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The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Review) and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card credit cards are both high-end travel rewards cards from American Express. While the Platinum card is somewhat pricy (Rates & Fees), the Reserve’s annual fee is even higher (Rates & Fees), making them exclusive to those who travel frequently on fairly expensive flights.
Despite the Reserve’s higher fee, the Platinum card actually provides a better rewards program. The Reserve instead flaunts its premium side with valuable benefits, which we’ll cover in a minute.
Cardholders will earn 3X SkyMiles per eligible dollar spent for purchases made directly with Delta Air Lines. This applies to all purchases from Delta, including Delta Connection Carrier and Delta Shuttle flights, as well as some in-flight purchases. The Platinum also provides 3X SkyMiles on hotels, 2X SkyMiles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and 1X SkyMile on everything else.
Its intro bonus is solid: 80,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months; 20,000 bonus miles after first cardmember anniversary (expires 4/1/2020).
Under the Status Boost program, if $25,000 is spent on purchases in one calendar year, 10,000 MQMs are awarded; if $50,000 is spent, another 10,000 MQMs are awarded.
The SkyMiles Medallion Program is an upgrade program that provides better perks and offers for earning more MQMs.
Miles can be redeemed for flights and flight upgrades, as well as purchases on the SkyMiles Marketplace and the SkyMiles Online Auction. The Marketplace provides a huge variety of products, from headphones to cookies, while the Online Auction lets cardholders use their miles to bid for exciting experiences, like baseball games and movie premiers. Miles can also be donated to charities. These services allow cardholders to convert points from certain partners into miles that can then be used.
Just like the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card, the Delta Reserve offers 3X SkyMiles per eligible dollar spent for purchases made directly with Delta Air Lines, but that’s about it. You get 1X SkyMile per dollar for purchases elsewhere.
Delta Reserve cardholders can score a similar bonus: 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months; 20,000 bonus miles after your first cardmember anniversary (expires 4/1/2020).
As for the Reserve’s status boost offer, cardholders can get 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 spent in a calendar year, up to four times a year.
The Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Delta SkyMiles Reserve cards offer similar bonuses, but the Delta SkyMiles Platinum’s rewards program is drastically better than that of the Reserve. It’s not really a contest.
Both cards feature certain similar benefits, but here’s where it becomes clear why the Delta SkyMiles Reserve carries a higher annual fee.
Cardholders have access to travel and shopping benefits, designed to make their trips cheaper and easier.
When traveling, Main Cabin 1 priority boarding on Delta flights is granted to let you spend less time in line and more time relaxing in your seat. Or, you can choose to visit the Delta Sky Club at a discounted rate of $39 per person. The Sky Club includes complimentary snacks and drinks, private restrooms, personalized flight assistance, and WiFi access.
Your first checked bag will be free while flying Delta, too. A 20% discount is applied to eligible in-flight purchases, which includes food and drinks, entertainment, and audio headsets. This discount will be applied as a statement credit to the account.
Every year upon card renewal, a domestic Main Cabin class companion certificate will be awarded. When using this certificate, the cardholder will still be subject to certain taxes and fees for itineraries with two to four segments, though they’ll never exceed $75 (a limit that’s subject to change).
Another great perk the Platinum provides is the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit. Apply for either program with your Platinum card, and you’ll get a statement credit covering the application fee.
There are several shopping and travel protections, too.
When using a common carrier, your baggage will be insured against being lost, stolen, or damaged, up to $1,250 for carry-on and $500 for checked baggage.
If you’re on the road, you’ll be covered by rental car insurance against theft and damage, as long as the car rental company’s insurance is declined. Some vehicle exclusions apply to this offer. The cardholder must pay any fees from third-party services that become involved.
When shopping with the card, many purchases will be eligible for an extended warranty and purchase protection service. The extended warranty will double a manufacturer’s warranty, up to one additional year, while purchase protection will cover items you buy against accidental damage and theft, up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
Cardholders will also receive exclusive invitations through the Entertainment Access program. These deals include access to presale tickets, preferred seating, and exclusive, member-only events.
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card offers benefits that are similar to the Delta SkyMiles Platinum, including the same boarding priority, free checked bags, and TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit, but with some significant additions.
The first is that Delta Sky Club access is complimentary, and you receive two free one-time Sky Club guest passes. Guests are $39 each after that, and are limited to two per visit. Reserve cardholders also get free access to Centurion Lounges, with up to two guests at $50 each.
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve provides a companion certificate, like the Platinum, but that certificate is now good for Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin round-trip flights, rather than just main cabin.
Two other unique features are the ability to share MQMs with friends and family, and a personal concierge service. The concierge service is always available to provide personal, non-emergency assistance with just about anything. This could be arranging the details of a critical event, finding business or travel reservations, or expert advice on finding and buying great gifts.
These cards each offer great additional benefits that are sure to make traveling, especially with Delta, a much less costly and frustrating affair. The priority boarding and lounge access in particular can make a hectic trip feel a bit more sane.
You’ll be getting much more here with the Reserve card, but you’ll be paying for it with an annual fee of over twice as much, as you’ll see in the next section.
The Delta Reserve has a higher annual fee; other than that, the additional fees are the same.
For the Platinum card you’ll pay a $250 annual fee. The APR for purchases and balance transfers is 17.24–26.24% Variable, depending on credit history. Cash advances have an APR of 26.99% Variable.
Balance transfers and cash advances both have a fee of $5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater. There is no fee for foreign transactions.
If a late or returned payment is made, a penalty APR of up to 29.99% will be applied. This will occur for late payments that are more than 60 days late. If this happens, the account will be reviewed every 6 months, and, if no late or returned payments had been made, the original APR can be reinstated. Late and returned payments also have a fee of up to $39 each, but there is no fee for going over the credit limit.
For the Reserve, you’ll pay a $550. Other than that, the terms for the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card apply for the most part to this card as well.
Obviously, the crucial aspect here is the annual fee. Does it seem worth the benefits to you, and will you actually use the card enough to get that kind of use out of it?
Insider Tip: You may be able to get the annual fee on these cards waived. Just call customer service and ask nicely to have it waived, explaining that you’ve been a good, responsible customer for some time. Or, if you’re thinking of canceling the card, you can let them know that you’d consider staying with them if they waive the fee. In some cases they may offer a different incentive, like bonus points.
And if you’re in the military on active duty, you can submit an online request for SCRA benefits, which will probably include having the annual fee waived.
These are both great travel cards, and the one for you will probably depend on your spending habits. You’ll need to spend more and travel more often to make the Reserve card and its annual fee worth the price tag. If you do, make sure to enjoy the concierge service and free airport lounges.
Credit cards are complex financial tools, and it’s important to be able to easily get information about your card and your account. The American Express website is much better in this regard compared to most card issuers. Users can easily browse through cards and see the costs, rewards, and benefits clearly laid out.
There are even ways to compare features of individually chosen cards. Then, while browsing the site, a popup occasionally appears offering a live chat with a representative, who is ready to answer any questions. These features show that American Express cares about its cardholders and potential cardholders, and took the time to present the card information in a thoughtful and effective manner.
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