Travel Related

I am HAPPY to pay $1750 in Annual Card Fees for these FOUR cards! Year after year.

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Four cards I pay HUGE fees for each year!

I always am blown away when folks tell me they have canceled some card due to the annual fee. Now I am not saying anyone should willy nilly just pay a fee, but you really need to run the numbers before you simply cancel a high end card due to the hefty annual fee. I am happy, no I take that back, thrilled, to shell out $1,750 (yes one thousand seven hundred and fifty) bucks each year for the four cards above. Let me break it down why and look at the real NET numbers out of pocket.

The first one, my Chase Sapphire Reserve card is clearly the new “ultimate travel card” in my wallet, but as long as they don’t go messing this card up I will pay the $450 (UPDATED: now $550) forever. Why? First off since I get $300 travel credit that I will and do use, my real card cost is only $150. That is not a crazy price at all for all the other perks the card gives me and I will get more value than that back sending all my Ultimate Rewards points to this card for redemption.

gogo passes good on INT flights
Up to $280 in value for these 10

Then we have the non-Delta Business AMEX Platinum card (learn how to apply). Keep in mind year after year it gives me $200 back and I simply buy Delta $50 eGift cards at the start of each year. So my real out of pocket cost is $250 for this card. Still not cheap but I love the Centurion Lounges and I USE THEM! I could also use the card to get into Sky Clubs if I were not a Diamond already with free membership. But also I really value not having to pay $28 each for international Gogo wifi. The 10 passes I get each year alone wipe out the fee for this card.

credits back to my delta amex reserve card
AMEX Offers help me a bunch!

Then we have the Delta AMEX Reserve card (learn how to apply) Well in my case especially, the Business Delta AMEX Reserve card (learn more and compare) but they are basically the same. This card, unlike the ones above as well as the one below, does not offer any kind of travel credit back. I am stuck paying $450. Now I do work the AMEX “Offers to You” and that does help offset a bit, but not fully. But I have to have some kind of Delta AMEX card to be MQD exempt via $25,000+ spending each year and it might as well be one that gives me the chance to earn 30,000 MQMs each year and a bunch of SkyMiles as well. The fee on this one hurts at full price, but I am still getting real value for the fee.

aa gift card

Lastly, we have a card that everyone went WILD over last year about this time because CNB offered 100,000 points for their Crystal card worth at least $1000 in VISA gift cards and about $1200 if redeemed for flights that would then EARN you points as well. I have not paid the fee yet but will soon and will be keeping this card. Here is why. The card gives you $250 back per user in travel credits (I just buy AA gift cards) and you can have four of them for the one flat annual fee. Yep, they will net pay me $600 to keep the card. Oh and they give me $100 off if I use the card to book flights for my wife and I traveling together. Not really a hard choice to keep this one right?

So let’s run the numbers for these four cards.

  • CSR $550-300=$250
  • Updated January 2020

  • AX Plat $450-200=$250
  • AX DL $450-0=$450
  • CNB $400-1000=(-$600)

So all in net I am NOT really paying $1750 at all but only net  $250  out of pocket and that is before any other perks of these four cards of which there are clearly many and have real, tangible cash value that I would have to shell out if I did not have the perks.

What is the lesson from this? Please don’t just cancel a card due to the fee. Look at the real cost to you and if keeping and paying it is actually worthwhile to you! – René



Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. I will keep my Chase United card as a way to keep points from expiring. I will keep my Chase Marriott due to free annual night. Keep our IHG cards due to free annual nights. Keep the CSR for same reasons as this article states. Drop my Prestige or downgrade to non fee card and transfer points and then move to an airline of choice for future use.. Keep my 1 Citi Thankyou card, cancel and transfer points from the other, and then move to an airline of choice so not to lose the transferred points. Keep the Hilton Reserve for those two wonderful nights. Drop AMEX Hilton Surpass and keep the Citi no fee Hilton cards. Upgrade my Delta Gold card and get those miles. Drop on of the AA cards after getting miles and booking flights.

  2. Frank Kirby Reply

    Rene, Don’t you receive a first class companion certificate with your AMEX reserve card ?

  3. Poor Old Dave Reply

    Hey Rene you read my mind! I also keep a Chase Ink card for the 5x office supplies and etc.

  4. Rene
    You mentioned you get 10 international Gogo passes is that a perk of platinum or do you use your gift cards to purchase?

  5. My cards have been the following for the past few years:
    – AMEX Delta Reserve (helps me keep my Diamond status)
    – AMEX Business Platinum
    – Chase Marriott
    – SPG Rewards
    – Citi Prestige Card
    My job requires me to travel a lot & the company gives me a per diem for the hotel etc… The last three cards usually let me net their annual fees in just a few stays.

  6. Hi Rene. Can you show me where it says about $250 back in travel credit per user for the Crystal card? Thanks.

  7. René,
    You forgot some important perks on the non-delta Plat Amex (at least on the small business card)
    1) 5% back on all BN.COM purchases
    2) 5% back on all fedex shipping and services done at Fedex Office
    3) 5% back on
    4) 5%
    6) Fee paid for global entry
    Just this year I have gotten back $85.75 credit on my bill for fedex and purchases
    There are more things like BOINGO and free membership to the “premier” level on Avis, Hertz and National and the international companion ticket (first class or business I think), which I have never used.
    I also carry the DL Plat Amex, which saved me $700 this year when I used the domestic companion ticket benefit and the last one is the AA MC from Citi which allows me to board an AA flight early, when I fly them every couple of years. I keep that account as not everyone takes AMEX, just go to Quebec city. Also when I use the MC, it adds points to AA. Extending my expiration date.

  8. Not to rain too heavily on your parade but what if you put that $1,750/year plus the other expenses you will incur to enjoy the benefits of those cards into a 401(k) or IRA every year? Over 10 years the $17,500 minimum in expense could be a $30,000 asset easily not to mention the tax benefit. Compound that over 20 or 30 years and that’s real money. I enjoy credit cards and travel benefits but there are real trade offs to this lifestyle.

    • @John – See the post. I am only spending $250 a year net and that is a way less vs the perks I get. BTW my IRA is in very good shape. PS I would be looking at MSB over the next few weeks as I see it going up by 50% (disclaimer I own a bunch of MSB) 😉

  9. Rene, I did not intend to imply any deficiencies in your personal finances, which I’m sure are quite good, only to point out alternatives that may be more relevant to others.

  10. So just to give an example from what I got from my non DL Plat Amex last year:

    $450 Card fee

    -$200 airline credit
    -$165 5% refund to card for (includes nook books) and fedex services

    This leaves me with a total of $85 for the card for the year. That got me about 40 entries into Skyclub / priority clubs / and the ones in Canada. I also got National emerald club executive membership with the card that allows me to choose from a nicer selection of vehicles when at the Emerald isle.

    I have also used the free concierge service for getting tickets to events or dinner reservations.

  11. @rene

    I have the Amex business platinum and the DL Amex as my primary cards. I have an old Citi AA plat MC. Just to keep those miles active and use it where the Amex is not accepted.

    Not sure why you state that you pay full price for the DL Reserve card when you get the companion ticket. Who knows what the value of that is.

    Last year on my DL plat card, that paid for a $700 rt ticket to Portland, Oregon from FLL. How do you not count that as part of the value?

    If I were a UA flyer, I would get their $450 card as it gives you membership to the UA club and allows you and your eligible traveling companions to enter with you. That is a $550 value.

    UA is my alternate larking, as I have silver by being a plat @ Marriott. Also, UA allows you to use monetary travel vouchers to pay for any UA ticket, not just the person you the voucher was issued to.

    • @Gregg G – My main reasons for Delta Reserve card are: 1) Meet spend to be MQD exempt. 2) Earn 30k bonus MQMs each year (the bonus SkyMiles are fine too). 3) More upgrades and I know this matter a ton. 4) BOGOF that I do use most years and that can save me as much as the annual fee.

Write A Comment