5 Credit Cards Worth Paying a High Annual Fee

Pam

We get a lot of comments from new travel hackers that they don’t want to pay a high annual fee for their credit cards. It’s important to understand that it is ALWAYS worth paying an annual fee that the first year when you are getting the high welcome offer. It’s kind of like paying a discount for free money. For instance, our favorite beginner card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, has a usual welcome offer of 60K Ultimate Rewards. Those 60k points are worth $750 at a minimum through the travel portal but much more than that through transfer partners. That is totally worth paying the annual $95 fee. Let’s talk about some cards we keep that have higher annual fees. Here are 5 credit cards worth paying a high annual fee for each year:

 

American Express Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card comes with an annual fee of $250. At first glance, you may think that is a card you would only keep for the first year. However, the card pays for the annual fee with its benefits.

  • $10 Uber or Uber Eats credit each month. You just pay your Uber or Uber Eats bill with this credit card and credit shows up each month on your statement for $10. I use this each month to pick up food at a restaurant each month for lunch.
  • $10 dining credit. This can be used at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. I usually use my $10 credit at Boxed. This is a company like Costco but you order online and they ship to you. I like the service anyway and $10 of my order for free is perfect.
  • The top benefit is that you earn 4 points per dollar on groceries and at restaurants. This is up to the first $25,000 spent. I typically spend about $600 a month on groceries and $200 at restaurants. That means I am spending $9,600 a year in those categories. Multiply that by four and I get 38,400 Membership Rewards.

The first two benefits pay for all but $10 of the card’s annual fee and those 38,400 Membership Rewards are worth way more than $10 so it is a keeper despite that annual fee of $250.

 

 

American Express Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum Credit Card has a huge $695 annual fee and that certainly scares most people off. I keep it year after year because I take full advantage of its benefits to more than pay my annual fee. This card is my favorite of the 5 credit cards worth paying a high annual fee. Here’s what I get for that $695 annual fee.

  • $200 airline incidental credit. I use this for airport lounge day passes for friends.
  • $240 annual credit ($20/month) for streaming services like Audible, Peacock, SiriusXM, and the New York Times.
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue or saks.com. Credit is $50 semi-annually.
  • $179 CLEAR credit
  • $200 credit for prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel. This is really a nice benefit because you also get a $100 amenity and free breakfast for two.
  • $200 yearly benefit for Uber or Uber Eats
  • $85 credit for TSA Precheck or $100 Global Entry credit every 4 years.
  • Cell phone protection
  • Global Lounge Collection access-the best airport lounge access

 

Add up the dollar amount of the benefits without the last three and the total is $1119 – definitely more than the $695 I pay. The airport lounge access is priceless to me – I use it every single time I travel. Most airport lounge access costs $50+ so this makes my benefits over the top. I will always keep this card in my wallet.

 

 

Capital One Venture X Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X Credit Card comes with an annual fee of $395/year. People freak out when we tell them to get this card. They don’t realize that you get a $300 annual credit when you book through their travel partner and 10K Venture miles each year that you renew the card. This completely pays for the annual fee.

This card earns 2x on all purchases making it an “use it and forget about it” card. Instead of worrying whether you are using the right card, you can just use it for everyday spending when you are not meeting the minimum spend on a credit card.

 

 

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card is one of the 5 credit cards worth paying a high annual fee for. It has an annual fee of $450 but comes with these benefits:

  • $300 statement credit at Marriott hotels or resorts. This can be used for room payments, food, or spa services.
  • 50K annual free night certificate yearly. I routinely use this for stays at hotels that cost $300+/night.
  • Priority Pass airport lounge membership – love my airport lounges!
  • TSA Precheck or Global Entry once every four years – worth $85-$100.

 

These benefits clearly pay for my annual fee and more! I feel like I get more than $200 more value with this card every year than the annual fee I pay.

 

girl lounging on daybed at Marriott Wailea Beach Resort

Marriott Wailea Beach Resort – I’ve used a 50K certificate here and it goes for $600+/night.

 

American Express Hilton Aspire Credit Card

The American Express Hilton Aspire card is the last of our 5 credit cards worth paying a high annual fee. The annual fee is $550 on this card. Ouch- at first glance. The benefits include:

  • $250 credit at Hilton Resorts and Hotels
  • $250 Airline Fee Credit – this is similar to the Platinum Card credit. Use for incidental fees such as checked baggage, in-flight refreshments, and flight change fees.
  • Diamond status – free breakfasts and other amenities.
  • One weekend night reward stay – this can be used at top properties making it very valuable. You could easily use it for a room that would cost $500+
  • Priority Pass Lounge access upon enrollment

Again, this card gives way more value than the price of the annual fee. The free weekend night stay alone could be worth more than the annual fee.

 

Overwater bungalow

You could use your free night stay at the Conrad Bora Bora.

Bottom Line

Before you say, “I’d never pay a high annual fee for a card”, do a cost versus benefits analysis. You will find that there are many credit cards with high annual fees that are worth getting for the welcome offer AND worth keeping year after year. What other cards do you think are worth paying a high annual fee for?

 

 

Overwater bungalow near white sand and turquoise water

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