Rewards cards often come with substantial welcome bonuses that make applying for them a good proposition. However, many of these cards carry annual fees of $89 or higher. So it’s important for cardholders to get their money’s worth in the form of recurring benefits. Here are six cards with perks that are worth more than the annual fees.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
At $695, The Platinum Card® from American Express has one of the highest annual fees on this list. In turn, cardholders get lots of valuable benefits that offset this fee. Terms apply.
For starters, the card comes with an annual $200 airline fee credit. This can be applied toward checked bag fees, in-flight drink purchases and more. Cardholders can also breeze through security with Clear where available — they'll get up to $179 back per year on membership when it's purchased with the card. An annual $200 Uber credit for rides in the U.S. is distributed in $15 increments ($35 in December), along with Uber VIP status. All of this comes up to $485-$500 in credits, so if you use them all you can almost cover the cost of the annual fee. Terms apply.
Additional value is offered via Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status, which are valuable card benefits that could help you save on travel. Hilton Honors Gold members receive 80% bonus points, complimentary breakfast, room upgrades and a 5th night free on award redemptions. Terms apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express also gives cardholders Priority Pass Select membership and access to the AmEx Centurion lounge network. And don’t forget the various resort credits, room upgrades and gifts offered on bookings through AmEx Fine Hotels & Resorts as well as The Hotel Collection. Depending on usage, all of these perks can be valued at well over $100, making the $695 annual fee well worth it if you'll use them. Terms apply.
» Learn more: American Express Platinum review: Luxury isn’t cheap
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has the highest annual fee on this list at $595. So you definitely want to make the most of its various benefits in order to get your money’s worth. Terms apply.
Many of the perks are the same as those on the personal card, including a $200 annual airline fee credit, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, AmEx Global Lounge Collection access, Hilton and Marriott Gold status and the ability to book travel with complimentary extras through the Fine Hotels & Resorts and Hotel Collection programs. Terms apply.
Additionally, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a combined $200 worth of Dell statement credits every year. Terms apply.
Cardholders also get higher earning power and savings on award redemptions: All purchases over $5,000 earn 1.5 points per $1 spent. When you use points for business and first class airfare, you’ll receive 35% of your points back (up to 500,000 per year). This can add up to substantial savings if you frequently book premium cabin flights using this card. Terms apply.
To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is loaded with perks that are worth more than the $450 annual fee. In exchange, cardholders get recurring annual benefits like a $250 Hilton resort credit, $250 airline fee credit, $100 Hilton on-property credit on two-night paid bookings, annual free weekend night reward, Priority Pass Select membership and more. Terms apply.
Unusual for a hotel rewards card, this card also offers top-tier elite status. Hilton Diamond members earn 100% bonus points and receive complimentary breakfast, lounge access, room upgrades and welcome gifts. All of this adds up to a value far exceeding the $450 annual fee. Terms apply.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is another hotel-branded credit card with a $450 annual fee and perks to boot. Cardholders receive a $300 annual Marriott statement credit and a free anniversary award night. The free night can be redeemed for Marriott hotels requiring 50,000 points per night or less. Additionally, the card issues a $100 statement credit toward Global Entry every 4 years, or $85 toward TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years. These benefits combined easily add up to $450 in value. Terms apply.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card rewards members for their loyalty, with a $100 Marriott property credit on bookings of two nights or more at Ritz Carlton or St. Regis hotels. Cardholders also receive Marriott Gold status, with the ability to upgrade to Platinum after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year. Terms apply.
All of this can add up to well over $450 worth of value.
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has the lowest annual fee on this list but it’s definitely not lacking in perks. In exchange for an $0 intro for the first year, then $89 annual fee, cardholders get IHG Platinum status and a free annual reward night, which can be redeemed at any IHG property costing up to 40,000 points per night. That alone makes paying the annual fee worthwhile. Regardless of whether you use your free night at a local Holiday Inn or a low- to mid-category Intercontinental while traveling abroad, you are sure to get more value out of that free night than the annual fee on the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
Additionally, cardholders receive the fourth night free on award redemptions. That’s a 25% savings, which is not a small sum.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $99. The card may seem unremarkable at first, but it offers an annual perk that more than offsets the annual fee: Cardholders who spend $20,000 in a calendar year receive a $125 American Airlines flight discount.
If you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, chances are you fly American Airlines at least a few times a year on a paid fare. Assuming that’s the case, you can put the $125 flight discount to good use. If you can manage to put $1,667 per month worth of household expenses on the card, this is a nice return in addition to the miles you earn.
Cardholders also receive the first checked bag free for up to four travel companions on the same reservation. A single one-way trip with four checked bags is enough to offset the annual fee on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.
All information about the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Card review: Worth the fee for airline loyalists Airline credit cards that offer free checked bags Find the best travel credit card for you