I Pay a $450 Annual Fee on My Credit Card. Here's Why I'm Happy to Do It

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  • I have a credit card that charges me $450 annually just to be a cardholder. 
  • I am happy to pay it because I save money on food at the airport, thanks to getting free lounge access.
  • I also get to avoid paying for checked bags, which would add up. 

About a year ago, I signed up for a credit card that charges me a $450 annual fee. That's a lot of money to pay just to become a cardholder. But, having this travel credit card is well worth it in my book. 

Here are a few key reasons why I'm happy to send my card's issuer this money in exchange for all of the benefits I receive. 

1. I get airline lounge access

My card comes with access to the Admirals Club whenever I fly on American Airlines. If I didn't have this benefit but wanted to access the airline lounge, I would need to pay $59 for a one-day pass. If I did this on both legs of a round-trip flight, that would be $118.

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Of course, I don't necessarily have to pay for lounge access. But, the lounge offers free meals. If I didn't take advantage of this, I'd typically end up having to buy food for my family of four when we go on vacation. That adds up to around $40 per trip or more at airport prices when factoring in both food and drink. 

At the lounge, we can eat as much as we want and enjoy plenty of non-alcohol drinks without limits. It ends up being a way better deal for us to pay the annual fee on the card and avoid having to buy meals -- especially since we fly about once per month.

2. I get free checked bags

There are times when we fly and have to take a bag or two on our trip. On the airline we usually fly, the cost to bring a bag on a domestic flight is $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second. Again, this would add up quickly for our family since we travel a lot. Even if I had to pay the $30 checked bag fee on six flights per year, I'd end up paying $180. 

Since checked bags are included thanks to my card, I don't have to worry about paying this additional cost. This means that if there are times when I am on the fence about whether I have enough stuff to justify bringing an entire suitcase, I don't have to think about it. 

Rather than cramming a ton of stuff into a carry-on and having to lug it through the airport and hope I don't have trouble finding overhead space, I can simply check my bag and not have to worry about it. 

3. I can earn upgrades to first class

My card allows me to earn loyalty points, which accrue to help me earn special status. That comes with upgrades to the premium cabin or to better seats. Because we fly often, and we charge our tickets on our credit card and get bonus points for them, I'm always able to earn that special status each year. This means we have qualified for upgrades and have been moved either to first class or premium seats often at no extra cost.

All of these benefits make traveling easier and, surprisingly, cheaper for us -- even after I take the $450 annual fee into account. For that reason, paying for it is an easy call. 

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