Are Premium Credit Cards with High Annual Fees Worth It?

One of the first concerns people who are new to award travel will have is the cost of annual fees. I will give an example of how I get more value than the cost of the annual fee.

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Chase’s premium Ultimate Rewards earning card is called the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but it has a few more benefits than the Preferred version.  These benefits don’t come cheap; the annual fee is $550. If your jaw just dropped, stay with me.

cruz bay, st. john, USVI, SPG westin st. john, chase sapphire reserve annual fee
Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI

There are many reasons why this is one of my favorite cards, but I’ll list a few

  1. I earn 3 miles per dollar on travel and restaurants
  2. Airport lounge access for my guests and me
  3. Annual travel credit of 300$
  4. Lots of protection when traveling such as primary car rental insurance and trip delay reimbursement

You get 300$ travel credit per calendar year with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Chase is very generous with what counts as travel for the $300 credit. This effectively brings the fee down to $250.

An easy way to think of it is whether or not the remaining benefits provide this value. If not, you may be better off with the $95 Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Here are the other benefits:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3 points per dollar on spend at restaurants and on travel spend. This includes airline tickets, bag fees, hotels, rental cars, discount travel sites (such as Expedia), and anything else that codes as “travel” on your statement.
  • They also offer a full price credit for TSA precheck ($85) OR Global Entry ($100). I highly recommend Global Entry because you automatically get precheck with it. If you travel internationally, Global Entry is awesome. This credit is given 1 time every 5 years (you have to renew GE every 5 years), and does not have to be for the cardholder, it just has to be paid for by the cardholder.
  • The value of the welcome bonus you get (60,000 UR points) is worth at least $900.
  • Lounge access with Priority Pass
  • Trip protection and delay insurance
  • Primary car rental insurance

I personally feel that the added benefits are worth it, but this will vary from person to person.

8 thoughts on “Are Premium Credit Cards with High Annual Fees Worth It?”

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