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A few months ago I posted about the IHG credit card, mentioning that it is one of the few cards that I will pay the annual fee on.  When I posted about it on Twitter, I got the following question:

So (albeit a few months late), I thought I’d try to answer that question. Here are the credit cards that I will pay the annual fee on. Some of these credit cards will pay me a commission if you apply for them through our top credit card offers page. If you do, I appreciate it

No brainers: Definitely pay the annual fee

First off is the aforementioned Chase IHG card. (#1)  It has a good signup bonus (ranging from 60,000 to 80,000 points, and also gives a 10% rebate on award redemptions, and IHG routinely releases their IHG PointBreaks every quarter – hotels that are on sale for only 5000 points / night.  In addition to that, each year upon paying the $49 annual fee, you get a free night at ANY IHG hotel in the world!


Even an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora…. all for the $49 fee.  It’s why I recommend that you coordinate your IHG card signups with a spouse, so you can get TWO free nights at the same time.

The only thing the IHG card is NOT good for is everyday spending, so I just keep it in my handy credit card binder and bring it out if I ever have a paid stay at an IHG hotel

The second is either the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Chase Ink Plus card (#2).  The ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to travel partners like United, Hyatt, Southwest and others is one of the best perks out there, and so it would be worth it to me to pay the $95 annual fee on that.  Having said that, between my wife and I, so far we have been able to rotate in a Sapphire and Ink between us so that we haven’t had to pay an annual fee on either one.  This is becoming more difficult with the advent of the Chase 5/24 rule.

A recent addition is the Citi AT&T Access&More card (#3).  Unfortunately it looks like new applications for this card have closed, though reports over on the Points With a Crew miles and points Slack channel have indicated that you can product change to the card from another Citi card (like one you don’t want to pay the annual fee on!).  It has an annual fee of $95, but if you spend $10,000 on the card in a year, you get 10,000 ThankYou points which have a value of at least $100, which should offset the annual fee.  I have been using the card to pay my mortgages, so there will be no problem reaching $10,000 in a year I think

Last one I think that is a no-brainer (barely!) is the Chase Hyatt card (#4) It comes with 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt as a signup bonus and the annual fee is waived the first year, but after you pay the $75 annual fee you get a certificate for one free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt.  A Category 4 Hyatt is still pretty nice, so depending on how many hotel points you have and how much you stay in hotels, it can definitely be worth it.

Cards I’ll consider paying the annual fee on

Here are a couple of other cards that I’d at least THINK about paying the annual fee on, depending on the situation

  • Chase Marriott Card – gives either a Category 4 or Category 5 free night on your anniversary
  • One of the “premium” cards such as Citi Prestige, American Express Platinum or the soon to be released Chase Sapphire Reserve card.  A $450 annual fee is a lot to swallow, but you do get a $200-$300 annual airline credit depending on the card (as long as you don’t screw it up!!), and the other benefits are very useful, especially if you travel a lot.  Again, similarly between my wife and I we have been able
  • Any American Express card.  Depending on how much you’re able to take advantage of Amex Offers, if you max out all your authorized users, you can easily make up the annual fee in savings with Amex Offers over the course of the year (SEE ALSO: Making money with Amex Sync Offers)

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May be worth paying the annual fee (for people in certain situations)

Some cards that I personally would not pay the annual fee on, but I could see why people in some situations might

  • An airline co-branded card.  If you have a lot of travel on one specific airline, there are often a lot of perks on that airline’s co-branded card, such as free checked bags, better boarding positions, qualifying miles, etc.
  • Same thing with a hotel co-branded card, especially if you’re going for status.  Many co-branded hotel cards give nights and stays towards status, and if that’s important to you, I could see the argument

Cards I’d never pay the annual fee on

Well…. that would be just about everything else 🙂

I should point out that for most cards, even the ones that I’m wiling to pay the annual fee on, I will almost always call and ask if there are any offers out there to offset the annual fee.  Many times, depending on the bank and on your spending patterns, they will give you either a statement credit to offset the annual fee or a bonus spending offer.

Again, if you apply for any credit cards through our top credit card offers page, I will receive a commission and if you do I appreciate it. If you have questions about credit cards, miles and points or anything else travel related, I am happy to give you my thoughts.

What credit cards would you consider paying the annual fee on?

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