I am currently using and paying a $450 annual fee on each of these cards. I think that the benefits of these cards are valuable enough that I may keep them indefinitely.
At first glance it looks like the height of folly to hold not one, but TWO credit cards, each with a $450 annual fee. I admit that on the surface it does sound crazy, but right now I am getting good value from these cards, and may continue to pay the annual fee on BOTH of them for years to come. Follow my thoughts below and let me know if you think I am being reasonable (or not.) Please note that I don’t receive any compensation for talking about these cards. I’m discussing them because they are cards that I use.
American Express Platinum
Why I Got The American Express Platinum
A little over a year ago there was a great sign-up offer on this card. American Express offered a bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points with $3000 spend within 3 months. (Please note that this card is not the same as the Delta Platinum card, also issued by American Express.) I’ve always transferred these points to Delta so I consider Membership Rewards points as my proxy for SkyMiles. I fly Delta often as a nonrev passenger, and I will often use SkyMiles as a back-up plan if I really need to get somewhere. So after I spent the $3000 on the card I got 100,000 Membership Rewards points that have a value to me of about $2000, for which I paid $450 (Read how I justified the annual fee to myself —Why I’m Paying A $450 Credit Card Annual Fee.) But there’s more!
Benefits of the American Express Platinum That I Like
Every year you own the card you get a $200 credit on the airline of your choice. It is supposed to be used for upgrades, baggage fees and onboard purchases, but I’ve been successful getting the credit in other ways (read the Flyertalk thread on the AMEX Platinum.) So now the annual fee is effectively $250. There is also a $100 credit that covers the whole cost of getting Global Entry/Precheck. I’ve not done this yet, but that would bring the first year fee down to an effective $150. Now come the main benefit of the card for me: free lounge access in all Delta lounges, Centurion lounges, and Priority Pass lounges. I can even use the Delta SkyClubs and Priority Pass lounges when I’m flying as a nonrev on Delta. You need a boarding pass with a seat number to access the Centurion lounges, so I only use these when I’m flying on a paid or an award ticket. I find that having lounge access makes air travel so much nicer. There is also a Cruise Privileges program that gives onboard cruise credit (see American Express Platinum Cruise Privileges Analysis.)
Why I’m Keeping the American Express Platinum
When I got the American Express Platinum card I had absolutely no intention of keeping the card a second year. I had already gotten the big sign on bonus and as much as I enjoy lounge access, I am too cheap to pay $250 a year for it. When the annual fee comes due on a card I always call the retention department and see if they will waive the fee. They will sometimes do this on airline cards, but they never do this on “premium” cards. But sometimes they will make you a deal! Here was my deal when I spoke to the retention agent–they would give me 25,000 Membership Rewards if I paid the annual fee and kept the card. This was a good deal for me–the points are worth about $500 to me, so it was like I was paying $250 to get 25,000 SkyMiles with lounge access thrown in for free! Works for me.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Why I Got the Chase Sapphire Reserve
You have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard about Chase’s newest and most glamorous credit card offer. The Chase Sapphire Reserve with a sign on bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Reward Points. I had applied online for this when it first came out, but was declined due to opening too many credit cards in the last two years (My Battle With the Chase 5/24 Rule.) I reapplied right before the deadline last month and was able to get it. The offer is no longer available online but you can apply in a Chase branch until March 31. Ultimate Rewards have many transfer partners–I usually transfer to United but recently transferred about 50K to Hyatt. I give UR points a baseline value of at least 2 cents per point, but often get much better value than that.
Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve That I Like
Chase will give you a $300 credit for travel. This can be used for almost any travel–airfare, cruises, hotels. This brings the effective annual fee down to $150. You also get a $100 credit for Global Entry/Precheck (every 5 years.) You get three points per dollar on travel and dining, and Priority Pass lounge access. There is $10,000 of trip cancellation and interruption insurance, $100,000 trip medical evacuation insurance, and $2500 trip medical and dental insurance. These travel benefits can be used if ANY portion of your trip was paid with the Reserve. You could get an award ticket and pay the fees with the card and still get the travel insurance. One benefit that I am looking forward to is the possibility to redeem URs through Ultimate Reward Travel. I had investigated booking cruises through Ultimate Rewards Travel in Pay With Points on Chase Ultimate Rewards Cruises but found that without the Reserve I would only get a value of 1 cent per point. If you have the Reserve, your points are worth 50% more. For example, if you are booking a cruise for $750, you would only need 50K Ultimate Rewards points.
Why I MAY Keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve
I’ve just gotten the card and I’m still working on the minimum spend ($4000.) When the annual fee come due next year I will be asking myself if the benefits I’m receiving with the card are worth $150 a year. I suspect that they will be. If I also keep the AMEX Platinum I won’t need the lounge access benefit, so I would be keeping it for the travel insurance and the Ultimate Rewards 50% bonus. When my Ultimate Reward bonus posts, I am going to try to use it to book a cruise. At that point I can evaluate how much my annual fee is worth on the Reserve.
Summary–Is It Worth It?
If I can get the same benefits next year as I’m getting this year on both cards, I will pay a net $400 for 25,000 Membership Rewards, lounge access, travel insurance, and a possible 50% bonus on travel purchases from the Ultimate Rewards travel site. I think it will be worth it! By the way, the picture is from our train ride through the Copper Canyon in Mexico. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with this post, but I thought you might enjoy looking at it more than some credit card pictures!