Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card – Review

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is reserved (no pun intended) for loyal Delta business travelers who like to travel in style and don’t mind paying the $550 annual fee. It’s a perennial contender for inclusion on our best small business credit cards list. For the relative handful of business travelers who can afford to carry it in their wallets, it’s worthy of inclusion in our best travel rewards credit cards and best airline credit cards lists too.

Am I one of those business travelers? No. No, I am not. But I am a frequent traveler who uses premium credit cards to reduce the cost of flying to, staying in, and driving around the places I visit. And I review credit cards for a living. I know a good travel credit card when I see it.

That being the case, I do recommend the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card to business travelers who take to the skies often and tend to fly Delta when they do. For less frequent business travelers and those put off by the price tag, I’d recommend the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card instead.

What Is the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card?

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card is a super-premium business travel credit card designed for people who frequently fly Delta for business.

Like the consumer version, it offers complimentary and access to Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge locations for the primary cardholder with same day ticketed Delta travel booked with a U.S.-issued American Express card. It offers a big boost toward exalted Delta Medallion status, with even juicier rewards for big spenders. And it offers a complimentary companion airfare ticket (less taxes and fees) on every cardmember anniversary, making it perfect for cardholders who don’t like to travel alone.

Key Features of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

These are the key features of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card. They include a generous welcome offer, the Delta Medallion program, and other choice perks.

Welcome Offer

Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Miles after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends

Delta Medallion Program

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business’ most generous benefits involve the Delta Medallion status program, which has a bevy of perks designed to increase comfort and convenience for frequent Delta flyers: accelerated MQM and SkyMiles earnings, complimentary preferred seating and class upgrades, priority boarding, waived baggage fees, and more.

The program has four distinct tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. As you ascend the tiers, the benefits get better: Diamond status, the highest tier, includes two Global Entry application vouchers, complimentary Delta Sky Club access, Medallion status gifting privileges, and more.

To reach each successive Medallion status level, you need to combine Medallion Qualification Miles (actual flight miles calculated as a multiple of total flight distance – 200% of first-class flight distance and 100% of economy flight distance, but sometimes more or less) or Medallion Qualification Segments (any Delta flight segment, meaning multi-leg one-way flights count as multiple segments) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (base fares, surcharges, and certain upgrades, but usually not taxes or fees) within a single calendar year.

After reaching a given Medallion status threshold, you retain that status for the remainder of the current year and the entire year following.

The status thresholds are:

  • Silver Medallion Status: 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs and $3,000 MQDs
  • Gold Medallion Status: 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs
  • Platinum Medallion Status: 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $9,000 MQDs
  • Diamond Medallion Status: 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and $15,000 MQDs.

Earning SkyMiles

This card earns 3 Delta SkyMiles for every $1 spent on eligible Delta purchases made directly with the airline. Earn 1.5 SkyMiles for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases after you spend $150,000 in a calendar year (terms apply); otherwise, earn 1 SkyMile per $1 spent on eligible non-Delta purchases.

Redeeming SkyMiles

The best way to redeem your accumulated SkyMiles is for Delta airfare. Domestic economy one-ways within the continental United States typically require at least 10,000 SkyMiles, but bear in mind that Delta’s redemption tables are subject to change over time. Longer flights within certain regions (for instance, New York to Los Angeles, as opposed to Minneapolis to Detroit) and high-demand flights (such as spring break journeys to popular vacation destinations) require more SkyMiles.

SkyMiles’ redemption values fluctuate considerably depending on the route, time of week, time of day, and other factors. As a rule, expect your miles to be worth between $0.005 to $0.02 at redemption.

  • Pay With Miles: The Pay With Miles feature is an exclusive benefit for several American Express-issued Delta cards and their business counterparts. You can put SkyMiles toward a partial award travel redemption at a flat $0.01-per-point ratio, then cover the rest of the published fare with cash. For instance, a 5,000-SkyMile Pay With Miles redemption equates to a $50 fare reduction, regardless of route or published fare price.
  • Other Redemption Options: If you don’t want to redeem for airfare, you can opt instead to redeem SkyMiles at the Delta SkyMiles MarketPlace. There, you’ll find gift cards, merchandise, and special experiences (such as concerts and tours). However, MarketPlace redemptions rarely offer the most bang for your buck, as they usually value miles at well under $0.01 apiece. On the bright side, you can redeem in the MarketPlace with as little as 2,000 SkyMiles.

Annual MQMs Bonus (Status Boost)

When you use your card to make at least $30,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year, you receive 15,000 bonus MQMs, up to 4 times per year (for a total potential status boost of 60,000 MQMs).

MQD Waiver With Sufficient Spending

When you spend at least $25,000 in a calendar year, you earn a Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver. This eliminates the need to reach the normal MQD threshold needed to qualify for a given Medallion status level. Instead, you can achieve the same status level with MQMs or MQSs alone. For instance, with the waiver, you automatically earn Platinum status as soon as you earn 75,000 MQMs in a travel year, and the $9,000 MQD threshold becomes irrelevant.

Annual Companion Certificate Benefit

On your annual renewal date, you get a complimentary companion certificate that’s good for a domestic first-class or economy round-trip flight anywhere in the continental United States. Your designated companion needs to be traveling on the same reservation with you and is required to pay any taxes and fees with your Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card. According to Delta, your tax and fee load will never exceed $75 per ticket.

Complimentary Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge Access for Primary Cardholder

As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy complimentary Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access for yourself as long as your account remains open and in good standing. If you’re traveling with ticketed companions, you can also get up to two one-time passes for lounge entry.

You just need to hold a valid ticket for a same-day Delta-operated flight (booked with a U.S.-issued American Express credit card) when you attempt to enter the lounge. So do your companions, if present.

Enrollment is required for these benefits.

Additional Travel Benefits of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

This card’s additional travel benefits include:

  • In-Flight Discounts. Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business cardholders enjoy 20% off all in-flight purchases, with no caps or restrictions on how much they can save.
  • Main Cabin Priority Boarding. Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business cardholders also enjoy main cabin priority boarding privileges that get them on the plane before the general groups.
  • Free Checked Bag. All cardholders are entitled to one free checked bag on all Delta flights, regardless of destination.
  • Lowest Rate Guarantee for Amex Hotels. When you book hotels through American Express’ proprietary travel portal, you’re entitled to a “lowest rate guarantee” that frequently prices rooms well below the published rate.

Important Fees

This card has a $550 annual fee. There is no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%. Late and returned payments both cost up to $39.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card , please visit this rates and fees page.

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit.

Advantages of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

The top advantages of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card include generous MQM bonuses and MQD waivers, complimentary Sky Club lounge access for the primary cardholder, and an annual companion certificate offer with first class privileges.

  • MQM Bonuses Mean Rapid Progress Toward Higher Medallion Statuses. This card’s signature benefit is accelerated MQM earnings for heavy spenders. When you spend $30,000 in eligible purchases in a year, you get 15,000 MQMs, followed by another 15,000 MQMs when you hit $60,000 in eligible purchases within the same calendar year. All told, that’s more than enough to achieve Silver Medallion status, an upgrade from Silver to Gold, or an upgrade from Gold to Platinum. If you use this card as your primary business credit card, regularly fly Delta, and spend heavily with your card over the course of the year, you’re virtually guaranteed to earn upper-echelon Medallion status every year for as long as your account remains open and active.
  • MQD Waivers Eliminate Need to Rack Up Airfare Dollars. Once you hit $25,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year, you’re no longer required to meet the MQD requirements for Medallion status thresholds – meaning you can still achieve higher Medallion statuses through a combination of MQMs and MQSs. This is great for travelers who complete lots of short, cheap segments. It’s also nice for those who spend heavily on non-airfare purchases, thus qualifying for this card’s MQM bonuses).
  • Complimentary Sky Club and Centurion Lounge Access for Primary Cardholder. As long as your card account remains open and in good standing, you’ll enjoy complimentary Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access with same-day ticketed Delta travel booked with a U.S.-issued American Express card. (Enrollment is required.)
  • Annual Companion Certificate Includes First-Class Privileges. Unlike most airline credit cards’ companion certificates, this card’s companion certificate is good for first-class travel. That’s a huge benefit for discerning travelers who like to fly in style, and it’s available on any domestic Delta route. Depending on the itinerary and fare class, the certificate’s annual value can approach or even exceed $1,000 – more than double this card’s annual fee.
  • Solid Welcome Offer. This card has a strong welcome offer that blows the competition out of the water.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee. Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business has no foreign transaction fee. If you regularly fly overseas for business, this can save you 2% to 3% on international purchases every time you go.

Disadvantages of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

The top drawbacks of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card include the high annual fee and authorized user fee, no air travel credits, and limitations on SkyMiles redemption.

  • Hefty Annual Fee and Authorized User Fee. This card has a $550 annual fee, among the highest in the business travel credit card realm. If you can take full advantage of this card’s benefits and bonuses, you’ll likely come out ahead. If not, more affordable cards exist.
  • No Air Travel Credit or Partner Credits. This card doesn’t have an air travel credit allowance or a partner credit program. That’s a big drawback relative to other exclusive business travel cards.
  • Airfare Rewards and Redemption Limited to Delta and Its Partners. SkyMiles earned with this card aren’t as valuable as some other loyalty currencies. On the airfare front, you can only redeem them for flights with Delta or its partner airlines. If you live far from a Delta- or partner-served airport, or simply want the flexibility to redeem for other travel expenses (such as hotels and rental cars), consider a more versatile business travel card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
  • MarketPlace Redemptions Undervalue SkyMiles. When redeemed for Delta airfare, SkyMiles can be worth as much as $0.02 per point, and occasionally even more. Unfortunately, non-airfare redemptions don’t fare so well. At the SkyMiles MarketPlace, points are typically worth well under $0.01 apiece when redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, or experiences. In fact, the only reason to ever countenance a MarketPlace redemption is to use up SkyMiles that you’re certain you’ll never redeem for airfare, likely because you’re racking them up too fast. And if that happens, it’s probably time to look for another card anyway. Consider an American Express alternative that uses Membership Rewards® loyalty points, which can be redeemed at fair values for a wider range of items. Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express and Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express are both solid choices.

How the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card Stacks Up

If you’re not yet sold on the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card, consider its stablemate: the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card. It’s designed for a slightly less discerning class of business Delta traveler, one who doesn’t take to the skies quite as often.

See how the two compare, then decide which is a better fit for you.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business
Annual Fee $550 $250
Companion Airfare Yes, economy and business/first class Yes, economy only
Airport Lounge Access Yes Not complimentary
Status Benefits 15,000 bonus MQMs with $30,000 annual spend, up to four times per year (maximum 60,000 bonus MQMs) 10,000 bonus MQMs with $25,000 annual spend; additional 10,000 bonus MQMs with $25,000 additional annual spend
Rewards Rate 3x SkyMiles on eligible Delta purchases 3x SkyMiles on eligible Delta and hotel purchases

Final Word

Even if you live close to a Delta or partner hub, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card might not be appropriate for your needs. After all, while virtually every U.S. air traveler has at least considered flying Delta at some point, only a small handful have walked into a Sky Club lounge or availed themselves of the lavish perks available only to Diamond Medallion status members.

Unless you’re a frequent business traveler who enjoys (and wants your employees to enjoy) the very best in commercial airline service, this card probably isn’t your ideal travel rewards credit card. But don’t despair – there are plenty of lower-cost business travel cards that offer a great compromise between tangible benefits and everyday value.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, please visit this rates and fees page.

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