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Delta Reserve Card Review: Get Sky Club Access + Companion Certificate

Last updated: October 17,2022
Originally Published: September 26,2022
by Jestan Mendame

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Among the four Delta Amex personal cards, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is the most premium card that comes with top-level benefits. It includes a companion certificate, lounge access, priority services at the airport, and a lot of Delta-specific perks that will give you an upgraded travel experience.

On top of that, the Delta Reserve Card also comes with bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), which can help you reach Medallion Status a lot faster. This means additional travel perks on top of those that you already got from your card.

If you’re someone who frequently flies with Delta and wants to use airport lounges, you might consider looking at this card. Let’s discuss more details about it below!


Read More: Premium Service & Lay Flat Seats? This Is How The Delta One Experience Feels Like!


The Delta Reserve Card comes with a complimentary Annual Companion Certificate..
The Delta Reserve Card comes with a complimentary Annual Companion Certificate (Image courtesy of Canva Pro).

Delta Reserve Card Highlights

  • Earn 95,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card in your first 6 months of card membership (Valid until November 9, 2022).

  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

  • Earn up to 60,000 MQMs with Status Boost® per year: Spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, and earn 15,000 MQMs up to four times per year.

  • Earn a Medallion Qualifying Waiver (MQD)

  • Each card anniversary year, you’ll get a companion certificate for a roundtrip domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+®, or Main Cabin flight.

  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book a Delta flight with your card.

  • Your first checked bag is free on Delta flights.

  • Priority Boarding

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

  • Travel & Buyer Protection

  • $550 annual fee (Terms Apply)

Welcome Bonus

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card gives new cardholders a welcome bonus of 95,000 Miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card in your first 6 months of card membership (Valid until November 9, 2022).

SkyMiles are valued around 1 cent to 1.1 cents apiece, so the 95k bonus is worth around $950 when redeemed through Delta. However, it can be worth more depending on how you redeem them.

The 10,000 bonus MQMs also help you reach elite status a lot faster. One of the requirements for Silver Medallion status is 25,000 MQMs, so with the card’s bonus, you’ll only need 15,000 MQMs more. With Silver status, you’ll get more benefits like bonus miles, priority services, discounted CLEAR memberships, and more.

Take note that you can only receive the bonus once, which means that if you’ve had the card in the past, you won’t be able to receive another bonus if you choose to sign up for the card again. This policy also applies to other Delta Amex cards.

Panda Tips:

Medallion Qualification Miles or MQMs are earned whenever you fly with Delta and they are used to determine your Medallion® Status. You also earn SkyMiles whenever you fly with Delta, however, these miles are used to redeem awards flights.

Earning Miles

The Delta Reserve Card’s earning categories are pretty straightforward. Cardholders will earn

  • 3 miles per dollar on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

You might be wondering why a card with such a hefty annual fee only has two reward categories. In fact, the Delta Skymiles Platinum Card, which has a lower annual fee, has more earning categories.

Well, that’s because the Delta Reserve Card wasn’t really intended to be a rewards card. Delta didn’t really feel the need to offer big bonuses because they thought that they’re already offering premium travel perks like the companion certificate, bonuses MQMs/MQDs, and access to premium lounges.

Status Boost

Apart from the bonus MQMs, you’ll get from the welcome bonus, cardholders will also have a chance to earn up to 60,000 additional MQMs per calendar year.

The bonus MQMs you’ll get depends on how much you spend on your card. Basically, you’ll earn 15,000 MQMs whenever you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.

You can do this up to four times per year which totals 60,000 MQMs. Here’s a little breakdown to clarify how Status Boost works:

  • Spending $30,000 in a calendar year to earn 15,000 MQMs
  • Spend another $30,000 in a calendar year and earn an additional 15,000 MQMs.
  • Spend another $30,000 in a calendar year and earn an additional 15,000 MQMs.
  • Spend another $30,000 in a calendar year and earn an additional 15,000 MQMs.

You’d need to spend a total of $120,000 in a calendar year to earn the maximum amount of 60,000 MQMs. If you do manage to earn all 60,000 MQMs, you’ll be eligible for Gold Status.

Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) Waiver

To earn a Delta Medallion status, you need to earn a combination of MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs/MQD Waiver (an MQD waiver acts as a substitute for your MQD requirements).

The Delta Reserve Card lets you waive your MQD requirements for Silver, Gold, or Platinum status if you spend at least $25,000 in a calendar year. To get a waiver for Diamond status, you’ll have to spend $250,000 in a calendar year.

Panda Tips:

To learn more about the difference between MQMs, MQDs, MQSs, and MQD waivers, read up on our article on understanding the Delta Medallion program.

Annual Companion Certificate

Every card anniversary, you’ll get one companion certificate for a domestic roundtrip flight. This benefit easily justifies the card’s expensive annual fee, and the best thing about it is it applies to all fare classes.

Whether you fly in Delta One, First Class, Delta Comfort+, Delta Premium Select, or Main Cabin, you can bring a family member or friend with you for free (fares are still subject to fees and taxes). There are a few guidelines on how to redeem the certificate:

  • The certificate can only be used for roundtrip travel within the 48 contiguous United States.

  • If you are from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands, you may use the certificate as long as you’re departing from these 4 states/territories (Ex. Booking a round-trip flight that departs from Puerto to California is allowed but booking a round-trip flight that departs from California to Puerto Rico isn’t).

  • Travel has to be completed by the expiration date of the certificate. If the certificate expires on January 31, 2023, your return ticket should be on January 31, 2023.

  • You can only use the certificate for Main Cabin seats (L, U, T, X, or V fare classes).

  • Both the primary cardholder and the companion must be traveling under the same itinerary.

Delta SkyClub Membership

Cardholders of the Delta Reserve Card will get complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying on a Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. A same-day boarding pass must be presented upon entry.

If you’re traveling on a Delta partner airline flight that is not operated or marketed by Delta, you may purchase a day pass for only $39. This is a great perk to have, considering that Delta doesn’t sell day passes anymore.

Additionally, you’ll receive two one-time complimentary guest passes every year on your Delta app wallet. The passes can be used for a spouse or domestic partner and children under 21 years old. After using the passes, you may still bring up to two guests per visit but with a fee of $39 per person.

Panda Tips:

Delta-marketed flights are sold directly on the Delta website and app. Boarding passes will usually have the code “DL” on them (Ex. Flight No. DL 241).

Meanwhile, Delta-operated flights are marketed by other airlines but the aircraft and crew belong to Delta. This means that boarding passes will have a code of the airline that markets them. For example, a Virgin Atlantic-marketed flight that’s operated by Delta will have the “VS” letters on the flight number (Ex. Flight No. VS 603).

Amex Centurion Lounge Access

Cardholders on a same-day Delta flight will also get complimentary access to more than 40+ Centurion Lounges around the world. Guests are allowed for a fee of $50 each.

First Checked Bag Is Free

You and up to eight companions who are traveling under the same reservation on a Delta-operated or -marketed flight will have your first checked bag for FREE. Delta baggage fees can cost around $30 per trip so imagine how much money you’ll save.

Priority Boarding

You and up to eight additional travelers on the same reservation will get Main Cabin 1 priority boarding. Here’s Delta’s priority boarding procedure (starting with the highest priority): Pre-boarding, Delta One, First Class, Diamond Medallion, Delta Premium SelectDelta Comfort+Sky Priority members, Main Cabin 1, Main Cabin 2, Main Cabin 3, and Basic Economy.

Having priority boarding lets, you put your carry-on luggage in the overhead storage earlier than the other boarding groups. Space usually runs out when Economy passengers board.

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Fee Credit

Get an application fee statement credit of up to $100 when you apply for a Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership with your Delta Reserve Card. This benefit is available every five years.

20% Statement Credit For In-Flight Purchases

Receive a 20% cashback as a statement credit when you use Delta Reserve Card for in-flight snacks, drinks, or entertainment purchases (Delta Wifi purchases aren’t included).

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Pay ZERO transaction fees when you use your Delta Reserve Amex card to buy goods and services abroad. Foreign transaction fees typically cost around 3% per transaction.

Travel & Buyer Protection

The Delta Reserve Amex card also comes with decent travel protections:

  • Trip Delay Insurance: Cardholders can get a reimbursement of up to $500 per trip (up to 2 claims per year) if their flight was delayed by involuntary reasons for more than 12 hours. The insurance only applies to round-trip flights that were paid entitled with your card.

  • Trip Cancellation Insurance: Round-trip flights that were paid using your card are eligible for refunds of up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per eligible card per year. This insurance will cover the non-refundable travel expenses that you purchased.

  • Baggage Insurance Plan: For any luggage that is lost, damaged, or stolen, cardholders can get up to $1,250 for a carry-on and up to $500 for a checked bag.

  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: If you used your card to pay entirely for a rental car and declined the rental company’s insurance, you’ll be covered with your card’s car rental loss and damage insurance. Basically, your card insurance acts as secondary coverage.

  • Return Protection: If you return an eligible purchased item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the seller won’t accept it, American Express may refund the full purchase price excluding shipping and handling. Coverage is up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per Card account. Items must be purchased entirely with your Card and within the U.S. or its territories.

  • Purchase Protection: Purchased items that were stolen, lost, or accidentally damaged within 90 days from the date of purchase will be covered up to $10,000 per incident, up to 5 incidents per year.

  • Extended Warranty: Get a 1-year warranty extension for purchased products with a warranty of 5 years or less. The item must be purchased entirely with your card and must be purchased within the U.S. or its territories.


Read More: What Are The Main Delta Hubs In The US?


Pros

  • Free checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • Anniversary Companion Certificate is valid for all fare classes
  • Sky Club Access
  • Centurion Lounge Access
 
 

Cons

  • Mediocre earning rates on rewards
  • Companion Certificate only valid on domestic flights

Read More: Choosing The Best Delta Choice Benefits


The Delta Reserve Card gives you access to both the Delta SkyClub and Centurion language.
The Delta Reserve Card gives you access to both the Delta SkyClub and Centurion language (Image courtesy of Canva Pro).

Who Is This Card For?

The Delta Reserve Amex card specifically caters to Delta frequent flyers and those who make it a habit staying at airport lounges. This card is also for you if you’re aiming to fast-track your way to reaching Delta Medallion status.

Keep in mind that the Delta Reserve Amex Card isn’t the best option if you’re looking to stack up on SkyMiles. Other than 3x miles on Delta flights, the card doesn’t have any rewards categories where you can big bonuses from.

Delta Platinum VS Delta Reserve

Delta and Amex offers 4 co-branded personal cards – Delta Blue, Delta Gold, Delta Platinum, and Delta Reserve – and among these 4 cards, the Platinum and Reserve cards compare very closely to each other.

The Platinum Card is another option if you want a cheaper card but with Delta-specific perks. The only reason why the Reserve card is expensive is because of the premium lounge access and first-class companion certificate benefits.

The Platinum Card comes with a welcome bonus of 80,000 Bonus Miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership. Plus, it also comes with free checked bags, priority boarding, TSA & Global Entry credits, and a round-trip companion certificate in Main Cabin.

Bottomline: Is It Worth It?

The Delta Reserve Card is the most premium co-branded card in the Delta and Amex card lineup. The card isn’t for everyone as it has very high annual fees but if you’re a Delta frequent flyer, you’ll be able to maximize the card’s benefits.

.

  • Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit
  • 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services
  • 2x points on other travel purchases

 

Learn More

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