Is there any reason other than vanity to carry a credit card that comes with an annual fee of $400 to $1,000 dollars? Believe me, a big part of those pricey credit cards is all about vanity. If you’re a guy on a first date, would you rather pull out a platinum card or a run-of-the-mill, plain vanilla card to pay for dinner? Why else would a print ad for the new Visa Black Card quote Kim Whitman, an executive producer of online yoga videos, saying, “I like the feel of carbon—it’s unique.” What does carbon feel like anyway? For $495 a year, Visa will answer that question.
Travelers know, however, that there are some benefits to those expensive cards.
I pay approximately $400 a year to carry a Platinum AmEx card because it allows me and a guest access to airline lounges when I fly four different airlines, including Delta and Northwest. An annual fee to just one of those lounges can match the annual cost of my card. I can also get thousands of dollars against the card when traveling. Plus, I like the level of consumer protection it offers. I rented skis this past winter in Beaver Creek, Colo. Someone stole them off the outdoor ski rack when I was inside a lodge eating lunch. AmEx paid the rental shop for the retail value of the skis.
Now, I’m not sure I could justify the $1,000 a year for an AmEx black card reserved for high rollers. And I’ve been underwhelmed by the level of services offered by some cards’ so-called concierge services. I think it takes someone well-traveled to understand the needs of frequent travelers, and my hunch is most folks working the phones for credit card companies don’t fit that category.
If you only use a credit or charge card for purchases, then I’d suggest you get one linked to the airline you fly most frequently so you can earn miles. If you’re reading this blog, that may well be Delta Air Lines, which has a relationship with American Express, which will issue you a card (and gift you with 25,000 bonus miles upon signing up) that will add miles to your Delta frequent flyer account.
And here’s a tip: If you use your card for business, remember any annual fee can be tax deductible.
Bottom Line: I’d suggest a premium card if you fly a lot or need access to more cash than an ATM can provide while on the road. Or, if you are like Kim, you simply like the feeling of carbon.