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If Annual Fees Were not an Issue

It’s no secret that annual fees are a nuisance. However, in some cases there are enough perks associated with certain credit cards to justify annual fees. Furthermore, if annual fees were not an issue, I would probably not care as much about churning credit card as much, so in some cases, I would simply renew the credit card. As a result, sign up bonuses will not really be a deciding factor for which credit card to have.

Also, if annual fees weren’t an issue, I would probably be travelling much more often, which is why my portfolio may seem more travel centric.

Below is a portfolio of credit cards that I would put together if I did not care about the annual fee:

RBC WestJet World Elite MasterCard

  • $99 annual fee
  • $49 fee for supplementary cardholders
  • Earn $250 WestJet dollars on your first purchase
  • Earn 2% cash back in WestJet dollars for every $1 spent on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacation packages
  • Earn 1.5% cash back in WestJet dollars for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Pay $99 for a companion flight to anywhere in Canada or the United States (excluding Hawaii and Puerto Rice)
  • Receive free first checked bag on all WestJet flights

I would be more than happy to continually pay the annual fee for this credit card so long as we continue to receive an annual round-trip companion flight, which I plan to use every year. The free checked bag is just icing on the cake. There is no question that I would always put my WestJet purchases on this credit card, but I may not put too many other expenses on this credit card, the 1.5% cash back on all other purchases is decent, but we can get more value elsewhere.

Capital One IHG Rewards Club World MasterCard

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 sign up bonus points after your first purchase
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points for every $10,000 you spend (no limit on how many times you can earn the 5,000 bonus points)
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at any hotel within the IHG family of hotels
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 on all other purchases
  • Receive Platinum Elite status with IHG Rewards guaranteed for the life of the credit card account

The main two perks on this credit card is Platinum Elite status and the bonus 5,000 points for every $10,000 in spending. It is a close call on justifying the $120 annual fee. What I would do is if I can reach Platinum status on my own, then I probably won’t keep this credit card for too long. But if I do retain this credit card, I would at least try to hit the $10,000 spending a few times per year to rack up those bonus points.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

  • $120 annual fee
  • $50 fee for supplementary cardholders
  • Earn 20,000 sign up bonus Starpoints after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Receive Starwood Gold Preferred Guest status after reaching $30,000 in spending per year
  • Earn 1 Free Weekend Night Award after reaching $40,000 in spending per year

Starpoints are probably the most valuable currency out there. So for sure, I would be reaching the $40,000 in spending every year. The Free Weekend Award night will definitely justify the $120 annual fee. I would also essentially earn 40,000 Starpoints on my annual spending which is very nice to have.

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

  • $120 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • Earn 30,000 points after your first purchase
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at Marriott hotels
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets, car rental agencies and restaurants
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-4 location after account approval
  • Earn 15 nights credit every year
  • Receive 1 anniversary bonus free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year
  • No foreign transaction fees

The 15 nights credit every year and the anniversary bonus free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year definitely justifies the $120 annual fee for me. So I would be keeping this credit card for all Marriott hotel purchases, and probably put some restaurant purchases on this credit card as well if I need to top up my account.

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

  • $99 annual fee (usually has a promotion waiving the first year fee)
  • $30 for supplementary cardholders
  • Earn 4% cash back for every $1 spent on gas and grocery purchases
  • Earn 2% cash back for every $1 spent on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments
  • Earn 1% cash back for every $1 spent on all other purchases

This will be my workhorse card for all gas and grocery purchases to earn the 4%. I would also be putting all my recurring bill payments to earn the 2% cash back. I would not have a problem keeping this credit card long term, so long as I am spending at least $600 per month on gas and groceries.

Capital One Platinum MasterCard

  • No annual fee
  • Exclusive to Costco members
  • Earn 2x the cash back on the first 3 months
  • Earn 6% cash back in the first 3 months on restaurant purchases (earn 3% thereafter)
  • Earn 4% cash back in the first 3 months on gas purchases (earn 2% thereafter)
  • Earn 1% cash back in the first 3 months on the first $3,000 on all other purchases (0.5% thereafter)
  • Earn 2% cash back in the first 3 months on the first $3,000 on all other purchases (1% thereafter)

This will be my primary card for restaurant purchases.

American Express Platinum Card

  • $699 annual fee
  • Earn 50,000 sign up bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 1.25 Membership Reward points for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Access to airport lounge benefits (e.g. Canadian Platinum Lounge Benefit, Airport Club Program, Cathay Pacific Business Class lounges and oneworld alliance airlines Business Class lounges)
  • Elevated status with many Hotel & Car Rental loyalty programs
  • $200 Annual Travel Credit for Travel Bookings through Platinum Card Travel Service

The airport lounge pass, elevated elite status on hotel and car rentals, as well as the $200 Annual Travel Credit already justifies the annual fee for me. This will also be my main credit card for flight ticket purchases because of its extensive travel insurance benefits.

Membership Rewards is also my favourite rewards program because of its ability to transfer to multiple loyalty programs that will come in handy.

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

  • Ottawa | Vancouver
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