Among the suite of Delta co-branded credit cards, the *delta reserve card* is the top dog – and that alone is enough to convince many Delta loyalists that they need it. It unlocks a big SkyMiles bonus, an annual companion certificate, and even unlimited Delta Sky Club access … though that's changing a bit in the coming years.
No question, Delta's Reserve card comes with more perks than any other Delta credit card. But that doesn't mean the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card is right for you – even if you're a diehard Delta flyer on the hunt for a top-of-the-line travel card.
Sure, the Reserve Card can easily make sense for road warriors flying constantly for work and chasing Delta Medallion status. But the vast majority of flyers will be better off with one of the other Delta co-branded cards … or maybe even not even having a Delta Card at all.
Related reading: Is the Delta SkyMiles Gold the Only Card Worth Holding Now?
- The Basics of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Chasing Elite Status
- Lounge Access
- What About Upgrades?
- Grab The Platinum Card from American Express Instead
The Basics of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
There's no question the Delta Reserve Card brings a lot to the table. Here's a full look:
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Check your first bag free on every Delta flight – savings of at least $60 on each round-trip flight, per person
- Priority boarding (even with a basic economy ticket)
- Get unlimited complimentary Delta Sky Club access when flying Delta, through Jan. 31, 2025. Beginning Feb. 1, 2025, you'll be limited to 15 Sky Club visits per year, unless you spend $75,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.
- You also get four free guest passes and can bring up to two guests in at a time. After that, each guest visit will cost an additional $50.
- Complimentary access to the American Express Centurion Lounges when you are flying Delta on a ticket purchased with your Reserve card
- Get a economy, Delta Comfort Plus, and first class companion certificate to destinations throughout the U.S. (including Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) as well as many destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, each year upon card renewal
- MQD Headstart: Get a head start on earning Medallion status with an automatic 2,500 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) each year (beginning Feb. 1, 2024)
- Earn 1 MQD for every $10 you spend on your card
- Earn 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
- Earn 1x SkyMiles per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
- Up to a $200 Delta Stays credit: Earn up to $200 in statement credits each year when you make a Delta Stays prepaid hotel or vacation rental booking on the Delta Stays platform.
- Up to a $120 Rideshare Credit: Get up to $120 in statement credits (doled out in $10 monthly installments) a year when you use your card to pay for a ride with Uber, Lyft, Curb, Revel, or Alto.
- Up to a $240 Resy Credit: Get up to $240 in statement credits each year (doled out in $20 chunks each month) when you use your card to pay for eligible purchases on Resy, Amex's restaurant reservation platform. This is also a use-it-or-lose-it benefit: Any unused balance won't roll over to the following month.
- Get up to a $100 credit to cover the cost for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every 4.5 years for the application fee for TSA PreCheck® and every 4 years for Global Entry
- Complimentary space-available upgrades, even for non-Medallion members. A great way to improve your upgrade chances.
- Get 15% off SkyMiles award tickets with TakeOff 15 when booking on delta.com or through the Fly Delta app
- Hertz President's Circle Status: Receive complimentary top-tier Hertz President's Circle elite status upon enrollment.
- Enjoy 20% off in-flight purchases such as food & drinks in the form of a statement credit
- No foreign transaction fees
- $650 annual fee (See rates & fees)
Learn more about the *delta reserve card*.
Chasing Elite Status
For most people, the real value of the Delta Reserve Card is to level up their Delta Medallion status. But it's not enough to fly a lot with the airline – now more than ever, you also need to spend a lot.
Before we dive into the specifics of earning Medallion status with the Delta Reserve card, let's set one thing straight: Chasing elite status is rarely worth it – most travelers are far better off as elite status free agents.
The amount of spending required to earn Delta's top-tier Diamond Medallion status is unreasonably high – and it's getting even worse next year. However, if you spend a ton of time on planes – preferably on your employer's dime – there's no doubt that having elite status will make your travel experience more enjoyable.
Here's how the Delta Reserve can help.
Earning Medallion Status in 2023
There are two critical pieces to earning Medallion status with Delta in 2023: flying and spending. You have to rack up a certain amount of miles on Delta flights (called Medallion Qualification Miles or MQMs, which are different than SkyMiles) or a sheer number of flight segments. Then, there's also a spending requirement, called Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs).
To earn status in 2023, you still need both. Just one or the other won't cut it. And you've only got until Dec. 31, 2023, to meet these requirements, so time is running out.
Here’s a brief rundown on what it takes to earn each of the four Medallion tiers in 2023:
- Silver Medallion Status: 25,000 MQMs OR 30 flights (called Medallion Qualifying Segments) AND $3,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights
- Gold Medallion Status: 50,000 MQMs OR 60 Medallion Qualifying Segments AND $8,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights
- Platinum Medallion Status: 75,000 MQMs OR 100 Medallion Qualifying Segments AND $12,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights
- Diamond Medallion Status: 125,000 MQMs OR 140 Medallion Qualifying Segments AND $20,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights
That is a lot of flying … and even more spending – but there is a shortcut. Delta offers an MQD Waiver for those who spend at least $25,000 a year on their Delta Reserve Card. This MQD waiver applies to Silver, Gold, and Platinum Medallion status. If you're going for top-tier Delta Diamond status, you'll need to spend a whopping $250,000 on the card. Ouch.
For the remainder of 2023, the Reserve Card also gives you a boost toward status by allowing you to earn MQMs through spending. For every $30,000 you spend on the card, you'll be awarded 15,000 MQMs. You can boost your MQMs up to four times by spending $30,000, $60,000, $90,000, and $120,000 in a calendar year, racking up as many as 60,000 MQMs in the process.
But keep in mind, you'd need to complete all that spending by the end of the year. If you're just now considering the Reserve Card as a last-ditch effort to earn status for 2024, that's a whole lot of spending in a short period of time.
Earning Medallion Status in 2024 & Beyond
Everything changes in the New Year.
After turning some of its most loyal flyers against the airline with sweeping and painful changes to earning Medallion Status, Delta walked back some of the harshest requirements. But it's far from an outright reversal.
In 2024, Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) will officially disappear as Delta focuses on the almighty Medallion Qualifying Dollar: All that matters for earning status next year and beyond is how much you spend with Delta. And from the lowest tier to the top, you'll have to spend a lot more.
|2023 MQD Thresholds
|2024 MQD Thresholds
Those increases are particularly tough to swallow for travelers who previously relied upon the Delta Reserve's MQD waiver to earn status. In its place, Delta is creating a new system to earn additional MQDs by awarding 1 MQD for every $10 you spend on the *delta reserve card*.
To ease the pain of reaching those higher spending requirements, and the lack of an MQD waiver, Delta added an MQD boost to select Delta credit cards – including the Delta Reserve. With this new MQD boost, the airline will dole out 2,500 MQDs to travelers at the beginning of each year, starting Jan. 1, 2024.
That means if you've got the Delta Reserve Card in your wallet at the start of the year, you'll get 2,500 MQDs right off the bat – half of what it takes to reach Silver Medallion status. And if you've also got the business version, or one of the Delta Platinum Cards in your wallet (not that you should), you can stack these head-start bonuses for up to 10,000 MQDs.
This means that a traveler who previously earned Delta Gold Medallion status in part by spending $25,000 a year on a Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card would now have to spend as much as $75,000 on that same card starting next year.
Unless you've got multiple high-priced Delta credit cards, those increases put even low levels of Delta status out of reach for all but the heaviest spenders.
Is Delta Status Worth It?
If all this status talk is making your head spin or you're not following how to earn MQDs (or why they matter), then the Delta Reserve Card is not for you.
Of course, Delta Medallion Status can be quite nice. You'll have a chance at complimentary upgrades – though these days, that's gotten less and less likely as the ranks of Medallion Status members have grown and Delta continues to sell more and more first class seats outright. Other status perks include access to Comfort Plus seats, waived baggage fees, and priority boarding, to name a few.
But do you really fly enough to make use of those perks? Is it worth spending so much on one single credit card, foregoing bigger (and better) bonuses on other travel cards? Unless you're a true Delta road warrior, traveling multiple weeks per month, the answer is probably no. And if you are flying and spending that much, odds are you can earn Delta status organically.
All that means you should likely look past the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card – especially if what you really want is access to the Delta Sky Club and other airport lounges.
If status isn't your primary goal with the Reserve Card, lounge access likely is. Many Delta travelers gravitate toward the Reserve Card because it's an easy way to get access to Delta Sky Clubs. For now, anyway…
With the Delta Reserve Card you'll get unlimited complimentary access to the Delta Sky Clubs through Jan. 31, 2025. Starting Feb. 1, 2025, you'll be limited to 15 visits each year when holding the Delta Reserve Card. Any trips into multiple Sky Clubs in a 24-hour period count as one visit, so hopping into several Delta lounges before departure and again during a connection won't cost you two visits.
You can regain unlimited access to the Sky Clubs by spending $75,000 on your card in a calendar year. Unless you're also planning to spend that much in order to earn elite status, it likely isn't worth it.
While some Delta lounges are better than others, they all provide a nice place to relax (or work), away from the hustle and bustle of a crowded terminal. In general, you can expect to get complimentary food and drinks, comfortable seating, and free Wi-Fi. Some outposts like the relatively new Sky Clubs at Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX) even include shower suites, where you can freshen up before or after your flight, and lean heavily on local influences with specially curated menu items and design touches.
Safe to say, we understand why you'd want a credit card that gives you access to these lounges.
Reserve cardholders also get two free, one-time guest passes for the Sky Club to bring in a friend or family member. After that, you'll have to pay $50 each for up to two guests at a time.
Read our full guide to getting into the Delta Sky Club!
What About Upgrades?
On paper, the Reserve Card gives non-Medallion status holders some elite-like perks with access to Complimentary space-available upgrades. This benefit gives Reserve Cardholders the chance to get bumped to First Class and Delta Comfort Plus – even without any level of elite status. Who doesn't want a free upgrade to the front of the plane?
We hate to break it to you: In practice, that's not going to happen. You need to put the emphasis on the words “space-available” on this perk.
Delta determines its Medallion upgrade order based on a series of factors. And while holding the Reserve card can be a decent tiebreaker if you've got already got Medallion status, it will almost never be enough to secure you an upgrade to first class on its own – especially as travel demand and elite status ranks have grown following the pandemic.
Here's the current hierarchy of who gets first dibs on a free upgrade:
- Delta Medallion Status level: Diamonds get precedence over Platinums, Platinums over Golds, etc.
- Fare Class: A Platinum Medallion member who purchased a more expensive fare class will have priority over a Platinum member with a cheaper fare class. For more information on how fare classes work, read our guide.
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card: A Platinum Medallion member with a Reserve Card in their wallet gets precedence over another Platinum member who bought the same fare type
- Delta Corporate Travelers get a slight edge over everyday Medallion members.
- For 2023, flyers who have earned an MQD waiver also get a slight boost
- Million Miler status members have slightly better odds at an upgrade than others.
- Date and time of upgrade request: Buying your ticket earlier than someone whose odds are otherwise equal can give you the final nod for the free seat.
Come 2024, Delta will give even higher priority to travelers who have reached its vaunted Million Miler status.
Regardless, all those factors all make it highly, highly unlikely you'll score a first class upgrade with a Reserve card alone. What's more, Delta is increasingly selling these first class seats to paying customers rather than holding them for complimentary upgrades. That has made it hard for even top Delta elites with a Reserve card to count on a complimentary upgrade.
Grab The Platinum Card from American Express Instead
Nine out of the 10 travelers who think they need a Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card would be better off with a different travel card. And Delta's name isn't on it.
It's *amex platinum*, the top-tier travel card in the American Express portfolio – not to be confused with the *delta skymiles platinum card*. While it isn't a Delta co-branded card, it can still get you major benefits when flying with Delta – and a way to earn SkyMiles, too.
When it comes to lounge access, no card can match what the Platinum Card offers. You'll get the same complimentary Delta Sky Club access as the Reserve Card – at least for now. Beginning Feb. 1, 2025, the Amex Platinum Card will be limited to 10 Sky Club visits per year.
Just like with the Reserve Card, you can restore unlimited complimentary visits by spending $75,000 each calendar year … but with The Platinum Card, there's an added bonus. Spending $75,000 doesn't just get you unlimited access to the Sky Clubs, it will also allow you to bring free guests to the American Express Centurion Lounges, no matter which airline you're flying with.
But your lounge access goes even further with the Platinum Card: American Express calls it the Amex Global Lounge Collection.
Your Platinum card will get you into smaller lounge networks like Plaza Premium, Airspace, and Escape Lounges – including our go-to lounge at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). Finally, the Amex Platinum also includes a complimentary membership to Priority Pass – opening the doors to more than 1,300 additional lounges across the globe for you and up to two guests.
But lounge access isn't all The Platinum Card has to offer. You'll also get a ton of annual credits to help offset the card's $695 annual fee (see rates & fees). Seriously, the Amex Platinum has so many benefits, it's tough to keep it all straight.
Here are some highlights:
- You'll get up to $100 each year to spend at Sak's Fifth Avenue
- Up to $200 each year to use at Uber or on Uber Eats food delivery
- Up to $200 in Amex airline fee credits
- Up to $200 toward hotels booked through Amex Travel (a minimum two-night stay is required for Hotel Collection bookings)
- Up to $189 a year to cover CLEAR® Plus
- Up to $240 in digital entertainment credit
- And several more.
Simply put: Unless you're chasing Delta elite status, you'll get much more out of The Platinum Card for a similar annual fee.
Make sure to read our full comparison of the Delta Reserve vs Amex Platinum Card.
And since The Platinum Card earns American Express Membership Rewards points they can be transferred directly into your Delta SkyMiles account. Or better yet, they can be moved to Amex's more than 20 other airline and hotel partners to be used for an award redemption, making them much more valuable than SkyMiles alone.
Learn more about *amex platinum*.
The Delta Reserve Card is Delta's ultra-premium, co-branded credit card that comes packed with perks for loyal Delta Flyers. These perks make it a desirable card for many.
But the truth is that unless you're on the hunt for Delta Medallion elite status, the Reserve Card likely isn't for you – and as Delta makes it even harder to earn status starting next year, that group is getting even smaller. Most travelers will be better served with a lower-priced Delta card like the *delta skymiles gold card*.
And even if your primary reason for getting the Reserve Card is Sky Club access, The Platinum Card from American Express will get you in all the same.