Sky Clubs and Medallion status in one: Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex card review
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Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card Overview
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is Delta’s top-tier cobranded business credit card, offering a revamped suite of benefits best suited for high-budget businesses that are loyal to Delta. If Delta Medallion elite status and lounge access are important to you, there is a lot to love about this card. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Editor’s note: This card review is consistently updated with the newest card details and information.
Most of the top U.S. airlines offer both consumer and business versions of their cobranded credit cards, and Delta is no exception. If you are a business owner looking for a way to earn Delta miles on expenses and enjoy airline benefits, Delta and Amex offer three cobranded business credit cards, the top-tier option being the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex. While it certainly isn’t cheap, it does come with the perks you’d expect from a luxury credit card, and right now it has one of the top welcome offers among airline-branded business credit cards.
Delta and Amex revamped their entire lineup of cobranded credit cards in January 2020 with a focus on further differentiating the business and consumer versions of their cards to provide unique value to business travelers. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Delta Reserve Business card to see if it deserves a spot in your wallet.
Related reading: Best credit cards for Delta flyers
Who is this card for?
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex is a great option for business travelers who are looking for luxury benefits and a way to hit Medallion elite status faster through card spending. The card does charge a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), so you’ll want to make sure you are able to take advantage of the card’s offerings in order to justify the cost.
Because of the way some of the benefits are set up, this is also a card best suited for large budgets. To get the maximum Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) boost possible each year, you’ll have to spend $120,000 in total, and in order to unlock expanding earning potential on everyday purchases, you’ll have to spend more than $150,000 in total each year.
We’ll dig a bit more into both of these specific benefits later on, and there are certainly other perks that do not require a massive budget and allow any frequent Delta business flyers to benefit from the card. However, it is something to consider when weighing whether this card is a good fit for you.
The card application is pretty simple, although partnerships and corporations are required to submit a federal Employee Identification Number (EIN) in order to activate an American Express business account. You can also apply as a sole proprietor using your Social Security number, so don’t assume you have to run a large business to get this card. Even if you’re just an Ebay seller or freelance photographer, you could easily be eligible for a business credit card.
Related reading: Your guide to applying for small-business credit cards
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex is offering a welcome bonus of 45,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening. Those who were approved for the card from Dec. 1, 2019, through May 31, 2020, will get an extra three months to spend the $4,000 needed to earn the welcome offer. Based on the latest TPG valuations, Delta SkyMiles are worth 1.2 cents per mile, making this welcome offer worth $480 just for the redeemable miles alone.
It’s difficult to put a precise value on the 10,000 MQMs, but there’s no doubt that they do provide value for those who are hoping to hit elite status. However, if you don’t have any interest in being a Delta elite, these MQMs aren’t going to be useful for you.
Remember that Amex does have a once-per-card-per-lifetime restriction when it comes to welcome bonuses. As a result, if you’ve ever had the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex in the past (even if you didn’t earn a bonus), you won’t be eligible for this welcome bonus. Luckily, Amex does have a tool on-site that should warn you if you are ineligible for any given bonus before you submit your official application.
Main perks and benefits
There is a lot to love about the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex when it comes to the perks and benefits the card offers — especially for Delta travelers or those who live in a Delta hub or focus city.
Lounge access — This is where the Delta Reserve for Business Amex can easily be worth its $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), especially if you’re considering purchasing a Sky Club membership anyway (which costs $545 to buy outright). Just by getting the Delta Reserve card, you’ve already covered almost the entire annual fee and you gain access to more than 50 Delta lounges around the world, although this only includes Sky Clubs and not partner lounges. Guests are not complimentary; they cost $39 per person for up to two guests, which matches a regular individual Sky Club membership. Note that you now must be flying on Delta to access the lounges (again, just like a regular membership). You’ll now also get access to Amex Centurion Lounges as part of the changes that took effect on Jan. 30, 2020.
Two one-time Delta Sky Club passes — This is another new addition to the card. You’ll now get two one-time guest passes each year so that you can bring two people into the lounge with you when traveling together.
Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver — When you spend $25,000 in a year, the spending requirement for Platinum, Gold and Silver status is waived. You can also earn a waiver for the Diamond Medallion MQD requirements by spending $250,000 on the card in a year.
MQM Boost — As mentioned above, this feature can help you hit Medallion status before you ever step foot on a Delta aircraft. You’ll get 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend on the card each calendar year (up to four times per year). When you combine these earnings with the MQD waiver and bonus MQMs earned from the current welcome offer, you can potentially earn Platinum Medallion status just from credit card spend alone.
Related reading: Complete guide to Delta Medallion elite status
Companion certificate — Use this for a domestic first-class, Delta Comfort+ or domestic main cabin round-trip flight each year you renew the card. Note that you’ll need to pay up to $75 in government-imposed taxes and fees on the certificate.
Non-Medallion upgrades — Those who haven’t hit Medallion status will be given complimentary upgrades on eligible flights. While you will be added to the list after Medallions, this is a great perk for anyone who knows they won’t hit status immediately.
TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit — You’ll get up to $100 to pay for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. This is now a common perk across travel credit cards, but it is still a nice add-on for anyone who doesn’t already have a card with this benefit. However, do remember that the DHS is now cracking down on Global Entry eligibility, depending on what state you live in. Plus it’s important to know that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has temporarily suspended Global Entry enrollments through at least June 1, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Delta flight perks — You’ll get a number of benefits on Delta-operated flights, including first checked bag free, priority access and a 20% statement credit on all food, drink and audio headset inflight purchases.
Travel protections — This includes trip delay and trip cancellation and interruption insurance. You’ll also enjoy baggage insurance and car rental loss and damage insurance.
Shopping protections — The card comes with an extended warranty that adds up to two years on an original manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less. Purchase Protection covers items paid for with the card that are accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost, and is valid for up to 90 days after the date of purchase.
Delta Reserve Concierge — Concierge staff are available 24/7 to help with tasks including restaurant reservations, special event planning, gift advice and more. Global Assist gives you help with medical, legal, financial or other select emergency coordination and assistance services when you travel more than 100 miles from home.
With the Delta Reserve Business Amex, you’ll now earn 3 SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, including at delta.com, via phone reservation or at ticket counters, Delta Vacation packages, seat upgrades and seat selection fees, Delta Sky Club membership or passes, pre-purchased and inflight meals, inflight alcoholic beverages and audio headsets (but not Wi-Fi). It drops to 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else. You also won’t pay foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees) if you use the card when traveling overseas.
You won’t get more miles for popular business spending categories such as internet, shipping and office supplies, but you can earn extra miles by issuing authorized user cards to your employees. Those with high annual spending habits will also benefit from earning 1.5x on all non-Delta purchases after they spend $150,000 per year total.
You can also take advantage of the card’s Miles Boost feature to help earn MQMs through spending. With Miles Boost, you’ll earn 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 on the card, up to four times per year.
Delta got rid of its award chart back in 2015, so you’re going to need to do some searching in order to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to redeeming miles for flights. However, you can also book award travel on Delta’s 18 SkyTeam alliance partners, along with other carriers including GOL, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and WestJet. Many of these airlines are available to book online at Delta’s website, though you’ll also want to search elsewhere to find full SkyTeam availability.
If you’re looking for bargains when it comes to redeeming your miles, go to the SkyMiles Deals page, where Delta regularly posts deep discounts on round-trip tickets in economy and Delta One between specific city pairs. Recent deals include Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., for 20,000 miles or Atlanta to New York City for only 13,000 miles.
You can also redeem your SkyMiles for upgrades to the next class of service on Delta, as well as certain flights operated by partners Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Aeromexico. While this isn’t a particularly valuable use of Delta miles, it’ll save you from paying cash or trying to find premium cabin award availability.
Other redemption options include a Sky Club lounge membership or day passes, online shopping, gift cards, magazines and unique SkyMiles experiences. You can also transfer, gift or donate your miles to charity. However, you’ll get the most from your miles by redeeming them for flights.
Related reading: Best sweet spots with Delta SkyMiles
Which Cards Compete With the Delta Reserve Amex?
If you’re looking at the Delta Reserve Business Amex, it might also make sense to consider The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, especially since you still get some great Delta perks with that card. You’ll currently earn 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening. TPG’s valuations put Membership Rewards points at 2 cents per point, making the offer worth $1,500. And if you apply for the card between Dec. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, you’ll get an extra three months to reach the required spending for the card’s welcome offer.
The Business Platinum Amex offers the same access to Delta Sky Clubs as the Delta Reserve Business card, but you’ll miss out on the other Delta-specific features of the Reserve card — such as the status boosts, companion certificate, free checked bags and priority boarding. The Business Platinum card has its own additional perks, such as 5 points per dollar spent on airfare and on prepaid hotels when you book them through American Express Travel, an up to $200 annual airline fee credit and additional lounge access at Centurion, Priority Pass, Airspace and Escapes lounges, but you’ll also pay a higher $595 annual fee for all these benefits (see rates and fees). Plus for a limited time, the card comes with the following benefits:
- Up to $320 in statement credits on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping (up to $20 per month on each) from May through December 2020
- Up to $200 in additional statement credits for U.S. purchases with Dell: $100 in additional statement credits from May 1 through June 30, 2020, and up to $100 in additional statement credits between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.
If $550+ is too high of an annual fee for you to justify, another strong option is the revamped Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card. You’ll earn 45,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months, plus a $100 statement credit after your first Delta purchase on your new card in the first three months.
This card also comes with a nice suite of benefits for the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), including a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit (up to $100), annual companion certificate at renewal, travel protections and more. Most notably for those interested in Medallion status, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Amex offers 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 in a calendar year (up to 20,000 MQMs total per year) and offers an MQD waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year. Cardholders can earn 4x miles at U.S. supermarkets from May through July 2020.
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex is a good option if you’re a Delta enthusiast and would buy a Sky Club membership regardless, since you’ll save money by just paying the card’s annual fee. In fact, if you’re in the market to help you earn Delta miles and elite status while enjoying a host of luxury Delta benefits, it doesn’t get much better than the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex.
It also can make sense if you spend enough on the card to get you closer to elite Medallion status, as well as a better earning rate. But if you aren’t a regular Delta flyer or don’t need help getting Delta elite status, then there are better options out there to fit your needs.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.