Review: The Delta Reserve card is best for loyalists who take full advantage of the lounge, or for Delta flyers who have another Amex

Delta Reserve 4x3

  • The
    Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
     is currently
    offering 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification
    Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 within the first three months.
    You can also earn 20,000 additional bonus miles after you renew
    your card after the first year.
  • This welcome bonus is only available until April 1.
  • One big benefit of this card is the Delta Sky Club
    access you receive. However, you’ll only be able to access Delta
    airport lounges when you’re flying with the airline.
  • The Delta Reserve is really for people who fly
    regularly with Delta and take advantage of its Sky Clubs. If that’s
    not you, make sure to consider other co-branded Delta credit cards
    before you consider this one.
  • Also consider American Express Membership Rewards cards
    like the
    American Express® Gold Card
    or the
    Platinum Card® from American Express
    that might offer bigger
    welcome bonuses or more lucrative earning categories.
  • See
    Business Insider’s picks for the best rewards credit cards

The Delta SkyMiles program remains popular with consumers, and
that’s especially true for those who live near airports where Delta
dominates all others, such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport in Georgia or the Minneapolis-Saint Paul
International Airport in Minnesota.

No matter where you live, Delta and its partner airlines can
probably get you where you want to go; they fly to over 1,000
around the globe. Delta also offers a dynamic airline loyalty
program that can help you score free flights nearly worldwide,
either by flying with the airline or earning rewards with a

travel credit card

Delta Reserve card
is one such card that lets you earn miles in
this program based on your spending. The annual fee is high, but
you’ll get access to Delta Sky Clubs and
Amex Centurion lounges
worldwide any time you fly with the

If you fly with Delta more than others, it may be worth
considering the Delta Reserve. Keep reading to learn more about
this card’s benefits, how it works, and other cards to

Delta Reserve card details

Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and
20,000 MQMs toward elite status after you spend $5,000 within three
months of account opening. You’ll also earn 20,000 more bonus miles
when you renew your credit card after the first year. This
offer is available until April 1.

Earning structure: Earn 3 miles per dollar
spent on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on
everything else

Lounge benefit: Get free access to Delta Sky
Clubs and Amex Centurion lounges when you fly Delta Air Lines

Free bag benefit: Get your first checked bag
for free and Main Cabin 1 priority boarding

Annual fee: $550

The Delta Reserve is best when you pair it with another Amex
Membership Rewards card

Earning 3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases and 1
mile per dollar spent on other purchases isn’t a show-stopping
payout, and especially when you consider this card’s high annual
fee of $550 a year.

With that in mind, there’s a way to get more from the
Delta Reserve
: by pairing it with another. You may want to sign
up for the Delta Reserve and pair it with an
American Express Membership Rewards card
that lets you transfer
points to Delta, such as the
Amex Gold card
or the
Amex Platinum card

With the
Amex Gold card
, for example, you earn 4x points on dining
worldwide and on up to $25,000 spent at US supermarkets each year
(then 1x). You also earn 3x points on airfare booked directly
through the airline or through You could use the
Amex Gold Card to earn bonus points in these categories all year
long, then transfer them to your Delta SkyMiles account once you
were ready.

The welcome offer includes both bonus miles and MQMs

At the moment, the
Delta Reserve card
gives you 80,000 bonus miles when you spend
$5,000 on your new credit card within three months. You also earn
Medallion Qualification Miles
(MQMs) toward elite status for
reaching this threshold, which can help if you’re pursuing elite
status already or just need a “push” to get over the edge. As an
added bonus, you’ll get 20,000 more bonus miles when you renew your
card after the first year.

Here’s the bad news: Delta SkyMiles doesn’t offer a rewards
chart and, quite frankly, award prices are all over the board. You
can frequently find round-trip domestic flights for as little as
25,000 miles, but this can vary by the dates you want to fly. Also
note that booking Delta premium cabins, including Delta One
international flights, can set you back hundreds of thousands of
miles round-trip.

If you want to stretch your miles, however, make sure to keep
your eye out for
Delta SkyMiles Deals
. These deals change all the time, but they
always let you book select itineraries on select dates for a lot
fewer miles than you would normally pay.

Delta does offer a few additional ways to redeem miles other
than for flights as well. You can cash them in for vacation
packages, experiences, shopping, and magazines, for example.

The biggest benefit of the Reserve is Delta Sky Club membership

The biggest benefit the Delta Reserve offers is
membership for Delta Sky Clubs worldwide
, but there’s a catch.
Where this card once let you enter Sky Clubs regardless of which
airline you were flying with that day, you can now only use this
benefit when you’re flying Delta.

This makes this perk a lot less attractive if you’re someone who
shops airfare to find the best deals and you’re not necessarily
loyal to Delta. At least Delta and Amex added access to Amex
Centurion lounges along with Sky Clubs (also only when you’re
flying Delta).

Other cardholder benefits you’ll receive include:

  • Your first checked bag free
  • Main Cabin 1 priority boarding
  • 20% off in-flight purchases made with your credit card
  • Baggage insurance coverage
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance

You’ll also qualify for a companion certificate good for a
domestic first class, Delta Comfort+, or main cabin flight when you
renew your card and pay government taxes and fees. To qualify for
this certificate, however, you have to pay for the initial ticket
with cash.

While paying $550 for a credit card is a lot, keep in mind that
a regular membership for Delta Sky Clubs starts at $545. If you’re
going to pay for Delta Sky Club access anyway, then this card’s
annual fee starts making a lot more sense. If you aren’t going to
fly regularly with Delta and take advantage of this perk, the
Reserve might not be the card for you.

Leveraging MQMs and ‘Status Boost’ to earn elite status

If you’re curious why you should care about
Medallion Qualification Miles
, or MQMs, the answer is simple.
These “miles” are collected in order to reach elite status with
Delta, which could help you score perks like free upgrades and free
preferred seats. Further, MQMs are normally awarded to frequent
flyers based on the number of miles they actually fly.

The current welcome bonus on this card comes with 20,000 MQMs,
but you should also note that the
Delta Reserve
comes with a “Status Boost” feature that lets you
earn even more MQMs for reaching spending thresholds with your
credit card. Specifically, you can earn 15,000 more MQMs up to four
times per year for each $30,000 you spend on your card, up to a
limit of $120,000.

Interestingly, you only need 25,000 MQMs and $3,000 Medallion
Qualification Dollars (MQDs; dollars spent with the airline) in
order to reach Silver status with Delta. You can also earn a MQD
waiver (and skip over that requirement) if you make at least
$25,000 in purchases on the
Delta Reserve card
within a calendar year.

What does this mean? Most importantly, this means you can earn
elite status with Delta with the Reserve card without flying a
single mile with the airline.

On top of the 20,000 MQMs you earn in your welcome bonus, you
can earn another 15,000 MQMs for spending $30,000 on your card
within a calendar year. This would afford you Silver Medallion
status with the airline since you would also earn the MQD Waiver at
this point.

If you wanted to achieve Gold Medallion status with Delta
through credit card spending alone during your first year as a
cardholder, you would need to spend $60,000 on your card. At that
point, you’d have earned 20,000 MQMs in your welcome bonus and
30,000 more MQMs through the first two tiers of Status Boost for a
total of 50,000 MQMs. You would also earn the MQD waiver with that
rate of spending, so you would reach all the requirements for Gold
Medallion status.

here to learn more about the Delta Reserve card »
How the
Delta Reserve compares to other Delta credit cards

Delta Reserve
isn’t the only co-branded airline credit card
that lets you earn miles in the Delta SkyMiles program. There are
several others to consider, all of which come with a lower annual

Here’s how each of these cards compares to the Delta Reserve

Gold, Platinum, or Reserve Delta Comparison Chart

As you can see, the welcome bonus on the
Delta Reserve
isn’t much higher than the other cards that earn
Delta SkyMiles. If you don’t fly often enough to get a lot of value
out of the Delta Sky Club membership, you may want to consider one
of these lower-cost options.

Also consider American Express Membership Rewards cards

As we mentioned already, you should also consider whether you
might be better off with a credit card that earns rewards in the
American Express Membership Rewards program. This could be the

Platinum Card from American Express
, the
Amex Gold card
, or even the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit
Card from American Express.

With a credit card that earns American Express Membership
Rewards points, you could rack up points and transfer them to the
Delta SkyMiles program later on, once you were ready. Also note
that American
Express Membership Rewards credit cards
tend to offer higher
earning rates in popular categories, which could help you rack up
points faster.

Delta Reserve Comparisson Chart
If you’re interested in the
Delta Reserve American Express card
, now is an ideal time to
apply, as it’s offering an elevated welcome bonus that can score
you up to 100,000 miles, plus 20,000 MQMs toward Delta elite
status. Keep the April 1 offer-end date in mind — the standard
welcome bonus is much lower, so you don’t want to miss out.

Earn up to 100,000 miles:
Click here to learn more about the Delta Reserve »

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Review: The Delta Reserve card is best for loyalists who take full advantage of the lounge, or for Delta flyers who have another Amex