The American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card is a good option for individuals highly invested in the Air Miles program.
While everyday earn rates don’t stand out compared to other Air Miles credit cards, the biggest advantage is the unique opportunity to get discounts on flights and access to additional redemption options. No matter how you collect your Air Miles, you’ll definitely want to consider having this card when you’re ready to use them.
Bonuses & Fees
This card is offering a significantly-improved welcome bonus. If you apply before August 3, 2021, you could earn up to 7,500 Air Miles:
- 4,000 Air Miles upon spending $6,000 within the first six months
- 5x Air Miles on groceries and restaurants within the first six months, up to 2,500 Air Miles (on $5,000 of spending)
- 1,000 Air Miles upon making a purchase between months 14 and 17 of cardholdership
The card has an annual fee of $299.
The fee for adding authorized users is $50.
The American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card has a two-tier earning structure. You’ll earn:
- 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent at participating Air Miles partner retailers, standalone grocery stores, gas stations, and drug stores
- 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent on all other purchases
The elevated earnings tier is quite extensive and includes many categories where most people shop anyway, so the overall return on spend is fairly strong.
Air Miles are redeemed in two categories: Cash Rewards and Dream Rewards. You can set your preference on the Air Miles website in any ratio (e.g., 95% Cash Rewards, 5% Dream Rewards), but keep in mind while you can change this later, the miles cannot be reallocated after they’ve been earned.
Cash Rewards can be redeemed at a rate of 95 Air Miles = $10 at participating merchants. Dream Rewards are best used for travel, notably car rentals, flights, hotels, and attraction tickets. Those redemptions are usually worth more than the 10.5 cents per mile baseline value of a Cash Rewards redemption.
If you have the Air Miles Reserve Card, you’ll almost definitely want to focus on Dream Rewards. The primary appeal of this card is that it opens the door for quite a few unique ways to redeem your Air Miles for even greater value.
Once a year, you’ll get a Companion Flight benefit. When you purchase one flight for 1,700 Air Miles or less, you can book a second one on the same itinerary with no Air Miles cost, only paying the cash taxes and fees. If you want to book a pricier flight, you’ll just pay any excess Air Miles owed out of your Dream Miles balance.
At our valuation of 15 cents per Air Mile, a free ticket worth up to 1,700 Air Miles is equivalent to $255. If you use this benefit every year, it’ll come very close to offsetting your entire annual fee.
Air Miles Reserve cardholders can use the exclusive FlexFly feature to gain access to additional airlines, destinations, and departure times which aren’t available to other Air Miles members. In particular, you’ll be able to book business class and First Class tickets. FlexFly redemptions are at a flat rate of 770 Air Miles per $100, or 13 cents per Air Mile.
Perks & Benefits
In addition to the aforementioned ways to redeem Air Miles for higher value, you’ll also be granted automatic Air Miles Onyx Status as a Reserve cardholder.
You can use this to book a wider selection of flights, up to 40% mileage discounts on select flights, and up to 10% cash discounts on paid fares accompanying reward flights.
Also, you’ll get all of the standard perks of being an American Express cardholder, including Front of the Line event presale tickets, American Express Invites to exclusive experiences, and Amex Offers for extra everyday value when you use your card.
This card offers a strong insurance package for travel. It includes emergency medical, common carrier accident, as well flight and baggage delay of $500 for delays over four and six hours, respectively. It also includes $500 of hotel burglary insurance.
As for car rentals, this card covers vehicles of up to $85,000 MSRP.
In terms of warranties, this card will double the manufacturer’s up to one additional year.