Why I’m Paying a $450 Credit Card Annual Fee

When the annual fee became due on my American Express Platinum card, I called the retention department and told them I was thinking of cancelling my card.  They offered me 25,000 Membership Reward points if I would keep the card.  I took the deal.

The American Express Platinum Card
The American Express Platinum Card

The Original Card Offer

About a year ago, American Express came out with a wonderful offer for the Platinum card.  100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a $200 airline credit, with a $3000 minimum spend.  The $450 annual fee was not waived, but the card has wonderful premium travel benefits.  Membership rewards points can be transferred to Delta, British Airways, and other airlines.  I almost always transfer mine to Delta.   I’ve long since used up the points, but I’ve been enjoying the lounge benefit for the last year.

The Second Year Annual Fee Becomes Due

Last month I received a bill from AMEX with my second $450 annual fee due. I thought briefly about just paying the fee and moving on.  But I’ve never paid an annual fee without getting something in return! In general, I will keep cards indefinitely unless I have to pay an annual fee, as this increases my average account age on my credit report.  If I can’t get the fee waived or get an offer of extra miles, I’ll go ahead and cancel the card.

Why I Wanted to Keep the Card

There are a lot of travel benefits with this card, but the ones that I use or want to use in the future are listed below.

Lounge Access

I have used this benefit a lot over the last year.  You get access to all Priority Club lounges, Delta SkyClubs, and Centurion Club lounges by showing your boarding pass and the AMEX Platinum card.  I can access the Priority Club lounges and Delta SkyClubs even when I’m flying nonrev, but I need a seat assignment to get in the Centurion Club.  Now that B. has his own card, we can hang around in the lounge together.

Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance

You can get your medical evacuation paid for by American Express if you coordinate it through their office.  I have been meaning to investigate evacuation coverage with third party providers, but now I can procrastinate for another year.  The wonderful thing about this benefit is that you don’t have to book the travel using your AMEX card.

Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

You can get a $100 credit when you apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.  Whenever I travel nonrev, or on an award ticket, I always get flagged for PreCheck.  I keep meaning to make the appointment to get Global Entry, but have been too lazy to do so.  I plan on getting it this year while I can still get the credit with AMEX.

Cruise Credits

Here is another benefit that I haven’t used yet but would like to take advantage of later this year.  If you use your American Express Platinum card to purchase a cruise, you will receive on board credit.  This credit ranges from $100-$300 depending on the cruise line and type of cabin booked.  The AMEX website says that travel should be booked through AMEX, but reports on FlyerTalk, Cruise Critic and from others that I’ve spoken with at seminars say that you can book with a travel agent and still get the credit. 

The Call to “Cancel” the Card

I decided that I would call AMEX and see what they would offer me to keep the card.  I called customer service and said that my annual fee was due and I was thinking of cancelling the card.  I was transferred to a retention specialist who offered me my choice of a $200 statement credit, or 25,000 Membership Rewards points.  I took the points, and will pay the new annual fee.

The Value of the $450 Fee

I’ve just checked prices and the award calender on Delta.  I can get a round-trip ticket on Delta to either Salt Lake City or Montreal for 25,000 SkyMiles (converted from Membership Rewards.)  The ATL-SLC ticket would cost $328, and the ATL-YUL ticket would cost $404.  After I get the $200 airline credit, I can book an award ticket to either city for the net cost of $250.  (The $450 annual fee – $200 airline fee credit.) At this point I am receiving free airport lounge access, cruise credits, and free global entry, if I choose to get it.  This deal works for me.




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