Is the CNB card worth keeping if rumors are true?

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The CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card has many perks, but its most compelling perk is that it offers $250 in airline free reimbursements per year, per cardholder, including authorized users.  You can add up to 3 authorized users for free to the main account.  This means that you can earn $250 x 4 = $1,000 in airline fee reimbursements per year.  If you know how to maximize these reimbursements, that’s an incredible deal for a $400 per year card.  Some have said that it’s possible to get four free authorized users.  That would be an even better deal.  But it may soon be irrelevant…

I consider this no more than a rumor at this point, but it is believable enough to warrant discussion. A Reddit user was told at a CNB branch office (H/T DoC) that the following changes were coming to the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card:

  • Airline incidental fee credit changes to $350 across all users.  In other words, you will no longer get $250 per user.
  • Authorized user accounts may cost extra.
  • CNB will no longer offer a signup bonus for the card (this is already true, at least at the time of this writing).

If the above changes really come true, the $400 per year CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card will no longer be a definite must-have card.  It will cost you money rather than being an annual money maker.  On the other hand, the card does come with many perks.  Will it be worth getting and keeping the card despite the rumored changes?

Let’s assume that the rumor is true and that there are no other changes in the works.  We then have the following major benefits from the CNB card:

  • $350 in airline free reimbursements per year (rumored)
  • 3X Earning Rate for gas, grocery, travel, and dining
    (Points are worth up to 1.31 cents each towards flights: See: The exact value of CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Points).
  • Airline Lounge Membership Fee Statement Credit with $50K Spend
  • Priority Pass with unlimited guests
  • Gogo Infight Wi-Fi: 12 in-flight passes per year per card.
  • Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit: Save $100 on each 2 (or more) person round trip domestic flight purchased through this website.
  • Global Entry Application Fee Statement Credit: $100 per 4 years per cardholder
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Primary coverage
  • Emergency Evacuation and Transportation: Up to $10K. Secondary coverage.
  • Hotel Theft Protection: Up to $1,000. Valid for hotels in the US and Canada only.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Up to $5,000.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $1M
  • Trip Cancellation / Interruption: Up to $5,000.
  • Trip Delay: Up to $500 per ticket for trips delayed 6 hours or more.

To determine whether the CNB card is worth keeping, I recommend coming up with a conservative estimate of how much you would be willing to pay for each of the above benefits.  If the total you’d be willing to pay is greater than the card’s $400 annual fee, then the card is a keeper.  If the total is far more than $400, then the card may be worth applying for even without a signup bonus.

I wrote this post because I’ve been wondering myself what I’ll do if the airline fee credits really change as rumored.  Below I’ve listed how much I’d pay for each of the above benefits (please don’t just use my numbers!  In many cases I don’t value things only because I already get the benefit from other cards).

  • $350 in airline free reimbursements per year (rumored): $300
  • 3X Earning Rate for gas, grocery, travel, and dining: $0 (I already have other cards with equal or better rewards in most of these categories)
  • Airline Lounge Membership Fee Statement Credit with $50K Spend: $0
  • Priority Pass with unlimited guests: $0 (only because I get this free from my Ritz card for myself and any free authorized users I add to that account)
  • Gogo Infight Wi-Fi: $30 (I already get 12 passes from my Altitude Reserve, so this is how much I’d pay for extra passes)
  • Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit: $0 (only because I get this free from my Ritz card)
  • Global Entry Application Fee Statement Credit: $0 (many cards offer the same)
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: $0 (Both my Sapphire Reserve and Ritz cards offer equal or better travel protections over CNB)
  • Emergency Evacuation and Transportation: Up to $10K. $0
  • Hotel Theft Protection: Up to $1,000. $0 (this is a unique benefit but I’d be very surprised if I ever used it)
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: $0
  • Travel Accident Insurance: $0
  • Trip Cancellation / Interruption: $0
  • Trip Delay: $0

So, there you go.  In my case, it looks like the amount I’d pay for the CNB card’s annual benefits (assuming the rumored changes) adds up to only $330.  If the rumored changes really happen and if I’m not grandfathered into the old rules, then I’ll cancel my card.

It’s important to note that I have both the Chase Ritz Carlton Visa Infinite card and the US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card.  I intend to keep both of those cards long term and between them they have most of the same perks that the CNB card has.  So, overall, the CNB benefits are worth less to me only because I already get them elsewhere.  If I didn’t have those other cards, I might have decided that CNB was a keeper even with a total of only $350 in airline incidental fee credits.

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