Advertiser Disclosure

delta reserve vs amex platinum

Delta Reserve vs The Amex Platinum Card: Which is Right for You?

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. For more information check out our Advertising Disclosure.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

This is it: The showdown between two of the top-tier American Express cards for travelers. And two top contenders for frequent Delta flyers.

If you fly Delta often, you've likely considered picking up either the *delta reserve card* or *amex platinum card*. Both of these cards can vastly improve your Delta travel experience – that's why we've named both to our list of the 7 best credit cards for Delta flyers. Both are also a great option for earning Delta SkyMiles.

But which card is best? Does it make sense to carry both of them? We'll answer these questions and many others in our head-to-head comparison of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and the Platinum Card from American Express.


*amex platinum*


Learn more about *amex platinum*.


*delta reserve card*


Learn more about the *delta reserve card*


Card Welcome Bonus Offers

*amex platinum* offers a standard welcome bonus offer of 80,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 in the first six months of card membership. And it can potentially get much better. Check to see if you are targeted for the 150,000 point welcome bonus offer for the same $8,000 spending requirement through the creditcards.com Cardmatch tool.

If you have never held an American Express card before, your odds of being targeted for the increased offer are higher. But even if you have, there is no reason not to check if you are eligible.


Amex Platinum Travel Insurance


With the *delta reserve card* you can bonus_miles_full


Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express card with a wallet


But here's the thing: Delta SkyMiles and American Express Membership Rewards points are different. Each Delta SkyMile is worth a different amount than each Amex point – and it's easy to make the case that Delta SkyMiles are worth much less.

So if you are comparing 50,000 of each, for example, it's not a true, apples-to-apples comparison. Just like world currencies, points and miles have different values, and that's a big reason we think it is critical to diversify your balances of credit card points and frequent flyer miles. We will cover this in more detail in a later section.

Winner: *amex platinum card 


*amex platinum*


Learn more about *amex platinum*.


Annual Fee

Both the Delta Reserve and Amex Platinum cards are considered premium credit cards. And that comes with a high annual fee.

The annual fee on the Platinum Card from American Express is $695 (see rates & fees) while the annual fee on the Delta Reserve Card is $650 (see rates & fees). Because of that, they certainly aren't for everybody. But high annual fees come with lots of big travel perks – that's why we encourage readers to do the math before ruling out a credit card just because of its price tag.

But just looking at the out-of-pocket cost, there is a clear winner.

Winner: Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card


*delta reserve card*


Learn more about the *delta reserve card*


Delta Reserve vs Amex Platinum Bonus Categories

If you hold the Platinum Card from American Express, you'll earn 5x Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend on airfare booked directly through the airline or through the Amex Travel portal on up to $500,000 spent in this category each calendar year. It's a big part of the reason we've named the card the best option for booking flights.

The Amex Delta Reserve card will earn 3x Delta SkyMiles per dollar spent on purchases with Delta, and you'll earn 1x Delta SkyMiles per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

But here's the thing: you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points directly into your Delta SkyMiles account. You can also transfer them to nearly a dozen other airlines or hotel chains, which is why we refer to these as a flexible points currency.


Amex Platinum Bonus


So if you were going to book a $500 flight on Delta Air Lines, paying with your Amex Platinum Card would net you 2,500 Membership Rewards points (which can be transferred into your Delta SkyMiles account). Paying with your Amex Delta Reserve Card would net you only 1,500 Delta SkyMiles. And with the Platinum Card, the same would be true regardless of which airline you booked. The Reserve Card would only earn 3x SkyMiles on Delta flights.

One important note: Amex Membership Rewards charges a fee of 0.06 cents per point up to a maximum of $99 when you transfer from American Express Membership Rewards points to a U.S. airline. So a transfer of 100,000 points would incur a $60 fee when you transfer to Delta. It’s not earth-shattering, but it is slightly annoying and something to be aware of when making Membership Rewards points transfers to Delta.

Still, I think the earning rates on the Amex Platinum Card are enough to offset the small transfer fee. The winner in this category is an easy choice – before we even factor in how to redeem the points.

Winner: *amex platinum card


*amex platinum*


Learn more about *amex platinum*.


Redeeming Points Earned by Both Cards

There are literally hundreds of ways to redeem your Membership Rewards points earned from the American Express Platinum Card. These points are insanely flexible.

In addition to Delta, you can transfer these points to 18 other airline partners and three hotel partners. Most of these transfers are at a 1:1 ratio (1 Amex point = 1 airline mile or hotel point) and will appear instantly once you make the transfer.

You can see the full list of American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners below. And see our guide on how to transfer your Membership Rewards points to partner airlines and hotels.


ProgramTypeTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer LingusAirline1:1Instant
AeroMexicoAirline1:1.63-5 days
Air Canada AeroplanAirline1:1Instant
Air France/KLMAirline1:1Instant
ANAAirline1:11-2 days
British AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Cathay PacificAirline1:1Instant
IberiaAirline1:1Up to 24 hours
Qatar AirwaysAirline1:1Instant
Virgin AtlanticAirline1:1Instant


In addition to the transfer partners, you can also use the points to book flights on almost any airline or hotel through Amex's travel portal at amextravel.com. When you do this, each Membership Reward point will be worth one cent. That means a $500 flight would cost you 50,000 points.

With the Amex Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you will earn Delta SkyMiles. And while others question their value, SkyMiles can be very lucrative if you know how to use them. Make sure to read our guide on How Delta SkyMiles Work and How to Make Them Work for You. And make sure to check out our post on the 9 Best Delta SkyMiles Redemptions.

But if you're choosing one card to earn and redeem points, the average traveler shouldn't be using an airline credit card. While it may seem smart to keep adding to your balance of SkyMiles, earning Membership Rewards points will have more value in the long run.

If you focus on the Delta Reserve card, you're only earning Delta SkyMiles. And that can be great … until you need to fly a different airline. That's the point at which you realize your miles don't have as much value.

It's the biggest reason why we urge readers to quit putting all of their spending on an airline-specific credit card. The additional flexibility makes for a clear winner in this category.

Winner: *amex platinum card*


*amex platinum*


Learn more about *amex platinum*.


Airport Lounge Access

Both cards will vastly improve your airport experience by way of lounge access. However, again we think there is a clear winner in this category.

Just for holding the Platinum Card, you'll have access to the Delta Sky Club when flying Delta. And while you won’t be able to bring in guests for free, you will be able to bring up to two additional guests into the Sky Club with you for $39 each.

See our full review of Delta's Sky Club at Seattle (SEA). One of the best in their portfolio. 


delta sky club seattle


In addition to the Sky Club, the Platinum Card from American Express will get you access to the Escape Lounge network, Priority Pass Lounges, and Amex’s own Centurion Lounges.

And as far as domestic airport lounges go, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Centurion Lounges. As an added bonus, you'll be able to bring up to two guests into all these lounge networks with you at no additional cost.


amex centurion lounge dfw


With the Delta Reserve Card, you will also get complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club. On top of that, you will receive two, one-time guest passes to the Delta Sky Club each year you hold the card.

You will also get into the American Express Centurion Lounges when you are flying Delta on a ticket that was purchased with your Reserve card. However, you won't receive any complimentary guests – you can bring up to two guests in with you for a fee of $50 each.

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card also doesn't offer complimentary Priority Pass Select membership and doesn't offer access to the Escape Lounges – making the winner in this category a slam dunk.

Winner: *amex platinum card*


*amex platinum*


Learn more about *amex platinum*.


Delta-Specific Benefits

This is where it starts to get interesting. Since the Platinum Card from American Express isn't technically a Delta credit card, the Delta specific benefits on the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card are much stronger.

To start with, just for holding the Delta Reserve card, you'll get a free checked bag and priority Zone 1 boarding on every Delta flight. You don't even have to pay for the flight with your Reserve card to get the free luggage benefit.

That benefit isn't unique to the Reserve card – all of Delta's co-branded cards offer these benefits with the exception of the no annual fee Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. But there are plenty of other Delta perks with this card.

The card will also offer an annual domestic main cabin or first-class round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal. If you are able to take advantage of this benefit, that alone could justify the $650 annual fee.

But the real value of the Delta Reserve Card is in the chase for Delta Medallion status. If you don't travel enough (or spend enough) with Delta to build some serious status, skip to the next section – this card's not for you. But if you need a boost in your quest for status, keep reading.


delta skymiles status boost


With the Reserve Card, you can get 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), one of the main ingredients to earning Delta status, by spending $30,000 throughout the year. And that has been boosted for 2021. Reserve cardholders will now earn 18,750 MQMs after spending $30,000 on their card.

That’s almost enough to automatically get Delta Silver Medallion Status without taking a single flight. And for every $30,000 you spend on the card ($60,000, $90,000, and $120,000) in a calendar year, you'll earn an additional 15,000 MQM bonus. That’s enough to spend your way to Gold Medallion Status without taking a single flight. 

While the Platinum Card from American Express does offer an annual $200 airline credit which is meant to pay for incidental fees like checked bags, change fees, guest lounge access, etc., it won't help you board the plane earlier or allow you to earn MQMs towards Delta elite status.

There are plenty of other categories to consider with these cards. But for getting a boost with Delta, there's a clear winner.

Winner: *delta reserve card*


*delta reserve card*


Learn more about the *delta reserve card*


Global Entry & TSA PreCheck Benefits

Both cards offer up to a $100 credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership – whether you are applying for the first time or renewing an existing membership. Membership in either program is good for five years and the $100 credit will be available every four years.


Global Entry Credit Card


We've named both cards on our list of the best credit cards that cover Global Entry or TSA Precheck, and for that reason, this category is a tie.

Winner: Tie. 


platinum vs reserve comparison


Travel Insurance Protection

Starting on January 1, 2020, both cards now offer some of the best travel insurance offered from any card out there. If you pay for your round-trip flight with the Platinum or Reserve card – or put the taxes and fees on a round-trip award flight on it – you will be eligible for:

  • Trip Cancellation Insurance: You can get reimbursed for up to $10,000 of nonrefundable expenses – and up to $20,000 a year total – if your flight is canceled due to weather, an injury or illness, and other “covered reasons.”
  • Trip Delay Insurance: If your flight is delayed by more than six hours, you are eligible for up to $500 in reimbursement for lodging, food, personal use items, and other associated expenses.


delta reserve vs amex platinum


Winner: Tie. 


delta reserve vs amex platinum


Other Perks

Outside of the benefits already mentioned, the Platinum Card from American Express offers a number of other benefits to justify the annual fee. The first of which is an annual $200 credit for Uber. Each year you hold the Platinum Card, you will receive $200 toward Uber rides. You will be issued up to $15 each month, and up to $35 in the month of December ($200 total).

You must use the full credit each month or you will lose any remaining value. The credits do not carry over from month to month. And even if you don’t often take Uber rides, the credit can also be used on UberEats, Uber’s food delivery platform. If Uber eats is available in your area, it makes it relatively easy to maximize this benefit each and every year.


delta reserve vs amex platinum


You'll also get $100 to spend at Saks Fifth Avenue stores each year. One $50 credit will be available from January through June, with another available July through December. Like the other credits available on the Platinum card, you will lose any remaining balance you have after the expiration date.

The offer can be used both in-store and online, but per the terms and conditions of this offer, it will not work to purchase gift cards.

Saks Fifth Avenue isn’t the cheapest place to shop, but you should be able to find a few things each year to use your credit on. Read our post on 7 ways to use your Saks Fifth Avenue credit.

With the Delta Reserve, you'll also get a bunch of statement credits to help offset the annual fee including up to a $120 rideshare credit (doled out in $10 monthly installments), up to a $240 annual Resy credit (doled out in $20 monthly installments), up to a $200 annual Delta Stays credit, and up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or up to $85 for TSA PreCheck once every four years – and since membership in either program is good for five years, you're set.


Winner: *amex platinum card*


*amex platinum*


Learn more about *amex platinum*.


Our Analysis

Out of nine categories, the Platinum Card takes four while the Delta Reserve Card takes two. Three categories split as a tie.

At the end of the day, every traveler will value each of these categories differently. If your main goal is trying to earn or maintain Delta Platinum or Diamond status, the Delta Reserve card is unbeatable. The value of the additional MQMs you can earn is undeniable.

But for someone who is less loyal to Delta – or simply doesn't fly enough to build up status – the Platinum Card is likely a better option. It provides more benefits and gives you more flexibility for a slightly higher annual fee.

You won't be locked into just using miles with Delta, but Delta remains a strong option. The lounge access you'll get with the Platinum card is vastly better. And if you don't care about earning Delta Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), it is a clear choice.


Bottom Line

When comparing the Delta Reserve vs the Amex Platinum Cards, it is important to understand all the benefits. Delta's Reserve Card should be held by Delta's top-tier elite status flyers. If that isn't you, you'll likely be much better served by the Platinum Card from American Express.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

9 Responses

  • So I did not see you mention the automatic upgrades on Delta with the Reserve card. I had only had the card for two weeks when I had to travel to DCA. On my flight home, I was automatically upgraded to first class from my coach seat. I do not think that happens with the AmEx card? I also do not know how often it will happen with Delta, but so far was 1 out of 2 flights.

    • Hi Ward, the card does not provide automatic upgrades. Per American Express, “With your Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card receive upgrade priority over other Medallion members within the same Medallion level and fare class grouping.”

      The Reserve card can help move you up the upgrade list, but getting upgraded will largely depend on your Medallion elite status. More info on how to improve your upgrade chances below:


      • Thanks Nick. I read that, and I am no where close to any Medallion status. About 24h prior to my flight, I received an e-mail from Delta excerpted below stating I had received a complimentary upgrade to First Class. Could be not many people on my flight were qualified for upgrades, as there was an empty seat beside me in the First class section. But I had never had that happen before getting the Reserve card. And I did not ask for that. It just happened automatically.

        It’s our pleasure to confirm your Complimentary Upgrade. Your itinerary is below for more information – you can view and make changes anytime in My Trips.

      • They did add complimentary upgrades to Reserve cardholders. Upgrade priority is below all medallion members, so it’s certainly a unicorn.

  • Hi Nick, great post and thank you for all of the valuable info. Deciding between these two cards will be a decision I make within the next week and the comparison is helpful.

    With that said, isn’t the 80k skymiles and 20k MQM offer only available to new AMEX card holders? I am currently an AMEX platinum holder and I believe the offer for me to upgrade to the reserve card is 40k skymiles. Can you confirm this?

    • Thanks, Bryan, and great question.

      Amex allows you to earn the welcome bonus on each of their cards once per lifetime. So even though you have the Platinum, you are eligible to open the Reserve as a new account and earn the bonus. Don’t upgrade your existing account as that will be a much lower offer (and the one Amex wants you to take). Apply outright as a new account and you can later close your Platinum card if you choose to do so.

  • The Delta Reserve card is silly. Unless you spend a quarter million a year, you likely will never hit Diamond. I dumped the Reserve card and went Platinum and just accepted Delta’s commitment to Diamond member reduction ($250K strategy).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Free Flight Alerts

Cheap international and domestic flight deal email alerts

Get Cheap Flight Alerts