These Credit Cards With Sky-High Annual Fees Are Still Worth It

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There are lots of options when it comes to credit cards. You’ll find everything from cards for people with bad credit to uber-premium cards for individuals with a high net worth and flawless credit score. What type of credit cards typically charge an annual fee? In most cases, premium or travel-reward versions are the main types of credit cards with annual fees.

8 Credit Cards with High Annual Fees You Should Consider

Do many credit cards charge annual fees? You’ll find that most consumer cards don’t charge an annual fee and if they do, it’s under $100. However, there is a whole class of cards that charge hundreds to thousands of dollars per year just for the privilege of being a cardholder. Is the high annual fee worth it? Take a look at eight credit cards with annual fees over $100 from most expensive to least, what you get for such an investment — and why they may be worth the money. 

1. Centurion® Card from American Express

Annual Fee: $5,000

The Centurion Card from American Express member FDIC, aka the Black Card, is one of the most exclusive — and mysterious — cards in the world. It’s an invitation-only card. Few people have one but those that do typically receive special treatment when they hand it over for payment. 

If you’re invited to apply, get ready to pay $5,000 per year for membership. Although American Express doesn’t divulge much about the card and its perks, some of the more known benefits include special lounge access, automatic upgrades and concierge service that will procure practically anything for its customers at this level.

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Pros

  • The invitation-only nature of the card makes it extremely exclusive
  • Access to concierge service for hard-to-find items and events
  • Premium upgrades and special treatment when you travel

Cons

  • Highly difficult to get
  • The highest annual fee at $5,000 of all cards featured.

2. Mastercard Gold Card

Annual Fee: $995

One of the most distinct aspects of a premium credit card — with a premium annual fee — is the card’s appearance. Most cards are gold, platinum or black. You’ll find that the Mastercard Gold Card is made of 24K gold, plated with stainless steel. That alone could explain part of the annual fee. 

There’s more to the Gold Card than its luxe-metal design. The $995 expense each year packs a lot of exclusive value you won’t find everywhere. You’ll receive a 2% redemption rate, which is double what most competing cards offer. This means that a points balance of 100,000 is worth $2,000 in airfare or cash back compared to the $1,000 value most cards offer back.

One of the unique perks of paying a premium for card membership is the level of service you’ll receive. A Luxury Card concierge is available day or night to help Mastercard Gold cardholders score hard-to-find restaurant reservations or entertainment tickets. Plus, private jet travel scheduling is available and can earn you a $1,000 gift card when you book jet travel of $35,000 or more per person.

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Pros  

  • The credit card features real 24K gold
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access at 1,300 locations
  • Luxury Card concierge service can help you book all levels of travel including jet travel.

Cons

  • High $995 fee
  • Bonuses such as the $1,000 gift card requires spending of $35,000 on jet travel per person.

3. The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual Fee:

American Express has a handful of cards in this roundup. The financial institution knows how to do top-level membership well. The Platinum Card from American Express may provide the most value of all the cards featured despite the $695 annual fee. According to the card issuer, cardholders get over $1,500 per year in value from credits and reimbursements. As with the rest of the cards compared, the annual fee may be steep, but the perks and benefits can outweigh the cost of membership — if you use them.

Some of American Express Platinum’s benefits include VIP lounge access at airports around the world, $400 in annual credits for airline and hotel spending, $200 in Uber Cash, $240 in digital streaming services, a $100 credit for shopping at Saks and more. Plus, the welcome offer bonus is enticing — you could receive anywhere between 80,000 and 150,000 Membership Rewards points if you’re approved and spend $6,000 in the first six months. The bonus amount depends on whether you’re applying from a referral or if there’s a special sign-up promotion happening at the time you apply.

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Pros

  • Open to everyone for applying
  • Premium travel perks such as airport lounge access and annual airline/hotel credits
  • Generous bonus offer at signup
  • 24/7 concierge service
  • Exclusive cardholder access to events and experiences

Cons

  • Statement balance is due in full each month
  • The bulk of the benefits are travel-focused

4. J.P. Morgan Reserve Card

Annual Fee: $595

It’s rumored that you’ll need to have millions in investments with J.P. Morgan to receive an invitation to apply from Chase. If you’ve done well with your shares in Apple, Tesla or Bitcoin, you may be on the invite list. But is it worth shelling out nearly $600 per year?

The card has many of the same perks other premium Chase cards offer, particularly the Sapphire Reserve card. You’ll have the chance to earn 5X points on flights and 10X points on dining, as well as hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, you’ll have access to private dining and other special events. In the end, the fee is an extra $45 for a similar offering of perks and benefits. However, its invite-only nature carries more status, which may be worth the extra money to you.

Pros

  • Earn 10X points on dining as well as hotels and car rentals booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.
  • By invitation only adds to the prestige
  • Elevated trip benefits of $20 million per trip on trip cancellations and interruptions

Cons

  • For individuals with millions in investments through J.P. Morgan
  • Other more accessible cards have nearly the same benefits.

5. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Annual Fee:  

Chase offers two travel-rewards cards under the Sapphire name — the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. Of the two, the Sapphire Reserve is the top-tier card with a higher annual fee of compared to per year. Once you’re approved and spend $4,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn 60,000 points worth $900 in travel if booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. 

You can earn up to 10X in bonus rewards on dining and travel. Once you’re ready to redeem, you’ll get 50% more in point value for travel booked through the Chase travel portal. Besides the accelerated earning, Chase offers a $300 annual travel reimbursement, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® reimbursement and complimentary access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide.

Pros

  • Premium travel benefits
  • Earn points faster and redeem them at an elevated rate of 50%
  • Offer of 60,000 bonus miles for new cardholders

Cons

  • The less-expensive Sapphire Preferred’s bonus offer is higher at 60,000 points.

6. Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Annual Fee: $550

If you’re loyal to Delta Airlines in particular, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express offers premium coverage and exclusive rewards on Delta and its partners. Right away, you’ll earn 50,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months. Each time you spend $30,000 (up to four times per year), you receive an additional 15,000 MQMs, helping you get closer to Medallion status with the boost from American Express.

To accrue as many miles as possible, it’s good to know what the accrual structure looks like. All purchases will earn 1X while spending on Delta accrues at 3X miles. Other coverages which may make the card worthwhile include cell phone coverage that reimburses you up to $800 per claim — maximum of two per year — in repairs or replacements, concierge service and exclusive access to special events.

Pros

  • Earn Medallion status faster with bonus MQMs at approval and each time you spend $30,000.
  • Access to American Express concierge services and special events
  • Earn 3X on Delta spending, 1X on all else

Cons

  • Limited to Delta-related benefits
  • Balance must be paid off in full each month.

7. Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Annual Fee: $450

While Delta loyalists have the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express, American Airlines flyers can accrue more points for free travel and earn elite status faster using the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

A bonus of 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are yours after spending at least $5,000 within the first 3 months of approval. While you work towards AA elite status, you can still experience what it feels like to be a top-tier AA frequent flyer. You’ll have access to full Admirals Club lounge membership for yourself and two guests plus priority security screenings and check-ins for American Airlines flights. 

You’ll also receive up to $100 in reimbursement for a TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee once every five years and a free checked bag for the cardholder plus eight companions if booked on the same reservation.

Pros

  • Access to elite privileges on AA
  • Receive 25% off on in-flight food and beverages.
  • The first checked bag is free for the cardholder and eight companions on the same reservation.

Cons

  • Mostly limited to AA benefits.

8. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee: $395

The Capital One Venture X Rewards card is our last of the credit cards with annual fees in the higher range. It provides plenty of value for the annual expense. The bonus reward at approval alone could be worth it. You’ll receive a bonus of 75,000 miles worth as much as $750 in travel after you spend $4,000 or more on purchases in the first 3 months. When it comes to earning more miles, cardholders earn up to 10X on hotels, rental car bookings and Turo, up to 5X on flights and 2X on all other purchases.

As with other premium cards, you’ll also receive up to $100 in reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fees once every five years. Plus, cardholders can check themselves and two guests in for free at Capital One Lounges while they wait for a flight.

Pros

  • Can receive10,000 anniversary bonus miles each year, equal to $100 toward travel
  • Generous initial bonus of 75,000 miles 
  • Highest rewards earnings of all cards in this roundup of 10X on hotels and rental cars and 5X on flights when booked on Capital One Travel as well as 2X on everything else
  • Free additional cards

Cons

  • Requires excellent credit
  • Capital One Lounges aren’t as available as other airport lounges.

How Can I Avoid Paying My Credit Card Annual Fee?

If you want a card with lots of benefits and rewards, avoiding the annual fee may be a challenge. Generally, the more rewards and benefits, the higher the annual fee. 

You could contact the card and ask if they would waive the annual fee for one year although there is no guarantee the card company would honor your request. In some cases such as American Express, you could downgrade your card to a free version such as the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card or American Express EveryDay® Credit Card without having to close the current account. However, you’ll lose all the benefits that come with the card with the higher annual fee. 

Final Take

The eight cards covered are some of the most expensive credit cards with annual fees. Although the annual fee is a sizable investment, the number of benefits and perks could very well offset the cost. The key is to be realistic about how many of the benefits you can take advantage of. Otherwise, there are cheaper or free alternatives that could save you hundreds per year. 

Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.

Data is accurate as of June 16, 2022, and is subject to change.

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About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.
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