American Express continues to expand its credit card and travel card offerings to the top tier travelers, adding the Deltas Reserve Card to its list of must-haves for the frequent flyer. This is definitely not aimed at the casual traveler with an annual fee of $450. In order to get your money’s worth (if that’s what you interested in), you will have to rack up those frequent flyer miles to pay your way for an additional flight (or two, or three) to the destination of your choice. So the goal is to find as many ways to use the card that will be to your advantage as you can while minimizing the actual dollar cost that will disappear from your bank account. To that end, here is a list of 20 benefits of having the Delta Reserve Card. It is not likely you will be able to use every single benefit listed here, but it is important that you can the list and see which benefits are the most convenient and make the most sense for your particular travel habits.
1. The Welcome Bonus
The best frequent traveler cards have a welcome bonus, and the Delta Reserve card is no different. If you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account, you will get 40,000 bonus miles. But you also need to know that Delta often has promotions that can increase those bonus numbers, so if you’re not in a hurry to get the card you might be able to wait for the most opportune time. Even with this, you might have to do some card application planning, as will be seen later.
2. Delta’s Medallion Program is crucial to maximizing your benefits
Delta has four Medallion Levels – Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Each level accelerates your rewards points and is based on how often you fly with Delta. Check down below to see what MQMs are and their importance to your overall experience with the Reserve card.
3. A Companion Certificate
The Delta Companion Certificate is a feature that allows you to fly once a year with a friend for free, provided you buy your own ticket. That’s a free flight for someone you really want to travel with as long as you stay domestic. International flights and Guam are not included in this benefit.
4. Priority boarding.
No one wants to stand in the lines where mobs of impatient passengers jockey for position to avoid having to wait for on-board passengers who clog up the aisles trying to get their act together. Frequent travelers have better things to do, so Delta gives their Reserve cardholders the opportunity for priority boarding. Pass this benefit up at your own risk.
5. SkyMiles rewards
Here is one benefit that is not significantly different from Delta’s own offering of the Delta Platinum Card. You will get one SkyMile for every dollar you spend on the everyday items, and two SkyMiles for every $1 spent when you make Delta purchases. This is said not to be the type of card you want to get if you are trying to rack up tons of frequent flyer miles, so you have been warned.
6. Concierge services
The availability of concierge services for most people does not have a great appeal, but frequent flyers know how convenient and sometimes essential such services can be. The Reserve card doesn’t offer an intricate system of concierge services, but for basic needs such as restaurant recommendations or advice on what gift to buy you will find them very useful. It is one less thing to worry about.
7. Baggage insurance
Any bag that you check in, whether it is checked or onboard carry on, is covered by Delta Reserve card insurance. It doesn’t matter if it is damaged, stolen, or just lost. The maximums are $1,250 for your carry-on bag and $500 for a checked bag. So keep your most expensive items in your carry-on.
8. Road trip insurance
Road trips are one of the most scenic and friendly ways to explore a foreign country, but since many drivers in those countries drive on the wrong side of the road, accidents can happen. But it doesn’t have to be an accident to be covered by the Reserve card. If your car breaks down or you just need a tow for a short distance, you’re covered. Even if you just run out of gas, the assistance number on the back of the card will get help to your location.
9. Cashing in on SkyMiles
One of the more unusual aspects of Delta’s policy on using those accumulated SkyMiles is there is no way for people to find out exactly what their points are worth until they go to use them. That is one consistent point of irritation for Delta flyers, but there are opportunities to get one-way flights for as little as 10,000 SkyMiles. When you consider you get 40,000 SkyMiles by meeting the Welcome Bonus requirements, that’s 4 free flights you can use.
10. Vacation package benefit
Again, the goal here is to maximize the value of your $450 annual fee. By choosing to use Delta Air Lines as your preferred carrier and go through Delta Vacation to purchase your vacation packages you will get 2x Skymiles. If you use a travel agent, be sure they know about this simple extra.
11. Car rental insurance
This is different from the above-mentioned Road Trip Insurance as this covers any damages to your car (or someone else’s) or if your car is a total loss. One caveat is to be sure you decline the collision damage waiver offered by the car rental company in order to be eligible for the insurance using your Delta Reserve card.
Racking up Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) is the best way to maximize your Delta frequent flyer benefits whether you are a Reserve cardholder or not. But if you do have the Reserve card your benefits will be magnified considerably. The ultimate goal is to get to the Diamond Medallion status, at which point you will be very happy about your decision to get the Delta Reserve card. You progress from Silver through Platinum status fairly easily if you are a frequent flyer, but the Diamond status is a significant hurdle.
13. Use your frequent flyer number to get a free checked bag
The one thing most airlines do when profits start declining and they are looking for ways to increase revenue is to up the charge for checked in baggage. Carrying the most important items in your carry-on bag makes perfect sense, but most people will have at least one bag to be checked in. Save yourself the money for baggage fees and take advantage of this simple freebie. If you fly once a week and check in one bag, at a cost of $25 per bag that can add up to more than $1,200 a year. You have better things to do with your money.
14. Save on in-flight purchases
We all know that in-flight purchases can cost you a lot of money, whether it is for an extra beverage or a Wi-Fi connection. The Reserve card gets you a 20 percent discount on all in-flight purchases – except on Wi-Fi access. You will see the discount appear as a credit on your monthly statement.
15. Calendar qualification years
This is a benefit that you need to keep an eye on lest you become confused and miss out. The key is to remember “calendar year.” If you spend more than $25,000 on eligible purchases (be sure you meet the qualification) in a calendar year you can move up a Medallion Status Level x3. This means you will go from Silver to Platinum without waiting. But as we mentioned earlier, the Diamond Medallion is more challenging. The amount you will have to spend is a minimum of
16. Admittance into Delta’s Sky Clubs
Frequent fliers know all too well about the value of a place to relax away from the frenzied mobs of harried travelers. Delta has Sky Clubs around the world, and they are free for Reserve card members. If you are only holding a Delta Platinum Card it will cost you $30 to get in.
17. Beware of the Chase 5/24 rule
This is for people who have Chase Bank credit cards, but it is a critical issue to consider before applying for the Delta Reserve Card. The Reserve card is a personal card, which means that it will count against the 5/24 rule. The rule states that people who apply for 5 cards within a 24 month period will face automatic rejection of any other applications. This rule does not apply to business credit or airline cards. Because we know there are many Chase cardholders among the traveling public, we thought this was important to include in the list.
18. Adding additional users
Again, the difference between the Reserve and Platinum Delta cards shows up here. You can save yourself the cost of $170 to add an additional user by choosing the Reserve card. The authorized user will also have access to the same Sky Club privileges, and it’s not hard to see how many arguments that will avoid.
19. Purchase protection
If any purchase you make with the Reserve card is lost, stolen, or even broken, you will be able to get a full refund within 90 days of reporting the incident. Simply call the number on the back of your Reserve card and tell them what happened. There are dollar limitations on how much money will be refunded to you per year, and you also need to check the list of covered items.
20. More spending benefits
By regularly using the Reserve card for all your everyday purchases, not only will most of those purchases be insured but you can also earn SkyMiles and MQMs by doing so. You can get an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs once you spend $30,000 in a calendar year using your card. If you double that amount to $60,000 in the same calendar year you will get another 15,000 bonus Delta miles and 15,000 MQMs.
The question to be answered after looking at all these benefits (and a few qualifiers) is whether applying for the Delta Reserve Card is something that will benefit you over the long haul. There aren’t many benefits for the casual traveler considering you will be spending $450 a year to have it. Yes, it is a prestige/status card, but other than that it is hard to justify the cost of the annual fee.
Frequent flyers are clearly the target of this card, but it is unusual that Delta offers this card as a personal card. Most high-end cards that are offered target businesses that have large travel expense budgets. Plus, given the Chase 5/24 rule it seems somewhat contradictory to make this a personal credit card. However, there are many small businesses that are sole proprietorships who at least have the option to choose.
Many of the benefits are standard fair on competitor cards, so what is clear is that people who are loyal to Delta and who fly regularly will get the greatest benefit from the card. One feature that makes this card attractive is the no-cost addition of an authorized user, giving flexibility to both businesses and individual flyers. The Companion Certificate is a nice perk, and the Medallion Levels give both small spenders and big spenders the chance to add SkyMiles and rewards to their Delta experience.
Written by Bill Vix
Read more posts by Bill Vix