Rookie Wednesday: If you don’t HOLD a card due to an annual fee, you are not doing it right!

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

savings from amex for offers in app and online (2)

One of the most common things folks tell me, before they do something stupid, especially in regards to the Delta AMEX cards, is that they “downgraded” the Delta AMEX Reserve card to the Delta AMEX Platinum card because they did not want to pay the $450 fee for the card each year.

Here is why I said they did something stupid (harsh words I know but just hang on for a bit). The current “rule” which says you can only receive a particular personal AMEX card bonus (for that specific card) once EVER in your lifetime (you can check this post to see if you have ever had that card bonus before). So, long story short, if you simply downgrade from the Delta AMEX Reserve card (that you got a new card bonus for at some point) and now switch to the Platinum card you have burned two of your cards from getting bonus points for a new card!

But back to the topic of the day about just dumping any kind of card due to the fee. First off, none of us like paying fees. But if you use a card there is a good chance you can get something back when the annual fee arrives (see E13 post). No matter what is offered, it is worth the effort. Again, if you don’t use the card don’t expect to get anything back.

savings from amex for offers in app and online (1)

Then we have my opening image from the AMEX app. Notice how much I have saved this year utilizing the “Amex Offers & Benefits”, both on-line (log in to your account to add them) and in the app (as you see just above) and with AMEX SYNC offers on twitter! So, even though I have paid $450 for my Delta AMEX Reserve card, on offers alone, I have got just about all of that back.

amex credit for sprint payment

over payment credit balance for my sprint bill for amex credit

amex sprint savings

There are simple ones that can and do add up to offset my fee. This past week there was one on just one of my AMEX cards for $10 off my cell bill if I spent $75 (good twice). I had no bill due but I made a $75 payment and then a second $76 payment and both triggered the credit and I now have a $151 credit on my cell bill. Simple, done & thank you AMEX!

my 50 credit for my new hp laptop

And then there are offers I was really waiting for. I need a new laptop. AMEX was offering $50 off spending at least $250 at via a twitter SYNC offer. Sweet. I registered the card I wanted to use and got confirmation and verified it on-line. Then I went to EBATES <–LINK as they had both a $15.00 off coupon plus will pay me 3% cash back for starting my purchase there. Bottom line is I saved $50+$15+$7.95 off my laptop.

I think you see my point in savings alone. You can, with a little work, earn enough to just about offset the annual fee year after year for a bunch of your AMEX cards. But that is not all. Take a look.

AMEX offers an amazing extended warranty when you pay with most of their cards. I will get, on my laptop example, the reassurance of an extra year warranty by paying for the laptop with my AMEX card thus I am seeing another great value from the annual fee not having to pay for any kind of extended warranty.

Then when it comes to my Delta AMEX Reserve card I get a BOGOF cert good for my wife and I to fly in 1st class on Delta (lower 48) each year for just the tax fee for her that I do use each year, saving me hundreds of dollars.

I get free Sky Club access as a Diamond but if I ever drop below that then getting access to the new and improved clubs could well be worth it alone for my Reserve card $450 fee.

What price do you put on upgrades? Yes, the Delta Reserve card still gives me the tiebreaker for upgrades in my same fare class. While I cannot print a list of how many more upgrades I got thanks to having the card I can tell you in over 70 segments with Delta this year I have only missed two upgrades. That has real value to me even if I cannot put a hard dollar amount on it.

I could really do this all day, folks. The bottom line is no one likes to pay card fees. I don’t. You don’t. But if you can gain the full value of the fee back year after year, with some work, then paying the fee can well be worth it. It is to me! – Rene


Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.


  1. I was under the impression that you can get an AMEX card as many times as you like, but would only receive the BONUS once per lifetime. Can anyone confirm?

    If that is the case, your reader could still get that Platinum bonus later, right?

  2. @Trevor – You can get the card again, yes, but the new card bonus only 1x EVER in your lifetime per card. The business cards are cancel, wait 365+ days, get new card bonus again. So no, if they downgrade to the Delta Platinum from the Reserve they have HELD that card in their lifetime and can NEVER EVER get the bonus (under the current rules).

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