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My Amex annual fees now total over $2,000 - help me prune

My Amex annual fees now total over $2,000 - help me prune

Old Feb 8, 20, 9:57 am
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
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The Hilton Surpass is only giving you Hilton point-earning; you get Gold status from the Platinum card.
What do you get from Delta Plat and Reserve? Do you even need either of those to hit a status you care about?
I don’t think the Marriott cards give you extra status past gold, which again the Plat gives you. Drop those.

So, keep the Gold and Schwab Platinum cards and nuke the cobrands, unless you spend truly huge amounts at them where the incremental points are worthwhile. Or you get more value out of the free night and airfare certificates than the annual fees cost, in which case why are you complaining about them?
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Old Feb 8, 20, 7:10 pm
  #17  
 
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Here's my suggestion:
Keep the Amex Platinum, because that's going to give you your status with Hilton and Marriott and 5 points per $ on air, as well as all the other benefits.
Keep the Amex Gold since dining spend is a priority.
Drop both Delta cards. You're earning better rates with the other Amex cards, and those can be transferred to DL. I can't see how the other benefits would be worth it.
Drop the Hilton card. Then apply separately for the lower tier no-fee Hilton card so that you can get a bonus. You shouldn't be paying a fee if you're not using the card that much (probably only for Hilton stays, right?)
Drop the Marriott card. Get the Chase version when you can, and get the bonus.

You'll end up with just 4 cards.
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Old Feb 8, 20, 7:24 pm
  #18  
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Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
Here's my suggestion:
Keep the Amex Platinum, because that's going to give you your status with Hilton and Marriott and 5 points per $ on air, as well as all the other benefits.
Keep the Amex Gold since dining spend is a priority.
Drop both Delta cards. You're earning better rates with the other Amex cards, and those can be transferred to DL. I can't see how the other benefits would be worth it.
Drop the Hilton card. Then apply separately for the lower tier no-fee Hilton card so that you can get a bonus. You shouldn't be paying a fee if you're not using the card that much (probably only for Hilton stays, right?)
Drop the Marriott card. Get the Chase version when you can, and get the bonus.

You'll end up with just 4 cards.
This is the closest to what I will likely end up doing. I want to make Delta Platinum this year so I need MQM boosts - intend to get one with the Reserve before the annual fee hits, then I may downgrade that card to a Plat (and cancel my existing plat). Hilton and Bonvoy/SPG get cancelled. I wonít cancel the Bonvoy Brilliant until I have the Chase card in hand

I may end up downgrading CSR (outside of Amex)
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Old Feb 8, 20, 7:27 pm
  #19  
 
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Marry into the military. SCRA lol
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Old Feb 8, 20, 7:27 pm
  #20  
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I have four am ex cards. The Hilton Aspire, A DL business reserve, a DL personal resere and a regular Am Ex platinum.

Definitely getting rid of the Platinum when it's up for renewal. Main reason I got it was for Centurion lounge access in LAS and for Delta Skyclub access when I was between cards. I used to start out each year with two platinums and put in the $50K spend for MQM boosts and then upgrade and put in $60K on each for the MQM boosts and downgrade before 1/1. Now that we get four boosts on the reserve, no need to do that and I'll have Skyclub access all the time since I'll always have a reserve. With the enhancement of allowing access to the Centurion lounge when flying Delta is another reason to pitch the card. The $100 annual fee increase is well worth it for me on the delta cards but the benefits I have remaining on the Platinum card aren't worth it.

keeping the Hilton card is a no brainer for me. I'm still able to use the $200 airline credit, I go to vegas a lot and the $250 resort credit can be used against the room rate at any Hilton in LAS and I always get at least $350 out of the hotel night. Even if they close the airline credit loopholes, I'm stil getting more than $450 a year in benefits. And all the bonus points at Hilton is nice, just wish they would offer another benefit to cardholders who earn diamond on their own like a second free night since we aren't benefiting from the status and if anything having our upgrades diluted due to all the new diamonds.
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Old Feb 12, 20, 9:46 am
  #21  
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I am in a similar situation, though not quite as extreme, and I too find it hard to decide what to cut. I don't have the Delta Reserve, but I'm routinely tempted to get it, mainly because I would value the F companion certificate, but then I have to remind myself it's not a free F companion ticket, it's a $550 F companion ticket -- especially if I keep the Amex Platinum and thus don't need the Reserve card for SkyClub access. A $550 F companion ticket can still be a decent value at times, but I'm not sure if it's worth it, especially with the various constraints on the companion tickets.

Anyway, some thoughts:
  • You can get much of the same value as FHR booking through a Virtuoso travel agent, which anyone can do (I have a good agent if you're looking for a recommendation), so I wouldn't necessarily attribute much value to that. But your other points on Plat card value are fair.
  • What are you getting out of the Delta cards? Do you chase / value the MQM boosts and/or MQD waivers? If so, at least one could be worth keeping; if not, dump them. Do you use and value the companion certificates? If not, you definitely don't need both cards, and maybe don't need either. If either has a long credit history you could downgrade to the free Delta card to keep the account life on your credit report.
  • If you're using the Delta Reserve mainly to chase MQMs/MQD waiver, and can live with the lower MQM earning potential on the Delta Platinum, the new points multiplier categories on the Delta Platinum may be a way to get there with less opportunity cost, depending how much you spend in those categories and where else that spend would otherwise go.
  • The Bonvoy cards are tough. I would be inclined to keep the basic Bonvoy card for a bit longer, just because it will be interesting to see if Amex makes any more efforts to keep that customer base happy, and if you close it there's no going back. There was a decent promo last year; I'd give it this year to see if they do anything, and if not I'm guessing they're just going to let it slowly die. If you've already gotten your sign-up bonus on the Bonvoy Brilliant, I'm not sure it's worth keeping unless you're very confident of getting substantial value from the annual night credit (which is getting harder and harder to be confident of with how Bonvoy award levels are going), and if you did cancel the Brilliant and want back in later you could always product change the old SPG card to the Brilliant, or sign up anew. Though if the Brilliant is less than a year old I'd wait to cancel since Amex has been vengeful lately against people who close new accounts.
  • Gold vs. Green is a tough one. If you are paying for Clear now and would value the Green Clear credit, it may be worth it, but personally I'm not thrilled with the Green fee credits. Notably the Loungebuddy credit is pretty rarely going to have any value if you have Priority Pass.
I think it comes down to, do you feel like chasing all of the various credits is a hassle / burden on you? If so, maybe it makes sense to cut some cards even if technically they're producing positive value for you. If you don't mind the chase, maybe it's worth keeping all of them?

If nothing else, I do feel like Amex keeps some sort of customer rating internally and acts on it -- I do feel like I get notably good service from them, including occasional "waivers and favors", that presumably comes from some combination of paying a good amount of fees plus decent throughput on my cards.
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Old Feb 12, 20, 4:55 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by bgriff View Post
I am in a similar situation, though not quite as extreme, and I too find it hard to decide what to cut. I don't have the Delta Reserve, but I'm routinely tempted to get it, mainly because I would value the F companion certificate, but then I have to remind myself it's not a free F companion ticket, it's a $550 F companion ticket -- especially if I keep the Amex Platinum and thus don't need the Reserve card for SkyClub access. A $550 F companion ticket can still be a decent value at times, but I'm not sure if it's worth it, especially with the various constraints on the companion tickets.

Anyway, some thoughts:
  • You can get much of the same value as FHR booking through a Virtuoso travel agent, which anyone can do (I have a good agent if you're looking for a recommendation), so I wouldn't necessarily attribute much value to that. But your other points on Plat card value are fair.
  • What are you getting out of the Delta cards? Do you chase / value the MQM boosts and/or MQD waivers? If so, at least one could be worth keeping; if not, dump them. Do you use and value the companion certificates? If not, you definitely don't need both cards, and maybe don't need either. If either has a long credit history you could downgrade to the free Delta card to keep the account life on your credit report.
  • If you're using the Delta Reserve mainly to chase MQMs/MQD waiver, and can live with the lower MQM earning potential on the Delta Platinum, the new points multiplier categories on the Delta Platinum may be a way to get there with less opportunity cost, depending how much you spend in those categories and where else that spend would otherwise go.
  • The Bonvoy cards are tough. I would be inclined to keep the basic Bonvoy card for a bit longer, just because it will be interesting to see if Amex makes any more efforts to keep that customer base happy, and if you close it there's no going back. There was a decent promo last year; I'd give it this year to see if they do anything, and if not I'm guessing they're just going to let it slowly die. If you've already gotten your sign-up bonus on the Bonvoy Brilliant, I'm not sure it's worth keeping unless you're very confident of getting substantial value from the annual night credit (which is getting harder and harder to be confident of with how Bonvoy award levels are going), and if you did cancel the Brilliant and want back in later you could always product change the old SPG card to the Brilliant, or sign up anew. Though if the Brilliant is less than a year old I'd wait to cancel since Amex has been vengeful lately against people who close new accounts.
  • Gold vs. Green is a tough one. If you are paying for Clear now and would value the Green Clear credit, it may be worth it, but personally I'm not thrilled with the Green fee credits. Notably the Loungebuddy credit is pretty rarely going to have any value if you have Priority Pass.
I think it comes down to, do you feel like chasing all of the various credits is a hassle / burden on you? If so, maybe it makes sense to cut some cards even if technically they're producing positive value for you. If you don't mind the chase, maybe it's worth keeping all of them?

If nothing else, I do feel like Amex keeps some sort of customer rating internally and acts on it -- I do feel like I get notably good service from them, including occasional "waivers and favors", that presumably comes from some combination of paying a good amount of fees plus decent throughput on my cards.
Thanks for this thoughtful post. I do like Amex as a bank - they have done a good amount for me in terms of exceptions and such. So I donít mind keeping a lot of cards with them and giving them most of my spend

1) I do use the MQM boost, so that is important to me
2) My first annual fee is the Hilton card, which I will likely cancel. I will wait on the regular Bonvoy until
the fall
2) I feel like I need one ďpointsĒ card - to me those are Amex Gold, and two non Amex cards I have (CSR and Citi Premier). Another card that theoretically would fit here would be Delta Platinum. But I donít really see the benefit of giving up on 4x dining. Amex Green may make sense on a standalone basis as a Clear customer

Given how much I travel, ~$2,000 in total fees may be worth it for now

Edit - also, me and Mrs Adelphos like to fly F from JFK to the West Coast - this is my first year with the Reserve, but I can see us getting a lot of value out of that F companion pass
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Old Feb 12, 20, 6:47 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
Thanks for this thoughtful post. I do like Amex as a bank - they have done a good amount for me in terms of exceptions and such. So I donít mind keeping a lot of cards with them and giving them most of my spend

1) I do use the MQM boost, so that is important to me
2) My first annual fee is the Hilton card, which I will likely cancel. I will wait on the regular Bonvoy until
the fall
2) I feel like I need one ďpointsĒ card - to me those are Amex Gold, and two non Amex cards I have (CSR and Citi Premier). Another card that theoretically would fit here would be Delta Platinum. But I donít really see the benefit of giving up on 4x dining. Amex Green may make sense on a standalone basis as a Clear customer

Given how much I travel, ~$2,000 in total fees may be worth it for now

Edit - also, me and Mrs Adelphos like to fly F from JFK to the West Coast - this is my first year with the Reserve, but I can see us getting a lot of value out of that F companion pass
I think the Hilton aspire is well worth it. Even though I earn diamond without the card, between the $250 airline credit and the $250 resort credit (which is easy to use going to vegas) and the free room it more than pays for the $450 annual fee, not to mention all the bonus points at Hilton. My only complaint with this card is I wish they would people who earn diamond another benefit.

If you fly from JFK on Delta a lot, the reserve card is worth keeping. The skyclub is very nice and if you don't have a regular Am Ex platinum you'll also have centurion lounge access when that club finally opens in T4
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Old Feb 13, 20, 11:46 am
  #24  
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Originally Posted by jamesteroh View Post
I think the Hilton aspire is well worth it. Even though I earn diamond without the card, between the $250 airline credit and the $250 resort credit (which is easy to use going to vegas) and the free room it more than pays for the $450 annual fee, not to mention all the bonus points at Hilton. My only complaint with this card is I wish they would people who earn diamond another benefit.

If you fly from JFK on Delta a lot, the reserve card is worth keeping. The skyclub is very nice and if you don't have a regular Am Ex platinum you'll also have centurion lounge access when that club finally opens in T4
Now that DL reserve comes with Centurion lounge, does it make sense to hold the schwab platinum?

I do think that the Hilton Aspire is worth it, I do use the 250 resort credit and the free night, which I find is worth the fee. The Marriott one you don't get Plat unless you spend 75k so I don't know where you get the free breakfast bit from. Its not like you're really getting upgrades. You do need to spend some decent coin to make it worth point multipliers against the annual fees for a lot of the cards.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 11:57 am
  #25  
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The Delta Reserve Centurion lounge access is inferior to the Platinum Card's in two ways: it doesn't include guests, and you can only use it when flying Delta. That may not be enough to justify holding a whole second $550 card, but worth keeping in mind.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 1:03 pm
  #26  
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Originally Posted by entropy View Post
Now that DL reserve comes with Centurion lounge, does it make sense to hold the schwab platinum?

I do think that the Hilton Aspire is worth it, I do use the 250 resort credit and the free night, which I find is worth the fee. The Marriott one you don't get Plat unless you spend 75k so I don't know where you get the free breakfast bit from. Its not like you're really getting upgrades. You do need to spend some decent coin to make it worth point multipliers against the annual fees for a lot of the cards.
I didn't mention free breakfast at Marriott (or any hotel) in my post. If you don't already ahve status with Hilton though you do get free breakfast with the Gold benefit the Am Ex platinum gives.

I've never held the Schwab card. I thought about it for the good return on the credit card but have enough credit cards already and since my banks investment branch offers free online trades and the balance in investment accounts is used towards the balance for premium banking services, I really have no desire to open an account with Schwabb.
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Old Feb 14, 20, 12:10 am
  #27  
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Amex Platinum, Amex Gold, Delta Platinum, Delta Reserve, Hilton Surpass, Bonvoy Brilliant, Bonvoy

Priorities - earning points on dining spend, travel benefits, earning Delta status, earning points on hotel spend (mainly Marriott, occasional Hilton)

Look at replacing Plat with Schwab Plat. It adds a 1.25 cent cash out option. Look into getting the Blue Biz card, thatís a straight 2x everywhere. Hilton Surpass is redundant, either downgrade to the free one or upgrade to Aspire (downgrade to free one is probably better for you), and drop Bonvoy Brilliant either completely or downgrade to Bonvoy. Iíd rather have 2x 35K certs than 1 35K and 1 50K cert.

Drop Delta Reserve, largely duplicated with Plat. Companion cert is like a timeshare to use, a PITA. Even Delta Plat is questionable. Amex Gold has value for dining, but downgrading to Green gains 3x travel and loses just 1x on dining. For domestic, Blue Biz plus largely outperforms both as it is free and a default 2X. Delta status miles and dollars are easy to rack up with a partner premium economy mileage run that is relatively cheap.
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Old Feb 14, 20, 8:20 am
  #28  
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Originally Posted by matrixwalker2012 View Post
Amex Platinum, Amex Gold, Delta Platinum, Delta Reserve, Hilton Surpass, Bonvoy Brilliant, Bonvoy

Priorities - earning points on dining spend, travel benefits, earning Delta status, earning points on hotel spend (mainly Marriott, occasional Hilton)

Look at replacing Plat with Schwab Plat. It adds a 1.25 cent cash out option. Look into getting the Blue Biz card, thatís a straight 2x everywhere. Hilton Surpass is redundant, either downgrade to the free one or upgrade to Aspire (downgrade to free one is probably better for you), and drop Bonvoy Brilliant either completely or downgrade to Bonvoy. Iíd rather have 2x 35K certs than 1 35K and 1 50K cert.

Drop Delta Reserve, largely duplicated with Plat. Companion cert is like a timeshare to use, a PITA. Even Delta Plat is questionable. Amex Gold has value for dining, but downgrading to Green gains 3x travel and loses just 1x on dining. For domestic, Blue Biz plus largely outperforms both as it is free and a default 2X. Delta status miles and dollars are easy to rack up with a partner premium economy mileage run that is relatively cheap.
If you are looking for a 2% cash back card, citi doublecash is a good card and has no annual fee. I received a promo offer last year where if I opened up a Citi savings account (return for the first year on the savings account with the promo rate was decent these days), I receive 2.5 percent cash back through 12/31/20. Nice thing with the Citi card is the cash back is available the day after the statement closes and the direct deposit usually hits my checking account with a different bank the day after I cash out the points.

The other nice thing is MC is accepted at more places than Am Ex.
The chase sapphire could be another good card for you if you have a lot of dining and travel charges. If you use the points for travel it's 4.5 percent back on all dining and travel and the travel category is very broad and includes parking and Uber and public transit charges.
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Old Feb 22, 20, 5:03 pm
  #29  
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I just looked at all of my year end summaries for 2019...

My spend was on:

1) Amex Platinum
2) Amex Gold (acquired mid 2019)
3) Delta Platinum
4) Delta Reserve (acquired mid 2019)
5) Bonvoy Brilliant (acquired mid 2019)
6) Hilton Surpass
7) Bonvoy

itís clear I should keep Amex Plaf + Gold. I should also keep at least one Delta card. I may now keep Bonvoy Amex vs Brilliant as the 50K cert has been devalued and Bonvoy earns as much on Marriott spend (I also have Marriott Gold with Amex Plat). The question then becomes should I add Hilton Aspire (and which Delta card should I choose)
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Old May 5, 20, 6:04 pm
  #30  
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Interesting how a lot of this changed over the past two months or so with all of the various credits. The Amex Platinum is now an obvious keeper, and it is easy to also make the Delta Reserve work if you value MQM. Hilton Aspire also can also work even in this environment. Amex really wants to hold onto cardholders
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