6 Credit Cards Worthy of the Annual Fee

Before this year, I hardly ever paid to keep a credit card. However, over the last year, I’ve been paying more and more annual fees. Each card on this list has an incentive that I decided was worth paying the annual fee.

1.  American Express Platinum

Three years ago, I would never have believed you if you told me that I would pay $450 to get a Platinum card.  But I did.  Big bonuses have a nice way of justifying big annual fees.  However, if you told me that I’d actually pay $450 to keep a Platinum card for a second year, I would have laughed in your face.  But, I did.

Several weeks ago, I received an email from American Express informing me that, as of March 22nd, 2014, Platinum Card Members will no longer receive complimentary access to American Airlines or US Airways club locations.

That’s bad news. It’s especially bad news because that’s the lounge we primarily use.

The good news is that American Express is offering targeted bonuses to make up for the change. In our case, my wife got an email saying they’ll give her an additional $500 in statement credits towards American Airlines and US Airways incidental fees charged between March 22nd, 2014 and December 31, 2014.

Since this will likely apply to gift card purchases, then I’ll be able to get $700 ($500 bonus plus regular $200 in 2015) worth of American Airlines gift cards for $450.  Also, I called American Express, and they offered 6,000 Membership Rewards, in addition to the $500, for me to keep the card.

2.  American Airlines Citi American Express and Visa

I probably would have kept one of my Citi credit cards just to take advantage of the 10% award booking rebate (up to 10,000 miles a year). The 10,000 miles is worth the $85.

However, Citi gave both my wife and I some great retention bonuses to keep our cards.

  • My American Airlines American Express – for the next 16 months, I get a bonus 500 miles each month I spend $500 or more.
  • My American Airlines Visa – for the next 16 months, I get a bonus 750 miles each month I spend $750 or more.
  • My wife’s American Airlines American Express – for the next 16 months, she gets a bonus 750 miles each month she spends $750 or more.
  • My wife’s American Airlines Visa – for the next 16 months, she gets a bonus 1000 miles each month she spends $1000 or more.
We were also both offered a $95 statement credit to offset the $85 annual fee.

3.  American Airlines Citi Business Visa

This is another card that I kept because of the retention bonus. If I spend $5000 in the next six months (after renewal), I get a bonus 10,000 miles.  I decided that I’d spend the $75 in order to be able to earn 3x per dollar spent on $5,000.

4.  Starwood American Express | Both Business and Personal

At the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2013, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be keeping these cards.  Both cards come with a $65 annual fee.  I wanted to keep the cards because of the valuable airline transfer bonus (transfer 20,000 points and get 25,000 miles with your participating airline).  Each card also gives you two stays toward status.

But the biggest reason I kept these cards was because of the American Express Sync bonuses and Small Business Saturday.

Because I have each of these cards and have my wife as an authorized user, I’ve been able to double up on Twitter Sync promotions.  Last quarter, that included $15 off $115 at Costco (stocked up on Costco gift cards), $25 off $75 at Amazon (purchased Amazon gift cards), $5 off $25 at Exxon, $10 off Kohls, and $25 off $100 at Staples.

With all these bonuses, I figure I’ll come out ahead by keeping the card.

5.  US Airways MasterCard

This was a hard decision.  The annual fee on this card is $89, but it does have a few nice benefits.  Best of all, as a card holder you get 5,000 miles off each award ticket.  As a family of five, that could mean a 25,000 miles savings if we needed to book something with US Airways.

The other benefit of the card for me is that it gives a bonus 10,000 miles when you renew.

The card also comes with a free lounge coupon and a coupon to get two companion tickets for $99 when used along with a ticket over $299.

So far, I don’t know if I made a good choice, but I did pay the $89 annual fee.

6.  Chase Ink Bold

I paid the $95 annual fee on this card, and I’m glad I did.  With the 5x bonus at office supply stores, there are frequently occasions where I’m really glad I have this card.  Both Staples and Office Max (twice) in the last quarter have had promotions where you can buy prepaid gift cards for less than face value.  On top of that, I get 5x per point.  Also, since I’ve refined my Staples gift card purchasing strategy, there is no easier and cheaper way to accumulate points.

Furthermore, having this card along with my Chase Freedom allows me to transfer those points over to airline and hotel programs.

What credit cards do you have that you deem to be annual fee worthy?


  1. Helene Wagner says

    My husband and I have the IHG-Priority Club Chase Visa credit card with a $49 a year fee. Worth every penny as you get a free night every year upon renewal at any hotel anywhere in the world!

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