Executive Summary -
The highest tier card in the Delta line of cards from American Express. Offers the card member the opportunity to automatically qualify for Silver Elite status as long as annual spending targets are met. Ability to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) is the best selling point of this card.
Summary - I have to treat the review of the Delta Reserve Credit Card with extra care as it is the most "elite" version among the the three delta skymiles credit cards (the others being the gold and platinum version). But having said that, I could jump the gun and say that this is one airline credit card that I can recommend and say it is perhaps the best airline credit card out there. You get perks that you will not find on other airline cards. So for the true frequent fliers on Delta, you should be jumping all over this.
What it has in common with the Gold and Platinum version - First, let's get this out of the way. Like the other Delta cards in the family, you can earn double miles, use miles to pay for tickets, get your first baggage free and have an annual companion ticket (but this one is valid for first class as well). The additional upgraded features include access to the Crown Room (lounge) and American Express's Concierge service. But the best feature of this card is the following:
Get Silver Elite Status Without Flying? - The neat feature about the Delta Reserve Card is that you can earn additional MQMs depending on your level of spending. You can choose to use those MQMs towards qualifying for your elite status or you can give them away. If you meet the spending requirements of $60,000 in annual spend, the MQMs that you earn will automatically qualify you for Silver Status. Yes, so you can actually be an elite member without even flying with Delta in any calendar year!
But here is the detailed breakdown of the spending requirements and MQMs that you earn. If you spend $30,000, you will earn 15,000 MQMs. When your annual spend reaches $60,000, you get an additional 15,000 MQMs, making a total of 30,000 MQMs.
Elite Status Requirements - If you look at the chart below, you can see that to qualify for Silver status, you need 25,000 MQMs. So 30,000 MQMs get you silver status without even flying with Delta for a year! Gold Elite Status requires 50,000 MQMs or 60 flight segments. So with this card (assuming you spend $60,000), you will need an additional 20,000 MQMs to get Gold Status. Platinum Status requires 75,000 MQMs or 100 flight segments. So having this card gets you at least close to half way there. The diamond status requires 125,000 MQMs. So even with this card, you need to really fly a lot to get that status.
Do the features justify the $450 Annual Fee? - The answer is a qualified yes. Firstly, the ability to access Delta Sky Club already has this card paying for itself. If you are a Platinum or Diamond member, you need to pay $300 to access the Delta Sky Club (for a year). For Gold members, it cost $350. For silver members, it cost $450 and for general members, it cost $450. Hence, the fee for this card pays for the access to the Delta Sky Club. But aside from this, you get an annual companion ticket (first class as well for the Reserve Card). The best benefits for elite status are really priority upgrade list and unlimited complimentary upgrades when seats are available, preferred seating. If there is one seat left in first, and there are two Platinum Medallions waiting for it, the one with this card gets it. You also get American Express Concierge Service which is a great service (I have the Platinum Card so I can attest to that).
And obviously, the most notable feature of the Delta Reserve Credit Card is the ability to earn silver elite status once you meet their $60,000 annual spend requirements. It essentially means you do not even need to fly in a single year to get an Elite Status. If you fly enough, the MQMs you earn may allow you to get a gold or platinum elite membership.
So if you are not really a super frequent flyer but want the benefits of an Elite Status, then this is the best card in Delta's line up to get because you can get Silver Status without flying. If you fly enough but are short of MQMs for a higher elite level, this is also a good card to get.
Also the additional MQMs that are available to big spenders on this card make it ideal for a business traveler based in one of Delta's hubs. With the merger with Northwest effectively complete, those hubs now include places like Minneapolis, Memphis, and Detroit, in addition to New York, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Salt Lake City. These business travelers, who will rack up thousands of dollars in company reimbursed expenses every month, stand to move up to the highest levels of Delta's system, assuring them first class upgrades on almost every flight.
I highly recommend this card to the true Delta frequent flier. As an incentive, you also get 10,000 MQMs after your first purchase.
Note - However, if you fly enough to earn Platinum status every year, then you might want to get the Gold Delta Skymiles® Credit Card from American Express (obviously) because it has a lower annual fee.
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