I Spent How Much!? On Annual Fees In 2020 & My Game Plan For 2021

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Spent on annual fees

My Credit Card Annual Fee Costs For Previous Year

I am going to be completely honest with you guys, I was afraid to write this post.  I didn’t want to really look into what I was spending on annual fees.  Don’t get me wrong I had an idea but the figures came in quite a bit higher than I had anticipated.  I wanted to take some time and share with you the cards I paid an annual fee on, why I paid it and whether or not I plan to pay it again in the future.

I have updated this post with my 2020 numbers which you can now compare to my 2019 figures below it.

Annual Fees Paid In 2020

Here is a list of the cards I paid an annual fee on in 2020.  I’ll give a brief rundown on them as a whole below and also if I plan on any changes in 2021.

If you are keeping score at home that is a total of $3,091 in annual fees for 2020.  To be honest, I thought I would improve upon my 2019 numbers but I actually spent slightly more in 2020.  That is after downgrading an Aspire and closing an Amex Platinum card.  But I did add a new Platinum card into the mix and upgraded to the Sapphire Reserve for Pay Yourself Back so they mostly offset.

I plan on downgrading the Sapphire Reserve when the annual fee comes due, unless they continue these grocery spending offers. The Amex Business Gold will be rip for closure too unless the Best Buy gift card game comes back.  I have no other real use for the card without that option. My wife’s Sapphire Preferred will also likely be downgraded to a Freedom Flex or closed as well.

Annual Fees Paid In 2019

I will run through them one by one and share my thoughts on each card. Let’s start from most expensive to least expensive.

Spent on annual fees

American Express Platinum – $550

This is actually my wife’s Amex Platinum.  She had the old Mercedes Benz card which moved over to the regular Platinum.  I had planned on downgrading the card to the American Express Gold or American Express Green card but she got a decent retention offer on it so we kept it one more year.  I was also eager to keep her off the Amex naughty list since I was stuck on it, I am no longer though!


American Express Aspire Card – $450 x 2 = $900

I have called the Aspire card the best perks card in the business. It is one of the few premium cards to pay you to carry it in value year after year.  The value has dipped some with recent changes but it is still a net positive for us.  I plan on keeping them both in 2020 although I am kicking around downgrading my wife’s card to the American Express Surpass.  That way I could earn the free night from the $15K in spend instead of paying for it and I would hope for an upgrade offer down the road.

Spent on annual fees

Delta Platinum Business Card – $195 x 2 = $390

My wife and I both have the Delta Business Platinum card and took advantage of it when the welcome offer was at it’s peak.  I have never tried to use the companion pass that comes with these cards and I was considering keeping one or both to try to get value out of it.  But with the changes to the Delta cards upcoming this one went from their best card to the worst card in the Delta lineup. I don’t plan on paying the new, increased $250 annual fee.

Personal Delta Plat

Delta Personal Platinum Card – $195

I was targeted for the Delta Personal Platinum card with a no lifetime offer.  It even bypassed the Amex popup when I was still on the naughty list.  The thinking on 2020 is the same as above.  With the increase in fee I don’t plan on holding it.  If I was chasing Delta status via spend I would probably still keep it, but you guys know my thoughts on status.

Spent on annual fees

Avianca Vuela Visa Card – $149

I grabbed the Avianca Vuela Visa (Learn More) with the increased 60,000 mile offer (ends today).  Even though I kind of despise LifeMiles I had planned to use them for Lufthansa flights or United domestic travel.  I burned most of the miles for our upcoming trip to Hawaii so it was well worth the $149 annual fee up front. The card earns 2X at grocery stores and gas stations but since LifeMiles are a transfer partner or every major currency you can do better elsewhere.  I plan on closing this one in 2020.

WoH Card

World of Hyatt – $95 x 2 – $190

The World of Hyatt credit card is one of my favorite cards and one that both myself and my wife carry.  The value you can get from it is pretty great with the anniversary night and the free night after $15,000 in spend each cardmember year. The elite night credits are a nice plus for anyone after Hyatt status too.  All of that plus a rewarding earning structure make this a long term keeper.

Spent on annual fees

American Express Surpass – $95

As much as I love the Aspire card the American Express Surpass card is probably my favorite Hilton card.  You get valuable Gold status which will get you free breakfast if you don’t have the Aspire.  You can also earn a free night after $15,000 in spend like the World of Hyatt credit card. But the plus here is that the card earns 6X on US supermarkets which is a real points earner.  I plan on keeping this card long term as well.

Spent on annual fees

American Express Everyday Preferred – $95

The Amex Everyday Preferred offers the best return on US supermarket spend out there at 4.5X per dollar. You have to jump through a few hoops to get there by making 30 transactions in a month which can be tiresome at times. And the earning rate is capped at $6,000 per year but that is more than enough for most people.  This card is a toss up for me right now.  If we downgrade my wife’s Amex Platinum to the American Express Gold card I probably won’t have much use for it anymore.  If she gets a retention offer then we will keep it one more year regardless.


Bank Of America Premium Rewards – $95

The BOA Premium Rewards card can be a great earner for anyone with Platinum banking status at BOA.  Well, that isn’t me so the card doesn’t get a ton of use. I grabbed it for the juicy $500 welcome offer and to give it a spin.  If you keep it long term the airline credit ($100) pretty much offsets the annual fee but I think this one is ripe for a closure in 2020.

Spent on annual fees

Citi Premier – $95

To be honest I kept this card open and paid the second annual fee so I wouldn’t reset my 24 month clock.  I know a downgrade would have been possible but that appears to be somewhat YMMV on whether or not it resets the clock.  For $95 I thought it was worth it.  The other reason I kept it open is because of the change with the Citi Double Cash cardYou need a premium card to make the cash back transferable ThankYou points. Those two reasons made it worth paying the annual fee to me.

Ink Cash
The closest thing to the Ink Plus is the Ink Cash

Ink Plus – $95

I don’t even attempt to get the fee waived for the Chase Ink Plus because I think the value is so great that I happily pay the fee. Plus who needs eyes on their account 😂. It is no longer available and the closest thing to it is the fee free Chase Ink Business Cash.  This continues to be my favorite card and I will keep for as long as they keep it around.

Spent on annual fees

Bank of America Virgin Atlantic – $90

I have professed my love for Virgin Atlantic miles many time over.  And I try to grab this card whenever there is an increased offer. I jumped on it when it went to 60,000 miles after $2,000 in spend. This is actually a decent card for non bonus spend earning 1.5X on everything and you get a 7,500 mile bonus after spending $15,000 and $25,000 in an anniversary year.  That is over 2 miles per dollar if you spend exactly $25,000 each year.


Flexperks Visa – $49

This is my oldest card. I signed up for the Northwest Airlines card many many years ago and was product changed to this after the Delta merger.  So I keep it and pay the annual fee since it is my oldest card.  I also received an offer on the Amex FlexPerks card a few years back that the annual fee is waived every year on that card as long as I keep the Visa version.  I don’t really use either even though they are decent cards…maybe one day I will get back into Flexperks.

Spent on annual fees
The IHG Premier has replaced its older IHG Mastercard sibling

IHG – $49 X 2 = $98

My wife and I both keep these cards, and will long term, because it is essentially a weekend stay somewhere for $100.  It isn’t as good as it used to be but there is still a lot of value there. Unfortunately this card is no longer available and has been replaced by the IHG Premier Rewards credit card.

Final Thoughts

If you are keeping track at home that is a whopping $3086 in annual fees. As you can see travel isn’t completely free even if you are using points. I think this is probably the most I have ever spent on annual fees within a year.  The three Delta Platinum cards are the main culprit. I plan on cutting my fees to under $2000 in 2020 (or at least I hope to).  But who knows what 2020 will bring at this point.  Maybe Capital One will finally release that premium card that has been rumored or Chase will release a mid tier card like the American Express Gold card to tempt me.  Come on Chase we need a grocery bonus on ONE of your Ultimate Rewards cards…you can do it!

Share how much you spend on annual fees in the comments section…if you dare to add them up that is 🤣.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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    • yeah the section that says “Annual Fees Paid In 2020” is the updated section. Then you can compare it to the 2019 figures.

  1. Wow, that is a lot of cards. I would downgrade the everyday preferred since you can put your groceries on the gold. Currently we pay $1,250 (CSR which renewed at $450, a new platinum, and the Amex gold). I love Chase and don’t really like Amex for points, so we will see how long I stick w MR points.

    • Are you trying to make me do math right now Grant? Haha

      I would say the ones that are not tied to welcome offers come out to around $2000 in annual fees and I would estimate I got $3300 of value from them not including traditional points earning from the spend.

    • It is a Bellroy knock off I got – made by IKEPOD. I have had it about a year and it has held up pretty well and you can get them for around $40. The colors are not quite that bright in person but it is a sharp wallet overall in my opinion.

  2. This was a really interesting post to me. My wife and I are just a year into miles and points. I had signed up for several hotel cards three or four years ago just for some perks but we have added about 7 cards between us in the last six months. We are right at $1100 this year with Aspire, Delta Platinum, CSP *2 (Probably upgrade mine to Reserve in 2020), United Explorer *2 (Downgrade one to no annual fee in 2020), Hyatt, Bonvoy, IHG. Will add four or five cards each this year with most being on the American Express Membership Rewards side. One of us will get the Premium Bonvoy Card, And one will get an airline lounge card, once we determine which airline will be primary.

  3. Avianca has waived my AF for the past two years. The first time they made it sound like they were doing me a favor. This year they pleaded for me to keep it open and use it as an emergency card if I wanted. I’ve had virtually no spend on this card. I really should cut it as I have too many cards open.

    • I have gotten to the point that I won’t keep a card I know I won’t use even if they waive the annual fee. Just not worth the hassle at this point.

  4. No gift card credit really changed my calculations for some of the Amex cards. I’m debating whether to keep 2 aspire cards in the family, it was easy to “justify “ with the old airline credits. I really dislike expensive credits that expire within the year and the contortions I sometimes go through to use them! I’ll keep one aspire for the diamond, but $450 is no small amount of money to prepay in order to use the credits on the second card.

    • I can’t blame you there Kate and I think a lot of people are in the same boat/thinking the same thing.

  5. $1,589. I think my AMEX Gold Card doesn’t survive next year. My other cards with AFs are: AMEX Business Platinum, Aspire, Chase SW Performance Business and Sapphire Preferred. Want to upgrade the CSP to CSR so something has to give.

    • If you don’t spend a lot on grocery or at restaurants then the Gold is hard to justify for sure. My plan for my wife is to get her the CSP and then upgrade to the CSR after 1 year.

        • You can only get one or the other every 4 years and you can’t carry both so it really isn’t an issue. And there is no once per lifetime rule with Chase.

  6. I’ve also been thinning out my annual fee cards – dropping Amex Platinum and most Citi cards last year. I’ll be dropping my Business Platinum as well in January. I think the Amex Gold is a strong performer for my wife and I – so we use that predominantly along with the Blue Business Plus that re sets tomorrow. I’ve got some of the hotel cards for the free nights there and the bonuses when we stay at the chains. I’ve got the Delta Reserve for airport lounges since we fly almost exclusively Delta and travel mostly out of MSP. I think I’ll keep close track of the annual fees next year and see what my total is!

    • Sounds like a good plan – with the Reserve getting Centurion access in 2020 no point in carrying that and the Platinum anymore.


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