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$450 a year? Delta Reserve Card Review & Benefits

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This article was last updated Apr 07, 2015, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Alternatives to the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

The Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express is a decent choice if you value both SkyClub access and the ability to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles. But there are other options for each of those benefits separately that can save you money if you don’t need both features:

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Lounge Access

amexplat170 If you just want the card for Delta SkyClub access, you could be better off getting The Platinum Card® from American Express. The annual fee is higher ($550), but you get access to many more lounges.

That’s because The Platinum Card® from American Express also lets you use American Express’ Global Lounge Collection, which includes its Centurion Lounges, where you’ll find high quality wines, full hot meal options, and an experience like no other airport lounge you’ve seen in the U.S.

They’re currently at several airports, including New York – La Guardia, San Francisco, Dallas / Fort Worth, Miami and Seattle.

In addition, you can request a Priority Pass membership card which gives you access to more than 800 other lounges worldwide for you and two guests. The lounges won’t help you much for basic domestic travel, but they are really useful for international travel.

The Platinum Card® from American Express also has a $200 annual airline fee credit which can help offset the $550 annual fee, and makes it a really compelling alternative to the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.

The credit can be used for things like inflight purchases, change fees, bag fees, or upgrades. But it can’t be used to cover the cost of plane tickets. Some people have luck buying airline gift certificates online and getting those reimbursed.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express: Medallion Qualifying Miles

deltaplatinum170If you want Medallion Qualification Miles and don’t want to pay $450 a year consider the $195 a year Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.

It earns a maximum of 20,000 MQMs a year, but you have to spend less to get them. Just $25,000 in spending during a calendar year earns you 10,000 MQMs and $50,000 in spending earns you another 10,000 MQMs plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles. Terms apply.

Compare that to the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express which earns you 15,000 MQMs after $30,000 in spending and another 15,000 after $60,000 in spending.

So if you’re just on the borderline of needing MQMs to reach your next Medallion status level this could be a better deal.

And if you’re really into earning MQMs and can spend a lot on your card, you could consider carrying both the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express since Amex lets you earn separate boosts from each card if you meet the annual spending requirements for each.

Read our Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express review

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express: Faster SkyMiles earning

If you just want the fastest route to earning Delta SkyMiles from your ongoing spending, there’s a good chance The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express will be your best bet.

That’s because it earns a 50% point bonus every billing period you use the card 30 times or more. And it offers 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases.. So in the months you qualify for the bonus you’ll get 1.5x points on your base spending, 3x on gas, and 4.5x on groceries.

That’s a lot better than the 1 mile per dollar of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.

You could end up earning 1.5 miles per dollar with the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express if you spend exactly $30,000 or $60,000 on it each year. That’s because you earn 15,000 miles at each of those thresholds, which works out to about 1.5 miles per dollar in earning.

Other card benefits

Priority boarding. You get to board with priority, though be aware you won’t be in the very first zone to board. Instead, you’ll board after First Class and Delta’s most frequent fliers.

First checked bag free. You can save the $25 each way first checked bag fee for you and up to 9 people in the same reservation. Just make sure your reservation has your SkyMiles account number listed and the benefit will apply, so you don’t need to use the card to purchase the ticket. This benefit only works when your first flight is operated by Delta or Delta Connections (partners don’t waive the bag fee).

In-flight purchase discount. You get 20% off in flight purchases when you use your card, but note that WiFi purchases don’t count as they’re not handled by Delta.

Trip delay / cancellation insurance. Unfortunately, there is no trip delay or cancellation coverage with this card. Many cards from Chase and Citibank do offer the coverage.

Auto rental collision damage. You’re covered for damage to vehicles worth up to $75,000 brand new, which is a step up from the $50,000 in coverage that’s standard with many American Express cards. But the coverage is secondary to your own policy for U.S. rentals, and for international rentals you’re not covered in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand.

Upgrade priority. If you are a Medallion member, you will have priority on the upgrade list over those with the same Medallion status who do not hold a Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.

20% discount on in-flight purchases. Save 20% on food, beverage and entertainment purchases made in-flight with your card. Excludes duty free purchases.

‘Pay with miles’ option. Use your card to use miles as cash toward flight purchases – one mile is worth $0.01 to flights, so you can get for example $100 in savings for 10,000 miles.

Baggage insurance. This is an enhancement to the benefits not found with the base Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. You get $500 in reimbursement for damage to or loss of checked baggage when you use the card to pay for the flight in full. Coverage also applies to your spouse / domestic partner and dependent children under 23 years old. There is a $250 maximum benefit for high risk items like jewelry, sporting equipment, photo equipment, and computers.

Purchase protection. If a purchase you make on the card is stolen or damaged within 90 days of the purchase, you can receive up to $10,000 for any one incident, and up to $50,000 for all incidents in a year. You must file a claim within 60 days of the incident.

Return protection. If you try to return a designated item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express may refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item, excluding shipping and handling, and up to a maximum of $1,000 annually per Cardmember Account.

Exclusions include animals and living plants; one-of-a-kind items (including antiques, artwork, and furs); limited edition items; going-out-of-business sale items; consumable or perishable items with limited life spans (such as perfume, light bulbs, non-rechargeable batteries); jewelry (including, but not limited to, loose gems, precious stones, metals, and pearls); watches; services and additional costs (such as installation charges, warranties, shipping, or memberships); rare and precious coins; used, altered, rebuilt and refurbished items; custom-built items, cellular phones; pagers; compact discs; digital video discs; mini discs; audiotapes; videotapes; computer software; firmware (such as console games, Nintendo, etc.); maps; books of any kind; health care items (such as blood pressure machines and diabetes equipment); formal wear; tickets of any kind; motorized vehicles (such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, or airplanes) and their parts; land and buildings; firearms; ammunition; negotiable instruments (such as promissory notes, stamps and travelers checks); cash and its equivalent; and items permanently affixed to home, office, vehicles, etc., (such as garage door openers, car alarms).

Extended warranty. American Express will extend a warranty for up to one additional year, for a maximum of five years of total warranty coverage. Claims can have a value of up to $10,000 with up to $50,000 in losses per year.

Global assist hotline. 1-800-333-AMEX gives you access to medical, legal, and travel information. Use it for help with lost luggage, finding a doctor, and more. While there is no charge for advice, any services referred will incur a charge.

Roadside assistance. This program provides the following Roadside Assistance services: towing of up to 10 miles, winching, jump starts, flat tire change when spare is available, lockout service when key is in vehicle and delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel. The estimated value is $50 per service. Coverage for these services is provided up to 4 times per calendar year. Coverage is available in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, regardless of mileage from primary residence. These services are available when the Cardmember is present with the vehicle, so you don’t for example need to pay for the rental card with your card to be eligible, and you can also use with in your personal vehicle. Towing beyond 10 miles will be charged at $3 per additional mile.

Car rental loss and damage insurance reimburses a Cardmember for payments for damage to or theft of a Rental Auto that the Cardmember is required to make, up to the lesser of: 1) the actual cost to repair the Rental Auto, 2) the wholesale Book value minus salvage and depreciation costs, or 3) the purchase invoice price of the Rental Auto minus salvage and depreciation costs.

The coverage also reimburses the Cardmember for reasonable charges (those charges incurred at the closest facility that are usual and customary in the vicinity in which the loss or disablement took place) imposed by the Rental Company, such as towing or storage and Loss of Use.

Also includes coverage for up to $5,000 in medical expenses should an accident occur in the vehicle (the Gold and Platinum SkyMiles cards don’t offer this).

Travel accident insurance. If you or your spouse / domestic partner, or child under 23 dies, is dismembered, or loses sight during travel where the transportation is paid in full using the American Express card, you will be eligible for up to $500,000 in coverage (basic American Express cards usually have up to $100,000 in coverage). Note that tickets using frequent flyer miles where you use the card to pay for taxes and fees are not covered. However tickets using Membership Rewards points directly to book via American Express Travel are eligible.

What’s the catch of the companion ticket?

You can use the companion ticket anywhere in the lower U.S. 48 Delta flies. You buy one ticket in cash, and just pay the taxes and fees on the second. We talk about the details here, but the key catches are these:

You need to buy your ticket at least 21 days in advance, and for First Class it can only be on flights that have ‘A’ or ‘I’ inventory available. That’s not always available, so you may have to be flexible, but generally if you plan ahead you’ll find options.

For Economy Class you need seats in ‘L,’ ‘U,’ or ‘T’ class, which again tends to be available if you plan ahead.

You can only book using Delta.com, but they have a special place on the site that lets you look just for flights that are eligible for companion ticket travel.

Do authorized users get SkyClub access?

American Express lets you add an authorized user to your account in two ways:

  • One, with no fee gives the authorized user a Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express with no annual fee. That card has no SkyClub access privileges, but earns miles for purchases in your SkyMiles account.
  • The second option is to pay an extra $170 a year for an authorized user to get a Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express. That will give your authorized user access to the SkyClubs anytime, even when you’re not traveling.

The discounted price for an additional authorized user is a nice perk that saves your spouse or other authorized user from paying the full $450 fee to get lounge access.


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