Credit Card Annual Fees and Which Cards Are Worth Keeping Long Term 2017

Most premium credit cards have annual fees. In some cases, banks will waive the annual fee the first year and begin charging the next year. After having a card for a year, I’ll have to decide whether or not it is worth keeping. In some cases it may not worth keeping the card longer than the first year when the bonus is big, but in others there is great value in paying that annual fee. Always make sure to keep good records of when your annual fee is coming up. I’ll typically start deciding whether or not I will cancel around the 11 month mark.

These are the cards I plan on paying an annual fee past the first year:

Chase Hyatt Card: This card has an annual fee of $75, but gives you one category 1-4 free night each year. You can find a full list of Hyatt hotels by category here. I enjoy staying at Hyatt’s and getting a free night each year because the $75 fee is worth it for us. I plan on using my free night this year at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica. A night at this hotel can go for over $500 per night. The card gives you Hyatt's "Discoverist" status which basically gives you a 2pm checkout and expedited check-in. It also gives 2 points per dollar spent on dining/flights and has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s not a bad option for that category spend.

Free night stay at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica with Chase Hyatt Card

Chase IHG Card: This card has an annual fee of $49, but gives you one free night at any IHG property every year. We just used our free night at the Intercontinental Le Grand in Paris, France. When we were booking, this room was going for over $400 a night. It also gives you IHG's "Platinum Elite" status which gives you a late checkout and expedited check-in. Easy keeper.

American Express SPG: SPG points are the most valuable points in the game, but even still, I wasn’t sure if this card was worth keeping. I decided to call American Express to see what they could do to convince me to keep the card. They offered me 10,000 SPG points in exchange for paying the annual fee. At minimum, I value SPG points at $0.02, so I viewed this as exchanging $95 for at least $200 worth of SPG points. That phone call was a win! I’ll keep using this card as my non-bonus spend card for the rest of the year until the annual fee is up again. At that point I plan to see what I'll do.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: The annual fee for our 2nd year of having this card has not come up yet, but we plan on keeping it. It does have an annual fee of $450, but the $300 travel credit offsets it quite a bit. It also includes a Priority Pass lounge membership. Having lounge access for both of us while we travel is amazing. On our last trip to Europe we visited 3 lounges, and that saved us at least $150 as opposed to eating/drinking in the airport terminal. The card also aligns nicely with our everyday spend. Since we travel a lot, getting 3 Ultimate Rewards points for each dollar we spend on dining and travel adds up quickly.

These are the cards that make sense for us and some of my top picks. In some situations, you may have the option to downgrade your card to a stripped down version with a smaller or no annual fee. This can be wise decision as you’ll extend your credit history and this can have a positive impact on your credit score.

What cards do you pay annual fees on?

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