Annual Fees War: Visa Black or AMEX Platinum?

For many, the absence of an annual fee is enough to justify a second look when shopping around for credit cards. For others, the annual fees might not be a deal breaker, provided the perks and other benefits make it worthwhile. So which is best between the two prestigious credit card offers that happen to have some of the highest annual fees on the market? We take a look at both the Visa Black credit card and the American Express Platinum credit card. You be the judge.


Both offers tout an annual fee of $495 and at the time of this writing, neither offer a “first year free” scenario. Other fees include:

AMEX: You can have one, two or three additional cards for an additional $175 per year fee. Anything more than three, the charge goes to $175 EACH.

Visa: Visa has a $39 late payment fee, a $1 minimum finance charge fee that’s assessed each month, a 3% fee that’s assessed for balance transfers and you also pay a considerably higher APR for cash advances, which is currently at 19.99%. Returned check charges are $29.

The Big Difference

There are many similarities between the two credit cards; however, the biggest difference is the credit card/charge card dynamic. Visa Black is the classic credit card frame, complete with APR, late payments, balance transfer and cash advance APR differences.

With the AMEX, no worries about grace periods nor interest charges since it’s designed to be paid in full each month. If you expect to carry a high balance and paying it off each month isn’t possible, you might want to forgo the charge card route and choose a traditional credit card. Also, The Visa Black credit card is backed by Barclays Bank and of course, American Express is its own network.

The Perks

This is where most folks are going to make their decisions – the perks either offer. Here’s how it breaks down:

AMEX: The rewards program allows members to earn a point per dollar on qualifying transactions. Also, if your purchases total $1,000 or more in a month, you’re awarded an additional 25,000 Membership Rewards bonus points. You’ll appreciate this if you happen to be one who loves to travel – it equates roughly to one domestic round trip airline ticket. You’ll also enjoy the AMEX Global Travel Benefits program as of American Express Benefits Package. It offers priority pass for select airport club access, no foreign transaction fees and up to $200 in airline fee credits each year to cover checked baggage fees or any of the other frustrating fees we face when we travel. Also, you’ll enjoy around the clock concierge service with no limitations. Other perks include upgrades and other amenities at more than 700 hotels, resorts and restaurants around the world.

Visa: Visa offers 1% cash back on purchases or alternatively, you can request points that can be applied to any number of purchases such as airline tickets. You also have the luxury of around the clock concierge service, luxury gifts and you’ll be one of only 1% who will ultimately receive this credit card. No worries about blackout dates or other restrictions, either. You can take advantage of the intro 0% APR for fifteen months that also happens to apply to your balance transfers, making it a great way to pay down your credit card debt on your other credit cards.


Of course, there is no such thing as a “perfect credit card”; and once you delve a bit into each offer, you might discover a few of those imperfections. For instance, that 1% membership status Visa touts isn’t necessarily for the wealthiest or highest qualified applicants, it’s just limited to the first 3 million consumers who qualify and apply for the card. And, too, when you consider how quickly that annual fee adds for Visa ($495 X 3 million), you can see there is billions at stake for the bank and Visa. As far as American Express goes, you have to keep in mind it’s charge card dynamic. Those balances can become difficult to pay off in full each month, especially if you’re entering into your slow earning time of the year.

So, as you can see, there are many ways these two offers justify the hefty annual fee they charge. Are they worth it? Only you can decide.

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