Which Premium Playing cards are Keepers?

Extremely-premium bank cards usually have nice perks like lounge entry, elite standing accelerators, free nights, companion tickets, and so forth.  The issue is that the annual charges, which will be as excessive as $695, will be overwhelming.  All of those dear playing cards are value getting for his or her preliminary welcome bonuses, however they are often very costly to maintain… particularly you probably have multiple.  How are you going to resolve that are value maintaining?

Since final publication, the spreadsheet linked inside this submit has been up to date to model 8: Added Enterprise X Enterprise; Up to date Amex Enterprise Gold; up to date Hilton Aspire; added Hilton Surpass; up to date Platinum and Delta playing cards with Sky Membership and SkyMiles modifications; and made miscellaneous small updates to many card advantages.

The premium card worksheet

So as to assist establish which playing cards to maintain or cancel, I created a Google Doc spreadsheet with tabs for every of the preferred ultra-premium rewards playing cards (and a handful of common premium playing cards).  On every tab you’ll be able to enter your estimated worth for every perk after which return to the abstract tab to see which playing cards are keepers.

–> Click on right here to open and replica the spreadsheet into your individual Google account

The remainder of this submit goes into element about how I like to recommend utilizing this worksheet, however listed below are some fast suggestions for individuals who don’t plan to learn the remaining (I get it: though there’s some actually good things beneath, you’ve bought different issues to do):

  1. Don’t double-count overlapping perks! For instance, assign worth to Precedence Go solely to the cardboard that you just’re almost certainly to maintain.
  2. Worth perks based mostly on how a lot you’d be prepared to pre-pay if it was out there as a subscription.  Don’t estimate based mostly on how a lot you’re more likely to save.
  3. In case your complete worth of perks equals or exceeds a card’s annual price, then its a keeper.


To make up for large charges, issuers (particularly Amex) have been including “sponsored perks” the place you may get rebates from spend with particular distributors (Equinox, Peloton, New York Instances, DoorDash, Dell, Saks Fifth Avenue, and so forth.).  On paper, it seems like you may get again extra money than the annual price for these playing cards.  And you may, if you’d truly pay for these services and products anyway.  The fact, although, is completely different.  Take the Enterprise Platinum Dell credit, for instance.  Every year, January by means of finish of June and once more July by means of finish of December, you may get $200 again from Dell purchases, for a complete of $400 again.  If you happen to usually purchase $200 or extra from Dell, each early within the 12 months and late within the 12 months, then the rebate actually will be considered being value almost its face worth.  However, if you end up scrambling twice per 12 months to determine what to purchase, the rebate ought to be value significantly much less to you.  In my case, since Dell not often has in-stock XBox present playing cards anymore (which can be utilized for something within the Microsoft Retailer), I worth these Dell rebates at solely half of face worth.  It’s good to get free software program, microphones, earbuds, chargers, cables, and different devices twice per 12 months, however not face-value good.

When it comes time to pay the annual renewal price on every of your premium playing cards, it is sensible to guage whether or not or not the cardboard’s perks and rebates are a minimum of as priceless as the cardboard’s annual price.  If the reply is “no”, then I like to recommend calling to cancel the cardboard.  If the cardboard issuer presents an amazing retention bonus, nice — maintain the cardboard for an additional 12 months.  If not, go forward and cancel or product change to a fee-free card if potential (observe that Amex Platinum playing cards don’t have a product change path to a free card).  Earlier than cancelling, although, please check out our guidelines for cancelling bank cards to keep away from shedding factors and different rewards.

How one can estimate worth

If you pay a bank card’s annual price, you might be basically pre-paying for a 12 months of perks that this card presents.  One of the simplest ways to find out what these perks are value to you is to resolve for each, how a lot you’d be prepared to pay if it was out there independently as an annual subscription.  Take into account the Amex Enterprise Platinum card’s wi-fi cellphone credit, for instance.  The Enterprise Platinum card presents as much as $10 again per thirty days once you use your card to pay your cellphone invoice.  On the floor, that appears like a simple $120 again per 12 months for many of us.  However you shouldn’t worth it on the full $120.  Think about in case your telephone firm bought a profit like this individually: What would you pay yearly to AT&T (for instance) to save lots of $10 per thirty days off your invoice?  You wouldn’t pay $120, would you?  It wouldn’t make any sense to pay $120 up entrance for a complete of $120 in financial savings unfold out by means of the 12 months.  As a substitute, you may pay $100 (for instance) for a $120 in financial savings.

Different examples:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 Journey Credit: It is a very easy credit score to earn since all journey purchases depend.  However how a lot would you pay prematurely to get $300 again?  Remember, too, that the Sapphire Reserve doesn’t provide you with factors for that $300 in spend.  That’s nearly $15 in rewards misplaced to that spend.  I’d argue that you just shouldn’t worth this perk at greater than $285 and it might be cheap to worth it much less.
  • Amex Platinum $200 Pay as you go Lodge Credit score: Client Platinum playing cards supply $200 again per calendar 12 months in the direction of pay as you go Nice Motels & Resorts or The Lodge Assortment bookings.  That’s nice, however how a lot would you pre-pay for this rebate?  Needless to say except you habitually e-book by means of Nice Motels & Resorts or The Lodge Assortment, you may find yourself not utilizing this perk in any respect.  Personally, I wouldn’t worth this at greater than $100 per 12 months.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Sensible 85K free night time certificates: You may save $500, $700, $900 or extra off a lodge night time once you use this certificates, however there’s no approach you must pay that a lot prematurely.  The one motive to pay prematurely for a free night time certificates (particularly one which expires after a 12 months) is when you anticipate to get far more worth than you set it.  So, for instance, you is likely to be prepared to pre-pay $300 or $400 for the prospect of saving $500 or extra.

Overlapping perks

One and carried out perks

There are many priceless perks that haven’t any incremental worth you probably have the identical perk from a number of playing cards.  For instance, getting Hilton Gold standing from one bank card is nice, however getting it from a second card has no incremental worth.  Listed here are some extra examples the place you may worth a perk from one card, however having on a number of playing cards doesn’t make it any extra priceless:

  • Free checked luggage
  • Elite standing with a particular lodge, airline, or automotive rental service
  • Lounge entry to a particular kind of lounge

Diminishing return perks

Some perks have diminishing worth with every additional card that gives the perk.  For instance, every of the Amex Platinum client playing cards (the common client Platinum card, and the one’s from Schwab and Morgan Stanley) supply $240 per 12 months in Digital Leisure Credit: As much as $20 per thirty days in credit for subscriptions to NY Instances, ESPN+, Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, Sirius XM, and Audible.  In my case, I subscribed to the New York Instances e-edition anyway, and so worth this perk on my generic Platinum card fairly extremely.  I pay about $17 per thirty days, or $204 per 12 months and so I worth these financial savings at about $180 (i.e. I’d be prepared to prepay $180 for these financial savings).  However I even have the Schwab Platinum card which I’ve used to subscribe to Peacock Premium for $11.99 per thirty days.  I wouldn’t pay for Peacock Premium with out the rebate, although, so right here I worth the perk at solely about $25.

How one can worth overlapping perks

The trick to doing this proper is to first work out which of your playing cards are the almost certainly “keepers” and assign perk values to these playing cards first.  Then go to your subsequent almost certainly to maintain playing cards, and solely assign incremental worth (if any) to perks that overlap together with your keeper playing cards.  And repeat with the subsequent almost certainly to maintain playing cards, and so forth.

When you have a bunch of premium playing cards, this isn’t simple!  For instance, many premium playing cards supply Precedence Go memberships.  When you have multiple, then it’s a good suggestion to determine which card is the almost certainly “keeper”, however take into account that the worth of Precedence Go varies by card.  Precedence Go from Amex doesn’t embrace free meals at Precedence Go eating places.  And, with different playing cards, particulars range about what number of friends you’ll be able to usher in and what it might price (if something) so as to add approved customers with their very own Precedence Go membership.  Probably the greatest choices total is with the Chase Ritz card which presents Precedence Go with limitless friends, and free approved customers, every of which might get their very own Precedence Go with limitless friends.  However the Ritz card isn’t simple to get (you need to begin with a Chase Marriott client card and improve) and its perks aren’t ideally suited for everybody.  Nonetheless, you probably have the cardboard and worth its advantages (as I do), it is sensible for this to be your first-in-line keeper card.  Estimate the worth of Precedence Go on that card, however not on any others.  If the Ritz card isn’t for you, a superb different is Capital One’s Enterprise X card which additionally presents Precedence Go to your free approved customers (however this model of Precedence Go doesn’t embrace eating places or experiences).  Having a single “keeper” card with Precedence Go solves one other downside: you’ll by no means should marvel which of your many Precedence Go playing cards is the precise one to make use of at any given time.  Get the one which comes together with your keeper card and by no means request one other.

Right here’s one other instance: I’ve two variations of client Platinum playing cards and the Enterprise Platinum card from American Categorical.  All 3 have many overlapping advantages, and selecting which one is the almost certainly “keeper” of the three is difficult.  I actually just like the Enterprise Platinum card’s 35% airline bonus, however the private playing cards have extra helpful (to me) annual rebates.  And I like that the Schwab Platinum card presents assertion credit due to my having retirement funds with Schwab, however I hate that it doesn’t get the wonderful refer-a-friend presents which are usually out there to different playing cards that earn Membership Rewards (the Schwab card will get money again for referrals as an alternative of incomes Membership Rewards factors).  Finally, I made a decision that the generic Platinum card was my almost certainly “keeper” of the three attributable to having each extra helpful rebates and nice refer-a-friend presents (a few of which have been out there solely to this card prior to now).  I put the Enterprise Platinum second, and the Schwab Platinum third.  This ordering had an enormous impact on my complete estimated worth of every card.  The generic Platinum got here out as a particular keeper, whereas each the Schwab Platinum and the Enterprise Platinum playing cards will simply barely be on the chopping block. In every case, a easy retention telephone name or safe message is more likely to end in sufficient worth to maintain the cardboard one other 12 months.

Proven above are my estimated values for every of my Amex Platinum card variations. Since these playing cards have many overlapping perks, the order through which I positioned the playing cards earlier than doing the estimates had a huge effect on the end result.

An actual world instance

I used the newest model of this spreadsheet myself the opposite day to estimate values for 10 completely different premium playing cards that I’ve.  I discovered that six are keepers and 4 ought to be cancelled or downgraded if I don’t obtain a superb retention supply when the subsequent annual price comes due.  Right here’s what I discovered:

Word that this part has not been up to date since October 2022.

Ritz: Preserve

I began with my Ritz card as a result of I take into account it to be my final “keeper” card.  That is the cardboard the place I assign worth to Precedence Go.  For all of my different playing cards that supply Precedence Go, I assigned zero worth to that perk.  See the part on overlapping perks, above, for a dialogue about this.

Listed here are the perks that I valued:

  • $300 in annual airline price reimbursements: $240
  • Annual 85K Free Evening Award annually upon renewal: $300
  • Precedence Go Choose for you plus limitless free friends: $100
  • Free approved customers: $100 [allows me to gift priority pass to relatives — I don’t even have to give them the Ritz card with their name on it. I just give them the Priority Pass card]
  • 15 qualifying nights in the direction of elite standing: $50.  I’ve lifetime Platinum standing with Marriott so I don’t worth this a lot, nevertheless it does assist me get to 50 nights for a Alternative Profit choice or in the direction of 75 night time Titanium standing.
  • Finest at school journey insurance coverage: $0 [This is a very valuable benefit, but since I ended up deciding that the Sapphire Reserve (which has the same travel insurance but better travel rewards) was a keeper, I zeroed out this one and moved the estimate for this to the Sapphire Reserve].
  • Whole: $790

My complete estimated worth for this card got here to $790.  That’s properly above the cardboard’s $450 annual price and so this confirmed what I already knew: this card is a keeper.

Bonvoy Sensible: Drop (Perhaps)

The Bonvoy Sensible card is loaded with excessive finish perks and my valuations (how a lot I’d be prepared to prepay for these perks) got here to $550.  That’s lots, nevertheless it’s a bit wanting the cardboard’s new $650 annual price (beforehand $450).  I’ve nearly a full 12 months earlier than the brand new annual price kicks in and so I received’t be cancelling quickly.  I’ll re-evaluate subsequent 12 months.  Plus, no matter what I resolve, calling or messaging to cancel the cardboard will seemingly end in a really good retention supply.

Listed here are the advantages I valued:

  • $25 per thirty days eating credit: $200
  • Annual free night time upon renewal (value 85K factors): $300
  • Marriott Platinum Standing: $0 [I have lifetime Platinum status]
  • 25 qualifying nights in the direction of elite standing: $50 [this is the incremental benefit of 10 more nights over the Ritz card’s 15. This will help me get to 50 nights for a Choice Benefit selection or towards 75 night Titanium status.]
  • Whole: $550

Amex Platinum Playing cards: Preserve 1, Drop 2 (Perhaps)

I described my Platinum card state of affairs above within the part titled “How one can worth overlapping perks.”  The top result’s that the generic Platinum card got here out as a particular keeper, however the different two (the Platinum Card from Schwab and the Enterprise Platinum Card) ought to be dropped when the subsequent annual charges come due.  That stated, in each circumstances I’m more likely to get good retention presents for these playing cards and so I’ll in all probability maintain them if that occurs.

Listed here are the perks the place I ascribed worth to the common Platinum client card:

  • $200 airline price credit score: $150
  • $200 Pay as you go Lodge credit score: $100
  • $240 Digital Leisure Credit score: $130
  • $200 in Uber credit: $100
  • $100 in Saks credit: $50
  • Free Walmart+: $25
  • Worldwide Airline Program: $25
  • Lounge entry (Centurion Lounge, Airspace Lounge, Escape Lounge): $100
  • Delta Sky Membership: $150
  • Hilton Gold: $50
  • Nationwide Automobile Government standing: $50
  • Emergency Evacuation & Transportation: $50
  • Refer-A-Good friend Affords: $100 [This particular card keeps getting amazing referral offers]
  • Whole: $1,080

Listed here are the perks I valued with the Enterprise Platinum:

  • $200 airline price credit score: $150
  • $120 wi-fi credit: $100
  • $400 Dell: $200
  • 35% airline bonus: $150
  • Whole: $600

And listed below are the perks I valued with the Schwab Platinum:

  • $200 airline price credit score: $125 [diminishing returns due to having to use up credits on the other Platinum cards]
  • $200 Pay as you go Lodge credit score: $100
  • $240 Digital Leisure Credit score: $120
  • $200 in Uber credit: $100
  • $100 in Saks credit: $50
  • Schwab assertion credit score: $100
  • Whole: $595

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Preserve

My preliminary estimated worth for my $550 Sapphire Reserve card got here to solely $555. That’s solely $5 over the annual price, however that’s high-quality!  Do not forget that the $555 estimate is the quantity I’d be prepared to pay for the cardboard’s perks so even when the annual price was $555 I ought to maintain it. Nonetheless, after realizing the cardboard was a keeper, I moved the worth of the cardboard’s best-in-class journey insurance coverage from the Ritz card to the Sapphire Reserve (the cardboard I truly use to pay for journey) and that bumped up my valuation to $655:

  • $300 annual journey credit: $270
  • Factors transferable to companions: $95
  • 3X factors per greenback for journey: $175
  • Finest at school journey insurance coverage: $100
  • Lyft rideshare advantages: $10
  • DoorDash meals supply advantages: $5
  • Whole: $655

As I wrote in a latest submit, the mix of 3x earnings on all journey spend plus best-in-class journey protections plus the annual $300 journey rebate is value extra to me than the cardboard’s $550 annual price and so its a keeper.

Word that I didn’t give any worth to the cardboard’s Precedence Go because the Ritz card with Precedence Go is my #1 keeper card (and so the worth of that profit goes there).

Capital One Enterprise X: Preserve

My estimate for the Enterprise X got here to $400.  That’s simply $5 greater than the cardboard’s $395 however sufficient to make this one a keeper.  Listed here are the perks that I valued:

  • Annual $300 Credit score ($300 again annually for bookings by means of Capital One Journey): $225
  • 10K bonus miles every anniversary: $100
  • Capital One Lounge entry: $35 [I figure that it’s likely that I’ll hit up a Capital One lounge at least once per year, especially once they roll out some more of these]
  • Free approved customers: $40 [The ability to give lounge access to others is especially relevant to me since this is really my wife’s Venture X card I’m writing about]
  • Whole: $400

Word that I didn’t give any worth to the cardboard’s Precedence Go because the Ritz card with Precedence Go is my #1 keeper card (and so the worth of that profit goes there), and I didn’t assign worth to Plaza Premium Lounge entry since I are likely to have an Amex Platinum card keeper which incorporates Plaza Premium Lounges plus rather more.

Amex Gold Card: Drop

This Gold card is mysteriously not eligible for refer-a-friend presents.  These presents have been the principle motive I saved the cardboard final 12 months.  I earn higher rewards for eating and grocery with Citi playing cards (5x eating with my Status card & 5x grocery with my Customized Money playing cards). Now, the quantity I’d be prepared to pay got here to solely $160 which isn’t too near the cardboard’s $250 annual price.

Right here have been my valuations:

  • $120 in Uber credit: $60
  • $120 in eating credit: $50
  • 4x factors at US Supermarkets (as much as $25K in purchases, then 1x): $50 [I used to value this much higher, but I’m happy getting 5x at grocery stores with my Citi Custom Cash cards]
  • Whole: $160

Citi Status: Preserve

The $495 Status card (not out there to new candidates) has misplaced most of its status through the years as Citi dropped one profit after one other, together with journey protections.  That stated, I spend lots on eating and so the flexibility to earn 5x eating uncapped is large.  Right here’s how I valued it:

  • $250 journey credit score: $200
  • Capability to switch factors to airline & lodge packages: $95
  • 5X eating: $250
  • Citigold $145 rebate for Status cardholders: $100
  • Whole: $645

Altitude Reserve: Preserve

The $400 Altitude Reserve card comes with $325 in journey & eating credit which I valued at $300.  So, I solely wanted to justify $100 extra to deem this card a keeper.  Between incomes 3x for cellular pockets funds & journey, Actual Time Cellular Rewards (a brilliant cool function!), this card is staying in my Apple Pay pockets for the long-term.

  • $325 in annual journey & eating credit: $275
  • Actual Time Cellular Rewards: $50
  • 3X journey and cellular pockets funds: $100 [The ability to earn 3x for all Apple Pay spend is big]
  • Whole: $425

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