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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 7, 20, 1:41 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: NYC (LGA, JFK, EWR)
Programs: Delta Gold, AAdvantage Gold, Marriott/Hilton Gold, AMEX Membership Rewards
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My Amex annual fees now total over $2,000 - help me prune

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)

Cards that overlap
Amex Platinum/Delta Reserve
Delta Reserve/Delta Platinum
Bonvoy Brilliant/Bonvoy

Cards with the most spend (in order):
Amex Gold, Delta Reserve, Amex Platinum, Bonvoy Brilliant

Ideas
1) Cancel Bonvoy, Hilton cards, Delta Platinum cards, apply for Hilton No-Fee Card (eliminate $440 in fees, not much loss)
2) Cancel Amex Gold Card, Apply for Amex Green (reduce gross fee by $100, lose 4x dining)
3) Apply for Chase Marriott card late next year, cancel Bonvoy Brilliant (need to wait until next year to get under 5/24)
4) Downgrade Delta Reserve to Delta Platinum (save $300, lose ability to earn more than 20,000 MQM annually, other Reserve benes)

Any other suggestions?
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Old Feb 7, 20, 1:55 pm
  #2  
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Old Feb 7, 20, 2:38 pm
  #3  
 
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Iíve also been thinking of cutting down my fees. Like you, Iíve been thinking of canceling my AMEX Gold for the Green. I donít spend much on Groceries so that is moot. The credits require me to go out of my way to use. So it comes down to how much I value an additional 1x on dining. I pay for clear anyway which really helps too.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 4:04 pm
  #4  
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Look at the benefits for each card and determine what the effective rate is. Then make your decision. The Bonvoy Brilliant card reimburses $300 for Marriott stays. That leaves $150. You get a free night certificate worth 50K points. I just used 2 35K certficates on a trip and saved $250-ish for each of them. If you don't stay at Marriott it makes no sense to have it. If you do, you might find value in it.

I keep not being enticed back to AMEX Gold or AMEX platinum as I can't get the math to pencil.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 4:41 pm
  #5  
 
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I think #1 is almost a no-brainer. That's over $400 in AFs that just aren't valuable. The Gold vs Green is a toss up. The 1% dining isn't a game-changer, but what about grocery? If you're flying a lot, could you use the travel credit? I know that you already got free luggage through delta.

I kind of question what you would need the Platinum for if you keep the Delta Reserve. If you're flying through Delta the majority of your time and staying at Marriott with your Marriott cards, is the Platinum for breakfast at Hilton and an extra 1% or 2 on airfare?
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Old Feb 7, 20, 4:56 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Super Mario View Post
I think #1 is almost a no-brainer. That's over $400 in AFs that just aren't valuable. The Gold vs Green is a toss up. The 1% dining isn't a game-changer, but what about grocery? If you're flying a lot, could you use the travel credit? I know that you already got free luggage through delta.

I kind of question what you would need the Platinum for if you keep the Delta Reserve. If you're flying through Delta the majority of your time and staying at Marriott with your Marriott cards, is the Platinum for breakfast at Hilton and an extra 1% or 2 on airfare?
Iíve debated this for months... here is why I lean towards keeping both

1) My Platinum card is the Charles Schwab version, which lets you cash out MR at 1.25 cents
2) I use Amex FHR at least once a year
3) I get value out of Hilton and Marriott gold - if I cancel my Surpass, I will still need to hold it for Hilton gold purpose (I get Marriott gold through Bonvoy and will likely make Plat this year)
4) I get full value out of Uber and Saks, and usually, the airline credits

Honestly even if the Amex Plat was just a collection of benefits I paid $550 a year for instead of a charge card, I think it would be worth it for me
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Old Feb 7, 20, 5:53 pm
  #7  
 
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Always hard to answer because everyoneís objectives are different. If it was me:

Iíd keep the Bonvoy (old SPG) over the Brilliant. First you canít get that card anymore, and Chase only offers the $95 version now. Your main loss is the 50k annual night vs 35k but also donít need to prepay the $300 in travel credit. They both earn 6x at Marriott, and 2x elsewhere. The Brilliant 3x for flights and dining isnít ideal; use Amex Platinum for 5x on flights and Amex Gold for 4x in dining, if you keep the Amex Gold, or even ultimately get the Amex Green at 3x. 3x Amex is much better than 3x Marriott! Both give you the 15 elite nights annually. Marriott Gold is automatic with the Amex Platinum. I hold the Chase Boundless and Amex Bonvoy but too much redundancy, I can see downgrading the Chase card to the no fee Bold card solely for the credit history. The Bold card is weaker earnings all around since it has no fee.

Not sure how long youíve had the Surpass card, but might be worth downgrading unless you really want that (one average 100k) signup bonus. I held two of the no fee Hilton cards (one Amex and one was a Citi convert) but was able to get two 150k upgrade offers! I intend to revert back to the no fee version once fees are due. But as an Amex Platinum cardholder also, you get the Gold status included with that card. So Iíd axe that $95 fee and downgrade.

As for the Delta cards, if the Reserve MQMs arenít a make or break for your status, then stick with the Platinum and save the $200 in fees. If you max out on the first class companion certificate, that might cause you to re-evaluate. The Platinum is a 80k bonus right now and 20k renewal bonus in year 2, so you could always downgrade your Reserve to the no fee Blue card to keep the account open, and get a new Platinum to get the bonus. I recall the MQD waiver is in effect for Platinum and only removed from the Gold card.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:12 pm
  #8  
 
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Originally Posted by cab747 View Post

Iíd keep the Bonvoy (old SPG) over the Brilliant. First you canít get that card anymore,
Why is that a reason to keep the card? It gives you nothing over the Chase card.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:18 pm
  #9  
 
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Why the heck do you need two Delta cards? Dump one.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 10:44 pm
  #10  
 
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[QUOTE=Adelphos;32045581
3) I get value out of Hilton and Marriott gold - if I cancel my Surpass, I will still need to hold it for Hilton gold purpose (I get Marriott gold through Bonvoy and will likely make Plat this year)[/QUOTE]

Your Platinum gives Gold to both Hilton and Marriott.

Great news! Enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton Honors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Cardģ. Terms Apply.‡

As a Platinum Card Member, you can upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status without meeting any stay requirements Terms and limitations apply.‡
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Old Feb 8, 20, 3:46 am
  #11  
 
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I have the Schwab Amex Platinum, Bonvoy Brilliant, and Delta SkyMiles Platinum (downgraded from Reserve after the increase in the Diamond waiver requirement).

For me, this is pretty much the sweet spot:
- Schwab card for 5x MR on flights, airline fee credit (even if it's a bit harder to monetize now), lounge access, UberEats, Schwab appreciation discount on the AF, MR conversion to cash, Hilton Gold, and the occasional offer. I get most of the AF back in cash or near-cash benefits even if I don't make it to Saks; with that credit and a few Hilton breakfasts I'm ahead of the game.
- Bonvoy Brilliant for Marriott stays (6x), Bonvoy Gold (though it overlaps with the Schwab card), and a 15-night headstart on Platinum if I'm getting enough travel in. This year I got the $300 credit and a $25 anniversary appreciation credit even before the annual fee posted, meaning that I only need to get $125 in value from the free night to break even on the AF. Easy.
- Delta SkyMiles Platinum as the daily driver (groceries, restaurants, non-Bonvoy hotels now get bonus SkyMiles) with the goal of hitting the $25K line for the Platinum Medallion MQD waiver (which I wound up not needing last year) and 10K MQM bonus, plus allowing Pay With Miles to keep a 1cpm floor on the value of my SkyMiles. Once I hit that (usually late in the year) I move non-bonus spend to a 1.5% no-fee cashback card instead.

I don't use the Global Entry/TSA Pre credits because Amex won't apply them to NEXUS (sigh), rarely use ShopRunner, etc.
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Old Feb 8, 20, 4:36 am
  #12  
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You have seven Amex cards? Seriously? It would hurt my head too much to think about which one to use for what. I can't imagine the time and effort to keep all this up makes much effective difference, but I'm happy with my one Amex card.
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Old Feb 8, 20, 7:55 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
You have seven Amex cards? Seriously? It would hurt my head too much to think about which one to use for what. I can't imagine the time and effort to keep all this up makes much effective difference, but I'm happy with my one Amex card.
I'm like you. I have the Amex Platinum for (a) Centurion Lounge / Delta SkyClubs / Priority Pass, Marriott Gold (I actually earned that with Marriott last year, but I'm not traveling as much this year), Hilton Gold (I lost that to Silver last year, so it is a help). I have the Chase Saphire Reserve for primary auto insurance coverage; otherwise that pretty much overlaps Amex for everything else. Get enough value from the Amex to outweigh the fee; and keep the Chase because I've had it since before I upgraded from Gold to Plat Amex. I think the only thing you really lose with only a Plat, Gold, or Green Amex is the ability to carry a balance, and that isn't something I need..
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Old Feb 8, 20, 8:15 am
  #14  
 
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Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
Iíve debated this for months... here is why I lean towards keeping both

1) My Platinum card is the Charles Schwab version, which lets you cash out MR at 1.25 cents
2) I use Amex FHR at least once a year
3) I get value out of Hilton and Marriott gold - if I cancel my Surpass, I will still need to hold it for Hilton gold purpose (I get Marriott gold through Bonvoy and will likely make Plat this year)
4) I get full value out of Uber and Saks, and usually, the airline credits

Honestly even if the Amex Plat was just a collection of benefits I paid $550 a year for instead of a charge card, I think it would be worth it for me
1.) Is most of your spend on AMEX? If so, is that multiplier enough to make a difference?
2.) Which of these benefits are most important, and how often are you really using them?
3.) How often do you stay at Hilton? If it's at least 20 stays, you are gold already. If it is well under that, is it bad to just buy breakfast?
4.) What would the Uber math looked like if you dropped Gold to the Green and used that for transit?
or
5.) Is the Reserve really making the difference in your Delta experience?

Sometimes we think that because there are multiple categories we see value in, that automatically means it is worth it. It may or may not be. Some benefits overlap. Some you may never miss. Honestly, I think it's pretty clear that you have about $400+ in AFs you can cut without much of anything significant lost. Other than that, your choices largely look like cutting benefits or paying the fees. Your biggest additional headway is going to be eliminating either the Reserve or the Platinum. If those benefits are all valuable and important to you, then I think we are done here.
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Old Feb 8, 20, 8:40 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
Look at the benefits for each card and determine what the effective rate is. Then make your decision. The Bonvoy Brilliant card reimburses $300 for Marriott stays. That leaves $150. You get a free night certificate worth 50K points. I just used 2 35K certficates on a trip and saved $250-ish for each of them. If you don't stay at Marriott it makes no sense to have it. If you do, you might find value in it.

I keep not being enticed back to AMEX Gold or AMEX platinum as I can't get the math to pencil.
That's exactly how I see it as well as I justify multiple Amex cards with a high fee. The Marriott card pays for itself or saves money, even if I don't use any of the other benefits because I already have them with other Amex cards. The same can be said with the Gold card depending how you use if for dining or groceries.
So in the end the OP needs to do the math on the benefits that are important and being used and add that value up relative to the AF paid.
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