Why This Is The Ideal Time To Pick Up A $450 Annual Fee Card

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It’s amazing how much more lucrative premium credit cards have become over the past few years. Going back many years, having a $450 annual fee card was often seen as a sign of prestige, while nowadays having one of these cards can make a lot of sense for the average consumer, helping them maximize their points and perks.

One of the cool things about many of these premium cards is that they offer some sort of a travel credit each year, ranging from $200 to $300. When used properly, that nicely helps offset the annual fee.

But timing on applying for these cards matters. While your annual fee is billed based on your cardmember year (which starts when your card is opened, rather than the beginning of a calendar year), the annual travel credits are typically billed based on the calendar year. Given that the end of the year is approaching, that means you can easily recover two years worth of travel credits within a couple of months if you apply for some cards now.

So I figured I’d look at five awesome $450 annual fee credit cards that have travel credits, including how big the credits are, what they can be used for, and how long they’re valid for:

Citi Prestige® Card

Annual travel credit amount: $250

What the travel credit is valid for: airline credit, which can be used towards any airline purchase, including the cost of a ticket, award ticket fees, baggage, etc.

Travel credit validity: You receive one $250 credit per calendar year, though they measure that as purchases appearing on your billing statements from December through the following December; in other words, if you got the card now, you’d get a $250 travel credit between now and when your December statement closes, and another $250 travel credit with the start of the next statement, which means you’re looking at $500 worth of travel credits with your first year’s $450 annual fee

Citi-Prestige-Credit-1

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual travel credit amount: $200

What the travel credit is valid for: airline fee credit, which can be used towards fees incurred within airlines; however, anecdotally airline gift card purchases automatically credit as well

Travel credit validity: You receive one $200 credit per calendar year, and Amex has a strict interpretation of that, meaning that it goes from January 1 through December 31 of any given year; that means you can get a $200 credit through December 31, and then another $200 credit as of January 1

Keep in mind that the Amex Business Platinum Card has an especially good sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 points at the moment, so that’s the card I’d be eyeing most.

Amex-Plat-1

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card

Annual travel credit amount: $300

What the travel credit is valid for: travel credit, which can be used for anything that’s categorized as travel, including flights, hotels, car rentals, taxis, trains, etc.

Travel credit validity: You receive one $300 credit per calendar year, which is defined as “the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and each 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date”; so if you apply now you should still be able to get a $300 airline credit between now and when your December statement closes, and another $300 starting with your next statement

chase-travel-credit

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

Annual travel credit amount: $300

What the travel credit is valid for: airline credit, which can be applied towards all non-ticket airline purchases, including upgrades, baggage, lounge memberships, etc.; unlike the other credits, this one has to be requested manually, while the others post automatically after a qualifying purchase

Travel credit validity: You receive one $300 credit per calendar year, which is defined as “the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and each 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date”; so if you apply now you should still be able to get a $300 airline credit between now and when your December statement closes, and another $300 starting with your next statement; see this post for more on how the Ritz-Carlton travel credit works

Ritz-Carlton-Travel-Credit

Bottom line

Ultimately the amount of the credit won’t really differ based on when you apply for the card. However, when you’re paying a big annual fee upfront, it’s nice to get as much value out of the card as quickly as possible. By applying for one of the above cards in the coming days, you should be able to get two big credits in the amount of $200-300 each out of a card in just a couple of months.

Given the amazing offers on some of the above cards, including 100,000 points on the Amex Business Platinum Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card, and three complimentary nights on The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, there are a lot of great reasons to apply for one of these cards.

Even if you have one of the above cards, make sure you’re maximizing your annual credits as the end of the year approaches.


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Comments

  1. Btw
    THE CITI PRESTIGE CARD
    EFF IMMEDIATELY
    YEARLY FEE REDUCED TO
    $350.00
    I will be getting a credit on my card since I received the card on 3-4 months ago

  2. The better card is chase
    Amtrak and train travel will be credited along with airline fares
    Citi only airfare is credited
    Also both cards fail in airport lounges
    FYI
    PHL AND CLT
    AA large international airport operations has no lounge agreement for either card
    A huge failure
    I may drop both and go to
    ????? Do you have a suggestion
    Priority lounges are not the best
    Any guidance in cc FOR lounges
    Thx

  3. It seems like the Citi Prestige card is getting even more competitive. I just received a notice lowering my annual fee to $350 and adding a 15% point bonus on annual spend.

  4. Speaking of this, what’s your current opinion of the United MileagePlus® Club Card? It seems worth the $450 fee to get a $550 club membership…

  5. @Geoff Arnold — I feel like for that card, its worth comes from how often you use United Clubs. Keeping in mind that almost all United Clubs kind of suck, I value a visit there at about $15. So, for me, I made the decision to not get it because I wouldn’t go to a United Club 30 times in a given year. Contrast that to the Amex Platinum, which I gladly have because even though I visit them much less frequently (~10 visits per year), I value each visit much higher because I save on the full meal + couple quality drinks I’d likely be buying elsewhere in the terminal

  6. I just got the Chase Reserve and was pleasantly surprised about what got credited for travel. I had charges at a Marriott bar credited for the travel credit as well as MTA fees. It’s much more lenient than the Citi Prestige. However, I have not had the best service with Chase (they put a fraud hold on my card and didn’t tell me and it was for a normal charge which always annoys me).

  7. I got the same letter a couple days ago about my Prestige Card which I suppose is better than nothing offset to the devalued benefits coming up next July.

  8. Got an email that the new terms for the Citi Prestige was sent in error. It explained that the lower fee etc was for Citi gold clients. Said I’d get a courtesy 1,000 points added to my account for the error, so I wouldn’t get too excited about these supposed changes.

  9. @Bmlynn @Allan @Stephen – If you don’t have a Citi checking account, keep an eye on your email. That letter was sent in error to a lot of people, the email explaining that it was a mistake was sent a few days later. unless you have a checking account with them, Citi will be happy to accept the full $450 from you for renewal.

  10. Just a one-person data point:
    So far, Citi’s service is abysmal in comparison to Chase.
    Trip delay claim I’ve had since Sept. is still pending with Citi, card was compromised almost immediately upon receipt and there is a mountain of paperwork required, the “concierge” service is laughable, and the yearly fee offset doesn’t, for me at least, offset the reduced benefits.

    Regardless of Citi’s deals, I’m out at renewal. Until something changes, I’m a Chase client for the foreseeable future.

  11. “Why This Is The Ideal Time To Pick Up A $450 Annual Fee Card”

    Because it gets Lucky good bank for future trips when he pimps it, duh.

  12. Not true. It doesn’t really matter when you apply (except maybe for the first and last weeks of the year) since you are always going to have the chance of getting two annual credits during your first membership year. And this only applies if you are going to cancel the card, otherwise it is completely irrelevant.

  13. Did anyone else get a email from Citi saying that they may have gotten a letter in error about changes to their Prestige card and that they would be offering 1000 points as an apology.?

  14. If any of you are thinking about applying for the CSR and look to take adventage of getting the $300 travel credit back this year, make sure you call the concierge (upon receiving the card) to have them change your 1st statement closing date to December 2016. If you don’t, your 1st statement will close in January 2017 (if applying for the card now).

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