Credit card users who want to spend less than $100 on their annual fee have a surprising range of options offering a lot of value at a reasonable price. While it’s possible to upgrade to pricier, ultra-premium credit cards, the credit cards in this group have high earnings rates and attractive intro offers.
Our top pick for the best credit card with an annual fee under $100 is the card_name, thanks to its ease of earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, the flexibility you get when redeeming those points, and its attractive intro offer. However, other cards in the sub-$100 annual fee category might also be an excellent choice, depending on how you plan to use them.
Our recommendations for best credit cards with an annual fee under $100
5X points on travel purchased through Chase and on Lyft rides through 3/25; 2X points on all other travel purchases; 3X points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services
Cash back on everyday purchases
2X miles on all purchases
Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening, redeemable for up to $750 in travelbonus_miles_full
Good to excellentcredit_score_needed
3X points on up to $150,000 in combined purchases on internet, cable and phone services, shipping purchases, travel, and ads purchased with search engines or social media sites
Earning Citi ThankYou Rewards points
3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare and hotel purchases
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Earning Hilton Honors points and hotel perks
12X points on Hilton purchases; 6X points U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants; 3X points on all other purchases
Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card within your first 6 months
If you plan to spend money just for the privilege of using a credit card, you probably want to ensure you get the most out of it. This list covers the best credit cards with annual fees under $100. However, the best choice for you depends on your spending habits and the perks that work best for your lifestyle.
Best overall: card_name
The card_name gets the nod as the best overall credit card with an annual fee under $100 thanks to its ease of earning points, the usefulness of those points and its generous intro offer. This unique combination of benefits makes it the best sub-$100 annual fee card for most people.
Most important, Chase lets you earn points quickly with this card:
- 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2025
- 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout
- 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs)
- 3X points on select streaming services
- 2X points on all other travel purchases
You also get $50 in annual statement credits for hotel stays booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This card usually has a generous intro offer, as well. As of this writing, you can bonus_miles_full; that’s the equivalent of $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
And when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 25% more. That’s not as good as the 50% boost from the Chase Sapphire Reserve (annual fee of annual_fees), but it’s still a nice benefit. This card includes several other benefits, like trip cancellation insurance and purchase protection.
Best for everyday purchases: card_name
The card_name also makes the list, thanks to its ease of earning points and excellent intro offer. Unlike many other cards on this list, you won’t need to keep track of categories—dining vs. streaming vs. travel, etc.. Instead, you simply earn unlimited 2X miles on all purchases. As of this writing, you can bonus_miles_full.
In addition to the 2X miles it earns on all purchases, this card earns unlimited 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; the same rate also applies for car rentals and other purchases made through Turo. You can also transfer points to one of Capital One’s transfer partners, although U.S.-based customers may find these options somewhat limiting, as many of the partners are foreign carriers.
One of this card’s other benefits is two free lounge visits per year, plus a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It also has the usual slew of additional perks, such as an auto rental collision damage waiver and travel accident insurance.
Best for business spending: card_name
If you run a business in any capacity, you can apply for the card_name for all your business expenses. This card has some of the same benefits as the card_name, including that 25% boost when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
However, the card_name adds benefits that cater to business owners. The most notable difference is in points earnings: It earns 3X points on purchases up to $150,000 annually on shipping purchases; ad purchases with social media sites and search engines; internet, cable, and phone services; and travel. It also earns 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2025.
As of this writing, you can bonus_miles_full. The card_name also lets you issue employee cards at no extra cost, which allows you to set individual spending limits while still earning rewards.
Best for earning ThankYou Points: card_name
At first glance, the card_name may not seem fantastic, but it makes the list because it gives you many ways to earn Citi ThankYou Points fast. With the Citi Premier card, you can earn:
- 3X points at restaurants
- 3X points at supermarkets
- 3X points at gas stations
Points are transferable to participating airline loyalty programs including TrueBlue®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. You also get an annual $100 hotel savings benefit, which gives you $100 off each year when you spend $500 or more on a hotel reservation through ThankYou.com.
This card lacks some of the travel protection and perks you get with Chase cards, but it has access to extra benefits, such as Citi Entertainment (early access to tickets and special events). And as of this writing, you bonus_miles_full.
Best for Hilton Honors Points: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
If you like to travel in the Hilton ecosystem, the Hilton Honors Surpass Card is a no-brainer. Despite its modest $95 annual fee, it has the potential to earn a huge number of Hilton Honors points without much effort. Its bonus categories are:
- 12X points on Hilton hotels and resorts
- 6X points on dining at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery
- 6X points at U.S. supermarkets
- 6X points at U.S. gas stations
- 3X points on all other eligible purchases
You also earn complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status, so this card is perfect if you want to upgrade your Hilton experience. Another benefit is a free night reward when you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year. You also get 10 complimentary Priority Pass™ Select visits per year, which gives you access to Priority Pass’s 1,200+ locations worldwide.
Added benefits with this card include rental car protection, baggage insurance and 24/7 help from Hilton’s global assistance hotline. Also travel friendly: There are no foreign transaction fees when using this card internationally.
We chose the best credit cards for annual fees under $100 by studying the available products, including their rewards, benefits, and fees. The author’s experience analyzing and writing about credit cards and personal finance narrowed the list to the best cards in the category.
Why do credit cards come with an annual fee?
Credit cards may have an annual fee due to higher cash-back or points/miles rates than no-annual-fee credit cards. Credit cards with annual fees often have additional perks, such as trip cancellation insurance, extended warranties, priority boarding and free hotel nights.
Of course, if you don’t use your credit card often enough, you can apply for a no-annual-fee credit card instead. But for many cardholders, the benefits far outweigh the cost of the annual fee. It’s up to each consumer to decide if that added cost is worth the benefits it provides.
How to compare credit cards with an annual fee
While credit cards can offer a complicated array of points and perks, making the best choice means deciding which card makes the most sense for you. To make the best choice, consider these factors:
- Bonus categories: Credit cards with an annual fee often earn extra points in certain bonus categories. If the card you’re considering has bonus categories, see if they align with the ways in which you typically spend.
- Intro offer: Annual fee credit cards tend to offer attractive intro offers. These can include not only bonus points, but also benefits like an 0% purchase APR and 0% balance transfer APR for a certain period.
- Redemption options: Earning credit card points is only half the battle—you must be able to redeem them to reap the rewards. How does the card you’re considering let you redeem? For example, you might be able to claim statement credits, buy gift cards or book travel. Which options are offered, and are points worth more when redeeming one way than another? If so, see if the best redemption options align with how you plan to use the card.
- Hidden perks: Credit cards with an annual fee often have hidden perks. For example, general travel cards might have rental car insurance or trip cancellation insurance. Airline cards might have priority boarding and seat upgrades. And hotel credit cards might have free breakfast and an annual free night. Compare perks among the different cards you are considering to make sure they fit your habits and preferences
Pick the card that works for you
As we have seen throughout this article, there’s a wide choice of credit cards with annual fees under $100. They often have attractive intro offers and are packed with hidden perks. However, every credit card is different, and every consumer is different. Be sure to consider what each card is best for and whether that aligns with how you plan to use it.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Do you have to pay the annual fee on the credit card if you don’t use it?
Yes. Usually, annual fees are charged each year automatically, whether you used the card or not.
How can I avoid paying the annual fee on my credit card?
Some credit cards waive the annual fee in some cases. For example, some might waive the annual fee for the first year. Cards that do this include the card_name (Rates & Fees), the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, and the card_name.
Which credit cards offer a $0 annual fee?
For rates and fees of the card_name, please visit this URL.
Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company).
All information about Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has been collected independently by TIME Stamped. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is no longer available through CardRatings.com.