Which Ultra Premium Cards are Keepers? Version 3.1

UPDATE 11/4/2019 Version 3.1: That was fast!  I last published this post 5 days ago with Version 3.0 of the spreadsheet.  Since then, we learned of the CNB card’s massive devaluation (click here for details).  So, I’ve updated the spreadsheet to version 3.1 with the new CNB info.  Personally, this meant that the CNB card is no longer a keeper for me.  As a result, my valuations of other cards increased. I’ll now be leaning on my US Bank Altitude Reserve card for free in-flight Gogo passes.  And I’ll switch to my Ritz card for Priority Pass and for the Discount Air Benefit.


I last published version 2.0 of the ultra-premium card analysis spreadsheet in February, but things have already changed enough to warrant an update.  One critical change was Citi dropping their purchase and travel protections.  If you thought the Citi Prestige was worth keeping before, you might want to take a second look.  Personally, I’ve retreated back to my Sapphire Reserve card for most travel purchases.

Another motivation for version 3 was the announcement about huge changes coming to Delta Amex cards.  The version 3 spreadsheet includes all Amex Delta features and annual fees that kick in on Jan 30 2020.  The previous version only included Delta Reserve cards, but the new spreadsheet includes the Delta Platinum cards as well.

Finally, the introduction of the Amex Green card was another motivator.  I decided to include the $150 Green card in the Ultra-Premium analysis since its features seem targeted directly at the Sapphire Reserve card (see my analysis of the new card here).  A number of people have told me that they are considering the Green card not as a replacement to the Sapphire Reserve, but as an add-on to their card collections.  That’s counter-intuitive to me.  In my mind the only exciting feature of the Green card is the $100 annual CLEAR rebate.  Why would you pay $150 per year for a $100 feature?  By adding the Green card to the spreadsheet, it is easier to make rational decisions about whether or not the Green card is a keeper.

Ultra-Premium Credit Card Worksheet (Version 3)

 

Ultra-premium cards typically offer terrific benefits in exchange for terrifically high fees (typically $450 to $550 per year). Sometimes the value of the benefits far outweigh those fees, but not always.

Most ultra-premium cards are worth signing up for because they have good to excellent signup bonuses that are worth more than the first year’s annual fee. That’s not the question. The question is whether the cards are worth keeping past the first year. When the second year annual fee comes due, do you keep or cancel?

Do the card’s benefits outweigh the annual fee? Each person should conservatively estimate the value of each benefit to them to figure this out. In most cases, I recommend trying to estimate how much you’d be willing to pay for this feature if it was available stand-alone as a subscription. For example, if a card offers free checked bags, you could save hundreds of dollars if you use that benefit often enough. But how much would you pay for an annual subscription to get free checked bags? That answer should be substantially lower than the amount that you think you’ll save. Otherwise, why prepay for that benefit?

To help you come up with your own estimates, I created a Google Doc spreadsheet with tabs for each of the common ultra-premium cards. Click here to open the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet currently includes general estimates of how much each major card benefit may be worth, along with my own personal valuation to give you an idea of how I think about each.

To use the spreadsheet, create a copy of it and then overwrite the values in columns D and E on each tab with your own value estimates.

This tab shows how I estimated the value of my CNB Crystal Visa infinite card (read all about it here).  Hopefully the rumored changes to this card won’t really happen (see this post for details).

Tips for using the spreadsheet effectively

  • Be conservative with your estimates. Enter values that you would pay for a subscription for that benefit rather than the amount you expect to save.
  • Don’t double count perks.  Once you identify cards that you know that you’ll keep year after year (like my CNB card pictured above), make sure to consider that when evaluating overlapping benefits on other cards. For example, I get 12 Gogo internet passes from my CNB card each year (really 48 passes since I get 12 from each CNB card), so I don’t value the same benefit on the Altitude Reserve card.
  • It’s OK to make irrational decisions if you can afford it. My personal valuation of the Altitude Reserve card comes out higher than the card’s annual fee. But, even if it came out lower, I would consider keeping the card simply because I like it. I love knowing that I get good value from mobile wallet purchases (Samsung Pay, Apple Pay). And I love getting 1.5 cents value per point through Real Time Mobile Rewards (and no, I do not earn an affiliate commission for this card).

The Card Roundup

At the time of this writing, the spreadsheet includes the following cards…

Bank Cards

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.


Annual Fee: $595

Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel
Other

Earning rate: 5X flights and prepaid hotels at AmexTravel.com ⚬ 1.5X points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5000 or more (up to 1 million additional Membership Rewards points per year) ⚬ 1X elsewhere

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees ⚬ Up to $200 a year in statement credits for Dell purchases ($100 Jan-June; $100 July-Dec) ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement.⚬ Airport lounge benefits ⚬ Rental car elite status ⚬ SPG Gold status ⚬ Hilton Gold status ⚬ 10 complimentary single flight segment passes for Gogo inflight internet each calendar year. ⚬ One year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork (enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019). Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

See also: Maximizing value from Amex Platinum Cards

The Platinum Card® from American Express

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.


Annual Fee: $550

Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel

Earning rate: 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel ⚬ 5X points for prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline ⚬ Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status for Basic Member only ⚬ Up to $100 in credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (up to $50 in credits semi-annually, enrollment required) ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement ⚬ Airport lounge benefits ⚬ Rental car elite status ⚬ SPG Gold status ⚬ Hilton HHonors Gold status ⚬ Free Gold card AUs. Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

See also: Maximizing value from Amex Platinum Cards

American Express® Gold Card

FM Mini Review: This card offers an awesome return on US supermarket and worldwide dining spend, putting it at or near the top-of-class in both categories. The addition of Boxed.com makes it easy to get full value from the card's $10/month dining & entertainment credits.


Annual Fee: $250

Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel
Dine
Grocery

Earning rate: 3X points for flights booked with airlines or on amextravel.com ⚬ 4x points at US Supermarkets (up to $25K in purchases, then 1x) ⚬ 4x at restaurants worldwide ⚬ 1X points on other purchases. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Up to $100 a year in statement credits for baggage fees and more with one qualifying airline ⚬ Up to $10 in statement credits monthly with participating dining partners (Boxed.com, Shake Shack, Seamless/Grubhub, Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse) ⚬ $100 hotel credit on qualifying charges on stays of 2 nights or longer, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc

American Express® Green Card

FM Mini Review: This newly-refreshed card comes with some key annual benefits and decent rewards on dining and travel spend that make it relevant again.


Annual Fee: $150

Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel
Dine

Earning rate: ⚬ 3X on travel & transit (including flights, hotels, taxis, and rideshares) ⚬ 3X dining ⚬ 1X points on other purchases. Terms apply. See (Rates & Fees)

Noteworthy perks: $100 CLEAR credit annually ⚬ $100 LoungeBuddy credit annually. Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

American Express® Business Gold Card

FM Mini Review: This card is pricey for one with few perks. Keep only if you make good use of one or two 4X categories.


Annual Fee: $295

Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel
Dine
Gas
Biz

Earning rate: Earn 4X on the two categories where your business spends the most each billing cycle from the following categories: ⚬ US purchases at restaurants ⚬ Airfare purchased directly from airlines ⚬ U.S. purchases for advertising in select media ⚬ U.S. purchases at gas stations ⚬ U.S. purchases for shipping ⚬ U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. 4X applies to first $150,000 in combined purchases in your two categories each calendar year, 1X point per dollar thereafter and on other purchases. Terms apply.

Noteworthy perks: 25% Airline Bonus. Get 25% points back after you use Pay With Points for all or part of a flight booked with American Express Travel if the flight is either on your selected qualifying airline or First or Business class, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year. Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

FM Mini Review: Excellent all-around card for frequent traveler. Best when paired with no-fee Chase Freedom, no-fee Freedom Unlimited & no-fee Chase Ink Cash


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Visa Infinite

Base
Travel
Dine

Earning rate: 3X Travel and Dining

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ $300 Annual Travel Credit ⚬ Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel ⚬ Primary auto rental collision damage waiver ⚬ Priority Pass Select lounge access ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee credit

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Citi ThankYou Prestige Card

FM Mini Review: The Prestige card's best in class 5X rewards for dining, airfare, and travel agencies is hard to beat. Sadly, this travel card doesn't provide any travel protections.


Annual Fee: $495

Card Type: Mastercard World Elite

Base
Travel
Dine

Earning rate: 5X airfare, dining, and travel agencies ⚬ 3X hotels and cruise line ⚬ 1X everywhere else

Noteworthy perks: $250 travel rebate per calendar year ⚬ Free lounge access: Citi Properietary Lounges; and Priority Pass Select with free guests ⚬ $100 Global Entry application fee credit ⚬ 4th night free hotel benefit

See also: Citi ThankYou Rewards Complete Guide

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card

FM Mini Review: This card's value is hobbled by an inferior Priority Pass membership (as of 1/1/20).


Annual Fee: $400

Card Type: Visa Infinite

Base
Travel
Dine

Earning rate: ⚬ 3X airline, hotel, taxi, limousine, rental car, train bus, restaurant, fast food and takeout food and dining purchases ⚬ 1X everywhere else

Big spend bonus: Get reimbursed up to $550 for airline lounge club membership after $50K calendar year spend.

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Up to $350 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees (as of 1/1/20) ⚬ 12 Gogo In-Flight Wifi passes per card ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement ⚬ Priority Pass lounge membership for 2 cardholders (guests are not free as of 1/1/20)

See also: CNB Crystal Visa Infinite loses valuable perks as of Jan 1 2020

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card

FM Mini Review: With points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel, this card offers an excellent signup bonus. For ongoing use, this card is a winner for those who spend a lot on mobile payments (at 3X, rewards are worth 4.5%)


Annual Fee: $400

Card Type: Visa Infinite

Base
Travel
Shop

Earning rate: 3X travel and mobile wallet payments

Noteworthy perks: $325 in travel credits per membership year ⚬ Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel ⚬ Priority Pass Select airport lounge access (4 per year) ⚬ 12 free Gogo Wifi passes per year ⚬ Primary car rental coverage ⚬ No foreign transaction fees

See also: US Bank Altitude Reserve Complete Guide

Airline Cards

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

FM Mini Review: Good choice for frequent Delta flyers who can make use of annual companion certificate


Annual Fee: $195

Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Brand

Earning rate: 2X Delta

Big spend bonus: Miles Boost®: Earn 10K bonus miles and MQMs (towards elite status) after $25K spend and another 10K bonus miles and MQMs after $50K spend per calendar year ⚬ Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver (up to Platinum status) with $25K spend across one or more Delta cards (or $250K spend for Diamond status) ⚬ Terms apply.

Noteworthy perks: Domestic economy companion certificate (subject to taxes & fees) each year upon card renewal ⚬ Priority boarding ⚬ First checked bag free ⚬ Terms and Limitations Apply. (Rates & Fees)

See also: An Analysis of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

FM Mini Review: Good choice for frequent Delta flyers who can make use of annual companion certificate


Annual Fee: $195

Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Brand

Earning rate: 2X Delta

Big spend bonus: Miles Boost®: Earn 10K bonus miles and MQMs (towards elite status) after $25K spend and another 10K bonus miles and MQMs after $50K spend per calendar year ⚬ Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver (up to Platinum status) with $25K
spend across one or more Delta cards (or $250K spend for Diamond status) ⚬ Terms apply.

Noteworthy perks: Domestic economy companion certificate (subject to taxes & fees) each year upon card renewal ⚬ Priority boarding ⚬ First checked bag free ⚬ Terms and Limitations Apply.

See also: An Analysis of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

FM Mini Review: Excellent choice for frequent Delta flyers who can make use of SkyClub access and companion certificate. Also a good choice for big spenders seeking Delta elite status.


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Brand

Earning rate: 2X Delta

Big spend bonus: Miles Boost®: Earn 15K bonus miles and MQMs (towards elite status) after $30K spend and another 15K bonus miles and MQMs after $60K spend per calendar year (starting 1/30/20 you will no longer earn bonus miles with this benefit) ⚬ Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver (up to Platinum status) with $25K
spend across one or more Delta cards (or $250K spend for Diamond status) ⚬ Terms apply.

Noteworthy perks: Domestic economy or first class companion certificate (subject to taxes & fees) after card renewal ⚬ SkyClub access ⚬ Priority boarding ⚬ First checked bag free. Terms and limitations apply. (Rates & Fees)

See also: An Analysis of the Delta Reserve Credit Card

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

FM Mini Review: Excellent choice for frequent Delta flyers who can make use of SkyClub access and companion certificate. Also a good choice for big spenders seeking Delta elite status.


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Brand

Earning rate: 2X Delta

Big spend bonus: Miles Boost®: Earn 15K bonus miles and MQMs (towards elite status) after $30K spend and another 15K bonus miles and MQMs after $60K spend per calendar year ⚬ Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver (up to Platinum status) with $25K
spend across one or more Delta cards (or $250K spend for Diamond status) ⚬ Terms apply.

Noteworthy perks: Domestic economy or first class companion certificate (subject to taxes & fees) after card renewal ⚬ SkyClub access ⚬ Priority boarding ⚬ First checked bag free. Terms and limitations apply.

See also: An Analysis of the Delta Reserve Credit Card

Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card

FM Mini Review: While pricey, the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card is a great choice for those who want a United club membership and waived close-in award fees.


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
Brand

Earning rate: ⚬ 2X United ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ United Club membership ⚬ No fees on close-in awards ⚬ Priority check-in, security screening, baggage handling, and boarding ⚬ Free 1st and 2nd checked bags ⚬ Hertz President's Circle Elite Status ⚬ Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

Citi AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard®

FM Mini Review: Excellent choice for those who need Admirals Club access (included for both the primary member and authorized users). Heavy spenders who are short of the miles necessary for status can earn 10K elite qualifying miles with $40K spend. Plus, it offers the usual collection of perks for flying AA (free checked bag, priority boarding, etc.).


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Mastercard World Elite

Base
Brand

Earning rate: 2X AA

Big spend bonus: 10K Elite Qualifying Miles towards elite status when you spend $40K in calendar year

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ First Checked Bag Free ⚬ Admirals Club® access for both primary and authorized users ⚬ 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines and US Airways flights ⚬ Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

Hotel Cards

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

FM Mini Review: This card is loaded with valuable perks that are more than worth the card's annual fee if you stay in Hilton resorts at least once per year, and other Hilton properties a few times a year..


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Travel
Dine
Brand

Earning rate: ⚬ 14X Hilton spend ⚬ 7X US restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, select car rental companies ⚬ 3X everywhere else ⚬ Terms & Limitations Apply.

Big spend bonus: Second free weekend night after $60K spend in calendar year

Noteworthy perks: ⚬Annual Weekend Night Reward upon approval and every year upon renewal ⚬ Free Diamond Status ⚬ Priority Pass w/ 2 free guests ⚬ $250 Hilton Resort Credit per membership year ⚬ $250 Airline Incidental Fee Credit per calendar year ⚬ $100 on-property credit w/ Aspire Card package ⚬ Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees

See also: Amex Hilton Aspire In-Depth Review

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

FM Mini Review: Decent ultra-premium option for Marriott / SPG fans, but Hilton fans may prefer the ultra-premium Hilton Aspire card.


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Travel
Dine
Brand

Earning rate: 3X airfare charged by airline, US restaurants, 6X Starwood and Marriott Properties; 2X everywhere else

Big spend bonus: Platinum Elite status with $75K calendar year spend

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ 50K Free Night Award each year upon renewal ⚬ $300 SPG/Marriott Rewards statement credit per membership year ⚬ Gold Elite status ⚬ 15 elite nights credit ⚬ Priority Pass Select with 2 free guests ⚬ Global Entry fee credit ⚬ Free premium internet at SPG/Marriott properties ⚬ Unlimited Boingo Wifi

See also: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide

Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa Infinite

FM Mini Review: While the card is pricey, the annual free night, plus $300 in ariline fee credits, plus other perks make this card a keeper.


Annual Fee: $450

Card Type: Visa Infinite

Base
Travel
Dine
Brand

Earning rate: ⚬ 6X Ritz, SPG & Marriott.⚬ 3X airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, at car rental agencies and at restaurants ⚬ 2X everywhere else

Big spend bonus: $75K spend per account year for Platinum elite status

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Annual 50K hotel certificate upon renewal ⚬ 3 club level upgrades. $100 hotel credit for each 2 night or longer stay ⚬ Priority Pass Select with unlimited guests ⚬ $300 annual credit for airline incidentals ⚬ $100 discount on multi-passenger ticket purchases. ⚬ Automatic Gold Status

See also: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide

My Personal Keepers

Here’s where I landed after analyzing each card:

To understand the above results, keep in mind the following dependencies:

  • The CNB card is an obvious no-brainer since it offers up to $1,000 per year in airline fee credits for $400. As a result, other cards that offering duplicative benefits were not valued as highly. For example, I don’t value getting Priority Pass from any of the other cards since this one gives me Priority Pass with unlimited guests.  If rumors about CNB card changes really happen (see this post for details), the math on the CNB card will change a lot.  That said, I also have the Ritz card which has similar features, so losing the CNB card might not drastically change my valuations of other cards besides the Ritz card.
  • After analyzing both the consumer and business versions of the Amex Platinum card, I realized that the consumer card was closer to a keeper this year, so I zeroed out the duplicate benefits on the business tab. For example, there’s no advantage to having two cards that offer Emergency medical evacuation.
  • Similarly, the values I assigned to the Delta Reserve business card assume one already has the consumer card, so some of the card’s benefits were zeroed out.

Also keep in mind:

  • I live near a Delta hub (Detroit) and like to use Delta credit cards to manufacture high level elite status for both me and my wife.
  • I rarely fly AA or United
  • I’ve gotten very good at getting full value from credit card travel credits, so my net cost on many of these cards is far less than it appears.

Based on the analysis, I should do the following:

  • Try to get a retention offer on my Schwab Platinum card when the next annual fee comes due.
  • Cancel my Business Platinum card when the next annual fee comes due.
  • Cancel my wife’s Amex Gold card unless she is offered a retention bonus.  Keep in mind that I get 4X Membership Rewards from my Rakuten card, so I value the Gold card’s 4X grocery less than many others do.  See: Rakuten (formerly Ebates) Visa with Membership Rewards. Everything you need to know.
  • Downgrade my Prestige card when the next annual fee comes due (unless I’m offered a nice retention bonus — I still love getting 5X at restaurants worldwide).
  • Drop my Business Delta Reserve card in favor of the Business Platinum Delta card.
  • I should consider getting the Hilton Aspire if I can ever free up credit card slots in my Amex portfolio.

One thing not fully accounted for in the spreadsheet is the fact that my valuations of restaurant bonuses are interdependent. For example, I zeroed out the value of the Amex Gold card’s 4X restaurant earnings since I get 5X with the Prestige card.  But if I drop the Prestige card, I’ll have to add value to the Gold card’s restaurant benefit.  That will, in turn, increase the value of the Gold card enough to make it a keeper for me.  So, I shouldn’t cancel both at once.  I’ll first look to drop the Prestige card.  If they don’t offer me a good enough retention offer, then I’ll probably want to keep the Gold card long term.  If they do offer me a nice retention bonus, I’ll feel OK about dropping the Gold card.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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plat4life
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plat4life

Wow! I missed the v1.0 & v2.0 posts, so this is my first look at the spreadsheet. Wow! This must have taken *so* much time to gather/record/update. Thank you, Greg & FM team, for all you do.

Captain Greg
Guest
Captain Greg

How do you use the rakuten card to get 4x on groceries? Do you just buy visa gift cards online and use them for groceries?

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Greg
What is a Citi Proprietary Lounge and where’s the list . I’ve used the P-lounges and P-Restaurants many times or is it the same thing ?
CHEERs

ktc
Guest
ktc

I had asked the same questions. Per VFTW there are just a few (in 2016) https://viewfromthewing.com/citibank-airport-lounges-prestige-cardholders-get-free/

Mike
Guest
Mike

Hey Greg – Do you mind explaining where you’re getting the value out of your Ritz? Since I’m assuming you don’t value the 50K cert for the entire $520

flyernick
Guest
flyernick

Tallying up the fees of the cards that you say you’d probably keep, it comes to about $5000 (that counts the Hilton one that it sounds like maybe you don’t actually own). Anyway, that’s $5000 you’re pre-paying for travel before you even leave your front door. I’m not saying you don’t get value out of that and yeah, I understand you get cash back credits for a lot of that. But still, I think this deserves a bigger disclaimer that this is what works for you because of your unique job and lifestyle. I mean I travel more than most people I know, but if you asked me if I would prepay $5000/year for some travel benefits, my first instinct would be to laugh in your face. Even though I do pay typically a few hundred in CC fees each year for such benefits. So people really need to take a broad view of what is realistic for them.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

flyernick
That is your job to watch your spending not Greg ,Nick nor Steve’s job . I think like a Zillion times FM has posted are you sure you want to buy this or do this . Look at his ” Tool Box ” as in ” IF YOU CARRY A BALANCE DON”T DO THIS ” ..The monthly interest will out weigh the Gains quickly . I have made a Ton of Money on my Prestige Card and got a lot of 4* lounges and Hotel rooms for next to NOTHING (nutthing).. ..
Thanks FM keep going.
CHEERs.

LKay
Guest
LKay

This omits Amex offers. I keep a list and found I get and use a lot of high offers on the Business Platinum (Staples, AT&T, hotels, airlines). Not so much on the other Amex cards.

Jerod
Guest
Jerod

The spreadsheet is missing the 1yr WeWork membership for the Amex Biz Plat. For those who can use it (me) – that alone makes it worth it for this year.

Loving the spreadsheet thought – thanks!

JJ Lee
Guest
JJ Lee

Greg, I feel like I’m missing something here. Why would you value the personal DL Reserve more than the Biz Reserve? I really don’t get it. I agree with your assessment on the DL Platinum cards though. I rather keep the business version.

I’m assuming that going forward, you’ll keep just two DL AMEX cards?

I’m surprised you didn’t mentioned or discussed the WoW Hyatt card. Is that card not worth getting?

Do you try to MS your Platinum status with Marriott or you actually do stays? I would love to hear your opinion on whether it’s worth putting $75k/year just to gain Platinum.

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

I think Greg did not mention WoW Hyatt card because the post is focusing on Ultra Premium Cards and WoW Hyatt card is not considered Ultra Premium Cards.

finalprestige
Guest
finalprestige

Greg, curious, did you not book any 4NF stays with the concierge before the changes went into effect? I’ll likely have to eat a $495 fee unless my grandfathered $350 pulls through again, but the savings from the many 4NF stays I already booked for 2020 far outweighs the fee,.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

finalprestige
I called Citi ur Fee is prorated $495 divided by 12 so IF u cancel early u can get the rest back . I may or may not cancel after booking my (2) 4 nite stays and spending my $250 travel credit by 1/5/2020 . Like 2/8 and get 6 months back Interesting ..
I Booked my whole May 3 week EU Trip before 9/1 as Smiles and lots saved over Hotel.com !!!!
CHEERs

finalprestige
Guest
finalprestige

thanks for the tip! all my booked travel ends in june so would be nice to get the rest back

Miles
Guest
Miles

Greg, something I think you should include somehow is the tax benefit of a business card. Say you have a real, legit side business and say get a Delta Platinum Business card to use in it, you can take a tax deduction for the annual fee — so that’s an effective discount of like $75 off the AF ($250 * 30%). Obviously depends on your tax bracket and state, of course.

Adam
Guest
Adam

One thing I added to my version were two columns on the summary page. One calculated Difference = (Your Value – Annual Fee) then another column Return on Investment = (Your Value / Annual Fee).

These two columns put it into more concrete terms. On the dollar amount you are gaining by “pre-paying” for those benefits and the other total percent you are gaining on that “pre-pay”.

Am I willing to pay $450 for the Bonvoy Brilliant for a 11% return? Probably not. 98% return on the Ritz? Absolutely!

Julian
Guest
Julian

Really helpful analysis. After looking over your valuations, I see why you consider Amex Green a competitor to CSR, with limited value to most people who want to hold both past year 1. As such, I’ll likely want to cancel the Amex Green past year 1. Am I risking a potential Amex clawback of my points if I do so (in which case, better to wait to year 2 or 3)?

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

How do you manufacture high level elite status on Delta? Grocery stores? Doesn’t AmEx search for these purchases?

CJ R
Guest
CJ R

I also would like to know this. I read your article a few years ago about you doing this but you didn’t go into detail for obvious reasons.

Arny
Guest
Arny

Greg, I think the UBS Visa Infinite should be a contender (both personal and business versions). Like the Ritz and CNB you get authorized users for free that have access to Priority Pass (exactly like the Ritz card). And redeeming for airfare can be more lucrative than with CNB at the right purchase price. Insurance is also pretty decent but not as good as Ritz/Sapphire Reserve. Category bonuses not as good as CNB and also of note is that the airfare reimbursement is only for the primary cardholder unlike CNB (and setup more like the Amex credit which is a bummer). As a bonus, UBS charges a maximum of $500 in fees, so if you pay $495 for the annual fee, you could get free brokerage or IRA accounts. This might also apply to multiple credit cards, say if you had the personal and business version but I can’t confirm that. Also, like both the Ritz and CNB, this card (at least the personal version but not sure about business) comes with the Visa Infinite $100 round trip airfare discount. Current bonus as of last week is 85k for clients and 25k for non-clients. I’m not sure if there’s a certain monetary requirement with them to be considered a “client”. It’s a card that’s worth a deep dive review.

George
Guest
George

Two minor corrections:
1. Altitude card – you comment that there is a Gogo benefit with the Flexperks card (not any more).
2. AmEx Gold – you comment on the $200 Uber and Uber Eats benefit which is not directly relevant to the Gold card.

WR2
Guest
WR2

How in the world did you get $720 as a CSR value? Are you including the value from 3x on your organic spend? That to me is incorrect. You should look at it from an opportunity cost standpoint. You can easily get 4% back on travel or restaurants with no AF, so the only value CSR is providing is anything over that. Also, like you said (as I often do too) you need to value the benefits as a standalone benefit. That means the $300 travel credit is not worth $300, if no other reason than the loss of the 900UR. PP and GE are available on so many cards that it’s hard to value that much at all. So I’m curious how you got to $720. Perhaps I missed it in the post somewhere.

Ju an car
Guest
Ju an car

I do not MS, so many high speeding cards does not work for me. I wish I know how to MS (I am planning on MS riz for platinum on Marriott)

Ben
Guest
Ben

So since you decide in the spreadsheet to product change the Presitge, would you then place a value >$0 to Amex Gold 4x restaurants and in turn decide to keep it?

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

Your question was answered in the last paragraph. “But if I drop the Prestige card, I’ll have to add value to the Gold card’s restaurant benefit. That will, in turn, increase the value of the Gold card enough to make it a keeper for me.” per Greg.

Ben
Guest
Ben

Oops. Focused mostly on the spreadsheet, missed that part.

Sam B
Guest
Sam B

It’s been said already, but thank you for this! It’s one of the rare resources I’ve seen that take into account how the interactions between various cards and their benefits. I appreciate the time and effort you took to produce this and it’s been helpful to me as I consider which cards to downgrade/close and to consider which ones I might pick up!

Do you have any plans of including some mid-tier cards in the future? I’d imagine many of us aren’t limited to just the premium cards 🙂

docntx
Guest
docntx

Wow!
Amazing work.
Would you MS your way up the ladder with the Hyatt card?

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Did get 10K points on my Citi prestige card in Oct. booking 3x points from Hotels.com . I just Hate paying the AF but my Have To spending is just getting warmed up..
CHEERs

Omer
Guest
Omer

How come you value the CSR at $720 per year versus only $275 for the prestige, when the later gives almost double the points of the first per dollar in more or less the same categories?? I wonder…

F. Torres
Guest
F. Torres

One of the best perks I get with the AMEX Business Platinum card is the Emergency Medical services if anything happens while I am abroad, which is quite frequent for me, the 100% coverage when renting a car in foreign countries for ~ $20 per rental and the life/disability insurance for up to 1.5 million dollars for ~ $20 per trip. I’ve used car rental protection several times and it was terrific. The $450 annual fee is diminished by the $200 credit for airline fees. I’ve been a cardmember since 1993 and never leave home without it. BTW, thanks for the great spreadsheet.