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$550 is a lot of money, but if that $550 annual fee creates value in excess of $550, it’s more of a pre-payment or investment if you will. That’s exactly how I look annual fees, they are the cost of doing business, and in business, both parties are happy when value is created. I view each and every credit card I hold as a relationship and currently I’m very happy with my Amex Mercedes Benz Platinum, a card that has been phased out, but offers parallel benefits to the American Express Platinum card, so I thought I’d walk you through 10 of the reasons why the $550 annual fee is worth to me, and can easily be recouped year after year. I’ll also show you how the holding the card can make travel SO. MUCH. MORE. ENJOYABLE – can’t you see how zen I am in the feature pic because I redeemed my points on Singapore Airlines First Class ( a great Amex transfer partner)
1) 5x points on airline purchases made with the airline or Amex Travel
- This is the highest earn rate for any card on the market for indiscriminate airline spend ( Jetblue has a 6x card solely on Jetblue). If you value Amex points at 2 cents a piece…you’re essentially getting 10% off every qualifying flight.
If you spend $1000 a year on your card – you’re earning 5k points back. That’s $75 at a 1.5 c valuation and $100 at 2c.
2) $200 Uber Credit
- $15 a month and $35 in December
Not everyone makes use of this perk like I do, but I’d be spending that on uber every month regardless of the perk. It’s an easy $200 recoupment.
3) $200 Airline Incidental credit
- Each calendar year – which means if you apply now, you’ll get $200 this year, and then another $200 starting 1/1/19
I easily make use of the card each and every year I hold the card. Read this for tips, but it’s a solid $200.
4) $100 Global Entry Fee Credit
- Simply charge to the card and get it refunded once every 4 years
5) Centurion Lounge access
- Access for you and 2 guests at their growing group of luxury lounges worldwide
Currently LAX, my home airport, doesn’t have a Centurion lounge. I don’t make use of this benefit as much as I’d like, but I probably visit Centurion lounges 1/2 a dozen times a year. At just $5 saved on a coffee or beer it’s worth min $30.
6) Fine Hotels and Resorts
- Insane benefits including
- Upgrade upon arrival when available
- Unique property amenity ( this is usually in the range of a $100)
- Free continental breakfast
- Early Check-in and guaranteed 4pm late check out
FHR offers incredible value if you like to stay at high end resorts and hotels. The breakfast and property credit are easily worth a couple hundred on every stay over 2 nights. I’ve also had great success with double upgrades, and having a guaranteed 4pm late check out is huge when you have a late flight, and a distinct advantage of Virtuoso.
7) Hotel Elite Status
- Marriott Gold
- Hilton Gold
Why spend a gazillion nights staying at hotels when your credit card get get you mid-tier status. Hilton Gold especially is nice as it gives you free breakfast when using points for your stay.
8) 60k point welcome offer
- Current offer after meeting minimum spend requirement of $5k in 3 months
- Transfer to a bevy of valuable partners
Membership Rewards are one of the most valuable points in existence and opens up the door to unbelievable redemptions like this Lufthansa First Class seat for just 70k points ( transferred via Aeroplan)
9) $100 Saks Fifth Avenue annual credit
- $50 for each 6 months of the year
Once between Jan and June you’ll get $50 back as a statement credit, and then again between July and December. Even if you don’t shop for high end apparel, or accessories, Saks sells a ton of toiletry items that this credit offsets. Think Kiehls, Fekkai, etc
10) Priority Pass Membership
- Access to the global network of lounges and restaurants
- If you make use of the $28 dining credit 4 times a year you’re getting over $100 in value
Bonus) Amex Offers
- These are targeted spend offers that each cardholder can take advantage of by fulfilling spend requirements with certain retailers. The opportunities are frequently updated, and I’ve found that these alone could pay you back for an annual fee.
While the $550 is a lot, I personally, am able to get over $1000 a year in benefits without even taking into account a welcome offer, or the other benefits like Rental car status, rental car insurance, free Boingo, global lounge collection, etc . Throw all that in, and you’re doing incredibly well at putting those $550 to good use.
What’s even better is how much the card can improve the way you travel. Having a lounge to access while you wait can make delays and layovers so much more bearable, and having status at hotels less costly at check out because of comped wifi, upgrades, breakfast, or even just in-room bottled water. Regardless, if you’re a travel geek like me, this card provides an incredible amount of value year after year