Who says you have to spend a lot of money to get some sweet perks from a travel credit card!  It is true, however, in order to get luxury rewards, you will pay a lot in annual fees for a premium card.  For example, for all the perks the Chase Sapphire Reserves provides, it does come with a hefty $550 annual price tag.  But if you can’t justify paying that much money or don’t spend enough to offset the fees, there are a couple of very good alternatives.  Instead of getting the Sapphire Reserve, opt for the Sapphire Preferred for only $95/year.  Yes you won’t get access to 1000+ airport lounges worldwide, but life isn’t really fair.  Here are some of the best travel credit cards with an annual fee under $100.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

CURRENT WELCOME BONUS

60,000 Bonus Points after spending $4,000 during first 3 months

REWARDS

Earn 2X points on dining and travel worldwide; 1X point on everything else

APR

15.99%–22.99%

ANNUAL FEE

$95

FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE

0%

RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE

670 – 850

Capital One Venture Rewards

CURRENT WELCOME BONUS

60,000 Bonus Points after spending $4,000 during first 3 months

REWARDS

Earn 2X points on dining and travel worldwide; 1X point on everything else

APR

15.99%–22.99%

ANNUAL FEE

$95

FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE

0%

RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE

670 – 850

Citi Premier®

CURRENT WELCOME BONUS

60,000 Bonus Points after spending $4,000 during first 3 months

REWARDS

Earn 3X points with airfare, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations; 1X points on everything else

APR

15.99% – 23.99%

ANNUAL FEE

$95

FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE

0%

RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE

800 – 850

Bank of America Premium Rewards

CURRENT WELCOME BONUS

50,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 during first 90 days 

REWARDS

Earn unlimited 2x points per $1 spent on travel & dining; 1.5x points on everything else

APR

15.99% – 22.99%

ANNUAL FEE

$95

FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE

0%

RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE

670 – 850

Discover it Miles

CURRENT WELCOME BONUS

Earn as many miles as you can during 1st year, and Discover will match them

REWARDS

Earn 1.5X miles per $1 spent on every purchase

APR

0% for 14 months on purchases, then 11.99% – 22.99%

ANNUAL FEE

$0

FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE

0%

RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE

670 – 850

BEST WELCOME BONUS

Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a whopping 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 during the first 3 months of account opening.  If transferred to a loyalty program, bonus points can be worth well over $1000!  However, Discover it Miles wins for its flexibility, as it doesn’t have the traditional spending rule of most cards.   Instead of a spending requirement, Discover will double all your miles earned during the first 12 months!  For example, earn 80,000 miles and get a bonus 80,000 more miles.  Not only is there more upside for cardmembers, but also makes it easier for people who aren’t big spenders.

WINNER: Discover it Miles

BEST REWARDS

The Citi Premier Card offers a whopping 3X points per $1 spent on airfare, hotels, gas stations, restaurants, & supermarkets.  For a mid-tier rewards card, that’s quite a lot.  Plus, the fact that gas station purchases are also included is a rare bonus, making it a front-runner for road trippers! Now commuters can also join in on the fun. And although it doesn’t earn unlimited points like the Venture card, the 3x on points goes a very long way!

WINNER: Citi Premier

BEST POINTS REDEMPTION

Not only does the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer a sizeable welcome bonus for new cardmembers, but you get more bang for your points when used for travel.  Points redeemed for hotels, airfare, cruises, etc., are worth 25% more in value when booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards.  For example, the 60,000 bonus could be worth over $1,000 in travel.  Additionally, Chase allows you to transfer points to other airline & hotel loyalty programs on a 1:1 basis.

WINNER: Chase Sapphire Preferred

ANNUAL FEE

There are so many credit cards without the pesky annual fee, and depending on the rewards offered, it might not be justified.  However, some card offer rewards on an on-going basis that more than offset the annual price tag.  If you know how to maximize your rewards, then you can get more value out of the Sapphire Preferred and recoup the $95 fee.  For instance, if you earn at least 10,000 points/year on travel and dining, redeem the points for cash, you will still get $100 back.  That’s enough to pay the fee.

WINNER: Chase Sapphire Preferred

BEST EXTRA PERKS

Although the Preferred doesn’t offer travel credits for things like Global Entry/TSA Pre✓, it does come with its own set of perks.  For example, not only does it offer primary collision/theft insurance on rentals, it also provides travel accident/interruption/delay reimbursements.  This means you can file your claims with Chase directly instead of your insurance company.

WINNER: Chase Sapphire Preferred

BOTTOM LINE:

None of the cards charge a foreign transaction fee, so there is no need to worry if you love traveling internationally.  All of the cards can be rewarding, depending on lifestyle and budget.  The Citi Premier is perfect for families and those who prefer road trips.  If you prefer to keep it simple in terms of earnings and redemption, the Discover it Miles, BoA Premium Rewards, and Capital One Venture (best) are all good options.  However, there is a good reason the Chase Sapphire Preferred is among the top cards for frequent travelers.  It’s incredible bonus, redemption options, and travel protections make it a much more superior travel rewards card under $100.

ULTIMATE WINNER: CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED