The American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card vs The American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Aug 27, 2014 | Updated May 03, 2019

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The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® and Delta Reserve credit cards are both high-end travel rewards cards from American Express. They come with high annual fees, making them exclusive to those who travel frequently on fairly expensive flights. Cardholders earn the most miles for Delta purchases with both cards, and can earn bonus miles every year.

The Rewards

These cards are from the same issuer and are associated with the same airline, Delta, so they use the same rewards plan. The information about mile redemptions will only be mentioned under the first card, but it applies to both. The difference here is in the extra MilesBoostSM offer, which rewards cardholders for spending more every year.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles

Cardholders will earn 2 miles for every dollar spent directly with Delta. This applies to all purchases from Delta, including Delta Connection Carrier and Delta Shuttle flights, as well as in-flight purchases. 1 mile is awarded for every other dollar spent.

If $1,000 is spent in the first 3 months with this card, 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles are awarded. You’ll also earn a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase within your first 3 months as a cardholder.

Under the MilesBoost program, if $25,000 is spent on purchases in 1 year, 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles are awarded; if $50,000 is spent, another 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles 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.

Delta Reserve

Just like the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card, the Delta Reserve offers 2 miles on purchases directly with Delta and 1 mile for purchases elsewhere.

Its current introductory bonus provides 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs. You’ll have to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months to get this bonus, so the return on spend isn’t quite as impressive as the Platinum Delta SkyMiles. But the spending threshold is still fairly low, and you’ll get more MQMs.

The second miles bonus is comparable. After spending $30,000 in 1 year, cardholders can earn 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles; after spending $60,000 in 1 year, another 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles are awarded.

The Verdict

These introductory bonuses are mostly comparable, though the Platinum Delta SkyMiles edges out the Delta Reserve for return on spend, especially when you factor in the $100 statement credit.

You’ll have to spend $2,000 more for the Delta Reserve’s bonus, but you’ll also get 5,000 more bonus miles and MQMs.

The annual miles bonus is a nice feature for both cards, providing a whole lot of bonus miles each year, but it’s unfortunate that they come in tiers – a more profitable plan for the cardholder would be to grant bonus miles based on spending, no matter how much or how little was spent. The bonuses for the two cards are comparable, with the Delta Reserve requiring you to spend a bit more in exchange for more miles; hopefully, the extra $5,000 or $10,000 needed to get to a tier wouldn’t cause someone to miss out on those bonus miles.

The Benefits

The benefits for these two cards are almost identical.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles

Cardholders have access to travel and shopping benefits, designed to make their trips cheaper and easier.

When traveling, 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®, where yourself and two traveling companions can get discounted access. The Sky Club includes complimentary snacks and drinks, private restrooms, personalized flight assistance, and Wi-Fi access.

When flying with Delta, the first checked bag will be free. 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 economy 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, at a minimum of $28.20 and a maximum of $69.20.

When using a common carrier, you and your family are covered by Travel Accident Insurance for accidental death and dismemberment. 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. A 24/7 Roadside Assistance Hotline is available in case of an emergency, ready to find help and send it your way. However, 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 1 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.

Delta Reserve

The Delta Reserve card offers the same type of rewards as the Platinum Delta SkyMiles, but a few of them are actually a little better. It also has two features that the previous card does not have.

The two other 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.

There are two features that differ a bit with this card: access to the Delta Sky Club, and the roadside assistance. With this card, access to the Delta Sky Club is complimentary, meaning it is free to enter. You can think of the price as coming out of the annual fee for this card.

This card provides Premium Roadside Assistance, which is an upgraded form of the previous roadside assistance. In this case, cardholders get 4 incidents per year which will be completely paid for. Eligible services include changing a flat tire, jumping a battery, and towing up to 10 miles away.

The Verdict

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 Sky Club lounge access in particular can make a hectic trip feel a bit more sane.

You’ll be getting more here with the Delta 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 Costs

The only difference here is in the annual fee; other than that, the APR and additional fees are the same.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles

The annual fee for this card is $195. The APR for purchases and balance transfers is 17.99%–26.99% Variable, depending on credit history. Cash advances have an APR of 27.49% 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 $38 each, but there is no fee for going over the credit limit.

Delta Reserve

The annual fee for the Delta Reserve card is $450. Other than that, all of the details for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card apply to this card as well.

The Verdict

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?

There are no foreign transaction fees for this card, which is a feature of the best travel cards. The terms for the penalty rates are also quite forgiving, compared to many other cards. If you do happen to incur the penalty rate, your account will be reviewed periodically, and, if you’ve been responsible with your balance, you’ll get your original APR back.  Most cards don’t have this as a stated policy.

Insider Tip: You may be able to get the annual fee on this card 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.

The Bottom Line

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 Delta 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 its 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, somewhat like our Find a Card tool. 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.

This review was not endorsed or approved by Delta or its affiliates.

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