Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Review [2022]: Top-Shelf Rewards for Premium Customers

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card rewards loyal flyers who spend with Delta regularly.
Last updated Aug. 4, 2022 | By Robin Kavanagh

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The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is the best airline credit card for Delta, offering the most rewards and benefits of available Delta cards. The welcome offer is generous, plus you can get perks such as free annual companion fares, free access to Sky Club lounges around the world, bonus points for purchases with Delta, and one free checked bag per flight.

Take a closer look at what you get in this Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card review and whether it’s worth the $550 (See rates and fees) annual fee.

Access to Delta Sky Club Lounges

Intro Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs))

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles for all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs))
  • Generous rewards rate for Delta flyers
  • Complimentary Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $550 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Best for frequent Delta travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs))
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles for all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Who should get this card?

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is likely best for people who fly Delta regularly — think monthly or more frequently — or plan to spend a lot using the card. The best rewards come with purchases made through Delta, and with a $550 annual fee you’ll want to make sure you get those rewards as often as possible.

Very frequent travelers who plan to spend between $30,000 and $60,000 on their card in a year will get even more with Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) awarded at those spending levels.

If you’re looking for a Delta card that offers a free companion fare, priority boarding, or free checked bags, this one delivers. However, there are other Delta cards that offer these benefits as well — and at a lower annual fee.

Card basics

Card type Travel
Card issuer American Express
Annual fee $550 (Terms apply)
Welcome bonus Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs))
Reward rate 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles for all other eligible purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None (See rates and fees)

Top card benefits

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs)). Depending on where you’re flying and what class, those miles could amount to one or more free fares. 
  • Bonus miles when you fly with Delta: Purchases made directly with Delta will get you 3X miles, including tickets through Delta.com, upgrades, in-flight purchases, Sky Club membership, Delta vacations, and more.
  • Annual companion fare: Get a companion certificate — good for a round-trip Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Domestic Main Cabin ticket — every year your card renews.
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club: Enjoy the perks of Delta’s Sky Clubs at any airport for free. You'll also receive two one-time passes for guests.
  • Priority boarding: Enjoy Main Cabin 1 priority boarding for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation, even when you're flying on a Delta basic economy ticket.
  • Twenty percent back on in-flight purchases: You'll also get 20% back on in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit with this card. Qualifying in-flight purchases include eligible food, beverages, and audio headsets purchased on Delta flights.
  • Additional miles bonuses: If you spend $30,000 in purchases on your card in one year, you can earn an additional 15,000 MQMs. If you spend $60,000 in purchases, you can earn an additional 15,000 MQMs. You can also earn again at $90,000 and $120,000 in purchases.
  • Cell phone protection: If you pay your cell phone bill in full with this card, you receive cell phone protection. This includes up to $800 per claim for stolen or damaged cell phones and up to two claims per card account per 12-month period. A $50 deductible per claim may apply.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: If your flight is canceled because of sudden illness, inclement weather, jury duty, or even terrorist activities, you’re entitled to up to $10,000 of reimbursement.
  • Trip delay insurance: If your flight is delayed more than 6 hours, you can also be reimbursed for up to $500 in unexpected expenses per trip.
  • Even more new benefits: You also get a statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee and complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges.

Earning & redeeming

Best ways to earn

Earning SkyMiles with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is pretty straightforward: You get 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles for all other eligible purchases. You can purchase tickets through the Delta website, but paying for fares, bags, upgrades, entrance to the Sky Club for companions, food and drinks onboard a flight, and even audio headsets also count toward bonus miles.

Categories Rewards rate
Purchases made directly with Delta 3X
All other eligible purchases 1X

Earning MQMs is a little different. These are earned based on the distance and fare class you fly and are only used to qualify you for Medallion Status, which offers an elevated level of service and benefits as you fly.

The lowest tier of Medallion Status requires 25,000 MQM miles and having spent at least $3,000 on Delta flights in one year. Your MQM earnings reset annually (though they can roll over to the next year in some cases), whereas SkyMiles don’t. SkyMiles can be redeemed for fares, upgrades, baggage fees, and even products through the SkyMiles Marketplace, vacations, and gift cards.

Maximizing your redemptions

Make sure to take advantage of the annual companion fare each year, checking one bag per ticket for free, and spending time in the designated lounges while you’re waiting at the airport. Those alone can make up for the $550 annual fee. 

Shop the Delta website for fares you can use your miles on to get added savings. Smart shopping can help your miles amount to several free flights, depending on your destination and what class you want to fly.

Common questions

Is the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card worth it?

Though the rewards of this card are the highest among all of Delta’s credit cards, you also have to either fly or spend a lot to earn them. The annual companion fare, one free checked bag per ticket, free access to lounges, and priority boarding are all great perks. 

However, you can get a lot of that with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, which has an annual fee of $250 (See rates and fees), or the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, which has an annual fee of  $99 (waived first year) (See rates and fees) .

Compare all of Delta’s credit cards before deciding which is best for your travel habits.

Does the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card help with seat upgrades?

When it comes to upgrade priority on Delta flights, it’s more about your Medallion Status than your credit card. Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex cardholders can receive upgrade priority, but they have to be a Medallion member and will only have priority over members within the same level and fare class.

Does the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex offer airport lounge access?

Yes! The cardholder gets complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges worldwide and access to American Express Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges for themselves.


Other cards to consider

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is a great choice for loyal Delta fans who fly the airline regularly and are looking for the maximum amount of benefit from being such a frequent flyer. But before deciding to apply for this card, take a look at these other options that may fit your needs better.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers extensive travel benefits that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. From there, you earn 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. You also get free Uber credits monthly and unlimited access to American Express airport lounges. The annual fee for this card is $695 (See rates and fees).

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is another option to consider, as it offers many of the same perks as the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex card. You’ll enjoy Main Cabin 1 priority boarding, free first checked bag, a discounted rate for Sky Club access, no foreign transaction fees, and discounts on in-flight purchases, all for a $99 (waived first year) annual fee.

Access to Delta Sky Club Lounges

Special Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs))

See rates and fees

See how these cards compare:

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months
  • Select your metal card design: classic Platinum Card, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com
  • $200 hotel credit (minimum two-night stay required), $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 in Uber Cash, $300 Equinox credit, $200 airline fee credit
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • $695 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles on purchases made directly with Delta, restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights and enjoy Main Cabin 1 priority boarding
  • Annual fee is waived your first year
  • $99 (waived first year) annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees

Author Details

Robin Kavanagh Robin is a freelance writer who lives on the South Carolina beach. She has spent the last 20 years writing about all kinds of topics for publications such as The New York Times, Yes! Magazine, Next Tribe, Parenting, and various trade magazines. On FinanceBuzz.com, you’ll find her mostly writing about smart ways to use credit cards, navigating personal loans, how to save when traveling, and ways to improve your financial health.