When you’re shopping for a new credit card, you probably look at things like APR, rewards, and fees. But if you’ve been turning down cards because they charge an annual fee, you may want to think again. While annual fees can be a pain — and there are many no-annual fee cards out there — they can actually be well worth the cost. If you use the card wisely, you can even make the card pay for itself.
Here are seven different credit card perks that can justify the annual fee.
1. Travel statement credit
If you take at least one trip a year, you can benefit from a travel statement credit. Several credit cards give annual credits to reimburse you for travel expenses. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you $300 a year to reimburse you for travel purchases charged to your card.
2. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
If you can’t stand airport security, consider signing up for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. You’ll get access to an expedited security line, and you can keep your shoes on and your laptop and liquids in your carry on.
Select credit cards will even reimburse you for the application fee. With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll get up to $100 as a statement credit to reimburse you for your application fee every four years.
3. Primary car rental insurance
When you rent a car, you’ll likely face a pushy salesperson who will try to convince you to add a rental car insurance policy to your reservation. Doing so can be costly. According to esurance, a collision damage waiver can cost between $9 and $19 a day.
Luckily, you can get free rental car insurance with some credit cards. Many credit cards offer primary auto collision damage waivers, which kicks in before your personal car insurance does. On a five-day trip, having free rental car insurance could help you save up to $95.
4. Airport lounge access
If you’re sick of the crowds at the airport, look for a card that offers airport lounge access. You’ll wait for your flight in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. And, you’ll be able to enjoy complimentary food and drinks and even high speed internet access.
For example, the Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Black Card gives you VIP airport lounge access with Priority Pass Select. It allows you to enter 1,200 airport lounges in over 500 cities around the world.
If you were to buy Priority Pass Select membership on your own, you’d have to spend $429 for the same access.
5. Free checked bags
Checked bags can greatly add to your travel costs. While you could just shove everything into a carry-on, there may be a better way; some credit cards give you free checked bags.
For example, the United Explorer card allows you and one traveling companion to check your first bag for free. According to United Airlines, a checked bag typically costs $30 for the first bag each way, so you could save up to $120 per round-trip for two people.
6. Companion passes
If you regularly travel with someone — like a spouse or best friend — using a credit card can help you score a companion pass. If you spend a certain amount within a calendar year, your friend or partner can get free roundtrip airfare.
7. Free hotel stays
Many travel rewards cards offer free hotel stays. As a cardmember, you may be able to get a free weekend night stay at a hotel of your choice. Depending on what resort you choose, that free night can be worth hundreds of dollars.
Annual fees are increasingly common. While it’s a good idea to pay attention to annual fees before applying for a card, the presence of one shouldn’t be the reason why you disqualify a card. In some cases, a card might offer significant benefits and perks that more than offset the annual fee, making it worthwhile.
Looking for a new credit card? Check out our favorite travel rewards credit cards for 2019.
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