Of the three Delta business credit cards offered by American Express, the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card (a Money Crashers partner) is considered the most elite. It rewards purchases with Delta SkyMiles and provides opportunities to earn elite statuses that feature attractive travel bonuses. The Delta Reserve for Business is an appealing option because of its lack of a foreign transaction fee, its annual and spending-based bonuses, and the fact that it gives business owners a chance to earn more Delta flight benefits than the Gold or Platinum versions of the card – but does it offer enough to justify a higher annual fee?
- Sign-up Bonus. After you make your first purchase with the Delta Reserve for Business you earn a bonus of 10,000 SkyMiles (which also count as 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs). The bonus SkyMiles are enough for two seat upgrades, and the MQMs help you get closer to your next Medallion status.
- Fees. The annual fee is $450. There is no option to transfer balances and there is no foreign transaction fee.
- Rewards Program. The Delta Reserve for Business awards 2 SkyMiles for each dollar spent on Delta purchases, and 1 SkyMile for each dollar spent on all other purchases. There is no cap on the number of SkyMiles that can be earned and they do not expire.
- Redemption of Rewards. SkyMiles can be redeemed for Delta flights, with economy class Saver tickets available for as few as 12,500 miles. They can also be redeemed for seat upgrades at 5,000 miles, for merchandise in the SkyMiles Marketplace, and for charitable donations via SkyWish to such organizations as American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society.
- Medallion Status Program. With Delta SkyMiles, you can earn Medallion Statuses of Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Each requires a certain number of MQMs based on the miles you travel. Alternatively, statuses can be earned with a certain number of Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs), which are based on the number of segments traveled, and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), based on the dollar amount spent on airfare. However, the MQD requirement can be waived if you spend $25,000 within a calendar year. Silver is the first tier and requires 25,000 MQMs, or 30 MQSs and $2,500 in MQDs. It includes perks such as complimentary preferred seats and a bonus of 25% on your Medallion miles. Diamond is the top tier and requires 125,000 MQMs, or 140 MQSs and $12,500 in MQDs. It includes Delta perks such as complimentary Economy Comfort Seats for U.S. travel and a Medallion mileage bonus of 125%.
- Annual Bonus. Each calendar year that you spend $30,000 with your card, you receive a bonus of 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 SkyMiles. If you spend another $30,000 within that same calendar year, you receive another 15,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 MQMs.
- Annual Companion Certificate. Each year you renew your card, you receive a companion certificate good for a domestic economy class or first class flight, subject to taxes and fees ranging from $28.20 to $69.20.
- Flight Benefits. With the card, you receive benefits such as a 20% discount on in-flight purchases such as food, beverages, and movies – credited to your statement – as well as Zone 1 Priority Boarding, which allows you to board before other passengers. Your first checked bag is free, as are those of companions on the same reservation, up to a total of 9 waivers – a $50 per-person value on domestic round-trip flights. You also receive complimentary access to Delta SkyClub lounges, and access for up to 2 guests at a discounted rate of $29 each per visit. Membership usually costs $450 per year, or $45 per visit.
- Concierge Service. As a cardholder, you receive complimentary concierge service, which helps you purchase gifts, make reservations, and set up meetings.
- Business Benefits. The Delta Reserve for Business features American Express OPEN Benefits, which are specific to small business owners. These include access to the OPEN forum where you can discuss many topics and ask advice of other business owners, and ReceiptMatch, an app that allows you to snap photos of receipts with your smartphone, label them with categories, and match them to purchases on your account statement.
- Savings on Business Expenses. When you shop with OPEN Savings Network partners, including Hertz and FedEx, you receive up to a 10% discount, credited to your statement.
- Annual Bonuses. Of the three Delta SkyMiles for Business cards, the Delta Reserve offers the highest annual bonuses, with the opportunity to earn up to an extra 30,000 SkyMiles and 30,000 MQMs if you spend $60,000 on your card within a calendar year. Additionally, the Reserve is the only card of the three that awards an annual companion certificate that can be used for either first class or economy seats.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. There is no longer a foreign transaction fee on any of the consumer or business American Express Delta SkyMiles credit cards. This is beneficial if you make purchases abroad frequently and want to avoid a fee that can be as high as 3% on competing credit cards.
- Low Sign-up Bonus. The sign-up bonus offered by the Delta Reserve for Business is not enough for a full flight. In fact, the sign-up bonus offered by the Delta Reserve is lower than the majority of business cards and airline rewards cards.
- High Annual Fee. The annual fee of $450 is one of the highest on any credit card and is difficult to justify, especially when it offers the same flight benefits as the Platinum Business version, which has an annual fee of $195.
- Slight Increase in Annual Bonus. Although you can receive an annual bonus of 5,000 more SkyMiles and MQMs than with the Platinum card, you also have to spend $5,000 more with your card in a calendar year. This may not be a significant enough boost to distinguish the Delta Reserve from the Platinum card, considering a difference of almost $250 in the annual fee.
- Very Few Business Benefits. Except for access to the OPEN Forum, ReceiptMatch, and the 10% discount for shopping with OPEN Savings Network partners, there is little difference between the consumer version of the Delta Reserve and the business version. If you want to earn rewards on business-related purchases, or if you’re interested in a more business-oriented credit card, the Chase Ink cards allow you to earn cash back on business purchases, and redeem for cash, travel, or gift cards. These cards also offer the Jot app for keeping track of expenses, and feature general travel benefits such as lounge club access. The Chase Ink Plus only has an annual fee of $95 and the Chase Ink Cash has no annual fee at all.
For an annual fee of $450, you might expect the Delta Reserve for Business to be more impressive, but much like the consumer version, it is not. It is similar to the Platinum version of the card except for a slight increase in annual bonuses – but its sign-up bonus is actually lower than those offered by many other business cards and airline rewards cards. Unless you spend at least $60,000 per year on your card and can appreciate the concierge service, complimentary access to Delta SkyClubs, and the opportunity to use your companion certificate on first class seating, the Platinum card is a better and less expensive option.
The Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card does not justify its hefty annual fee with a sign-up bonus, rewards, or other benefits. However, it could be a good card for you if you travel frequently with Delta Airlines, visit Delta SkyClub lounges often, and are looking for opportunities to get to the highest elite statuses faster – and the benefits, such as bonuses in SkyMiles and MQMS and complimentary upgrades, that accompany those statuses.
3.5 out of 5 stars: Not enough bonuses, flight benefits, or business benefits for a card with one of the highest annual fees on the market.