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Do High Annual Fees Equal Big Perks?

American Express Platinum offers the best benefits and perks for the moneyYou’ll find a lot of people who think that paying for the use of a credit card is a poor financial decision. I agree.

Yet there are credit cards with annual fees as high as $495 that Americans gladly own.

So, if you’re looking for a card with a lot of perks and maximum rewards, which should you choose?

Let’s start by eliminating one from the equation.

The Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard is a nice card, but definitely not worth the $450 annual fee.

The card has benefits specific to American Airlines, and even then, cardholders only receive a somewhat standard rewards program.

You’ll earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first four months. Citi throws a few qualifying miles your way each year, but you can find better offers on cards with much lower annual fees, like the Continental or United mileage cards.

That leaves the Visa Black Card and American Express Platinum Card, two cards with similar benefits and annual fees.

The Visa Black Card carries a $495 annual fee (and a variable 14.99% APR on purchases) and includes the following perks and rewards:

  • 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • Access to more than 600 airport lounges worldwide.
  • 24-hour concierge service.
  • Roadside assistance.
  • Trip protection (up to $1,500 cash if your qualifying trip is unexpectedly cancelled or interrupted).

Depending on what you need, the concierge service and airport lounge access can really save you time and money.

Still, we’ve been critical of this card in the past as little more than a status symbol.

The American Express Platinum Card carries a $450 annual fee (there’s no APR because this is a charge card and you must pay your balance in full each month) and includes the following perks and rewards:

  • Membership rewards points on every purchase (at least 1% cash back).
  • $200 fee reimbursement on travel expenses each year and 20% point bonus when you redeem rewards for travel.
  • Access to more than 600 airport lounges worldwide.
  • 24-hour concierge service.
  • Special amenities and comforts when staying at more than 700 hotels worldwide.
  • Expedited airport experience, which allows you to zip through lines and security.
  • Trip protection.
  • No preset spending limit.

In other words, American Express Platinum cardholders will receive everything a Visa Black cardholder does, with an additional $200 in fees reimbursed as well as hotel and airport perks not found anywhere else.

While American Express Platinum offers the best rewards, these are all prestige cards vying to grab the attention of rich consumers who think credit cards will make them look important. The question: Can they?

High annual fee cards not for you? Check out credit card offers in our extensive database that include many low- or no-annual fee options.

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