Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
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 would be best since it is the top-tier cobranded Delta consumer card.
However, the Delta SkyMiles program and credit cards are undergoing some major changes, so it’s worth comparing the card to The Platinum Card® from American Express to determine which is the best card for Delta flyers.
Today we’ll dive in to see which of these two cards is best for you into 2024 and 2025.
Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve comparison
|Amex Platinum||Delta Reserve|
|Welcome bonus||80,000 points after you spend $8,000 in purchases in your first six months of card membership. Terms apply.
You might be targeted for a higher offer through the CardMatch tool
|60,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases in your first six months of card memebership.|
|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||1.2 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; currently unlimited visits; decreasing to 15 annual days from Feb. 1, 2025)
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
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 MQDs through spending on your card
First checked bag free, priority boarding, inflight savings and access to complimentary upgrades on Delta flights
Status boost: From Jan. 1, 2024, earn 1 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for every $10 spent plus 2,500 MQDs toward status qualification at the start of the year
Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve welcome bonus
The Amex Platinum currently offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $8,000 in purchases in your first six months. Based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, this welcome bonus is worth $1,600.
The Delta Reserve offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles after spending $5,000 in purchases in your first six months. TPG’s valuations peg the value of Delta miles at 1.2 cents each, so this welcome bonus is worth $720.
Related reading: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers
Winner: Amex Platinum, with a welcome offer worth more than double the Reserve’s.
Related reading: The most lucrative credit card bonuses we’ve ever seen
Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve benefits
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 currently unlimited for Amex Platinum cardholders when traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. However, starting Feb. 1, 2025, users will be limited to 10 days of visits per year. 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
As expected, the Delta Reserve offers many Delta-specific perks, including unlimited access to Delta Sky Club lounges when traveling on same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flights. As of Feb 1., 2025, this will be reduced to 15 days of annual access to Delta Sky Club lounges, five more than the Amex Platinum.
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.
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. The Amex Platinum offers unlimited access to Centurion Lounges, regardless of which airline you’re flying.
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 MQDs: From Jan. 1, 2024, earn 1 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for every $10 spent plus 2,500 MQDs toward status qualification at the start of the year
Related reading: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status
Winner: Delta Reserve. As 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 you 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 Amex Platinum earns 5 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 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on everything else, which equates to a 2% return.
The Delta Reserve earns 3 Delta miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, which equates to a 3.6% return based on TPG’s valuations. You’ll earn one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases, which provides only a 1.2% 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 and everyday purchases.
Related reading: The best credit cards for airfare purchases
Redeeming rewards with the Amex Platinum vs. Delta Reserve
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 them 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 2 cents apiece.
Related reading: Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value
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 are focused on Delta elite status, then the Reserve is worthy of consideration.
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.
Check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for up to a 150,000-point welcome offer on The Platinum Card® from American Express.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.