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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:
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
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
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
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
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.
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.