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.
There are two cards that live in my wallet year after year. One of them I pull out and use all the time up to a certain point and the other I just about never ever use. So that begs the question that was recently asked by a reader Shami who says:
“Can you lay out side by side reasons for keeping these two cards. Delta AMEX Reserve and [non-Delta] AMEX Platinum business”
This is a great question. After all, there are nowadays a large number of high end cards that are competing for your business. They want you to get the cards and to USE the cards as well. One of the best ones EVER has recently made so many changes that I no longer see any value from the card at all (as of next year) and will dump it. There are not enough perks remaining after the utter destruction of benefits to justify my keeping it.
But what about the two AMEX cards I have shown you above. Why am I willing, year after year, to pay $450 each for the:
This is a legitimate question and a good one. Not only is it a good one but it is a personal question not a simple math for everyone question. Take the Citi Prestige I talked about above. A number of readers said the current 4th night “free” perk is all alone a reason enough for them to pay the fee year after year. That is not me. The golf perk was reason enough year after year, for me, but that will soon be gone. It is all about value to me (or to you).
So am I getting value each year from the two AMEX cards I hold each year? You betcha and let me explain in detail why. First let’s start with my Delta Reserve card. As mentioned I USE this card a ton starting on 1JAN each and every year. I tend to spend a bunch in the first month to reach at least $25,000 in spend to be MQD exempt before 1FEB when the new medallion year begins. If I need the MQMs I push to spend $30,000. Now yes I can be MQD exempt from spending on either the Delta Gold or Platinum or Reserve card so this alone in no way justifies me paying such a high fee year after year. But look at what I get if I do spend a total of $60,000 between 1JAN & 31DEC (that is posted charges). I net:
- 30,000 bonus SkyMiles worth at least 1 cent each or $300
- 30,000 bonus MQMs worth whatever I feel they are worth.
So the super simple math here tells me that just the bonus SkyMiles, in a net sum equation, brings my “real” out of pocket fee for holding the Delta Reserve card down to $150. So do all the remaining perks of the card like the bonus MQMs, the BOGOF, the improved upgrade chances and SkyClub access (if I needed it – I don’t) add up to be worth $150? 100% without question YES! It really should not be hard for anyone to do this and to see why there is such real value in paying this fee year after year after year. This also does not take into account any bonus points from retention calls I make on almost ALL of my cards from ALL banks year after year. And really that point brings me to the next $450 fee card the non-Delta AMEX Platinum business card.
This one I almost spend nothing on each year. I take that back I spend a little on UBER each year and get bonus points and I do spend on SYNC deals each year and I spend 4x$50 each year to get the incidentals travel perk credited back. So if we just start with that last one alone I am net down to $250 for the card out of pocket. Since I don’t like using the card for earning membership rewards points for daily spend (there are too many other choices that offer more points) are the remaining perks alone worth the net fee I pay? 110% YES in this case and let me show you why.
I am a HUGE fan of the Centurion lounges. I have visited the SPA in DFW enough times this year alone to pay that back over and over. But I also really value the Gogo passes each year I get as they are good on international flights and if you have not noticed the cost for wifi over the water is not cheap. Again, real value there that I do not have to spend my own money to buy.
If you wanted to get super nit picky, on money back, I do get $100 for my GOES renewal every 5 years so that is $20 a year I get back. Not a bunch but still the money and math matters.
But what about retention bonus points (see E13 post) for keeping the card and paying the fee year after year. Yeah, really not so much. Let me tell you a very embarrassing story. Since I just automatically call on all my cards each year I saw that the fee billed and did not really think about what card I was calling on. Now card companies tend to be “nice” to you when you spend a ton with them each year. Think spending tens of thousands of dollars. They hate to see this kind of spending go to another bank. But again on this card I spent very little so the conversation with the rep went something like this:
Me) So I wanted to see if something could be done to adjust the fee or get some bonus points perhaps or a statement credit perhaps.
Rep) Mr. De Lambert, you have hardly spent anything on this card all year long and in fact most of the charges included credits back for incidentals and large credits back for AMEX offers. NO! We are not going to give you anything back.
Ah, hem. Well now. Yes. I saw his point and duly tucked my “tail” between my legs and dropped the call as gracefully as I could. #NoteToSelf – don’t call on cards you spend nothing on and expect them to be nice to you (nor should they be for that matter).
So I hope, Shami that I have laid out in a clear way why I, at worst, don’t mind paying net $380 for cards that charge me $900. I am personally gaining so much in value that these fees will be paid year after year forever as long as the card perks do not adjust down in some way as long as I keep flying Delta as my primary airline. – Rene
PS – Just as an FYI I also pay for yet another $450 a year card, the CNB Crystal card as that also give me more perks per year than it costs me.
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.