Which credit cards I happily pay an annual fee for

Posted on December 27, 2014 by in Best use American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards

The annual fee is one of the biggest headaches in the credit card game we play. However, for some cards I'm very happy to pay an annual fee to keep the card. Find out which give the best benefits upon renewal.

Plus – did you know that there is a trick to NOT pay most annual fees? Read on until the end of this article.

1) Chase Sapphire – $95 Annual Fee

This is my primary card, which I use every time I don't have a bonus category on another card.

The card gives a 7% annual dividend for all points earned in the prior year. Unfortunately this great benefit is due to expire after the 2015 dividends.

I have had this card for several years now and I plan to keep it around for the time being.

2) Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card $49

This card posts a FREE night certificate at ANY IHG Rewards Club property every year.

I have used the certificate at these Category 7-9 properties myself.

InterContinental Dubai Festival City
InterContinental Monterey (Monterey, CA)

I haven't been, but a great redemption is:

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (though it makes no sense to go there just for one night!)

As you know, some of these properties can be $800 or more, and you can replace the cost with a certificate.

Also, the card gives you 10% back on every IHG redemption, which is worth another 10,000-15,000 points for me per year.

3) The Hyatt Credit Card by Chase $75

The Hyatt Chase Credit Card gives you a FREE night certificate in a Hyatt up to Category 4. Category 4 is pretty luxurious already and includes, for instance:

The Grand Hyatt Dubai


The Grand Hyatt Berlin.

4) Club Carlson Visa Card

The card provides a generous 40,000 points upon renewal – that is 50% of the sign-up bonus. Category 5 hotels can be booked for 44,000 points and as a Club Carlson credit card holder you can book two nights for 44,000 points. Amazing benefit!

Category 5 includes:

Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados
Radisson Hotel Trinidad
Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi
Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar

Credit cards where I'm on the fence about the annual fee:

Some cards have a very high annual fee, like the American Express Platinum Card. $450 is a huge annual fee, but the benefits are huge too.

You get $200 in travel incidentals (you can use them against gift cards for instance) and lounge access to the awesome Centurion lounges e.g. in Dallas and the Priority Pass lounges (most of them aren't awesome at all but they will have free internet).

What is an annual fee waiver or retention bonus?

Many credit card companies know about the annual fee dilemma and they provide annual fee waivers for customers who are willing to spend some time on the phone with them.

In my experience, you should call a couple of days before the renewal and start like this:

"I'd like to cancel my credit card account"…

When you call during Eastern Time business hours, you will most likely be connected to a 'specialist' who will ask what is your concern, and if you mention the annual fee, will provide you with options. These options can include an instant waiver, loyalty points against a fee (e.g. 10,000 points) or a challenge (spend $1,500 every months and get a $100 statement credit).

The value of the offer depends on your spend on the card but also on computer models, the agent's mood and the amount of rainfall that day 😉

If you are not happy, excuse yourself and call again the next day.

I have yet to encounter an agent who would cancel the card right away before asking for my confirmation to cancel (in case no offers at all are being made to you).

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