Savvy consumers might not mind paying a credit card annual fee so long as the card’s perks and benefits offset the expense. Certain cards waive the annual fee the first year, which gives you an opportunity to test the card out and assess whether the fee is worth paying in subsequent years.
For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $99. And this is the current welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. That’s a valuable bonus with a relatively low spending requirement.
Here’s how to decide whether the card’s annual fee is worth paying after your first year.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® annual fee is worth it if you:
Check baggage on American Airlines flights. As a cardholder, you’ll save money on checked bag fees. With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll get one free checked bag on domestic American Airlines flights for yourself and up to four travel companions on the same reservation. Your first checked bag on domestic flights costs $30 each way, so the savings with this card benefit alone can make the annual fee worth it after just one trip.
Spend money on American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and at restaurants. You can build up your miles balance quickly by making purchases that earn you 2x miles on American Airlines, gas station and restaurant purchases. Then, use these miles to book award flights and save on airfare purchases. NerdWallet values American Airlines miles at 1.2 cents per point. This means if you spend $5,000 in the 2x categories per year, you’ll get 10,000 points, which could offset the annual fee.
Take advantage of reduced mileage award flights. As a cardholder, you’re eligible to book award flights through American’s Reduced Mileage Awards program. This means you can save 2,000 to 7,500 miles booking a round-trip award, depending your flight length. This can be a great way to get even more value out of your points.
Spend $20,000 or more during your card year. You’ll earn a $125 American Airlines flight voucher each year when you spend at least $20,000 during your cardmember year and renew your account. If you can responsibly spend this amount each year, this discount alone can outweigh the card’s annual fee on its own.
Make in-flight purchases. Cardholders earn a 25% discount (in the form of a statement credit) on eligible in-flight purchases. Depending on your flying frequency, the savings from in-flight food and drink purchases can help put a dent in the card’s annual fee expense.
The annual fee is not worth it if you:
Carry a balance or incur late fees. Fees and interest charges can easily neutralize the value of any miles you earn with any rewards credit card. If you don’t pay off the card’s statement balance in full each month, the perks and benefits you enjoy likely won’t be worth it.
Are not an American Airlines loyalist. The majority of Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® benefits that help to offset the annual fee are designed for American Airlines flyers. This includes saving on checked baggage fees, discounts on in-flight purchases and bonus miles for eligible American Airlines purchases. If you don’t fly American often or like to book travel across different airlines, you might consider checking out an alternative travel card. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards and airline credit cards.
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