Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve: Which card is best for Delta loyalists?


If you’re looking for the best benefits a credit card can provide travelers who frequently fly Delta, you may assume the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card will be best since it is the premier cobranded Delta consumer card.

However, some readers and TPG staff believe The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best card for Delta flyers. Today we’ll dive in to see which of these two cards is best for you.

Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve comparison

Amex Platinum Delta Reserve
Welcome bonus 80,000 points after you spend $6,000 in purchases in your first six months. Terms apply 60,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases in your first six months
Earning rates 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year)

5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com

1 point per dollar on everything else

3 points per dollar on eligible purchases with Delta

1 point per dollar on everything else

TPG’s valuation of points/miles 2 cents each 1.41 cents each
Annual fee $695 (see rates and fees) $550 (see rates and fees)
Lounge access Access to many lounges through the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including:

Enrollment required for select card benefits

Access to Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying Delta)

Two one-time guest passes for the Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta)

Access to Centurion Lounges (when flying Delta)

Enrollment required for select card benefits

Other standout benefits Up to $200 in Uber credits each year

Up to $200 airline fee credit

Up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credit each year

Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold status

Access to Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every 4-4½ years

Enrollment required for select card benefits.

Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+ or Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card

Status Boost, which allows you to earn MQMs through spending on your card

First checked bag free, priority boarding, inflight savings and access to complimentary upgrades on Delta flights

Medallion qualification dollar waiver

Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve welcome bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Amex Platinum currently offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first six months. Based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at two cents each, this welcome bonus is worth about $1,600.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

The Delta Reserve currently offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases in your first six months. TPG’s valuations peg the value of Delta miles at 1.41 cents each, so this welcome bonus is worth $846.

Related reading: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Winner: Amex Platinum. Both welcome bonuses require that you spend $5,000 during your first three months, and based on TPG’s valuations, the Amex Platinum is worth almost twice as much.

Related reading: The most lucrative credit card bonuses we’ve ever seen

Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve benefits

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

The Platinum Card from American Express

While it has many useful perks, the only Delta-specific benefit you’ll get with the Amex Platinum is access to Delta Sky Club lounges. Access is complimentary for Amex Platinum cardholders when traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. Cardholders may also bring up to two guests at a per-visit rate of $39 per person per location.

Related reading: Why the Amex Platinum might just be the best card for Delta flyers

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Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

The Delta Reserve offers many Delta-specific perks. Cardholders get complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges when traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. And cardholders can pay a per-visit fee of $39 per person per location for Sky Club access when traveling on a Delta partner airline flight that is not marketed or operated by Delta.

Plus, you’ll get two one-time Sky Club guest passes upon account opening and each year upon account renewal. You can also pay $39 per person per location to bring up to two guests with you into the Sky Club.

You’ll also get complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on the Delta Reserve. You can bring up to two guests into the Centurion Lounge with you for a fee of $50 each.

Other Delta-specific benefits include:

  • First checked bag free: First checked bag free on Delta flights for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on your reservation
  • Priority boarding: Main Cabin 1 priority boarding for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on your reservation
  • Companion certificate each year after your account anniversary: Valid for one round-trip first class, Delta Comfort+ or main cabin companion ticket when you pay taxes and fees on the award ticket and purchase an adult round-trip at an I, Z, W, L, U, T, X or V fare
  • Discount on inflight purchases: 20% savings in the form of a statement credit for eligible pre-purchased meals and inflight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights
  • Spend to earn MQMs through Status Boost: Earn 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 on your card in a calendar year, and an additional 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 in a calendar year
  • Spend to earn an MQD waiver: Even if you don’t meet the MQD thresholds for a qualification year, you can still qualify for Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion Status if you’ve earned the required MQMs or MQSs and make at least $25,000 in eligible purchases within that qualification year on your card (and for Diamond Medallion Status if you make at least $250,000 in eligible purchases)
  • Access to complimentary upgrades for non-Medallions

Related reading: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status

Winner: Delta Reserve. As might be indicated by its cobranded status, the Delta Reserve offers many more Delta-specific benefits than the Amex Platinum. Take a serious look through the benefits offered by the Delta Reserve and decide how much value these benefits will provide to you personally when deciding between the two cards. (Also note that versions of some of the Delta Reserve’s benefits are also available on the lower-annual-fee Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card.)

Related reading: How to use credit cards to defeat basic economy

Earning rewards with the Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve

THE POINTS GUY

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Amex Platinum earns five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines, flights booked with American Express Travel and prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com. Based on TPG’s valuations, this means you’ll get an impressive 10% return on this spending.

You’ll also earn one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on everything else, which equates to a 2% return.

Related reading: Know when you’ll get 5 point per dollar spent on airfare on Amex Platinum cards

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

The Delta Reserve earns 3 Delta miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, which equates to a 4.2% return based on TPG’s valuations. You’ll earn one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases, which provides only a 1.41% return.

Related reading: The best credit cards for everyday spending

Winner: Amex Platinum. The Delta Reserve’s rate of return isn’t competitive even on Delta purchases. The Amex Platinum beats the Delta Reserve on both Delta purchases (10% vs. 4.2% return) and everyday purchases (2% vs 1.41% return).

Related reading: The best credit cards for airfare purchases

Redeeming rewards with the Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve

ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Amex Platinum earns American Express Membership Rewards points. You’ll get the best value from your Membership Rewards points when you transfer them to one of 21 travel partners and then redeem through the partner for flights or hotel nights. There are other redemption options, but they all provide less than TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at two cents apiece.

Related reading: Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

The Delta Reserve earns Delta miles, which can be frustrating to use due to dynamic award pricing. But there are still some great ways to get value from Delta miles. For example, Delta offers relatively frequent flash sales. Recently, we’ve seen deals like domestic awards from 5,000 SkyMiles round-trip, flights to Europe from 16,000 SkyMiles round-trip and flights to Japan from 30,000 SkyMiles round-trip.

You can also use Delta miles to upgrade to the next class of service. And there are also great sweet spots for flying international partner airlines with SkyMiles. All SkyTeam partners, such as Air France and Korean Air, are available for award redemptions, as well as some non-alliance partners like Virgin Australia and Air Tahiti Nui.

Related reading: How to redeem miles with the Delta SkyMiles program

Winner: Amex Platinum. Not only are Amex Membership Rewards valued higher than Delta miles based on TPG’s valuations, but Membership Rewards can be transferred to 18 airline partners and three hotel partners, so you have a lot more flexibility when using your rewards. You can even transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. So even if you only want Delta SkyMiles, you may find having the Amex Platinum more useful.

Further reading: A guide to earning transferable points

Should I get the Amex Platinum or Delta Reserve?

In general, the Amex Platinum will be the best choice for most travelers due to its statement credits that can bring the effective annual fee down if used for purchases you’d normally make. Even if you don’t utilize the Amex Platinum extensively for spending, it’s likely the card’s benefits will provide value if you travel at least semi-frequently. However, if you focused on Delta elite status, then the Reserve is worthy of your consideration.

THE POINTS GUY

Bottom line

The Delta Reserve will be a better choice for diehard Delta frequent flyers. You should consider the Delta Reserve if you’ll benefit significantly from the companion certificate each year after your account anniversary and other Delta-specific benefits like a shortcut to elite status.

However, if you want Delta lounge access and to be able to gain entry to Centurion and other partner lounges, as well as earn Amex points, which are more valuable and flexible than Delta SkyMiles, then the Amex Platinum is the better choice.

For more information, read our full reviews of the Amex Platinum and the Delta Reserve.


Apply here for The Platinum Card from American Express or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card


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

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.

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