Travel Rewards credit cards can be useful tools for earning points to use toward travel. But each card you open probably has an annual fee. I hope you are keeping track of these so you can be sure you are getting enough bang for your buck from each card to make it worth the cost of that annual fee.
One way to make sure you are getting enough value from a card is to use all the perks and benefits that come with it. Let’s look at the American Express Gold Card. The annual fee is $250. Mid range for travel cards where some go up to $500! I prefer cards with a $99 annual fee, but this card offers a lot of benefits.
$100 Annual Airline Fee Credit
You have to follow their rules and have to select 1 airline for the year. If you don’t change it by the end of the year, they bring the same airline forward the next year. You do not have to use the entire credit all at once.
I selected Southwest because I knew I would be flying with them a lot this year and used the credit to cover four $25 Early Bird Check Ins.
American Express Offers
I log into my online account frequently. Most times when I do, I take a moment to roll through the list of online offers available to me. There are a lot of different offers and new ones pop up regularly. The offers do not load automatically to your account, so I select any new offers that I think that I may use.
Currently there is an offer if you pay your cell phone bill with the card, you get a $10 a month credit. This offer is good for a few more months and I am taking advantage of it for as long as it lasts.
If you sign up for the Uber Credit, you can get up to $15 per month in credits. In December, they offer a $20 bonus credit. My town doesn’t have an Uber service, so I don’t use this credit. I think for people living in or visiting cities that do have Uber, it would be a great benefit.
There is also a Dining Program that you can choose to sign up for. Previously I had not participated in this option because the available restaurants were not local to me or places that I frequented.
- Cheesecake Factory
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House
- Shake Shack
But Amex just updated their card terms and benefits and has added an option to get a $10 credit each month that you order from Boxed.com. I love Boxed! Typically I place 1 large order about every 6-8 weeks. Now assuming that I place 6 orders per year, I will receive $60 in credits!
Boxed is a Wharehouse Club like Sams or Costco. Everything is online and you can join without a fee or select a higher level plan called Boxed Up for $49 per year. It gives you expedited free shipping on every order over $20 and more product discounts.
I order things like coffee, cooking oil, olive oil, toilet paper (looks like a bale when it comes) and garbage bags. Each order allows you to pick 2 free samples from a list as a bonus. They often have give aways or other seasonal bonus items that they include with your order as well. If I place a $50 order about every 6-8 weeks for what I will need for the next 2 months, I earn free shipping. I try to choose days to order when there is an additional dollar or percentage off of my order to increase my savings (free shipping is calculated off your base rate before discounts) and I always start my order from Ebates or Ibotta for even more rebates. Your order is typically delivered to your door within 3-4 days.
My Boxed Referral Link: The link gives you $15 off your first order of $60 or more and I get a $15 credit as well.
Let’s Do the Math
- $100 Airline Fee Credit
- $40 for 4 months of $10 Cell Phone Credits
- $60 for 6 months of $10 Boxed Credits
Just those 3 credits add up to $200 in value to offset my annual fee. I am sure that there will be more offers throughout this year where I will be able to find another $50 in credits to break even.
Know your Renewal Date and your Annual Fee on all your Rewards cards. Each year analyze each card to make sure you are earning enough points or receiving enough benefits to offset the cost of your annual fee. If you aren’t, it may be time to pull the plug on that particular card before you have to pay for another years fees.
Pay attention to all the benefits, offers and credits that come with each card. It’s easy to miss an opportunity to save money because you didn’t realize there was a perk you could take advantage of.
Before you open any new Rewards cards, compare the annual fee with the list of potential ways you will be able to get enough value to break even.
Sometimes the benefits aren’t as straightforward to assign a value to as these very specific American Express Credits are. All you have to do in order to assign a value to less specific perks, is calculate what you would have paid if they weren’t included. For instance:
- Not paying trip insurance because it was included when I paid with my card. Example would have saved me $300 on a 14 day tour we took.
- Not paying additional insurance on my rental car because it was included when I paid with my card. Example saved me $11/day x 4 days =$44 in savings
- Reimbursement for fees like Global Entry/TSA Precheck. Example save $85 on TSA Precheck or $100 on Global Entry.
It’s a Wrap
Take advantage of what Rewards credit cards have to offer without you yourself being taken advantage of by paying annual fees. Just make sure you get your money’s worth to make it a great value for you.
If you have the American Express Gold Card, don’t miss this new opportunity to earn a monthly credit from Boxed! I hope they continue to add more great perks like this down the road.
Dream, Plan, SAVE, Adventure!!!