Delta SkyMiles Reserve vs. The Platinum Card from American Express

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Delta SkyMiles Reserve vs.  The Platinum Card from American Express

When it comes to premium travel cards that offer a plethora of valuable benefits for frequent travelers, there are two cards that come out on top: the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express (terms apply).

In exchange for their hefty annual fees, globetrotters can take advantage of each card’s free airport lounge access as well as a wide variety of additional credits, travel protections and perks.

Both cards are issued by American Express, but when comparing the offerings between the two cards, you may conclude that, between the two cards, one is a better fit than the other for.

Here’s how the two cards compare on fees, reward-earning potential, benefits, credits and more.

Looking for a card to enhance your travel experience? Here are our picks for best travel credit cards.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve vs. The Platinum Card travel coverage and purchase protections

When deciding whether to plunk down more than $500 in annual fees for a premium travel card, you’ll want to be able to justify whether paying that amount can provide you some peace of mind when traveling.

Since both the Delta SkyMiles Reserve and the Platinum Card are issued by American Express, their travel benefits are very similar, with the exception of baggage insurance coverage limits.

About the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express card

If you fly frequently with Delta and its affiliates, you can’t go wrong with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card.

In addition to airport lounge access at Escape Lounges, The Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Club, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve offers an annual companion certificate each year after the cardholder’s account anniversary. The certificate is valid for one round-trip ticket in first class, Delta Comfort+ or main cabin. Travel must be purchased by the primary cardholder and is restricted within the 48 contiguous states (taxes and fees will apply).

Plus, Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardmembers who spend at least $30,000 in purchases in a year on their card earn 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), up to four times a year. This can help get Medallion Status more quickly.

Cardholders also get upgrade priority over other Medallion members who have the same Medallion level and fare class groups and qualify for a free first checked bag (up to nine baggage waivers per reservation).

Some additional Delta SkyMiles Reserve benefits include:

  • 15% off when booking Delta flight award travel with miles.
  • 20% back via statement on eligible in-flight purchases.
  • Instant card number after approval that can be used virtually until the physical card arrives.
  • Global Dining Access by Resy program.
  • Two Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes every year.
  • Concierge service.

The major downside of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card is its low rate for earning Delta miles outside of Delta purchases. Unless you book a lot of Delta flights, the ability to rack up more miles will be difficult as cardholders only earn 1 mile per dollar on non-Delta purchases.

Pros and Cons of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

Who should choose the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card?

Due to the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card’s high annual fee and low earning rate on purchases outside of Delta, the card is best for Delta loyalists who travel often.

Having the card can also save you a ton of money on baggage fees if you tend to fly with large groups, as that first-checked bag fee waiver is available for up to eight additional travelers on the same reservation. Delta’s first checked bag fee is currently $30.

When you add in the lounge access and priority boarding, the companion pass and ability to earn Medallion Status more quickly, plus all the travel protections, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve can be beneficial for Delta flyers.

But if you’re not loyal to Delta, then you may find it difficult to replenish your miles cache as the rewards rate is very low for non-Delta purchases.

About The Platinum Card from American Express

Heavy travelers who aren’t loyal to one airline will fare much better with the American Express Platinum Card.

Yes, it has a higher annual fee at $695, but if you take advantage of the numerous credits the card offers, those will substantially offset that fee by hundreds of dollars. In fact, if you add up all the credits available with the card, you can actually negate the annual fee entirely.

The Platinum Card is a more flexible travel rewards card due to the ability to earn more points on a variety of travel expenditures. Cardholders earn 5 points for every dollar spent on airfare purchased directly through airlines or Amex Travel, as well as prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel. Those points can be transferred to a long list of travel partners (at a 1:1 ratio, unless otherwise stated):

  • Aer Lingus AerClub.
  • AeroMexico Club Premier (1:1.6).
  • To install Air Canada Airplane.
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue.
  • To install ANA Mileage Club.
  • Avianca LifeMiles.
  • British Airways Executive Club.
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
  • ChoicePrivileges.
  • To install Delta SkyMiles.
  • To install Emirates Skywards.
  • To install Etihad Guest.
  • To install Finnair.
  • To install HawaiianMiles.
  • Hilton Honors (1:2).
  • To install Iberia Plus.
  • JetBlue True Blue (1.25:1).
  • Marriott Bonvoy.
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer.
  • To install Singapore Kris Flyer.
  • To install Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

With the American Express Platinum Card, you get similar lounge access as the Delta SkyMiles Reserve, along with the enhanced travel protections, but you won’t get priority boarding on Delta or the first free checked bag. Just know that there are other Delta SkyMiles cards with more reasonable annual fees that can get you those specific perks.

Pros and cons of The Platinum Card from American Express

Who should choose The Platinum Card from American Express?

If you’re a frequent traveler looking for a premium travel rewards card that opens the doors to airport lounge access and hotel status, The Platinum Card from American Express could be a great fit.

While the annual fee may be a bit steep at $695, the numerous travel credits that come with the card could offset the fee.

With so many benefits and protections geared toward travelers, The Platinum Card from American Express can potentially save you a lot of money and provide a more comfortable travel experience as you traverse the globe.

If you want airline-specific perks, such as a free checked bag or priority boarding, it may be wise to pair The Platinum Card with a low-annual fee airline card that offers those benefits, such as the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card ($0 intro annual fee the first year, then $99) or the United℠ Explorer Card ($0 intro annual fee the first year, then $95).

Which card should you get?

Deciding whether to apply for The Platinum Card from American Express or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve boils down to whether you routinely fly with Delta Air Lines.

Both cards offer great American Express travel protections and benefits, such as airport lounge access, but The Platinum Card’s credits far outweigh those of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve, making its high annual fee more palatable.

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve offers airline-specific benefits, such as priority boarding and baggage fee waivers, but know that there are Delta SkyMiles cards with lower annual fees that offer the same perks.

If you aren’t a Delta Airlines loyalist and want premium travel benefits, then The Platinum Card from American Express would be the better choice. If neither card feels right for what you’re looking for, see our list of best airline credit cards for other great options.

¹Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

²Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

³Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

⁴Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Card Members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Yes, you can have multiple Delta SkyMiles cards. However, since they are all issued by American Express, which has a once-in-a-lifetime rule for their credit card welcome bonuses, you will only be able to qualify for the welcome bonus that comes with each card one time.

Most premium travel credit cards require that applicants have good or excellent credit scores, so if your credit scores are low, you may not be approved.

It’s hard to beat all the perks and credits offered by The Platinum Card, but a strong competitor is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®which comes with a lower $550 annual fee and also offers a rich slate of benefits.

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