Who Is the Delta Reserve Credit Card From American Express Good For?
Delta has gotten its share of groans in recent years from points and miles enthusiasts for the difficulty involved in redeeming Delta miles, but now the airline has cleaned up the long-standing issues with its website and pledged to make more award seats available even at the lowest redemption level.
Thanks to its position as part of the Air France-KLM-Delta conglomerate and its partnership with Virgin Atlantic, Delta SkyMiles not only open a lot of boarding doors, but they typically open to quite nice ones. The Delta Reserve card is the way to make sure that’s the case.
The high annual fee of $450 gets you free access to Delta Sky Club (similar to lounge access from the United Club Card and the Citi/AAdvantage Executive Card) and a big boost on the way to Delta status with an annual gift of qualifying miles.
15.49%- 19.49% depending on credit worthiness
The Delta Reserve card offers a bonus of 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and 10,000 SkyMiles after the first use of the card, which is unusual for one of these high-fee, perk-loaded cards. MQMs can go a long way, so this is a very lucrative bonus.
- 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases
- 1 mile per dollar on everything else
What Do Your Miles Get You?
Some of the best ways to use Delta miles are on its most closely affiliated partners: Virgin Atlantic, which Delta is now a majority owner of, and Air France KLM, which are part of the same umbrella company as Delta.
Delta miles will also get you to most places in the world, thanks to its membership in the SkyTeam alliance. You can book flights on: Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, AeroMexico, AirEuropa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, CSA Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and XiamenAir.
Delta also has partnerships with select regional carriers and nonalliance carriers to fill in the gaps: Alaska Airlines, GOL, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Great Lakes Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui.
Delta SkyMiles can be used for five different buckets of award redemptions, though the higher-priced awards do not carry additional perks like American Airlines AAnyTime awards. Most Delta awards, particularly those on Delta-operated flights, can be booked as Cash + Miles awards, with part of the payment in SkyMiles and the remainder in cash.
Delta miles can also be used to book Round the World Tickets with the SkyTeam alliance.
- Sky Club access for member and up to two guests
- 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $30,000 in one calendar year, and an additional 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $60,000 in one calendar year
- Annual companion certificate upon card renewal for first class or economy class domestic travel
- Free checked bag on Delta flights for member and up to nine individuals on the same reservation
- Priority boarding on Delta flights
- 20 percent off in-flight purchases on Delta flights
- No foreign transaction fees
- Flights on almost all partners are available for booking online
- Cancellations must be made more than 72 hours before departure to redeposit miles
- Award pricing is ad hoc according to demand, as Delta does not publish award charts
How Far Do Your Points Dollars Go?
Delta has been known historically for not having many flights available at the lowest award level, and since it no longer publishes award charts, it’s difficult to determine how many points are truly required for award flights, particularly on the plethora of partners now available for booking online.
A recent search for flights between New York and Paris (a very common route for partner Air France) showed that most awards are still relatively inexpensively priced, with fares rising steeply on the weekends, as is also the case with cash fares.
You’ll typically get from 1.2 to 1.4 cents per mile on this route in economy and 5 cents per mile in first class. That’s an especially good value, considering the high quality of Air France’ premium cabins.
Additional Cardholder Benefits:
- Travel concierge
- Baggage insurance
- Roadside travel assistance
- Car rental loss and damage insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Extended warranty
- Return protection