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I applied for the Delta Reserve card — here's why every aviation enthusiast should too

July 30, 2022
8 min read
Delta Boeing 767
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.

As a longtime member of the editorial team here at The Points Guy, it's no surprise that I love credit cards — and aviation.

So when I first learned about the limited-edition card design on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — made (in part) from the metal of a retired Delta 747 — I just knew I had to add this card to my wallet.

Here's why I applied for the card — and why anyone who loves aviation should as well.

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The card art

My first trip on the Boeing 747 was back in July 2007. I had been accepted into a summer school program to teach English to young Chinese students in Shenzhen, China, and our routing involved flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo's Narita International Airport (NRT) on (now-defunct) Northwest Airlines. I already loved taking to the skies in any plane, but boarding that double-decker beauty was incredible.

Since then, I've flown a number of additional flights on the venerated "Queen of the Skies" — including:

  • Cathay Pacific from Bali to Hong Kong.
  • Virgin Atlantic from Manchester, England, to Orlando.
  • Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Washington, D.C.

I was crushed every time I read about another airline retiring these planes.

But now, I get to carry around a piece of a 747 in my wallet — thanks to the limited-edition art on the Delta Reserve card, which was made with 25% recycled metal from the plane.

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Earlier this month, Delta and American Express released a short video on just how these cards were fabricated, and I may (or may not) have watched it a few dozen times.

I may be overly sentimental (and thus a sucker for these things), but just holding the card in my hand feels like I'm reaching back into aviation history.

Note that this limited-edition design is only available through Aug. 3, 2022 — and only while supplies last. In fact, it was previously available to existing cardmembers, but that option has now ended, according to Eye of the Flyer.

The welcome offer

Of course, it helps that this exciting card design came with an increased welcome offer. If you applied for the card by Aug. 3, you could take home 100,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles after you spent $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership (Note: This is no longer available).

The current offer earns 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first six months of account opening.

This haul is worth $705 based on TPG's most recent valuations, this will be a great boost as I look ahead to planning fall travel.

It's true that SkyMiles aren't the most valuable currency for international redemptions in premium classes, but I've frequently been able to get a solid value when using my Delta miles for domestic flights and even a WestJet-operated itinerary to Toronto — where 25,000 miles offset a ticket priced at over $800.

Plus, when it comes to flying around the U.S., it's hard to compete with Delta's superior airport experience and inflight product.

Read more: Your complete guide to the Delta SkyMiles program

The elite status potential

I'm hoping to use the card to snag elite status — and at least one upgrade to first class. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Last year, Delta announced that all Medallion Qualification Miles earned in 2021 would be rolled over to the 2022 qualification year. And it just so happened that I flew Delta a fair amount last year, including flights to Minneapolis and Salt Lake City — the latter as part of an incredible summer trip to Twin Falls, Idaho.

This year, I added round-trip flights to Seattle plus a business trip to New York, putting me at 21,651 MQMs as of mid-June.

Fortunately, the Delta Reserve card offers status boosts. I can earn 15,000 MQMs by spending $30,000 on my card in a calendar year (up to four times, for a potential of 60,000 total MQMs with $120,000 in a year). I can't reach all of these spending thresholds, but I should be able to get at least one if not both of these:

  • By spending $30,000 by the end of the year, I'll earn 15,000 MQMs — pushing my total to 36,651 MQMs and earning Silver Medallion status.
  • By spending $60,000 by the end of the year, I'll earn a total of 30,000 MQMs — pushing my total to 51,651 MQMs and earning Gold Medallion status.

Note that my Medallion Qualification Dollar number is well short of qualifying, but by spending at least $25,000 on the card, I'll earn an MQD waiver — so that becomes a moot point.

Related: Here’s how to earn more Medallion Qualification Dollars by booking Delta partner tickets

The situation becomes a bit more complicated next year, as I'd expect Delta to go back to normal rollover MQMs (only for elite members and only for those earned beyond a certain qualification threshold). However, I could still earn Silver Medallion status solely by spending $60,000 in 2023.

That may not seem like the best target to maximize my spending, but there's another potential angle here: Delta lifetime elite status.

In a previous job, I was a road warrior and fiercely loyal to Delta (I was actually a charter Diamond Medallion member when that tier first launched in 2010). And as part of writing this article, I happened to notice that my Million Miler Qualification number stands at 702,828.

As a result, if I can combine spending on the Reserve with some semifrequent flying on Delta or its partner airlines, I have the potential to earn annual complimentary Silver Medallion status within a handful of years.

Read more: What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth in 2022?

The additional perks

I'll have a guest pass for my daughter to access the Sky Club when we next fly Delta. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Finally, I'm excited to utilize some of the additional perks of the Delta Reserve card on my upcoming travels. Two in particular stand out:

  • Complimentary upgrades: While I work on spending to earn the bonus MQMs (and status), I am now eligible for complimentary upgrades to first class and Comfort+ after all Medallions have cleared. I am aware that this is very rare, but given that I plan to use Delta for leisure trips rather than business-heavy routes, I'm hoping to have at least one clear. And once I do reach Silver status, I'm prioritized above others who don't have the card.
  • Two Sky Club guest passes: The Delta Reserve gets me access to the Sky Club when flying Delta, but I also get two guest passes per year. I already enjoyed this privilege by virtue of carrying The Platinum Card® from American Express, and my wife is an authorized user on that card and thus gets access in her own right. However, I'd have to pay $50 for my daughter to get in. Now, I'll have at least two of those guest fees waived — putting $78 back in my pocket.

And if I keep the card open next year (which I plan to do), I'll also receive a companion ticket, valid for select fares in first class, Comfort+ or economy. This perk by itself could easily offset most if not all of the card's $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) — so I'll be excited when this posts to my account upon renewal.

Related: A daytrip to Maine: The fun way we found to use the elusive Delta companion certificate

Bottom line

Call me a sucker for marketing, but I was thrilled when I learned about Delta and American Express launching a limited-time card design made in part of metal from a retired Boeing 747. And now that I have the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card in my wallet, I'm even more excited — thanks not only to the aviation history of the card but the welcome bonus and ongoing perks it offers.

Related reading:

  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex card review: 50,000 miles, loads of perks and a card made (in part) from a 747
  • The best Delta credit cards of 2022
  • 1 year of earning and burning with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve
  • Want a piece of aviation history in your wallet? Here’s why you need to consider the new Delta card offers

Apply now: Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex with 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first six months of account opening.

For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Amex, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.