Dealswelike posted a list this morning of credit cards he feels the annual fee pays for itself. I have a different view – here is my own list:
1) Hyatt Chase Visa – $75 annual fee
Each anniversary year, Chase deposits 1 free night certificate into your Hyatt account, to be used at any Hyatt category 1 – 4. While this limits the number of hotels you can redeem within the US, there are still many sweet spots internationally. Park Hyatt Toronto and the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui are just examples. If you don’t plan to travel internationally, however, any domestic Hyatt category 1-4 hotel costs at least $75/night, so worse case you would be breaking even. The Hyatt Chase Visa also offers no FX fees, and occasionally offer bonus pts based on spend. For example, I received an offer from Chase noting 5,000 bonus pts after $3,000 spend between July 1 – Sep 30, which I met. And now I have received another offer noting 5,000 bonus pts after $3,000 spend between Oct 1 – Dec 30, which I have also met in a matter of 3 days (thank you amazon payments).
The Hyatt Chase Visa currently offers 2 free nights in a standard room at any Hyatt in the world after x spend. If you are a Diamond member, you receive 2 free nights in a suite. If you are SPG Platinum or Marriott Platinum, here is my recommendation: Email Hyatt and request for a Diamond challenge. Regardless if you meet the 12 night requirement in the 60 day trial period, your Hyatt account will reflect the Diamond status during the trial period, meaning if you applied for the Hyatt Chase Visa during this trial period, you will receive 2 free nights in a suite instead of the standard offer of 2 free nights in a standard room. Even if you lose your Hyatt status (i.e. after the trial period), the 2 free nights in a suite stay intact in your account, but must be used within 1 year from the date it was issued into your account. See my previous post for links to apply.
2) Priority Club Chase Visa – $49 annual fee
Each anniversary year, Chase deposits 1 free night certificate into your Priority Club account, with no category restriction. This means you can redeem this for Intercontinental hotels, with one of the most expensive ones being in Bora Bora at ~$1,000/night (http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/bora-bora/bobpf/hoteldetail and http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/bora-bora/bobhb/hoteldetail).
I signed up for the Priority Club Chase Visa when it offered 80,000pts as a sign up bonus. It appears that offer is no longer available and only 60,000 is available (https://creditcards.chase.com/credit-cards/ihg-credit-card.aspx). You may want to hold off on applying until the 80,000 pt offer is made available again (that's why I didnt include it in my Top 5 post for October)
3) SPG Amex Business or Personal – $65 annual fee
I would recommend keeping this card ONLY if you plan to requalify for SPG Platinum annually. I keep both cards for the 2 stays / 5 nights towards elite qualification, in total 4 stays / 10 nights annually. As noted in my prior post, Small Business Saturday now only offers $10 statement credit instead of $25 as we have seen in prior years, and the current offer is now 25k points instead of the 30k offer that expired on 9/3/13. Sure, SPG is the strongest hotel currency available, but Amex allows members to reapply and requalify for the full sign up bonus 12 months after you cancel. (T&C from Amex: This offer is also not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months) My point is, your opportunity cost is potential credit card bonuses (Ink Plus / Bold) from other banks (Chase / Citi) you could be earning in lieu of putting normal spend from keeping the card active.