Should you ever pay an annual fee to own a credit card? At first the answer seems obvious: Of course not. Why would anyone pay an annual fee when there are so many credit cards available — even those with generous and flexible rewards programs and cash-back offers — that don’t charge annual fees?
But, there actually are times when it does make sense to pay an annual fee. Simply put, some cards with fees have such strong rewards, miles or cash-back programs that you’ll be able to cover the cost of their annual fees with the financial rewards that you earn. And you’ll be able to do it quickly.
Consider the American Express Business Platinum Card. This card comes with a large annual fee of $450. But it also comes with an equally large number of perks. It’s an especially valuable card for frequent travelers. First, you’ll earn one rewards point for every dollar that you charge. That’s not unusual, and many rewards cards with no annual fee offer this same deal. But you’ll earn double points when you book flights with American Express Travel and four-times points when you shop at American Express’ online Bonus Points Mall.
Additional Rewards: But the Business Platinum Card offers additional perks, too, such as a 20 percent travel bonus. When consumers use the card’s Membership Rewards Pay with Points feature to pay for some or all of their travel purchases, they’ll receive 20 percent of these points back into their account. Those consumers, then, who redeem 30,000 points to purchase an airline ticket will see 6,000 points pop back into their accounts. The card also comes with an airline fee credit. By using their card, consumers can charge up to $200 a year in bag-check, in-flight-meal, lounge-access and other fees. American Express will then credit these fees back to their accounts.
Cardholders who travel frequently, then, could quickly earn enough rewards values to cover their annual fee. And that’s the key to determining whether an annual fee is worth it: Do the benefits that come with that annual fee allow you to quickly pay for it?
The PremierPass Difference: Consider another example, the Citi PremierPass Card and the Citi PremierPass Card — Elite Level. The standard PremierPass card comes with no annual fee, while the PremierPass Elite card carries a $75 annual fee. But the second card also comes with a more generous rewards program.
The PremierPass Elite will award you two rewards points for every dollar you charge at supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores. It will also give you two points for every dollar you charge with parking merchants and on commuter transportation services. It will award you one dollar for every dollar you spend on other purchases. The PremierPass Card with no annual fee simply rewards you with one rewards point for every dollar that you charge, no matter what you are buying.
The PremierPass Elite also provides you with one miles point for every mile you fly, while the no-annual-fee version provides one miles point for every three miles that you fly.
Again, the key is simple: If you fly often, and if you make several purchases at gas stations, supermarkets or drugstores, you’ll probably earn enough points to cover your annual fee. The same holds true if you fly frequently every year: You’ll earn significantly more free miles by taking out the PremierPass Card with the annual fee.
Before deciding to apply for a credit card that comes with an annual fee, take a close look at your spending and travel habits. If you’ll use your card enough to quickly cover that annual fee? Maybe such a card is the right one for you.