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

Apr 7, 2021

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When I recommend new credit cards to friends and family members, any mention of annual fees is often received with wariness. And it’s a valid question to ask — why pay money to use a card when there are so many options that don’t charge 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 provide more than $1,000 in value in the first year.

So today, I’m walking through 11 cards that provide $1,000 in value 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 the following:

  • Sign-up bonus/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 their 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. But 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 are on this list.

Keep in mind that I’m only including quantifiable perks. Plenty of cards have perks that aren’t directly tied to a dollar amount — Centurion Lounge access, Medallion Qualification Miles boosts at spending thresholds, elite-like perks such as priority boarding 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.

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

Card Sign-up bonus/welcome offer value* Total first-year value  Annual fee  Net first-year value 
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $900 $4,525 $450 (see rates & fees) $4,075
The Platinum Card® from American Express $1,500 $4,195 $550 (see rates & fees) $3,645
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express $1,700 $4,495 $595 (see rates & fees) $3,900
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card $2,000 $2,000 $95 $1,905
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card up to $1,200 $2,940 $450 (see rates & fees) $2,490
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card $700 $1,880 $89  $1,791
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card $1,400 $1,400 $95 $1,305
American Express® Gold Card  $1,200 $1,440 $250 (see rates & fees) $1,190
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card $1,080 $1,725 $550 (see rates & fees) $1,175
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card $1,650 $1,710 $95 $1,415
Chase Sapphire Reserve  $1,200 $1,780 $550 $1,230

*Sign-up bonus/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.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

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

Terms apply.

  • 14x points per dollar spent at eligible Hilton properties.
  • 7x 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.
  • 3x points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
$450 (see rates & fees)

Quantifiable benefits: 

Net first-year value: $3,825

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 (and a second if you spend $60,000 in a calendar year) and Priority Pass lounge access (enrollment required)  — neither of which were included in the value tally because they aren’t easily quantifiable with a dollar value. And 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.

Related: Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card review 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate  Annual fee 
75,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.

Terms apply.

  • 5x 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 American Express Travel.
  • 1x points per dollar everywhere else.
  • New cardholders earn 10x on eligible purchases made at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined eligible spending during the first six months of card membership.
$550 (see rates & fees)

Quantifiable benefits: 

  • Welcome bonus ($1,500 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 credits ($200 value) per calendar year
  • Up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits — $50 each half-year ($100 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)

Net first-year value: $3,645

The Amex Platinum is one of the best travel credit cards out there for luxury travelers because of its extensive lineup of perks — and the ones listed above are only part of the puzzle. You’ll also get Uber VIP status, 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).

Right now, you can earn up to $30 in monthly statement credit for PayPal purchases through June 30, 2021 (up to $180 total). There are also numerous temporary Amex Offers to help offset the annual fee. If you maximize all of these benefits, you can easily reap even more value from this card. However, if you’re not maximizing these benefits, the high annual fee may not be worth it long-term, especially if you’re still not traveling a lot.

Related: Amex Platinum card review 

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate Annual fee
85,000 points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
  • 5x points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked at American Express Travel
  • 5x points on eligible purchases in five select business categories, up to 80,000 bonus points per category, in the first three months of account opening.
  • 1.5x on purchases over $5,000 (up to 1 million additional points per year).
  • 1x point per dollar spent everywhere else.
 $595 (see rates & fees)

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus ($1,700 value, according to TPG valuations)
  • Up to $200 in annual airline incidental credits ($200 value)
  • Up to $200 in Dell credits (for U.S. purchases) — $100 each half-year ($200 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)

Net first-year value: $3,665

The Amex Business Platinum offers almost identical benefits to the Amex Platinum, but with a couple of key differences. First, you’ll get up to $200 in Dell credits annually (for U.S. purchases) rather than a Saks Fifth Avenue credit. You’ll also get a couple of extra perks that aren’t included in our quantifiable list of benefits, including a 35% Pay With Points rebate (up to 500,000 points per calendar year). But like the personal Amex Platinum, this card is only worth it in the long term if you’re really taking advantage of these perks.

Related: Amex Business Platinum card review 

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Sign-up bonus Earning rate Annual fee
100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories each account year:
  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

1x on everything else.

$95

Quantifiable benefits:

Net first-year value: $1,905

In addition to the card’s fantastic sign-up bonus, the main value this card brings is its earning structure — which is hard to quantify in a dollar amount since it depends entirely on your spending habits. The card only charges a $95 annual fee, which makes it an easy card to consider keeping in the long term. Additionally, you’ll have access to a 25% redemption bonus through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, cellphone protection and extensive travel protections. 

Related: Ink Business Preferred review 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate Annual fee
Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. Offer Expires 5/12/2021.
  • 6x points on eligible Marriott Bonvoy purchases.
  • 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
$450 (see rates & fees)

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus (up to $1,200 value, according to TPG valuations)
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status ($840 value, according to TPG valuations)
  • Up-to-$300 annual credit on eligible Marriott Bonvoy purchases ($300 value)
  • Up-to-$100 Marriott property credit — terms apply ($100 value) (when you use your card to book via Marriott directly)
  • 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)

Net first-year value: $1,890

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 and travel protections — all of which could potentially add even more value to the card. Keep in mind 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, so you could get more or less value from that benefit depending on your traveling habits.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card review

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Sign-up bonus Earning rate Annual fee
140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • 10x points on IHG purchases.
  • 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.
  • 1x on everything else.
$89

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus ($700 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/TSA PreCheck application fee credit — every four years ($100 value)

Net first-year value: $1,791

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 nights, cellphone protection 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. 

Related: IHG Rewards Club Premier card review 

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Sign-up bonus Earning rate Annual fee
100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening; or 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 2x on every purchase $95

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus (up to $1,400 value, according to TPG valuations)
  • Up-to-$100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit — every four years ($100 value)

Net first-year value: $1,305

While the Venture Rewards card doesn’t have a long list of benefits, it’s hard to resist that 100,000-mile bonus — if you can spend the $20,000 in a year to snag it. The card does comes with an up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment feed credit, plus you can transfer your bonus miles to 13 airline and two hotel partners. Since you earn 2x miles on all purchases, it may not be as hard to spend the top amount needed to earn the 100,000-mile bonus. Even if you can’t, you can still earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Related: Venture Rewards card review 

American Express Gold Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate 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 account opening.

Terms apply.

  • 4x points on restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x).
  • 3x points on flights purchased directly with the airline or at amextravel.com.
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply.
$250 (see rates & 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)

Net first-year value: $1,190

The Amex Gold (now 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.

Related: Amex Gold card review 

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

Amex Delta Skymiles Business Reserve_CCSL
(Photo by The Points Guy)
Welcome offer Earning rate Annual fee
80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles and a $200 statement credit after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Offer ends April 28, 2021.
  • 3x miles on eligible Delta purchases.
  • 1.5x on all purchases after you spend $150,000 in purchases on your card per calendar year
  • 1x on all other eligible purchases
$550 (see rates & fees)

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus ($1,080 value, according to TPG valuations)
  • Delta Sky Club access ($545 value)
  • Up-to-$100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit — every four years ($100 value)

Net first-year value: $1,175

This is another card that can potentially add even more value to your wallet because of un-quantifiable perks. You’ll get two one-time Delta Sky Club passes each year for guests, an annual companion certificate for a domestic first-class, Delta Comfort+ or domestic main cabin round-trip flight each year you renew the card, the ability to earn up to 60,000 Medallion Qualification Miles per year by hitting spending thresholds, free upgrades for non-Medallions, Delta flight perks and more.

Related: Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card review 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Sign-up bonus Earning rate Annual fee
80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.
  • 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • 2x on grocery store purchases through April 2021 (on up to $1,000 per month).
  • 2x points on dining and travel.
  • 1x points on everything else.

 

$95

Quantifiable benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus ($1,650 value, according to TPG valuations)
  • Up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership ($60 value)

Net first-year value: $1,415

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.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Sign-up bonus Earning rate Annual fee
60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • 10x on Lyft purchases through March 2022.
  • 3x on grocery stores (on up to $1,000 in purchases per month) through April 2021.
  • 3x on travel and dining.
  • 1x on everything else.
$550

Quantifiable benefits: 

Net first-year value: $1,230

The Chase Sapphire Reserve does charge a high annual fee, but there are a few perks that help offset that cost to still give this card just over $1,200 in first-year value. You’ll also get Priority Pass Select lounge access, complimentary Lyft Pink, complimentary DashPass through DoorDash and a 50% redemption bonus for travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Plus, this card has a solid earning rate on broad categories and excellent travel protections.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve card review 

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 in nature. 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, if you aren’t taking full advantage of benefits offered by a card (such as lounge access, yearly statement credits or elite status perks), you could get less value from a specific card because it’s not suited to your needs.

But 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.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, please 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 Delta Reserve Business Amex, please click here.

Featured photo by Olleg/Shutterstock

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.