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I've had mixed results with credit cards that encourage you to spend a ton in order to rack up points you can later redeem to book travel, get cash back or make other purchases.

I was signed up for Chase's Sapphire Reserve card for a couple years. It came with a ton of up-front points (worth nearly $1k!) but an annual fee that reduced down to about $150 after jumping through a few spending hoops. At the time, it was justified because I used the card for work and work travel expenses, so I could easily meet the spending requirements and pay it off on time. I've since reduced this card's perks to a basic version with no annual fee.

Currently, I'm signed up for Marriott's Bonvoy program, which originally enticed me with enough bonus points at sign-up to score a free hotel when we were in a pinch. But there is a pesky annual fee ($100), so, like the Chase card, the plan is to cancel the card's premium features after using my current round of points before it renews. Also, I'm disappointed that the points can only be used to redeem hotel rooms, which is quite limiting!

What are your experiences with points-based credit cards? Is it ever worth paying the annual fee? If you have points to redeem, how do you use them?

Last edited by Will S.
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I currently have a Delta Airlines AMEX and American Airlines Mastercard with annual fees. When I wasn’t traveling during the pandemic, I requested a product change to the $0 fee cards, and also canceled Southwest Airlines Chase VISA. Now that I can travel, I’ve upgraded the Delta AMEX and AA MC to acquire more miles. The AA MC miles redemption is ridiculous, so I may drop down to the $0 annual fee card again. I only have this AA card because this AA flies into my brother’s local airport. 

I will not have a credit card with an annual fee.  That's outdated, unless the value of a reward system exceeds that amount and it's not something I have to be extra mindful of to reap the benefit.  I do love a reward system that will work with purchases of gas, medical expenses, or other staple expenses.  Keeping on top of paying them out monthly is the challenges at times.

My husband signed up for an AMEX card and unbeknownst to him it carried an annual fee of $95, which gave you points to be used for travel. I went to pay the bill and was flagged because the reference number on the card did not match the statement reference number. What he had done was handed me back our shared card on my AMEX account. He then gave me his card and the cc rep said that this is a Surpass card and it has a fee. He then downgraded this card to a no-fee card, and then they take away the points, that was fine. I am also one of those people who refuse to pay a fee for any cc.

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