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

Dec 28, 2021

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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, Delta Medallion Qualification Miles boosts at spending thresholds, elite-like perks such as priority boarding, 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
Up to $2,050 $2,635 $395 $2,240
The Platinum Card® from American Express $2,000 $5,769 $695 (see rates and fees) $5,074
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $900 $4,525 $450 (see rates and fees) $4,075
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express $2,400 $6,004 $595 ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022, see rates and fees) $5,309
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card $2,000 $2,000 $95 $1,905
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Up to $800 $2,540 $450 (see rates and fees) $2,090
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Up to $825 $2,005 $89  $1,916
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card $1,110 $1,210 $95 $1,115
American Express® Gold Card  $1,200 $1,440 $250 (see rates and fees) $1,190
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card $1,200 $2,050 $95 $1,955
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card  

up to $1,080

 

$2,335

 

$95 (see rates and fees)

 

$2,240

*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 
100,000 miles after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.

 

In addition, for a limited time, cardholders will receive up to $200 in statement credits for vacation rental purchases like Airbnb and Vrbo charged to the account within the first year of account opening.

10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked via Capital One Travel.

 

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

 

Unlimited 2 miles per dollar on everything else.

$395

Quantifiable benefits: 

  • Welcome offer ($1,850 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up to $200 in statement credits for vacation rental purchases (first year only).
  • Up to $300 back in statement credit annually for bookings made through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary, starting on your first anniversary ($185 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Up to $100 in statement credits for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Net first-year value: $2,240

The newly launched Venture X card is a significant turning point for Capital One. 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 cell phone insurance, Hertz President’s Circle elite status, and, as a Visa Infinite card, trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

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.

 

New cardholders earn 10 points per dollar on restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined eligible spending during the first six months of card membership.

$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.*
  • Up to $179 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: $5,074

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).

Application link: The Platinum Card from American Express

Related: Amex Platinum card review

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: $4,075

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. Also, note that the normal Diamond breakfast benefits are temporarily adjusted — which may be better or worse for your situation.

Related: Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card review

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.

$595, $695 starting Jan. 13, 2022 (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 $179 in Clear statement credits toward an annual Clear membership for expedited airport security.

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

Net first-year value: $5,309

It should come as no surprise that, similar to the personal Amex Platinum, the Business Platinum is receiving a plethora of new and updated perks. 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, with over $800 in added credits through this refresh.

The card’s new annual fee of $695, which will match that of the personal Amex Platinum, kicks in for both new and existing Business Platinum cardholders on Jan. 13, 2022. That means if you apply before Jan. 13, 2022, you can take advantage of several new perks the card is adding while still paying the lower $595 rate for a year before your next renewal.

Application link: The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Related: Amex Business Platinum card review

Chase 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.

Application link: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Related: Ink Business Preferred review

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.

Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at U.S. restaurants within the first six 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).
  • Up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.
  • 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 Marriott property credit (when you use your card to book via Marriott directly) — terms apply ($100 value).
  • Annual free night award — up to 50,000 points ($400 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: $2,090

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 required), and travel protections — all of which 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.

Application link: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card review

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
Earn 125,000 bonus points, plus a reward night after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

10 points per dollar on IHG purchases.

2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.

1 point per dollar on everything else.

$89

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus (up to $825 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Complimentary IHG Platinum elite status ($880 value, according to TPG valuations).
  • Anniversary reward night — up to 40,000 points ($200 value).
  • Up-to-$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

Net first-year value: $1,916

The IHG Rewards Club 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.

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.

Application link: IHG Rewards Club Premier card

Related: IHG Rewards Club Premier card review

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. $95

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus (up to $1,110 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: $1,115

While the Venture Rewards card doesn’t have a long list of benefits, it’s hard to resist that 60,000-mile bonus if you can spend the $3,000 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. Since you earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, spending the top amount needed to earn the 60,000-mile bonus may not be as hard.

Application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Related: Venture Rewards card review

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). Card must be added to Uber account to receive benefit.
  • 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 bonus (up to 75,000 bonus points) through the CardMatch tool, although offers are subject to change at any time.

Application link: Amex Gold Card

Related: Amex Gold card review

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 through March 2022 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: $1,155

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.

Review: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review

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 points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the first three months.

Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases in the first six months.

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: $2,240

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 180,000 points, which TPG values at $1,080. Even if you’re an infrequent Hilton guest, as a Surpass cardholder, you’ll earn perks such as 80% bonus points on stays, space-available room upgrades, breakfast for two 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 Priority Pass lounge access (enrollment required)  — though just like the premium Hilton Honors Aspire option, we didn’t include these benefits into the value tally as it’s harder to quantify a dollar amount for these perks.

Application link: Hilton Honors Surpass Amex

Related: The Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card: 5 reasons to get it

Bottom line

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 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.