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Most miles and points blogs (this one included) put the bulk of the focus on the perks involved in signing up for rewards credit cards, but the truth is that there can also be some pretty good benefits for keeping and using the cards. My take on the rewards card industry is that they know it usually takes a nice bonus to get someone to apply for a new card, but from a business stand point they also want to offer incentives for people to hold onto and use the cards beyond the minimum spending requirement so they can make their money as well. Some cards are already structured with some nice perks for keeping and using the card, so this post is devoted to pointing out some of the highest “anniversary bonuses” that are out there! Note that some of these cards also have business versions with similar perks, but for simplicity this post is dedicated to the personal cards.
This card comes with a $75 annual fee, but in exchange you get 40,000 points annually for the card renewal which is pretty spectacular. Even if you ignore all the other benefits of having the card, that is the equivalent of paying about 1/5 of a cent per point. Remember this card also comes with an ongoing perk that gives you the second night of an award reservation for free, so in some ways it is almost like you get 80K points each year if you use them in that manner.
This card comes with a $75 annual fee, but to help lessen that blow you do get a free night at renewal for a stay in a Category 1-4 hotel. Depending on where you use your free night, that could be worth $150+. I would consider using mine at the Hyatt Place New York Midtown in Manhattan. It is a category 4 hotel that normally would cost you 15,000 Hyatt points or often close to $300 per night. If you are a big spender, you also are rewarded upon spending $20,000 in a calendar year, with 2 stay and 5 night credits toward elite status. Upon spending $40,000 in a calendar year, you’ll receive an additional 3 stay and 5 night credits. Thankfully, there is no spending requirement for the Category 1- 4 free night.
Each year at the anniversary you receive one free night at any Fairmont after spending $12,000 within that year. This card also carries a $95 annual fee. You do also receive Fairmont Premier status for having the card. Assuming you can hit the spending requirement, a free night at any Fairmont annually could certainly be worth a couple hundred dollars.
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card:
In addition to the Gold HHonors status this card carries on an ongoing basis, you also get an annual weekend night certificate good at more than 3,800 hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio after $10,000 in annual purchases. Again, depending on how you use this certificate, you could get a couple hundred dollars in value from it to help offset the $95 annual fee. If you are a high roller, top tier Hilton HHonors Diamond status is awarded if you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.
This is another case where info on the best sign-up offer is on Flyertalk, but the anniversary bonus is consistently the same. The anniversary bonus consists of a free night to use at any one of their hotels worldwide. You also get Priority Club Platinum elite status and a 10% rebate on points redeemed on an ongoing basis. There is a $49 annual fee for this card, but it is easily more than made up for with the free night.
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa:
The best sign-up offer for this card may be found on Flyertalk, but the standard offer includes a free night at each anniversary at any category 1-5 Marriott hotel. At each anniversary you also earn 15 credits and guaranteed Silver Elite status every year. You then get one additional credit toward elite status for every $3,000 charged on the card each year.
This card doesn’t come with an annual free night or anything similar (though that would be great), but it does provide 5 nights and 2 stays toward elite status annually. If you are a heavy hitter with this card you do get SPG Gold status if you spend $30,000 on the card annually. It carries a $65 annual fee.
Airline cards seem to be better at providing ongoing benefits (free checked bag, priority boarding, etc) as opposed to anniversary benefits, but there are a few that are worth mentioning.
This card is a little trickier to nail down as there are several versions of offers out there. This FT thread usually has the most lucrative sign-up bonus, but even the anniversary benefits can vary some. In terms of ongoing benefits on all of the offers, you get 5,000 miles off flights booked exclusively on US Airways operated flights. At each anniversary you get a US Airways Club pass and a pretty handy certificate that allows up to two companions to fly on certain US Airways operated flights with you for just $99 each plus taxes. I have a whole post about how to use that certificate here, but it can save a family hundreds a year. Some of the US Airways cards also provide 10,000 bonus US Airways miles at renewal. This is pretty huge as those miles are easily worth between $150 and $200 by themselves, making the $89 annual fee more than worth it. However, I can’t guarantee that all of the offers are now providing that perk as it isn’t clearly spelled out. I know I get that perk with my version of this card, as do many others. If your version of this card has that anniversary bonus I would hold onto it for sure!
This card comes with a $99 (plus tax) companion certificate at each anniversary. It used to be good even for first class travel; now it is only economy. It can still be used to go to Hawaii though from cities served by Alaska! There is a $75 annual fee with this card.
With this card you get 10% of the miles you redeem back, up to 10k in a calendar year. This isn’t exactly an anniversary perk, but it is pretty cool. You also get a $100 American Airlines flight discount at each anniversary if you have spent a whopping $30,000 on the card that year. This card has a $95 annual fee that could be off-set by the value of the miles you get back each year, if you take advantage of that benefits and redeem at least somewhere close to 50k miles per year. Of course there are other ongoing perks useful to AA flyers who don’t have elite status.
Bank Reward Points (or transferable points):
Chase Freedom® Visa:
This card awards a 10% bonus on all points earned each year if you also have a Chase checking account. That can really add up if you shop via this card in the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal and/or utilize the 5x bonus categories. This card also comes with no annual fee which makes the 10% annual points bonus even sweeter!
This card comes with a $125 annual fee, but also comes with an annual complimentary domestic companion ticket at renewal (within the contiguous USA) and a 15% discount when booking air travel through Spirit Incentives.
There are a few cards that I keep on an ongoing basis that don’t have valuable anniversary bonuses or annual bonuses, but for the most part the ones I keep are the ones that reward me for doing so. It would not surprise me to see more and more cards tweaking their benefits programs to encourage you to keep and utilize these cards year after year.
Which cards do you keep for the anniversary benefits?
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