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When I first started out in the world of miles, points and credit cards, I was loathe to pay the annual fee on any card. I figured (rightly in most cases) that annual fees are for suckers.
(SEE ALSO: The only 4 cards I’m willing to pay the annual fee on)
But my maximum scorn was reserved for the “premium” cards. You know, the ones like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Citi Prestige or Platinum Card® from American Express that come with the $450 annual fees. With so many credit cards out there, why would anyone pay so much in fees?!?!? I don’t know if any of you feel or have felt the same way
Signing up for a “premium” card with a huge annual fee
And I think being skeptical of cards with annual fees, especially LARGE annual fees is healthy. Even though I keep a page of some of the best credit card offers out there, I feel like I am constantly saying to people to only go as fast as they feel comfortable and to NOT JUST SIGN UP FOR A CREDIT CARD BECAUSE SOME GUY ON THE INTERNET SAYS YOU SHOULD!
Eventually, as I learned more about different cards, I did end up signing up for a few of these premium cards. Up until now, while I have paid a few of the upfront $450 annual fees, those have usually been offset by multiple $200-$300 travel credits and I’ve canceled the card before the 2nd annual fee hit.
Am I really going to pay a $450 annual fee?
But now I’m in a situation where I am actually considering paying another hefty annual fee on my Citi Prestige card. Though because I am a Citigold checking account member (having signed up for the 50,000 American Airlines miles awhile ago), my annual fee is only $350
Why would I do this?
Mostly, it’s for the travel insurance / delay protection. Other cards have insurance protections, but only the Citi Prestige travel protection kicks in after 3 hours. My thinking was that my $350 annual fee would be partially offset by the $250 airline credit.
(SEE ALSO: Don’t screw up your Citi Prestige airline credit like I did)
I hate when people subtract airline credits from an annual fee, since one is straight cash and the other is more delayed travel. But…. that does make the annual fee at least CLOSE to $100. My thought was that even ONE trip delay covered by the Prestige card would offset that.
That doesn’t take into account the other benefits of the Prestige. Even though those benefits have been nerfed since the card first came out, there are still some of the Citi Prestige benefits that could be useful. I don’t have a lot of 4 night paid hotel stays, and I have Priority Pass from another card and I don’t know that I’ve ever used the concierge
(SEE ALSO: Amex Platinum concierge vs. Citi Prestige concierge)
I have a few days left to make the decision and I have to admit – I’m torn
What about you? Have you paid the annual fees on premium cards like this? What would you do?
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I too have the C Prestige and get the $350 annual fee.
Just last night I booked a trip that covered the $250 airfare credit and two 4 night hotel stays that saved me $712. And we are only half way through January. I have more 4 night hotel stays coming up later on this year so clearly the C Prestige is a fantastic card for me that is saving me a lot of money. Another way to look at it is: they are paying me to have the card.
Because of the free 4th night I am also staying on my vacations a little longer since I can get one or two additional free nights per trip.
I have huge fees but I’m paying my Schwab Plat next month. I get over $1k in value from normal spend, GC Resell, and Amex Offers. I might downgrade my CSR though…
Just paid the 2nd CSR fee. I got $300 value out of the travel credit, plus at least $300 value out of the Priority Pass membership. That doesn’t count the value of the added URs from dining/travel.
This year we immediately used the $300 credit, but as we plan on mostly business class travel, the PP membership will probably be less useful. We’ll see if we go for year 3.
Rarely if ever stay anywhere for the hotel credit, so that option is out. The travel delay protection is nice, but also rarely gets invoked, even at 3 hours, so it’s something that’s really less of an issue. For me/us, it’s more about absolutes.
The AA Exec works well, since we fly AA a lot and can use their clubs, so it’s a keeper, even without benefits of other cards. Some Platinum will likely be a keeper, generally whatever is up at the time, working on a triple dip for the airline credit, and if those are exhausted, it will likely be an Ameriprise, as this gets the Centurion + PP clubs. The new Amex Hilton premium card is also a contender here as well, for the credit if not the club access.
Other than that though? Not sure about paying for any premium cards right now.
I don’t see that it is worth it in your case Dan. While trip delay coverage that starts at 3 hours is nice, it really isn’t remotely close to necessary. I don’t see a lot of expenses that would kick in at 3 hours delayed. Maybe a meal, but that is about it. Trip delay coverage becomes really valuable in the case of overnight delays, and those are covered by a few other cards. The only reason I could see paying for the prestige would be for the 4th night free if you would ever use it enough. We do not and it doesn’t look like you do either. When we travel, we rarely stay in one place that long and we would never stay that long in one place if we weren’t using points to stay.
Personally, we keep the sapphire reserve. The travel credit is pretty much a guaranteed reimbursement for something because everything from tolls to parking to airfare to bus passes to hotels to trains is covered, so it is as good as cash and automatic, so that reduces the cost to $150 per year. The “extra” point on dining and travel and the 1.5 cent redemption value through their travel portal have given us more than $1500 in value (roughly 20,000 extra points and roughly 550,000 points redeemed through their portal) for the annual fee.
I don’t think you use dining amd travel as much as we do, so it might not be the right card for you either, but I think that, in most cases (outside of those people whose natural travel patterns are to pay for four night hotel stays), it is a better choice than the prestige card.
@Dan, Personally I see this mostly as a non-issue . . .
1) OF COURSE you *should* be saying to people/readers of your blog, “I feel like I am constantly saying to people to only go as fast as they feel comfortable and to NOT JUST SIGN UP FOR A CREDIT CARD BECAUSE SOME GUY ON THE INTERNET SAYS YOU SHOULD!” That is simply prudent advice, period.
2) Listen to and take your own advice: IF you are receiving what you believe to be a solid return/”bang-for-your-buck,” then the answer to the question “Should I pay the $450AF?” is a resounding YES! If not, the simple answer is NO.
3) The $450 AF (or $550 AF for the Amex Platinum) is NEVER $450 ($550). Taking the Citi Prestige, which I too have in my wallet (but I *do* fork out the whole $450), what you refer to as “the $250 airline credit” is *not* just an airline credit. It is a) a Travel Credit and, unlike some other cards, is *automatically* credited (you don’t have to request it); and b) is not restricted to various fees (e.g.: baggage fees), but can actually be applied to the airfare (or car rental or train ticket or . . . ) itself. That brings the fee down to $200 ($100 for you). Then, yes, there is the superior travel insurance coverage, the Priority Pass Select membership (along with, seemingly, every other “super-premium” card), BUT most important (to me at least) is the 4th Night Free benefit. In 2017, I saved just under $1000 with that benefit alone. Ergo, the AF for me is $0.
The same is (virtually) true with EVERY other “super-premium,” although you may have to work much harder to get it down to $zero, depending upon the card. For example, CSR v. CSP: the former has a $450AF; the latter $95. But the $300 travel credit drops the AF of the CSR effectively to $150, or $55 more than the CSP. Other benefits will easily erase that $55 difference, and probably the entire $150, so either you’re getting the CSR for the AF of a CSP, or it’s free!
CLEARLY this is a matter of who you are, how you travel, etc., etc., etc. — but I’ve seen it work time and time again, year after year.
For those that are so put off by the idea of an annual fee but still want the freebies, I’d recommend the new Ped Fed Pathfinder (or the First National Bank Travelite if one receives an invite). Both have no annual fee or foreign transaction fee and offer a $100/year annual travel credit plus a Global Entry credit.
But for the readers here who presumably do at least one or two trips a year, a premium card is likely worth it.
The Citi Prestige card annual fee is easy to justify for our family. Already used the $250 travel credit and 4th night free on a trip to New York saving $400 and earning Starwood points and upgraded room on a discounted SPG prepaid rate. And, used the Thank you points to pay for four United tickets to London – just $833 out of pocket. And it’s only mid-January! Fortunately, we get an unlimited number of vacation days now we are retired.