Credit Cards

My Retention Call: Delta Reserve American Express Card (Consumer)

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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.


The annual fee is due for my Delta Reserve American Express card. But I truly couldn’t definitely decide whether or not to keep or cancel it. With upcoming, sweeping changes across the Delta American Express spectrum, I called Amex to see if they had any good retention offers.

Here’s what happened.

My Reasons for Canceling the Card

That $450 annual fee — increasing to $550 late next January — certainly tops the list. Yes, I generally can use the companion certificate to offset the annual fee. But because it’s restricted to certain fare classes, I sometimes have to compromise on flight dates, times, and airports because of availability. I ended up using this year’s companion certificate on a coach ticket to surprise my nephew at his football game because first class was way too expensive.

The Delta Reserve Card from American Express
Learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express

I have the Delta Reserve Business card and put far more spend on that than my consumer product. MQM spend boosts become “Status Boosts” next year; personal and business Reserve cardholders can earn 60,000 MQM per card — as opposed to the 30,000 MQM limit now. That pretty much makes one of the cards superfluous.

Some of the best travel credit cards are seen inside a wallet.

While I spend into the low-ish six figures each year across my credit cards (here are the cards I actually use right now), I can maximize my earnings on products with better earnings. (The American Express Gold Card is my go-to for dining and grocery stores. Chase Sapphire Reserve for most non-airline travel purchases, for example.)

Plus, I was just approved for a Chase Freedom card and need to get spending on that puppy.

My Reasons for Keeping the Card

Yes, the companion certificate (about which I just complained) was a reason I wanted to keep the card.I’m optimistic I can find $450 worth of airfare that it will zap out at some point over the next 12 months. Even if, yes, it’s in coach.

First class in a Delta Air Lines 737.

Plus, I like that any spend — usually just from Amex Offers — counts toward my MQD waiver totals, too.

The Sky Club guest passes coming soon to a Delta Reserve card near you will come in handy during some work trips. And I enjoy gifting Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credits to friends, family, and colleagues.

So it was just up to American Express to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The Call

The Amex rep who handled my call was a pro. She had a fun personality and was very knowledgeable about the card. I soon learned she’s a supervisor and proud Amex employee who’s been with the company for 15 years.

(Fun fact I discovered during the call: Amex reps generally work across all products on either the personal or business side. For example, my rep’s next call might have been about the Platinum Card from American Express, the American Express Green Card, or Blue Cash Preferred card. But she doesn’t deal with, say, Delta Reserve Business card or Business Platinum card matters.)

Not surprisingly, she (politely) had answers for each reason I gave her for wanting to cancel:

  • card redundancy with the business version (“Yes, you have a number of American Express products and we appreciate it! But you can use this card for personal expenses.”)
  • the high annual fee (“Yes, I certainly understand but the companion certificate…”
  • the occasional difficulty of using the companion pass, and the fact I rarely use it. (“Well, you used it this year, I see…”)
  • that morning I was approved for a Chase Freedom card and have been using my Sapphire Reserve card more often (“Chase is great company and has cards with great benefits.”)

She then offered me 30,000 bonus SkyMiles if/when I spend $4,000 within the next 90 days.

Meh. That certainly was underwhelming. I value 30,000 SkyMiles at about $300 — well below the card’s $450 annual fee.

 

I asked if there were other retention offers available. She said there was a $300 statement credit available after spending $4,000 in three months.

Again, meh.

I asked if she had anything available for, say, 45,000 SkyMiles after spending $3000 or even $4000.

She said no and assured me hers were the best retention offers available to anyone.

I decided to cancel.

I even briefly considered downgrading the Delta Blue Amex but decided against that so I can be eligible for that card’s (meager) welcome bonus at some point.

So we began the process of shifting all but $1000 of my Reserve card’s available credit to my Delta Platinum Amex, so as to help keep a good debt-to-credit ratio.

But then I told her to stop.

I figured that essentially $150 out of pocket for a $450 credit card isn’t bad.  I know I’ll get at least $150 worth from it next year.

I agreed to the 30,000 SkyMiles. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a killer redemption or Delta flash sale where I can kick up their value a little more.

Plan Going Forward

Because I have until mid-February to meet the spending challenge, there are only two times I will use my personal Delta Reserve card through December 31:

But once the clock strikes midnight on January 1, I’ll bust out the card for purchases in traditionally non-bonused categories (primarily personal taxes and online purchases).

What Do You Think? Would You Have Kept the Card?

I’m curious to hear your opinion. Should I have canceled the card? Or do you think I made the right decision? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!

— Chris

Please note that due to my upcoming travel and work schedule, comments might not be moderated until mid-to-late morning.

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.


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16 Comments

  1. Thanks man. I agree with you on this one. Another reason is it bumps your upgrade priority against one who doesn’t have the card right? And wait! We can gift the global entry credit? Tell me more.

    • @Derrick Tennant: It does indeed bump your upgrade priority. Because I have the Business version, canceling it wouldn’t make a difference in this instance. But yes, you’re 100% right.

      In terms of gifting Global Entry credit: the applicant just needs to use your credit number and billing information. So I don’t gift it willy-nilly; only to people whom I trust (or have incriminating pictures from college).

  2. I think you got a pretty good deal. If you factor in some Amex Offers, you’re probably getting that companion ticket for less than $100. I think nowadays, with the annual fees increasing so much, it’s hard to get good value out of a card without it duplicating another card. I’m going to see if I can upgrade my Delta Gold card to the Delta Platinum first then the Delta Reserve.

  3. Before they would statement credit either $400 or $450 without any spending challenge. I was spending way more on the card then. Last year I got a $300 spending challenge. Still better than nothing. I don’t even bother to call for my CSR since I get way more benefit out of it than the AF.

  4. Marcia Greczyna Reply

    I have 4 Delta Amex cards (Platinum and Reserve consumer and business). Since the rules changed for the MQMs, I decided to cancel both my Platinum Delta Amex (business and consumer).

    When I called to cancel my Amex Delta Platinum, they offered me 30,000 miles if I spent $4,000 in the next 3 months. I accepted the offer, since it is more than the $195 annual fee and I get to use the companion certificate. I told the same nice agent that I was also thinking of cancelling my Consumer Delta Reserve card, she gave me 50,000 miles and no minimum spending. Of course, I accepted the offer.

    When I called to cancel my Business Platinum Delta card, they did not offer me anything. The agent said, unfortunately, there were no offers that he could give me. So, my understanding is that they have different offers for different cards and they change all the time. My card only expires in the middle of December, so I will make a few more attempts to see if there is any offer available.

  5. Santiago Speranza Reply

    Chris, you did much better than I… I was able to get 25,000 Miles after spending $12,000 in 6 months… I never planned on canceling the card so this is a nice little bonus for next year! Thanks for posting this and reminding me to always call your cards once the AF hits regardless if you plan on closing it or keeping it long term!

  6. Frankie Morgan Reply

    I got 40,000 SM or $300 with no spend requirement. I chose the 40,000 SM.

  7. I will have to go through the same decision process in a couple of months. Thanks!

  8. My Business Delta Reserve AMEX card renews at $450 next week. I have been debating keeping it because of the loss of 30,000 SkyMiles next year. The way I look at it, the card will cost me $300 more next year and $450 more in 2021, valuing SkyMiles at a cent each. Based on my travel patterns, hitting the $15K MQD spend is the challenge, and doing that gets me just enough MQMs. Therefore, I am not very interested in trying to get to $90K or $120K spend tiers. Also, I only fly confirmed first class using some combination of SkyMiles, cash purchases, and upgrade certificates, so I have little use for the upgrade priority advantage. I still have the non-Delta AMEX Platinum card, so that gets me into SkyClubs. I usually let a friend us the companion certificate.

    I think I will call to see if I can at least get 30,000 SkyMiles to offset the loss of miles next year, and I will call again next year when I need to pay $550 next year.

  9. Adding to my post above, I have another complaint. My companion certificate was issued last year on December 5 and travel needed to completed by January 31, 2020. However, this year the certificate issued issued on November 7 and travel needs to be completed by December 31, 2020. Realistically, this means that if I want to use the certificate for a trip that includes New Year’s day and I want to start the trip a week before New Year’s Day, I need to purchase the ticket within six weeks of the start of the trip. Typically like I to book Holiday travel with a lot more lead time.

    Does everyone else have the same certificate “travel by” date? I am assuming that the answer is no, and if that is the case, I will also ask the AMEX agent to change the date of the “travel by” date of the companion certificate.

  10. Jack A Cowan Reply

    You could have been a lot more of concise and less dramatic at the end ….

    • @Jack A Cowan: Sorry, but that’s honestly how it happened. I thought people would enjoy learning how and why I arrived at the decision.

      Trust me, there’s more I could have included: sips of water, note scribbles, telling my daughter to go to bed…

  11. Barry Graham Reply

    Chris, I was going to say that you were acting a little spoiled when you turned down the 30000 miles. You didn’t expect this card for free did you? I am glad that you reconsidered.

    My main bone of contention is the fact that I have these cards to help me make Diamond. Now I have 151K MQM and it seems unlikely I will make Diamond. My spending on Amex cards is high but not high enough to reach the MQD waiver. As a Diamond for the last few years, I can’t say that I’ve been disappointed by upgrade availability because of too many other Diamonds. It’s worked well for me. I don’t know why some people had to make such a fuss that Delta raised the MQD waiver amount to such a high amount. Also, had I realized that Air France has a different way of awarding MQD, I would have flown them when I went to the UK, I would easily have made 15K MQD that way.

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