This article was updated on June 24, 2018.
While premier credit cards such as Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Amex Platinum have been making headlines for their sky-high annual fees, the truth is these cards may not make sense for some cardholders. In other instances, a no-annual-fee credit card may be best.
In the previously recorded Facebook Live video segment below, Motley Fool analysts Nathan Hamilton and Michael Douglass talk more about annual fee credit cards and when they make sense.
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Michael Douglass: Manette asks, "Are annual fee credit cards worth having?" The answer is "sometimes." A lot of it depends on what you're looking for. When we're thinking about credit cards generally, it comes down to, first question, are you budgeting well, are you able to stay out of debt? That's the assumption we're making beforehand. But after that, it's, where do you spend your money? Do you happen to eat out a lot? Do you happen to go to the grocery store a lot? Do you happen to travel a lot? Cool. In that case, I'm looking, theoretically, for a credit card that's going to give me a lot of miles, a lot of money back on food purchases that I can then apply attractively toward travel. Your mileage will vary. A lot of it depends on how much time you want to spend on your credit card accounts, too. If you just want one general good cashback card, that's a different ball game than if you're willing to think about your spending in three or four major different buckets.
Nathan Hamilton: Personal belief here, and how I manage my finances, I tend to bias toward no-annual-fee cards. But I see the value in some annual fee cards, even the ones that have uber-high premium fees. There are some cards on the market that are $450, $550, for an annual fee. But you get hundreds of dollars worth of statement credits for travel, you get TSA Pre-Check, which travelers obviously value, can go through the line in no time.
Douglass: If you travel a lot, that does add up to a lot of hours that you're able to save and use productively in some other way.
Hamilton: Yeah. So, I would look at it, what are those additional perks you get? Then, the bigger thing is, does your spending justify it? Because there are many cards for $50 or $100 where, if you're earning 2% back, you have to spend $100 divided by 2%, I don't know the exact answer, but you have to spend more than that breakeven point to essentially make rewards worthwhile. Up until that point, you're essentially incurring out-of-pocket costs, and you're paying money to earn rewards in those scenarios. So, I would just look at your personal budget numbers, and run them and see what they say.
Douglass: Yeah, agreed.