Why I’m happy to keep paying an annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve but will probably cancel the Amex Platinum

Elizabeth Aldrich. Courtesy of Elizabeth Aldrich

I’m not shy when it comes to opening credit cards. I currently have 13 in my wallet and no, I’m not neck-deep in credit card debt. In fact, I have none! I pay off my balance in full every month.

I’m in it for the credit card rewards.

Rewards credit cards aren’t a one-size-fits-all deal. Sometimes my spending or travel habits change, and I realise that I no longer have much use for one of the credit cards I carry around. This is fine when there’s no annual fee, but since I tend to go for lucrative travel rewards credit cards, they usually charge an annual fee.

Here are three credit cards I absolutely love, and two credit cards I’ll probably cancel because the way I used them doesn’t get me enough rewards to make up for the annual fee.

Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

3 credit cards I love

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the darling of the travel rewards world for good reason, and it’s my favourite credit card. It’s been worth every penny of the $US450 annual fee.

I used up my annual $US300 travel credit this year within one month because it can apply to such a wide range of travel purchases. It ended up going toward some Airbnb reservations and a rental car.

Then, I get 1.5 cents per point on award redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards portal instead of the 1.25 cents per point I got with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This extra 0.25 cents per point adds a lot more value than you’d think. On a recent 50,000-point redemption, it saved me $US225 in travel rewards.

On top of all this value, the complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge membership has been one of my favourite perks. In almost every airport I fly out of, I have access to a VIP lounge that often comes with food and beverages. I love taking a friend in with me and loading up on finger food and cocktails before we board our flights.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I’m also self-employed, and I use business credit cards to separate my business and personal finances.

This makes the Ink Business Preferred a no-brainer for me. It comes with the highest sign-up bonus of any Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card – 80,000 points if you spend $US5,000 in the first three months. I managed to squeeze over $US1,200 in value out of that alone.

However, this card is worth keeping year after year for me because I get 3 points for every dollar I spend on up to $US150,000 in combined purchases each year on a long list of business-related purchases, from shipping to internet, cable, and phone services to select advertising purchases. Travel is also included in the 3x bonus category, just like with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, except this card has a much lower annual fee.

The World of Hyatt Card

This is one of the few co-branded credit cards I absolutely love and the only hotel credit card I keep year after year. For one, Hyatt has some of my favourite extreme luxury properties (shout-out to the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica, the Park Hyatt New York, and the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara in Cancun).

World of Hyatt points are also worth at least double what the points at other major hotel loyalty programs are worth, so you don’t have to save up for years just to spend a few nights at a nice property.

What really makes it worth it for me to keep this card despite the $US95 annual fee is the annual free night. While I can only use it at a Category 1 to 4 hotel, I easily squeeze out more than $US95 in value from this perk alone each year.

2 credit cards I’ll probably cancel

The Platinum Card from American Express

I’ve loved having the Platinum Card from American Express, but a few recent lifestyle changes mean I don’t get much value out of it anymore.

The two biggest perks that help offset the steep $US550 annual fee are the annual airline fee credit and the annual Uber credit.

I have trouble using all of the airline fee credit because it’s so limited. As of December, I’ve still got $US43 of the $US200 allotted for me to use on airline fees with one pre-specified airline. As for the monthly Uber credits, they’re only valid in the United States. Now that I spend a significant portion of the year abroad, I leave more than $US100 in Uber credits on the table each year.

The CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select

I thought I’d get enough use out of this card to justify opening it because I do fly on American Airlines several times per year. Unfortunately, the free checked bag perk only applies to domestic flights. Since I usually fly international, I don’t get to make use of the main way to offset the $US99 annual fee. Because of this, I’ll probably cancel this credit card.

It’s important to check in with your rewards credit cards periodically to make sure you’re still making good use of them, especially if they charge an annual fee. I’m happy to pay an annual fee when I’m getting value in return, but in some cases it’s not worth it.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.