6 credit cards with benefits that are worth more than the annual fee - from free nights to Uber credits
- Rewards credit cards have become more popular in recent years, and that's led to more valuable benefits, but also some higher annual fees.
- If you're trying to decide whether a credit card annual fee is worth it, take a look at the benefits it offers and do an honest assessment of how many of them you'll be able to use.
- For regular travelers, premium credit cards like the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Business Platinum® Card from American Express can be worth the high annual fees thanks to annual statement credits that cover things like airline incidental fees, Uber rides, and Dell purchases.
- Likewise, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card - with a lower annual fee of $89 - can easily be worth it if you use its annual free night at hotels that cost up to 40,000 points.
- Read more personal finance coverage.
With so many rewards credit cards on the market - especially premium travel credit cards with annual fees of $450 or more - it's easier than you think to end up with thousands of dollars in annual fees every year. In some cases, it can be worth paying a high annual fee for a rewards card - for example, if you travel a lot, premium credit card perks like airport lounge access, annual free reward nights, and trip delay insurance are all benefits you can put to use.
But not every credit card annual fee is easy to justify - especially if you can't use all the benefits. There are plenty of cards with perks worth significantly more than the annual fee, but the key is to take a hard look at the benefits at evaluate how many of them you'll realistically use. If you're not sure an annual fee is worth it, you do have several great rewards card options with no annual fees.
If you're considering adding a new credit card to your wallet to earn a new cardholder bonus and enjoy ongoing perks, these six options can offer a great return on your investment.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
Amex Platinum: More than $2,000 in value in your first year
Annual fee: $550
The Amex Platinum is loaded with features that are worth more than the $550 annual fee if you take advantage of them.
It offers the following statement credits each year:
- Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits - When you use the Platinum card to pay for incidentals like baggage fees, flight changes fees, and in-flight purchases with your designated airline, you'll be reimbursed up to $200 each year.
- Up to $200 in annual Uber credits - This breaks down as up to $15 in credits each month, with a $20 bonus in December
- Up to $100 to cover the Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee every four years
These benefits alone add up to $500 in value if you use them all to their full extent.
That's not even counting the welcome bonus of 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Based on The Points Guy's valuations, that bonus is worth $1,200 toward travel booked with partners like ANA, British Airways and Singapore Airlines.
Additionally, the Platinum card earns 5 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel, along with 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. And when you do book a hotel through Amex Travel, you may qualify for extra perks like property credits, free nights, free breakfast, room upgrades and more via the Fine Hotels & Resorts or the Hotel Collection program - adding even more value.
Add in lots of options for airport lounge access - from the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges to Delta Sky Clubs when you're flying Delta to Priority Pass lounges - and you're getting even more bang for your buck when you travel. Business Insider's David Slotnick got more than $2,000 in value from the card in his first year,
Amex Business Platinum: Up to $7,000 in value
Annual fee: $595
The Business Platinum card has the similar statement credits:
- Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits
- Up to $100 to cover the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application
- Up to $200 in statement credits for Dell purchases each year.
That adds up to $500 in value. The card used to offer a one-year global WeWork membership benefit as well, which more than $1,000 in value to the card. But even without that feature, when you factor in all the card's other benefits - from airport lounge access to free elite status with Hilton and Marriott to the valuable points you earn - you could several thousand dollars in value from the Business Platinum card.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Up to $500 in annual statement credits alone
Annual fee: $450
The Hilton Honors Aspire Amex has several great features that make it worth the $450 annual fee - it stands out among other hotel credit cards for offering great value. For starters, cardholders receive a free weekend night award that can be redeemed at any Hilton property worldwide. I recently used mine at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, when the standard room rate was well over $1,800 per night.
It also offers the following annual statement credits:
- Up to $250 in credits each year for Hilton resort purchases - This includes room rates
- Up to $250 in airline incidental fee credits each year - This works the same as the airline fee credits on the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum
Cardholders who book an eligible two-night stay at HiltonHonors.com/aspire receive a $100 Hilton on-property credit. Plus, the Aspire card gets you top-tier Diamond status with Hilton, which gets you bonus points, complimentary rooms upgrades, and a welcome gift.
Even if you don't put the aforementioned benefits to use, the Hilton Aspire's annual $250 Hilton resort credit and $250 airline fee credit can take the sting out of the $450 annual fee.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Up to $300 in statement credits, plus a free night each year
Annual fee: $450
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card's $450 annual fee is much more palatable if you consider the card's many benefits. Every year, cardholders receive a free night award valid at any participating Marriott hotel under 50,000 points per night.
While you're enjoying that free night, you can put the card's annual statement credit of up to $300 toward Marriott Bonvoy purchases to use for things like spa treatments, on-site dining and activities (or you could even use it to extend your stay, since it works for room rates too).
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex cardholders also qualify for a $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit when booking a minimum two-night stay at participating Ritz Carlton and St. Regis hotels. The $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck every four years are extra ways you can help offset the $450 annual fee on this card.
IHG Rewards Club Premier card
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card may not offer top-tier status or big hotel statement credits, but the card's benefits are pretty generous consider its $89 annual fee. Every year, cardholders receive a free night at any participating IHG hotel worldwide that costs up to 40,000 points. Whether you stay at your local Holiday Inn or a high-end InterContinental, the free night from this card is sure to be worth more than the $89 annual fee.
As an added perk, IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders qualify for a fourth night free when booking award stays. This can be worth up to 70,000 points when utilized at a top-tier hotel. Again, it can be worth way more than the $89 annual fee you're paying on the card. If that's not enough, the card also comes with a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit of up to $100 every four years.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard: Flight discount if you spend $20,000 each year
People give me puzzled looks when I tell them I keep the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard in my wallet even though I don't fly American Airlines very often. Aside from the excellent partner flight redemptions I can book through the American Airlines AAdvantage program, the card has one very valuable perk that offsets the $95 annual fee: Every card membership year where cardholders spend $20,000, they'll receive a $125 American Airlines flight discount certificate.
As someone who puts quite a bit of spending across multiple rewards credit cards, I have no trouble spending $20,000 on this card in a year. Redeeming miles doesn't always make sense, so when I do fly American Airlines on a paid fare, the $125 flight discount takes a big chunk out of the cost.
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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.