Is Amex Platinum or Delta Reserve Better for Delta Flyers?
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TPG reader Jimmy sent a message on Facebook to ask about two premium credit cards:
“I travel nearly every week, mostly on Delta. Which card offers better value in those circumstances: Amex Platinum or Delta Reserve?”
Using the right credit card is an easy way to maximize the points and miles you earn on spending, but there are other factors to consider when choosing a card for travel purchases. This is especially true of premium credit cards, which come with higher annual fees, but tend to offer a wider array of benefits that can be particularly lucrative if they suit your needs.
Both the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express are among the best cards for Delta flyers. Each one comes with an annual fee, and there's some overlap in terms of benefits. I think deciding between the two comes down to how much you value Delta Medallion status, and whether you could benefit from earning extra Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) each year.
The Reserve card offers 15,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 MQMs when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year, plus another 15,000 of each when you spend $60,000. It sounds like Jimmy is already flying enough to qualify for Gold status (including the revenue requirements), but you could get a lot of value from those spending bonuses if the extra MQMs help you reach Platinum or Diamond.
If you don't care about elite status, then I think Amex Platinum offers better value overall. Both cards give you access to Delta Sky Clubs (when ticketed for same-day travel on a Delta-operated flight) and charge you for additional guests. However, Amex Platinum also gets you into Priority Pass and Centurion Lounges, which can help when you book with another airline or end up in an airport without a Sky Club.
The Platinum card comes with several other great benefits, such as the $200 annual airline fee credit, the $100 Global Entry application fee credit and Gold elite status with both Starwood and Hilton. Delta Reserve offers a 20% discount on Delta in-flight purchases, a free checked bag and priority boarding. Those are all nice perks for Delta flyers, but they're not game changers.
Keep in mind that neither card is a good option for actually earning Delta miles — the Reserve card earns 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and the Platinum card earns 2 points per dollar when you book through Amex Travel, but there are no other bonus categories. Amex Membership Rewards transfer instantly to Delta at a 1:1 ratio, and I'd much rather earn the more flexible points than SkyMiles. However, you should look elsewhere if you want a card to maximize your return on everyday spending.