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Has the Delta AMEX Reserve card Medallion upgrade perk gone away? Has anything changed?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


may sure your delta reserve card does show up in your my delta
AMEX Delta Reserve in “MY DELTA”

I have held the Delta AMEX Reserve card <-LINK for years and years. One of the primary reasons I hold it is for the bonus MQMs from spending. This year I have already spent over $30,000 and claimed my 15,000 bonus MQMs. In a few months I will reach $60,000 in spending and claim another 15,000 bonus MQMs and nudge just that much closer to my goal of 1 million miles lifetime with Delta and locking in my “annual” silver medallion status.

The other reason, more important than ever due to dwindling seats for complimentary medallion upgrades, is the shot at MORE upgrades for holding the Delta Reserve card. But a reader asked me via e-mail if this perk has gone away this year as he could not find it on the offer page anymore. No, it has not. The old wording on the AMEX site describe the perk this way:

“Receive UPGRADE Priority over non-Delta Reserve Card Members within Medallion level and fare class.”

To me this was an excellent way of describing this perk in the card T&C description. As a Medallion, when you are up against another medallion in the same fare class (happens quite often) then you would be one notch higher on the upgrade list and priority over another medallion. I have seen 1st hand and even talked to others and compared notes about all these terms and myself and another medallion both upgraded over a Diamond without the Delta AMEX Reserve card. But again, has anything changed for 2016?

delta amex reserve card medallion status upgrades terms and conditions
Notice the change of wording for elites

Notice the new wording when you dive deep into the T&C of either the personal or business cards. It now tells us that:

“Medallion Status Upgrades. Upgrades are subject to limited availability and may not be available on all flights or in all markets.”

To me this new wording is much less clear but I have been assured that, other than the wording change, nothing about the card perk has changed. You will still have upgrade priority over another medallion in the same fare class that does not hold either the personal or business AMEX Reserve card!

To me, other than the MQM boost via spend each year, this now is one of the most valuable perks of holding the Delta AMEX Reserve card. Upgrades truly are harder than EVER to score in 2016 (and getting worse day by day). Every single little perk I can use to move up the list is so important to me. If I can get just one or two more upgrades a year by holding the Delta Reserve card, vs not getting those, I personally have received value back for the high $450 annual fee for the card.

Now I still appreciate the other perks this card gives me and by using AMEX SYNC and other promotions I am net paying nowhere near $450 to hold the card each year. But I have to tell you, if Delta and AMEX ever decide to eliminate the upgrade priority perk from holding the card I would have to rethink holding it long term as I have for so many years! – René

 

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.

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

12 Comments

  1. Santastico Reply

    Interesting you talk about ways to move up in the upgrade list. I am a Platinum medallion based at MSP and I am surprised with the pattern of my medallion upgrades this year. I have scored 100% upgrade on flights from MSP but 0% on flights to MSP. Since MSP is a busy hub with many Delta medallions flying out I would not expect to be upgraded there. However, I am surprised that I was never upgrades on flight to MSP from non hub airports like MCO, SAN and IND. I was not upgrades from ATL which is understandable but not getting an upgrade from MCO on a 767 is very surprising to me.

  2. Yeah, if I were a DM, I’d want this card for it’s tie-breaking, but as a lowly Silver, flying from ATL, I have never been higher than 26 on the list, so no card is going to help me get high enough to sit up front. Fortunately (for me, but not for you DM and PM flyers), DL is making F cheaper and cheaper to just buy. I just bought a ticket in F from EWR to ATL which was only about $100 more than E. For me, that’s a no-brainer. I seem to be the exact person DL is aiming for, as their pricing for F always tempts me and almost always wins me over. They have found my sweet spot.

  3. Santastico Reply

    @mbh: Delta may shooting itself on the foot by making F cheaper for people to buy and reducing upgrade availability for DM and PM. They will piss off many business loyal customer like me. I am not allowed to book F tickets for flights with less than 5 hours of duration. My corporate system does not allow that. Thus, even if it is just $100 more to boom F I cannot do it. Thus, if I am not upgrades because Delta cheaply sold those F seats I won’t be happy. If I decide being loyal is not worth anymore I may take my $50k yearly spend on Delta elsewhere.

  4. Words or lack thereof in Ts&Cs are meaningful. I do not have this card. I would be worried if I did. Lawyers don’t remove or add words to Ts&Cs without reason. The difference between the old and new language is huge. The first specifies a perk. The second guarantees nothing. There is also likely to be language in the Ts&Cs to the effect that ALL of the terms and conditions of card membership are contained in that document.

    On the other hand, it is hard to imagine even delta dropping the tiebreaker perk without announcing it. Maybe the Amex lawyers are just sloppy.

  5. @Santastico: I hear you, but the question is “Does Delta?” I’ve been mad at all the negative things they did that affect me, as well, but all the anger in the world won’t matter until people actually do take their business elsewhere. I’m a hub captive, so I don’t have many choices most of the time, and I don’t fly for business, so I’m not their target in the grand scheme of things. I thought a lot of biz would leave last year, but it doesn’t look like they have YET. Time will tell.

    I feel for all of you road warriors (my best friend is one of you), and I’d be mad too. But, I’m not sure it isn’t just the nature of the beast. Delta is so good at what they do, and there is so little competition in real terms, that they can get away with abusing their most loyal customers without loosing a significant number of them. At least that seems to be the way they see it.

  6. I agree w the value of this card. As DM I find I often use it as a tie breaker. In 2016 I’ve only missed one upgrade (transatlantic from CDG to atl). 20/21. I got going out but not coming back.

    My wife and kids use it too and get free bags ect… When they travel without me.

  7. I suggest everyone give up on upgrades and consider the other “perks” of status with delta crap. Then, get a status match with Alaska and earn miles there where you earn more miles for redemption, can take advantage of great service if flying on Alaska and play the standard buy up to first game or accept economy flying. Since getting rid of the +1 comfort plus seating at reservations I say bye bye to delta sky miles and am loving it!

  8. Any idea if it there is an additional tiebreaker if you have both a personal AND a business delta amex reserve?

  9. So is there a definitive answer – is the Reserve still a tiebreaker or not?

  10. @Rene – thanks for the clarification. That could have been a deal-killer now that comp UG’s are going the way of the dodo.

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