Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card Review: Is It Worth the High Fee?

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card Review: Is It Worth the High Fee?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

With an excellent array of benefits, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is a solid pick for loyal Delta flyers. It offers a wealth of benefits for the loyal Delta business traveler, including Delta SkyClub access, an annual companion certificate, bonus earnings on Delta purchases and the ability to boost your Medallion status.

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Pros

  • Complimentary Delta SkyClub access
  • Complimentary Centurion Lounge access
  • High earning rate on Delta purchases
  • Annual companion flight certificate
  • Ability to boost your Medallion status
  • Excellent welcome offer

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Locked into earning Delta SkyMiles
  • Low return on non-Delta purchases
  • Terms apply
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Interested in a card with excellent perks for loyal Delta flyers? The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card may be exactly the card for you. It’s a premium travel card that carries a substantial $550 annual fee, but offers access to both Delta SkyClubs and Centurion Lounges when flying with Delta, as well as an annual companion flight certificate. worth hundreds. It also gives you the ability to boost your Medallion status with sufficient spending on your card each year. Plus, enjoy 3X miles when using your card for Delta Air Lines purchases.

We'll discuss the perks of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card in detail below, demonstrating why it’s an excellent choice for those who travel frequently with Delta Air Lines and offering a few other options if you're looking for a Delta SkyMiles business card, but also find it hard to swallow the high annual fee.

Earn 60,000 bonus miles

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card currently has a welcome offer that's a little larger than what has been offered historically.

You can Earn 60,000 bonus miles, 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

There are three different parts to this welcome offer, so let's break down the value being offered. The 60,000 bonus SkyMiles are redeemable miles worth an estimated $780 when redeemed for award travel. In addition to this, you can receive 10,000 MQMs, which may help you reach a higher tier of Delta Medallion status. (It's hard to place a cash value on these, but they will be useful for some Delta customers.) Finally, the $100 statement credit is worth its face value, since it’s a "cash" credit.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card welcome offer is a solid value. Still, there are welcome bonuses of a similar or higher value available on other cards (including other Delta cards) that come with a lower annual fee.

What it's worth: A total of $880. ValuePenguin pegs the value of Delta SkyMiles at 1.3 cents each, which means this welcome offer is worth $780 in Delta airfare, plus an additional $100 statement credit.

Who's eligible to earn this offer? This welcome offer is not available to applicants who currently have or have had in the past this or previous versions of this card. American Express may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed, as well as other factors, in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

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Earn 3X miles on Delta purchases

As you would expect, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card shines when it comes to making purchases with Delta Air Lines.

You'll Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 Mile per dollar on other purchases.

Delta Air Lines purchases include tickets purchased directly from Delta, seat upgrades, lounge day passes and onboard food and beverage purchases — all of these will earn 3 miles per dollar spent. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card also rewards small businesses with high annual credit card spend: Once you spend more than $150,000 in a calendar year on your card, American Express will increase your rewards rate to 1.5 Miles per dollar on all non-Delta spend through the rest of the year.

The 3X earning on Delta purchases gives you an average rewards value of $0.039 per $1 spent, based on ValuePenguin's valuation of Delta SkyMiles. The earning on non-Delta purchases is lackluster, at just $0.013 per $1 spent. Based on U.S. consumer data, the average cardholder will earn $0.015 in rewards per $1 spent.

Compared to most other co-branded airline cards, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card holds its own. However, it falls short when compared to some other American Express cards that earn flexible Membership Rewards points instead of earning SkyMiles.

Below are the average rewards rates for some other card products based on consumer data of typical cardholder expenditures.

Average rewards earned per $1 spent

$0.038
American Express® Business Gold Card
$0.033
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
$0.018
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
$0.016
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
$0.015
United℠ Business Card
$0.015
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
$0.015
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
$0.014
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
$0.012
CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

What are Delta SkyMiles worth?

Based on an analysis of redeeming Delta SkyMiles for a variety of ticket types, ValuePenguin pegs the average value at 1.3 cents per mile. This is about average compared to other airline programs, but above average when compared to the general rewards program currency.

To calculate the value you're getting for your miles, use this simple equation:

Cash price (minus taxes and fees) / Number of points needed for flight = Points value for that specific flight

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Redeeming miles

Delta uses a dynamic model for pricing their award flights. The cheapest award tickets typically start at just 4,500 miles one-way for short-haul domestic economy tickets, while international business class tickets can cost hundreds of thousands of miles — as such, there’s a wide spectrum of pricing depending on where and when you want to travel. Delta makes it incredibly easy to redeem SkyMiles for flights through Delta.com; you can book their own flights and flights on any of their 23 partners.

You'll generally get an average of 1.3 cents per SkyMile when redeeming them for flights, but the actual value is highly dependent on your origin, destination and cabin class. Although premium cabin tickets require a lot of miles, the overall value is generally better than Main Cabin award redemption.

You can redeem Delta SkyMiles in other ways besides flights, but the value is typically 1 cent per SkyMile or less.

Value of Delta SkyMiles

Round Trip

Main Cabin

First/Business

One Way

Main Cabin

First/Business

Domestic

Hub to Hub1.0 cents0.7 cents1.2 cents1.3 cents
Hub to Non-Hub1.2 cents1.5 cents1.3 cents1.5 cents
Non-Hub to Non-Hub1.3 cents1.3 cents0.9 cents1.4 cents
InternationalHub to Hub1.5 cents4.0 cents4.2 cents5.9 cents
Hub to Non-Hub1.6 cents3.2 cents2.4 cents3.7 cents
Non-Hub to Non-Hub1.3 cents1.9 cents3.7 cents3.4 cents
Average1.3 cents2.1 cents2.3 cents2.9 cents

Lounge access

One of the primary reasons that the annual fee for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is so high is the lounge access benefits that it provides. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card provides access to both Delta Sky Club lounges and Centurion Lounges. Some restrictions to be aware of:

  • You must be traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight in order to enjoy lounge access.
  • Complimentary access is only granted to the primary cardmember or additional cardholders (each additional cardholder costs $175 per year).
  • Either the cardmember or additional cardholders may bring in up to two guests or immediate family members into Delta Sky Club locations at a rate of $39 per person.
  • Centurion guest access is limited to two guests per visit at a rate of $50 per person.
  • The Reserve card does provide two annual one-time guest passes that can be used for complimentary Sky Club access.
  • Terms apply
Lounge access

New York (LGA) Centurion lounge, courtesy of thecenturionlounge.com

Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounges can be found in many locations across the United States. Sky Clubs are common in Delta hubs, plus many other U.S. airports.

Delta Sky Club Locations (sample)
Domestic Centurion Lounge Locations
  • Anchorage (ANC)
  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago O'Hare (ORD)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • New Orleans (MSY)
  • New York (JFK and LGA)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK and LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)

Other Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card benefits

In addition to the lounge access benefit, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card offers a fantastic array of other perks that can make it worth its high annual fee.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card offers a StatusBoost® feature that allows you to earn additional Medallion Qualifying Miles toward Delta Medallion status each year. Like its personal counterpart, the Delta Reserve, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card earns 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in purchases during the calendar year. You can do this up to four times, for a total of 60,000 MQMs after spending a cumulative $120,000. StatusBoost® makes it easy to earn or augment Delta Medallion status.

In addition to the bonus MQMs, you can also earn a Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver that eliminates the MQD requirement for Delta elite status:

  • For Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion, the MQD requirement is waived after you spend at least $25,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year.
  • To waive the MQD requirement for Delta Diamond, you need to spend $250,000
  • Terms apply

Delta Reserve cardmembers are provided two one-time guest passes every year that allow complimentary Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying on a same-day Delta flight. The cardmember must be present to use the one-time passes. Passes are loaded into your Delta account typically within 72 hours after opening or renewing your card and are valid for one year from the date of issue.

Another perk offered by the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is an annual companion certificate, which is granted upon card renewal and can be redeemed for a free round-trip flight for a companion who is traveling on the same itinerary as the cardmember.

Some restrictions apply: The certificate is valid for domestic flights with a destination within the lower 48 U.S. states in several seat classes including the Main Cabin, Comfort+ and First Class. Taxes and fees for the companion ticket will not exceed $75.

Unlike the certificate that comes with the lower-price Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, your Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card certificate is not restricted to the main cabin, making it more valuable.

One of the more enticing Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card benefits is that it increases your chances for obtaining a complimentary upgrade into Comfort+ or First Class on domestic flights. Delta Reserve cardmembers are prioritized over non-cardholders within the same Medallion status tier and fare class grouping. Delta will even upgrade non-elites after all Medallion members have cleared, if there are remaining seats. This benefit does not apply to additional cardmembers.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Cardmembers receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta-operated flights. Passengers traveling on the same reservation will enjoy the same boarding position. Main Cabin 1 Boarding occurs after DeltaOne, First Class, Comfort+ and SkyPriority boarding groups.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Cardmembers and up to eight additional passengers on the same reservation can enjoy the first checked bag fee. This is a savings of up to $30 per person each way for flights within the U.S. Fees for oversize or overweight bags still apply.

Cardmembers can either receive a $100 credit for the Global Entry application fee once every four years or an $85 credit for the TSA PreCheck application fee once every 4 ½ years.

This Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card benefit is for one program or the other, not both. However, it's important to note that the Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program also provides the benefits of TSA Precheck, but the application and approval process is more involved.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card insurance benefits include:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Baggage insurance plan
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Cell phone protection
  • Terms apply

Consult your Guide to Benefits for the full details of these card perks.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card charges no foreign transaction fees which can give you peace of mind when traveling outside the United States.

How does the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card compare to other cards?

With such an excellent array of benefits, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is a compelling choice for the frequent Delta traveler — though the main hurdle is the high annual fee. Fortunately, there are other Delta SkyMiles business cards offered by American Express with a lower annual fee and fewer benefits. We’ve compared the Delta Reserve to these other SkyMiles business cards, as well as to the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card vs. Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card

Lower annual fee, but far fewer perks

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card allows you to earn SkyMiles just like the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, but it has a much lower $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99. With this lower fee, though, the card perks are substantially trimmed down. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card does not offer lounge access benefits, a companion certificate or the StatusBoost® perk.

You also only Earn 2 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta, on every dollar spent on eligible U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, on every dollar spent on eligible U.S. shipping purchases, on every eligible dollar spent on dining at restaurants. Earn 1 Mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 (Better)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Worth $700 (Worse)
  • Rewards earned/$1 spent: $0.015 (Same)
  • Other benefits: Free checked bag, up to $100 Delta credit, no foreign transaction fees (Worse)
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card vs. Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card

Status boost and a companion pass for a lower annual fee

With a midrange annual fee of $250, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card bridges the gap between the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card. The card is a good option for those who want status perks and a companion pass, but don't want to pay the steep fee for lounge access.

Like the other two, this card earns Delta SkyMiles: Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and on every eligible dollar spent on purchases made directly with hotels.

It also provides a free checked bag when flying with Delta and charges no foreign transaction fees. In addition, it offers a trimmed down version of the StatusBoost® benefit and an annual companion certificate, although only for Main Cabin flights.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $250 (Better)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles, 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Worth $880 (Same)
  • Rewards earned/$1 spent: $0.014 (Worse)
  • Other benefits: Free checked bag, annual companion certificate, StatusBoost®, no foreign transaction fees (Worse)
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card vs. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Similar benefits, more flexible rewards

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is a better option if you're looking for a card that earns flexible rewards, as it earns Membership Rewards points instead of Delta SkyMiles. It’s a compelling competitor to the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card if you're looking for a premium card with a great array of perks.

Both cards offer lounge access perks (including access to Delta Sky Clubs) and high earning rates on Delta flights (all directly booked flights in the case of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express). The Business Platinum Card® from American Express goes further by offering hotel elite status (enrollment required) and a handful of other credits, including some for CLEAR® and Dell (enrollment required) that help justify the card's $595 annual fee.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $595 (Worse)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Worth $2,000 (Better)
  • Rewards earned/$1 spent: $0.033 (Better)
  • Other benefits: Lounge access (including Delta Sky Clubs), Dell credit (enrollment required), CLEAR® credit, airline incidental credit (enrollment required), Marriott and Hilton elite status (enrollment required) (Better)
  • Terms apply

Is the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card worth it?

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card comes with a bounty of benefits that make it worth it for loyal Delta flyers.

It outshines the other Delta credit cards by offering Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access, an annual companion certificate good for even first class flights and other passes and credits. For consumers who frequently fly Delta, the benefits will be well worth the card's high annual fee. The card will be less suited for the occasional Delta customer that only flies the airline a few times per year — in this situation, either the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card may make more sense.

If Delta isn't your airline of choice or you're looking for any of their other cards, check out our list of best airline credit cards.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card FAQs

What are the benefits of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card?

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card offers the following benefits: Delta SkyClub access, Centurion Lounge access, an annual companion certificate, 3x bonus miles on Delta purchases and the ability to boost your Medallion status through StatusBoost®.

Is Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card better than Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card?

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card carries a higher annual fee ($550) than the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card ($250). However, the Reserve card comes with access to both Delta Sky Club locations and Centurion Lounges when you fly with Delta Air Lines. The companion certificate with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is also better, as you can book Comfort+ or First Class tickets using this certificate.

Does Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card help with upgrades?

Yes, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card increases your chance of being upgraded. Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Cardholders are given upgrade priority within a specific Medallion tier and fare class. You can even be upgraded to Comfort+ or First Class as a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card holder even if you don’t have Medallion status.

The information related to Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).