When Is A Premium Credit Card Worth The Annual Fee? Just Do The Math

I’ve been helping my daughters with simple math questions to test their logic and problem solving abilities. They know that when I have four objects and take away one that I’m left with three. My oldest daughter knows the same logic applies to bigger numbers, so when I have 400 objects and take away 100, I’m left with 300.

It amazes me that simple math concepts that make sense to a 3-year-old and 6-year-old don’t seem as clear for us as adults, especially when it comes to our personal finances.

Take credit cards, for example. When choosing a credit card, many people skip over premium credit cards simply because they don’t want to pay an annual fee. Instead they look for other benefits, such as a low interest rate, cash back, and travel rewards. They don’t understand that by paying the annual fee you can often save money and earn a lot more rewards points on your spending.

Related: Whoa! Apply for Capital One Aspire Travel Card and get $250 cash back rebate

But many consumers flat-out refuse to pay an annual fee for a credit card, yet complain when they only earn rewards of 1 percent or less on their spending. Simple math can show us the break-even point for when the rewards earned from using an annual fee card outweigh the rewards from a no-fee card.

With an annual fee card, such as the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, cardholders can earn 4 percent cash back on their grocery and gas spending, plus 2 percent cash back on their drug store purchases and recurring bill payments. The card comes with a $99 annual fee (waived in the first year), so skeptical consumers might think they need to spend a lot to make the fee worthwhile.

Spending $1,000 per month on the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card will earn you $179 per year in cash back, net of fees. Compare that to a no-fee card, like the popular PC Financial MasterCard, where spending $1,000 per month will earn you just $120 worth of PC Points, or the new American Express SimplyCash card, which pays $150 per year on $1,000 spending.

Your spending habits determine which card is best. And if your goal is to maximize the rewards earned from every day spending, you should figure out the categories where you spend the most and match it with a rewards card that offers the best return. That could mean using one credit card for groceries and gas, one for dining and entertainment, and one for travel.

Related: How I get 11.5% cash back on gas purchases

Don’t dismiss premium rewards cards just because they come with an annual fee. If you’d like to earn more rewards on your everyday spending then I urge you to do the math and figure out how much you spend every month on your card. I guarantee you’ll find a rewards card, or combination of cards, that better meets your needs.

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