Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve Review [2020]

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The Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve is one of the most popular premium airline credit cards on the market.

It comes with a host of valuable travel benefits and for many people these perks can easily offset the higher annual fee.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this card.

Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve overview

  • Solid welcome bonus available at times
  • 3X on Delta
  • 1X on all other purchases
  • Delta Sky Club access
  • Companion certificate
  • Status boost
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit
  • Upgrade priority
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases

Related: Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum Review

Welcome bonus

The welcome bonus for the Delta SkyMiles Reserve changes all the time.

We’ve seen this bonus all the way down to around 10,000 miles and other times up to 100,000 miles though the standard offer appears to be between 40,000 and 75,000 miles now.

Typically, the spend requirement will be between $3,000 to $5,000 within the first three months of opening up your card.

Because this card is so loaded down with benefits, for a lot of people the welcome bonus becomes less important and getting the card is more about taking advantage of the perks.

For that reason, it’s often still worth it to get this card even with a lower bonus of around 40,000 miles.

With that said, I would still try to wait around for a 70,000 mile offer to come around.

It’s worth noting that you can also usually earn MQM’s with the welcome bonus, typically in the amount of 10,000.

These are not miles that you can use for award flights but they can help you achieve elite status (more on that below).

Tip: If you are wondering what type of redemptions you can get with your Delta Sky Miles, I recommend that you read up on our best uses of Delta Sky Miles.

Bonus categories

  • 3X on Delta
  • 1X on all other purchases

If you are looking for a card that will earn a lot of points on various spending categories such as dining or groceries, this is not the card for you.

Instead, this card only earns bonus categories on Delta purchases. You’ll earn a competitive 3X on Delta flights which is pretty good compared to other airline credit cards.

But if you want to maximize your spend on other categories I would look at a card like the American Express Gold Card.

With that card, you could potentially earn 4X on dining and US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year on spend).

Because Delta Airlines is a transfer partner of American Express, you can then transfer your points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio.

Delta exit row 16 in economy.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Perks

Delta Sky Club access

You will get complimentary Delta Sky Club access for yourself with this card.

If you are traveling on a partner airline, you can access the club at an exclusive per-visit rate of $39 per person, per location.

You can also bring up to two guests or immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and children under 21 years of age) at the exclusive per-visit rate of $39 per person, per location. 

Note: Guests must be flying on a same-day Delta or Delta partner airline flight. 

You will also receive two one time guest passes each year so that you can enter the lounge with family or friends traveling with you.

Centurion lounge access

When you book your Delta flight with the Reserve card, you can get complimentary access to Amex Centurion lounges.

You can also bring up to two guests at a per-visit rate of $50 per person.

These are some of the nicest airport lounges located in the US and you can find them at select airports.

It’s worth pointing out that you can get access to these lounges if you have the American Express Platinum Card.

Companion certificate

The Delta companion certificate is a certificate that can be used to buy two roundtrip tickets for the price of one plus taxes and fees of the companion ticket.

That means you essentially get an extra ticket for free when you buy one ticket, which can save you hundreds of dollars. 

There are quite a few restrictions for this perk but we have a detailed write up on it you can check out here.

Status boost

Delta is one of the few airlines that allow you to earn elite status credits through your spend.

With the Delta SkyMiles Reserve, you can earn 15,000 MQMs after $30,000 in eligible purchases, up to 4X per calendar year. 

This means that you can earn a total of 60,000 MQMs after $120,000 in spend.

Here are the requirements for all tiers of status for Delta:

Medallion TierMQMs or MQSs requirementMQDs requirement (only for US residents)
Silver25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs$3,000 MQDs
Gold50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs$6,000 MQDs
Platinum75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs$9,000 MQDs
Diamond125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs$15,000 MQDs
Delta Medallion qualification requirements

It’s pretty awesome that you can earn enough MQM’s for Gold status just via credit card spend.

Tip: If you spend at least $25,000 on your card you can also get the MQD waiver towards Platinum, Gold, or Silver Medallion Status.

Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit

You will be eligible to receive a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or a statement credit for up to $85 for TSA Pre-Check.

This credit will be given in a four year period for Global Entry or a 4.5 year period for TSA Pre-Check.

Upgrade priority

As a Reserve card member, you will receive upgrade priority over other members with the same level of Medallion status and fare class grouping.

In addition, if you do not hold a Medallion status you will be automatically added to the complimentary upgrade list following Medallion members.

These upgrades will be for upgrades to Delta One, first class, and Delta Comfort Plus. (Basic economy fares or not eligible for the upgrades.)

First checked bag free

You will be able to check your first bag for free on Delta flights booked with your card.

Delta Baggage fees usually run $30 per person so this is a great way to save $60 on a round-trip flight per individual.

And your savings could be even bigger because there is an allowance of nine waivers per reservation allowed.

Priority boarding

You will be eligible to receive main cabin one priority boarding on Delta flights which will help you secure overhead storage bin space and get to your seat sooner.

Just like the free checked bag, this benefit allows up to nine passengers on the reservation to receive the perk.

This benefit is limited to the primary cardmember and not authorized users.

To find out more about the boarding process, click here.

20% discount on in-flight purchases

You’ll get 20% savings in the form of a statement credit for eligible in-flight purchases which include things like food, beverages, and audio headsets.

This discount does not apply to in-flight wireless internet purchases.

Travel protections

Trip delay protection

If your trip is delayed for more than six hours, you can get reimbursed for certain essential expenses totaling up to $500 per trip.

This is a pretty solid protection considering that other cards require a 12 hour waiting period.

Trip cancellation

If your trip is paid entirely with your card and your trip is canceled or interrupted for a covered reason, you can get reimbursed for nonrefundable travel expenses up to $10,000 per trip.

$10,000 in coverage for trip cancellation is a pretty competitive amount.

Car rental coverage

This card will provide you with car rental coverage that will be secondary.

Shopping protections

Return protection

You’ll be covered for returns on items within 90 days from the date of purchase if the merchant will not take them back.

You may get refunded for the full purchase price up to $300 per item and up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.

Extended warranty

You can get one extra year added to the original manufacturers warranty on warranties of five years or less.

Final word

This is one of the best premium airline cards in my opinion. It’s great when it comes with a solid welcome bonus but the real perks here are related to flying with Delta.

You can climb up the elite status levels just by your spend and even get MQD waivers.

In addition to that you get a variety of lounge access perks and other valuable perks like free luggage and priority boarding making this a great fit for somebody who frequently flies with Delta.

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