With current AMEX rules, is it now smart to upgrade your Delta AMEX cards?

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First off, let me say that getting any of the “big 3” can have real value at least during the first year. After that, the question of value is really up to you and how much you plan to fly Delta next year.

Take for example the Delta AMEX Gold card<–LINK. When you add up the value of the 30,000 bonus points after minimum spend, the $50 credit when you make a Delta purchase and free bag waiver for no annual fee the first year you are doing quite well for yourself. You could choose to use the SkyMiles as an award or get at least 1 cent value each if you use the Pay With Miles feature.

Next we have the Delta Platinum card<–LINK. Again you have bonus SkyMiles, this time 35,000 after minimum spend, but if you, like so many, are chasing status with Delta the value of 5,000 MQMs is like taking a long mileage run from home. That is nice. Then you have the $100 credit when you make a Delta purchase and free bag waiver that offsets much of the NON-WAIVED $195 fee for the first year. To me, the MQMs are well worth this, but that is me.

Lastly the Delta Reserve card<–LINK. The bonus SkyMiles are only 10,000 after first purchase, but to me the real prize is the 10,000 MQMs that also come along with the first purchase. That and all the other perks like upgrade priority over those in the same fare class as you without the card, Skyclub access and the shot at earning so many more bonus MQMs each year via spend make the NON-WAIVED $450 fee a choice I like for year one.

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But what if you already have one of these personal cards. The current “rules” say you can only get the new card bonus  once  for any of these personal cards (please note the rules are VERY different for business cards and I am ONLY talking about the personal cards).

So if you now, say, have the GOLD Delta AMEX card, per the rules you cannot cancel, wait for a year or two, and get the new card bonus again. Since all three are viewed as the same family of cards, the same goes for the other two personal cards as well.

But what about upgrades then? In the past I have been VERY against this. Why? No matter what the credit card offer is, from AMEX or another bank, when you click on a link and you hopefully have done a screen shot of the offer, the banks have to live up to the T&C of the offer (as long as you meet the T&C at your end that is ,and you are approved for the card). Thus you are safer doing this compared to calling and having a phone rep tell you what you can get. Many readers have been promised one thing by a phone rep for a card upgrade only to see that offer not fulfilled later down the road and nothing but a “so sorry” offered at that point. Exceedingly frustrating.

However, with the current rules in place with AMEX, I think a phone upgrade can be worth the risk as the rewards are worth it. Here is why.

Say you currently have the Delta GOLD card and you want more MQMs. Call and ask for the moon! All they can do is say no. Ask for 5000 MQMs for upgrading to the Platinum card. Ask that they waive the fee for the first year after upgrade. Ask for bonus SkyMiles. Ask, ask, ask!

Say you have the Delta Platinum card and again want more MQMs. Same thing as the above. This time asking for 10,000 MQMs to upgrade and so on. Again, all they can do is say NO and you are no worse off than you were before the call.

IF they DO say yes to any of the things you ask for there are some steps to take to at least have some leverage if down the road you do NOT get what was offered by the phone rep. Do the following:

  • NOTE THE TIME OF THE CALL: The day you called, the time you called and how long you were on the phone. Most banks record your calls to them so you can have the info for them to go pull the recording of the call to prove what was said.
  • GET THE REPS NAME AND ID NUMBER: If you can get who you are talking to. If you talked to more than one rep get all the names before they send you to the next rep. If they have an ID number say BOB 1234, get that too.
  • THE EXACT WORDING OF THE OFFER: If they offer you any kind of points be sure to write down what that offer is. Were there SkyMiles and MQMs or only SkyMiles and was there some kind of spend you have to do. Was the fee waived for a year. How long would it take to get the bonus offered so that you know when to call back if they do not post.

Now let me give you one HUGE warning on the upgrade from the Delta Platinum card to the Reserve card should you wish to try this. The Platinum card comes with an MQM spend bonus once you reach $25,000 and again at $50,000 during a calendar year (not your card member year). Again, in the past, I have seen the spend totals wiped OUT when you upgrade and reset to ZERO. Not always, but I have many examples to point to. So, I would hold off on your upgrade until you at least cross the 1st or 2nd levels. THEN YES jump on it as you may score the Reserve card bonus points once you cross the $30,000 or $60,000 levels as well. No promise here, but there is a chance that can happen.

Last issue that should be a non-issue is the Delta MQD spend waiver. There should be no issue if you upgrade to get credit for your spend so far during the year on your old card and then adding the spend on your upgraded card. However, if it were ME, I would wait until I reached 25k before I upgraded. Why? Once you have met the waiver you have met the waiver. It really is that simple.

Finally, as already mentioned, the only reason to risk a phone upgrade is this is your only choice. With the Delta business cards I would not risk this. The rule for them is if you got ANY of the 3 new card bonus points, you would have to cancel, wait 365+ day, apply again and if approved you will get the new card bonus (whatever it is at the time) again (UPDATE: Now also 1x lifetime new card bonus for business cards).  Also, unlike the personal cards, AMEX views the Delta business cards EACH as a unique product so you can hold say the Delta Platinum business card and still apply for and get the Delta Reserve business card and get the bonus for that card as well and hold them BOTH at once should you wish. Again, very different rules compared to the personal cards!

I know this is a long post but I wanted to make clear my feelings on upgrading cards as many email me and ask should they go for some offer a phone rep told them about. Now you know what you should consider before you accept whatever AMEX is offering you!- René
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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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21 comments

  1. If you have more than one business is it possible to have more than one of the same cards at the same time? For example, having a Delta Reserve Biz card for company A and having another Delta Reserve Biz card for Company B?

  2. @Scott – That is a hard one. Officially no. Not to say with another EIN number it will not work just that the rules say once card per person since it is tied to YOUR SkyMiles number. The better choice would be for say your wife / +1 to get their own Reserve card and then they can, once they meet the spend bonus numbers, send the bonus MQMs to you.

  3. Rene,

    I called recently and the phone rep said that in order to move to the reserve card from the platinum card, they would need to do a hard pull of my credit. I assumed at the time that this meant it was treated as a different product as they wanted me to cancel one card and apply for the reserve. Weird. Will need to think about this one.

  4. @Todd – Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I wish I could definitively say but yes there is a chance they will do a hard pull.

  5. Might upgrade to the Platinum to pad my rollover miles. The Reserve isn’t worth it for me. The tie breaking is a cool feature, but I doubt that it would help a lowly Silver Medallion all that much.

  6. Rene–thanks for the details. I was always under the impression that all three personal cards were distinct and that you could get bonuses for each one separately. Thanks for clarifying that I can’t, saves a wasted credit pull.

  7. So, if I get added to husbands business reserve card, I can use it to go in the lounge with him? Isn’t it $195 to be an additional user? But anything I earn I can move to his account but with what charge? Sometimes this all makes my head spin and I haven’t gotten into it full bore because we always have the miles for what we need so why expend too much extra energy collecting cards, etc.

  8. @Christine – Your husband can get a biz Reserve card. He can then enter club with it. You need your own if you want club access. If you get your own personal or biz Reserve card you can once you get to 30 and 60k spend send those bonus MQMs to whoever you want.

  9. What a run-around I’ve been through today…

    I have had the Gold for a couple years. Currently I have $33k of to-date spend on the card. I decided today to upgrade to Reserve, so that the $33k of spend would “count” for something, namely, the $30k miles boost of 15k MQM.

    Somehow in navigating the Amex website, I got confused between UPGRADING my Gold to Reserve and applying for a NEW Reserve. I saw an offer for a 10k MQM sign-on bonus for the Reserve, and I clicked it, thinking I was upgrading. Only after my application went through did I realize that I now possess a Gold AND a Reserve. This was no good for me because I wanted my $33k of spend on the Gold to carry over to an upgraded Reserve, not continue sitting on the Gold card, earning me nothing.

    I spent an hour in live-chat with a CSR but got nowhere. She was very nice, but told me that: a) she cannot simply transfer my $33k of Gold spend over to the NEW Reserve card; b) while she could cancel my new Reserve card and manually upgrade my Gold to a Reserve, this would make me INELIGIBLE for the Reserve welcome offer of 10k MQM upon first purchase. She even went and talked to her supervisor, who was adamant that there would be no welcome offer of 10k MQM if I UPGRADED my Gold to a Reserve.

    Ultimately, here’s what the CSR suggested, and what I guess I’ll do: Keep both the Gold and the Reserve for now. Make an initial purchase on the Reserve, and wait until the 10k MQM’s have been deposited in my Delta account. At that point, call Amex and ask them to UPGRADE my Gold to a Reserve. I would then have two Reserves. On the UPGRADED Reserve, I would immediately qualify for the 15k MQM boost, because my $33k of Gold spending would transfer over. Once those 15k MQM hit my account, the CSR suggested that I should cancel one of my (then) two Reserve cards.

    Quite an ordeal, and I do hope this “workaround” works. I did ask the CSR if she could just undo my brand-new Reserve card, making it as if nothing had ever happened. She said no. Even though I’ve only “had” the new Reserve card for about 2 hours, don’t have the physical card, and haven’t received the welcome offer’s 10k MQM yet, she said it would still “count” as me having the Reserve card, and I’d never again be able to qualify for the welcome bonus.

  10. How is it possible Adam was able to open two personal cards, a gold and a reserve. I thought the rules prevented this.

    I have a platinum and I want to upgrade to reserve but I don’t want to lose my companion certificate which will be issued in one month when my annual fee is charged.

    My question is once I upgrade to reserve after the annual fee will I pay $450 on top of the $200 annual fee? Or will the $200 annual count towards the reserve annual fee.

    If you don’t recommend upgrading what other options do we have to get a personal reserve card.

  11. @Bob – I am not a fan of upgrade as you may not get the points and then you have burned your one ever shot at the points in your lifetime for the personal card. You may just pay the difference but again I value the points. Think on this: The Delta AMEX Reserve card right now give you if you apply for a new card 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 SkyMiles worth at least 1cent each. Net you are just paying then $350 of the 10,000 MQMs. That is a DEAL any day IMO. I would not risk that and would apply for the card new!

  12. So I currently have a Gold card, and will pretty easily hit the $25K.

    What I am trying to decide is if I should upgrade to the Delta AMEX Platinum card before I hit that $25k threshold and lock in the Platinum MilesBoost (adding 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 miles) but possibly not get the new signup offer (5,000 MQM and 35,000 miles)? To me the extra 5000 MQMs would be more valuable. Unless, if I hit $25k on the gold card, but then upgrade later to the platinum, will I get the MilesBoost retroactively?

    I really don’t want to open a new Platinum card, I doubt I’ll be able to fully hit $50k this year, and if I do that I will miss the MilesBoost which is the whole point of upgrading.

    I just want to be sure I time this upgrade right.

    Thanks!!

  13. Apologies if I missed it, but what I’m trying to figure out is, since I already have the Gold card, can I sign up for the Platinum card and get the bonus for that card, or no, since I already have the Gold card. i.e. is it one sign-up bonus EVER across all three cards, or one bonus ever for each of the three cards? If the answer is yes – I can get the platinum bonus – do you have any idea when Amex might be offering an increased sign-up bonus, based on trends from previous years? Thank you so so much!

  14. @Kate – Right now, all 3 are unique cards and you can get the bonus for each and the same goes for the biz Delta AMEX cards (txs for using my links btw).
    .
    If you have NEVER had the one you are going for (i.e. one of the 3) you can get the bonus for that card. You do not need to cancel the other card first unless you want to.
    .
    It has been a LONG time since the biz Plat had a bonus. The current deal is not bad. The Reserve card never has a bigger bonus that I know of.

  15. Hi Rene,

    I have had the Amex Delta Platinum since January of this year (2016). I have already maxed out past 50K. In doing so, I have received my bonus MQMs and Miles at both the 25k mark, and the 50k mark.

    Right now, I am Gold status with Delta. I am shy around 15k MQMs to take me to Platinum status.

    I have been thinking of applying for the Delta Amex Reserve, just so that I could get the bonus 10k miles. I will most likely have enough flights for the rest of this year to get me the remaining 5K miles left over so that I can reach Platinum status for 2016.

    Since I already have a Platinum Card, spent past 50k, and not missed a payment, how good are my odds of qualifying for a Reserve? Would they treat the application as if I were a brand new customer and did not have a current card? Further, If I apply and receive a new Reserve card (even though I would retain my Platinum), will I be eligible to receive the 10K bonus MQMs and Miles?

  16. @Mike VH – All the Delta cards are unique products so you can get bonus for each yes (if you have never had the Delta Reserve card that is). Yes you can hold them both at once if you want. Don’t forget about business cards btw. Approval is more based on other factors not if you have another Delta card already ie the 4/5 max AMEX credit card rule, your credit score, etc etc.

  17. So this just happened to me:
    I spend my 2nd threshold, equal to $50K, on the Delta Platinum Amex, by December 6th. The CSR recommended the Delta Reserve, so I easily went online and upgraded, that day. To my own fault, my Delta Platinum Amex statement close date was December 18th. So, even though I spent the additional $50K to qualify for the 10K MQM and 10K Miles bonus, I was told I would not be granted them, because I switched to the Reserve before my statement closed.
    Frustrated and on the phone with the CSR’s supervisor, they just kept running around in circles and saying that the Reserve cancelled out the 2nd $25K spend. Which is unfortunate for American Express, because now I will just pay off my balance and switch over to my Chase Sapphire, or look into another airline program and new credit card that offers something similar, but with another circuit of airlines.
    Unfortunately, American Express will no longer be receiving my $50K plus in annual spending, and or any interest that they were making off of my account.

    “Now let me give you one HUGE warning on the upgrade from the Delta Platinum card to the Reserve card should you wish to try this. The Platinum card comes with an MQM spend bonus once you reach $25,000 and again at $50,000 during a calendar year (not your card member year). Again, in the past, I have seen the spend totals wiped OUT when you upgrade and reset to ZERO.”

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