11 credit cards that can get you $1,000 or more in first-year value

May 24, 2022

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When I recommend new credit cards to friends, any mention of annual fees is often received with wariness. It’s a valid question to ask — why pay money to use a card when there are so many options without annual fees?

Well, the truth is that most rewards cards that have annual fees provide far more value than they charge, assuming you make use of the benefits. In fact, a number of the top travel cards can easily provide more than $1,000 in value in the first year.

Today, I’ll walk you through 11 cards that provide $1,000 in value (or more) in the first year.

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Methodology

Before we dig into it, let’s talk about how I’m quantifying how much value a specific card has. For each of our top travel and rewards credit cards, I looked at:

  • Welcome offer: I’m using TPG valuations to determine how much each of these is worth.
  • Annual statement credits: If the card offers travel credits, dining credits, resort credits or other types of annual statement credits, these are included in the total value.
  • Automatic elite status: I’m using the TPG valuation of how much specific elite status tiers are worth for each program in these calculations.
  • Quantifiable perks and benefits: Not all perks and benefits can be assigned a specific dollar amount. I am including the ones that can be more easily quantified than others, though we do make a few assumptions in this category.
  • Annual fee: Once I’ve tallied a card’s overall value, I’ll take into account the annual fee. Only cards that still have $1,000 in value after factoring in the annual fee will make this list.

Keep in mind that I’m only including quantifiable perks in this equation. There are plenty of cards with perks that aren’t directly tied to a dollar amount — such as Centurion Lounge access, Capital One Lounge access, bonus Delta Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) at certain spending thresholds, elite-like perks such as priority boarding or free checked bags, and more.

Please note that just because a card didn’t make this list doesn’t mean it can’t provide this level of value; it just becomes an even more case-by-case situation.

In This Post

Cards that provide $1,000-plus in first-year value

Card Welcome offer value* Total potential first-year value  Annual fee  Net first-year value 
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
$1,388. $1,788. $395. $1,393.
The Platinum Card® from American Express $2,000. $5,779. $695 (see rates and fees). $5,084.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $900. $4,425. $450 (see rates and fees). $3,975.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express $2,400. $6,014. $695 (see rates and fees). $5,319.
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card $2,000. $2,000. $95. $1,905.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card $600. $1,840. $450 (see rates and fees). $1,390.
IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card $700. $1,680. $99.  $1,581.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card $1,388. $1,488. $95. $1,393.
American Express® Gold Card  $1,200. $1,440. $250 (see rates and fees). $1,190.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card $1,600 (ends June 1, 2022). $1,650. $95. $1,555.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card $910. $2,165. $95 (see rates and fees). $2,070.

*Welcome offer value is determined using TPG valuations and is not provided by or reviewed by the issuer.

The information for the Hilton Aspire has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate  Annual fee 
75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked via Capital One Travel along with cars booked through Turo.

5 miles per dollar on flights booked via Capital One Travel.

2 miles per dollar on everything else.

$395.

Quantifiable benefits: 

  • Welcome offer ($1,388 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up to $300 back in statement credit annually for bookings made through Capital One Travel.
  • Up to $100 in statement credits for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Net first-year value: $1,393

The Venture X card was a significant turning point for Capital One when it launched last year. Besides the quantifiable benefits above, you’ll also get complimentary access to the Capital One Lounge with up to two guests per visit and access to more than 1,300 Priority Pass lounges worldwide.

Even better, Venture X cardholders get up to four authorized users at no charge, and they also get Capital One Lounge access (and Priority Pass) with up to two guests. There are other perks such as complimentary cellphone insurance, Hertz President’s Circle elite status, and, as a Visa Infinite card, trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

Note that this calculation omitted the 10,000 bonus miles that you’ll receive every account anniversary, since this perk doesn’t begin until you renew your card — so it’s thus (technically) a benefit in year two.

Read our full review of the Capital One Venture X for more details.


Application link: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card


The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate  Annual fee 
100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.

Terms apply.

5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), and on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel.

1 point per dollar for other eligible purchases.

$695 (see rates and fees).

Quantifiable benefits: 

  • Welcome offer ($2,000 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (for U.S. services) — $15 per month plus an additional $20 in December ($200 value).*
  • Up to $200 in airline incidental statement credits per calendar year ($200 value).*
  • Up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits — $50 each half-year ($100 value).*
  • Up to $100 for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee every four years ($100 value).
  • Up to $200 on prepaid bookings at Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel.*
  • Up to $20 monthly statement credits (up to $240 value annually) for Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock.*
  • Up to $25 monthly statement credits (up to $300 value annually) for select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to the Equinox+ fitness app.*
  • Up to $155 Walmart+ statement credit.* Plus Ups are excluded.
  • Up to $189 in Clear statement credits toward an annual Clear membership for expedited airport security.*
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status ($840 value, according to TPG valuations).*
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold elite status ($1,255 value, according to TPG valuations).*

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

Net first-year value: $5,084

The Amex Platinum is one of the best travel cards out there for luxury travelers because of its extensive lineup of perks — and the ones listed above are only part of the equation. You’ll also get things like rental car privileges, access to Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts, travel and purchase protections, access to the Amex Platinum concierge and unmatched access to airport lounges, including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on same-day Delta flights (enrollment required).

You could even be targeted for a higher welcome offer via the CardMatch Tool (offer subject to change at any time) or via a friend’s referral link (if you apply by June 8, 2022).

Read our full review of the Amex Platinum for more details.


Application link: The Platinum Card from American Express


Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
Welcome offer  Earning rate  Annual fee 
150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership.

Terms apply.

14 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.

7 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and U.S. restaurants.

3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

$450 (see rates and fees).

Quantifiable benefits: 

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

Net first-year value: $3,975

The Hilton Honors Aspire is the top-tier card in the Hilton cobranded card lineup. If you stay with Hilton regularly throughout the year, you can get a ton of value out of the benefits offered by the card. In addition to the benefits listed, you’ll also get a free weekend night each year (plus a second if you spend $60,000 in a calendar year) and Priority Pass lounge access (enrollment required) — neither of which are included in the value tally because they aren’t easily quantifiable with a dollar value.

Keep in mind that Diamond elite status may be worth more or less than the stated value, depending on how regularly you stay at Hilton properties throughout the year.

Read our full review of the Hilton Aspire Card for more details.


The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate Annual fee
120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked at American Express Travel.

1.5 points per dollar on up to $2 million in eligible purchases in the U.S. per calendar year with electronic goods retailers; software; cloud service providers; construction materials and hardware supplies; and shipping providers on purchases of $5,000 or more

1 point per dollar spent other eligible purchases.

$695 (see rates and fees).

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus ($2,400 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up to $200 in annual airline incidental statement credits ($200 value).*
  • Up to $400 in Dell statement credits (for U.S. purchases) — $200 each half-year ($400 value).*
  • Up to $100 for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee every four years ($100 value).
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status ($840 value, according to TPG valuations).*
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold elite status ($1,255 value, according to TPG valuations).*
  • Up to $360 in annual statement credit on all Indeed hiring and recruiting products and services to post open positions and find talent, up to $90 per quarter.
  • Up to $150 annual statement credit for Adobe on select purchases, including Adobe Creative Cloud and Acrobat Pro DC.
  • Up to $120 in annual statement credit for wireless telephone services, up to $10 per month.
  • Up to $189 in Clear statement credits toward an annual Clear membership for expedited airport security.

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

Net first-year value: $5,319

It should come as no surprise that, similar to the personal Amex Platinum, the Business Platinum can get you a ton of value in the first year thanks to the array of perks on the card. Those benefits are mostly in the form of statement credits.

In total, the Business Platinum has over $1,400 in statement credits that you could potentially maximize — in addition to hotel status with both Marriott and Hilton.

Read our full review of the Amex Business Platinum for more details.


Application link: The Business Platinum Card from American Express


Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories each account anniversary year: travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable, and phone services; advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.

1 point per dollar on everything else.

$95.

Quantifiable benefits:

Net first-year value: $1,905

In addition to the card’s fantastic sign-up bonus, the primary value this card brings is its earning structure, which is hard to quantify since it depends entirely on your spending habits.

The card only charges a $95 annual fee, making it easy to consider keeping in the long term. You’ll also have access to a 25% redemption bonus through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, cellphone protection and extensive travel protections.

Read our full review of the Ink Business Preferred for more details.


Application link: Chase Ink Business Preferred


Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate Annual fee

75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership.

6 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.

3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.

2 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

$450 (see rates and fees).

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus ($600 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status ($840 value, according to TPG valuations).*
  • Up to $300 annual statement credit on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program ($300 value).
  • Up-to-$100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years ($100 value).

* Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Net first-year value: $1,390

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant also comes with 15 elite night credits, a pathway to Platinum elite status after spending $75,000 in a calendar year, Priority Pass lounge access (enrollment is required) and select travel protections. In addition, we’re not including the annual free night award (up to 50,000 points) in the year one value, since you need to renew your card to receive it. All of these perks could potentially add even more value to the card.

Remember that our valuation for Gold elite status is based on the assumption that you’ll stay with Marriott at least a certain number of nights in a year. You could get more or less value from that benefit depending on your traveling habits.

Read our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant for more details.


Application link: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex


IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
Earn 140,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

10 points per dollar on IHG purchases.

5 points per dollar at gas stations, restaurants and on travel purchases.

3 points per dollar on everything else.

$99.

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus (up to $700 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Complimentary IHG Platinum elite status ($880 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up-to-$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

Net first-year value: $1,581

The IHG Rewards Premier packs quite the punch for such a low annual fee. In addition to the above benefits, you’ll also get 20% off when buying IHG points, a 10,000-point bonus after you spend $20,000 in a year, fourth-night award perk and travel protections. In addition, like the Bonvoy Brilliant, we’re not including the anniversary reward night (worth up to 40,000 points) in this calculation, since you must renew your card to earn one.

Keep in mind that our elite status value calculations assume that you are staying at IHG a certain number of nights per year, so that perk could potentially be worth more or less depending on how often you take advantage of it.

Read our full review of the IHG Premier Card for more details.


Application link: IHG Rewards Premier card


Capital One Venture Rewards Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One travel and on cars booked with Turo.

2 miles per dollar on every purchase.

$95.

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus (up to $1,388 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up-to-$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years ($100 value).

Net first-year value: $1,393

While the Venture Rewards card doesn’t have a long list of benefits, it’s hard to resist that 75,000-mile bonus if you can spend the $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.

The card does come with an up-to-$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fee credit, plus you can transfer your bonus miles to 15+ travel loyalty partners. However, be sure to compare the card to the Venture X to make sure that you’d be better off with the more affordable option.

Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Card for more details.


Application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card


American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate (terms apply) Annual fee
60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership.

Terms apply.

4 points per dollar on restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar).

3 points per dollar on flights purchased directly with the airline or at amextravel.com.

1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases.

$250 (see rates and fees).

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus ($1,200 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up to $10 per month in Uber Cash for U.S. rides and Uber Eats (up to $120 value annually).*
  • Up to $10 per month in dining credits at participating restaurants (up to $120 value annually).*

* Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Net first-year value: $1,190

The Amex Gold Card (also available in the popular Rose Gold version) is one of the best cards out there for foodies because of its earning structure and two food-focused perks. I easily get more than $1,000 in value from my card each year just from the points I earn on spending. Keep in mind that you could potentially be targeted for an even more valuable welcome offer (up to 75,000 points) through the CardMatch Tool, although offers are subject to change at any time.

Read our full review of the Amex Gold for more details.


Application link: Amex Gold Card


Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

5 points per dollar on Lyft rides and travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

3 points per dollar on dining (including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out) and on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

2 points per dollar on all other travel.

1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

 

$95.

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus ($1,200 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up to $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards.

Net first-year value: $955

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best cards for beginners — it comes with an excellent sign-up bonus and a low annual fee. Additionally, you’ll have access to a 25% redemption bonus on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Note that you’ll also receive a 10% points bonus on your cardmember anniversary based on the total amount you spent in the previous year. However, since the value of this perk depends on your spending activity, it’s not included in the above calculation.

Read our full review of the Sapphire Preferred for more details.


Application link: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $130 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any Hilton family hotel in the first 12 months of membership.

12 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.

6 points per dollar spent at eligible U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

3 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

$95 (see rates and fees).

Quantifiable benefits: 

Net first-year value: $2,070

The Hilton Honors Surpass is the mid-tier card in the Hilton cobranded card lineup. If you can meet the minimum spend requirement to unlock the entire welcome offer, you can earn 130,000 points, which TPG values at $780. Add in the $130 in statement credits for this new offer and your initial value jumps to $910.

Even if you’re an infrequent Hilton guest, Surpass cardholders enjoy automatic Gold status, which unlocks perks such as 80% bonus points on stays, space-available room upgrades, breakfast (or an on-property credit, depend on your destination) and a fifth night free when you book a stay entirely with points.

In addition to the benefits listed, you’ll get a complimentary weekend night reward each year after spending $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year. Cardholders also get 10 complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges each year (enrollment required)  — though just like the premium Hilton Honors Aspire option, we didn’t include these benefits into the value, as it’s harder to quantify a dollar amount for these perks.

Read our full review of the Hilton Surpass card for more details.


Application link: Hilton Honors Surpass Amex


Bottom line

Many popular travel credit cards can get you well over $1,000 of value in just the first year of cardmembership. While I’ve listed out the dollar values of perks and benefits where I can, there are a lot of perks and benefits that cards offer that are more subjective.

If you have a card where you spend a lot each year within its bonus categories, you can easily get more than $1,000 in value from a card just based on spending alone. Conversely, suppose you aren’t taking full advantage of benefits offered by a card (such as lounge access, yearly statement credits or elite status perks). In that case, you could get less value from a specific card because it’s not suited to your needs.

Hopefully, this gives you a starting point to see which cards offer $1,000 or more in value in the first year to those who can use the card’s benefits.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Ethan Steinberg and Juan Ruiz. 

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass card, click here.

Featured photo by Neustockimages/Getty Images. 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.