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Best credit cards for the annual fee

By , CardRatings contributor
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    American Express and Citi are CardRatings.com advertisers.

    Even though it sometimes sounds absurd to pay money for the privilege of borrowing money, a handful of the best credit cards add enough value for cardholders to justify the cost of their annual membership fees.

    $$: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

    The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard has sweetened its deal with a redemption bonus. Keeping your account in good standing means you get a 10 percent miles back when trading part of your balance for travel statement credits.

    Cardholders also get complimentary online access to their FICO scores, a perk that costs $7 or more every month from many credit reporting agencies. No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while you are traveling in another country means cardholders save 3-5 percent compared to many airline rewards cards. And Barclaycard, eager to expand their American footprint, will even waive the first year's annual fee for new customers.

    Annual fee: $0 introductory fee for the first year, then $89

    $$: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

    Hilton and Citi, a CardRatings.com advertiser, teamed up to steal some thunder from the popular Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, and a slightly higher annual fee can lead to big travel perks for brand loyalists. Like most hotel cards, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card offers bonus points for hotel stays: earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio.* With eligible brands like Hampton Inn, Doubletree, and Embassy Suites in the mix, it's easy to find places to stay that can multiply your earnings.

    However, this card's biggest benefit adds value to your journey from day one. As long as you are a cardmember you can get the benefits of HHonors Gold status. New cardholders can earn two weekend night certificates, redeemable at select hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, after making $2,500 in purchases on the card within four months of account opening.

    Annual fee: $95

    While these cards offer a lot of value to many frequent travelers, those of us who do not travel often are better off comparing reward credit card offers with no annual fee.

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