(WHTM) — When it comes to credit card annual fees — are the perks worth the price?
Some credit cards don’t charge a fee while others make customers pay up to hundreds of dollars a year — a cost that is offset by perks and rewards.
From flight perks to free hotel stays, some credit cards offer attractive travel benefits and other incentives. But does it make sense for you to pay an annual fee for a credit card?
NerdWallet’s Sally French says it depends.
“It can be really stressful to figure out how to manage a lot of these benefits if your goal is paying this annual fee with the purpose of saving money in the long run,” French said.
Aside from no-fee cards, some annual fees are under a hundred dollars, and offer bonus points when you pay with the card.
“Maybe you even get like a free hotel night certificate every year,” French said.
Other cards charge upwards for $600 annually, and tend to include more lavish perks like automatic top tier status at hotels, access to airline lounges, car rental upgrades, and travel insurance.
“For a lot of people, especially people who frequently travel, when you add up the benefit to pay for all those things, a la carte, even just travel insurance can cost many hundreds of dollars per trip. It can often make the annual fee worth it,” French said.
But French says credit cards with annual fees are not for everyone. Because of high-interest rates, they may not be right for you if you typically carry a balance.
Also, the fees might not be worth it if you don’t maximize the benefits.
“It’ll be something like a monthly Uber credit. Now, that can be really nice if you take Uber all the time, but even if there’s just one month that you didn’t take an Uber because maybe you were in a different country, that credit has gone to waste,” French said.
So if you think a travel credit card is right for you, French says to make sure you pick a card with perks you’ll take full advantage of.
“If you fly Southwest, you can get the best benefits when you hold a Southwest credit card as opposed to holding a more general travel credit card. But if you don’t want to be tied to that brand, a United credit card is not going to get you a whole lot on Southwest, in which case it might be better to have a more general travel credit card so that way you have more available options,” French said.
The bottom line is you can find plenty of credit cards that offer rewards with no fee attached, but the cards that do charge annual fees offer even better perks.
Just be sure you’re making use of them.