000 MQMs. You’ll earn this bonus up to four times each year, once for every $30,000 you spend. For big spenders looking to reach higher Medallion Status tiers, this is the way to go. Note that Delta used to offer bonus miles in addition to MQMs, but this was removed with the card’s refresh.
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Compare Delta Reserve to similar credit cards

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

★★★★★

Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5

Rates & fees
Go to site

Minimum credit score

670

Annual fee

$550

Purchase APR

15.74% to 24.74% variable

Balance transfer APR

N/A

Rewards

3x miles on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases

Welcome offer

80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

★★★★★

Finder Rating: 4 / 5

Rates & fees
Go to site

Minimum credit score

670

Annual fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)

Purchase APR

15.74% to 24.74% variable

Balance transfer APR

N/A

Rewards

2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases

Welcome offer

70,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months

Is the annual fee worth it?

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is priced at a premium: $550 a year. But if you’re a frequent Delta flyer and you like traveling in style, the card’s value could far outweigh the cost.

Accelerated rewards on Delta purchases

To break even on the annual fee with rewards alone, you’ll need 39,286 miles. This is based on our March 2021 analysis that values each Delta mile at 1.4 cents each.

You can earn these miles by spending:

  • $13,096 on Delta purchases.
  • $39,286 on other eligible purchases.

Valuable welcome offer

According to our March 2021 valuation, 80,000 miles are worth $880 — an excellent value. That’s similar to what you’ll earn with many premium cards.

Attractive travel benefits

The following benefits could give you a stellar annual value of more than $2,321:

BenefitEstimated annual value
Complimentary Delta Sky Club access$545
Annual companion certificate$1,261
First checked bag free$300
Main Cabin 1 priority boarding$150
In-flight savings$40
Global Entry/TSA Pre✓® application fee credit$25

Note this is a conservative estimate, as it doesn’t include benefits like access to the Centurion lounge, Status Boost MQMs, travel insurance and purchase protection.

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You’ll also like …

  • Concierge service. As a cardholder, you get access to a service that can help you arrange dining, get information about an area you’re traveling to or set up select events.
  • TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry statement credit. New to the Delta Reserve is an application fee statement credit toward TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry. While it was strange the Delta Reserve didn’t have this benefit sooner, its addition is appreciated.
  • Priority boarding. Get on your plane and settle in to your seat earlier with Main Cabin 1 priority boarding.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Use your card internationally while traveling without the typical 3% transaction fee other cards charge.
  • In-flight savings. Get 20% back in statement credit when you use your card to pay for in-flight food, beverages and audio headsets.
  • Global assistance. Get access to medical, legal, financial and other emergency services when traveling more than 100 miles from home.
  • Purchase protection. Get a refund on eligible purchases, even if a merchant won’t accept it back, and get protection against damage or theft for your phone or other eligible items.
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You’ll find gems among the Delta Sky Clubs

You’ll find superb lounges in Delta Sky Club’s portfolio. Newer lounges include those at Newark Liberty International Airport and Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. Consider visiting the Sky Club at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which comes with an open-air Sky Deck.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Sky Deck

While Delta sold single-visit passes, entry to the Delta Sky Club was $59. With the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you get complimentary access.

What to watch out for

  • Annual fee. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with an annual fee of $550.
  • High APR on purchases. All Delta cards come with relatively high APRs on purchases when compared with other American Express cards. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with a 15.74% to 24.74% variable APR, while the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card comes with an 12.99% to 23.99% variable APR.
  • Not widely accepted overseas. American Express is not as widely accepted outside the States as Visa or Mastercard is, which could limit your payment options when traveling abroad.
  • Steep penalties for late payments. Making late or returned payments could cost you a penalty APR as high as 29.24% variable. You may also incur late and returned payment fees of up to $40.
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What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you must be:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • A US resident.

Prepare to provide such information as your:

  • Name and address.
  • Email and phone number.
  • Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Annual income and income sources.

What credit score do I need?

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a premium card, which means you’ll have a better chance of approval if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher. Applying with a higher credit score will potentially get you a larger credit line and a lower APR on purchases.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card reviews and complaints

Customers say they love the opportunity to boost miles, the card’s companion certificate and all the other airline rewards. Still, you’ll find complaints online about ultimately low credit limits, which customers say made reaching Medallion Status difficult. At least one Redditor warns that it’s only great if you spend a lot, given its steep annual fee.

The American Express Company has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 1948 and earns an overall A+ rating as of October 2020. However, 90% of its reviews are negative and it has nearly 3,400 customer complaints. Amex cardholders in general complain of rude customer service reps, missing statement credit and issues disputing charges.

The company earns a Trustpilot score of 2 out of 5 as of October 2020. Many negative reviews cite unhelpful customer service and inflexible company policies. Positive reviews say the company employs pleasant customer service representatives. Overall, your mileage may vary with American Express customer support.

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I got the card. Now what?

  • Set up autopay. Register for an online account or download the Amex mobile app to pay online. Consider setting up automatic payments, so that you don’t accidentally miss a statement date.
  • Avoid paying interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of 25 days to pay your balance. Pay on time to avoid any high penalty APR or fees.
  • Avoid paying fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $40. Cash advances also come with fees.
  • Enroll with ShopRunner. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is designed for the loyal Delta flyer. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get shopping perks. ShopRunner upgrades orders through more than 100 online retailers to free two-day shipping. If you don’t like what you get, ship it back for free.
  • Customer support. Call the American Express customer service at 1-800-528-4800 or chat online with a rep.
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How do I redeem miles from the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card?

After the end of each month, you’ll see your miles in your Delta SkyMiles account within eight to 12 weeks. Log in to this account to redeem your rewards.

Redeem miles for rewards such as:

  • Delta flights.
  • Delta Vacations, Delta Private Jets and SkyMiles Experiences.
  • Delta Sky Club membership.
  • Flight upgrades, Delta products and premium beverages.
  • Partner flights.
  • Hotel stays.
  • Rental cars.
  • Merchandise.
  • Gift, transfer or donate miles.

You can find great deals on Delta flights — for example, on Main Cabin flights to Canada and Delta One international flights.

Also, keep an eye out for high-value partner flights. Delta is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, and it partners with non-alliance carriers like WestJet and Virgin Atlantic.

    Bottom line

    Travelers who are loyal to Delta should find the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card more than adequate. It comes with a generous welcome offer, accelerated earnings toward SkyMiles Medallion Status and travel perks like discounted Delta Sky Club access and a free companion certificate annually.

    But if you spend more than $30,000 on purchases a year, you might get even higher status with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.

    Frequently asked questions

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    Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

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    Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

    Images: AmericanExpress.com

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