Typically, there are three kinds of travel credit card users. First, there are those who absolutely refuse to pay an annual fee no matter what rewards are offered. Then there are others who will happily pay $400 or more per year for a card that delivers top-of-the-line service along with all the requisite perks and benefits. Most, however, probably fall somewhere in the middle – they’re looking for a card that delivers solid value but doesn’t charge an exorbitant annual fee.
The credit card industry is well aware of this fact. The result is, that over the past few years, there has been intense competition to offer consumers travel rewards cards at price points below $100.
Here are seven travel rewards cards that definitely deliver more bang for less bucks. Click on the links to read our full reviews of these cards.
Starwood points are easy to earn (up to 5X depending on your loyalty level) and easy to redeem (for hotels and transfers to airline partners). Additionally, beginning in August of 2015, members are no longer charged foreign transaction fees and now enjoy free in-room Internet at participating SPG hotels and Boingo access worldwide. The annual fee for this card is $95 but it is waived for the first year of membership.
This card offers double points on all travel and dining purchases. Chase Sapphire consistently makes the list of top travel rewards cards which is understandable given the great value members receive with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Points earned can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to any of six participating partner airline programs, four hotel programs, and Amtrak Guest Rewards. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year and there are no foreign transaction fees.
Card members earn 3X points on travel and gas purchases as well as double points on dining and entertainment purchases. All other purchases earn one point. ThankYou points can be transferred to 11 different airline loyalty programs plus Hilton HHonors. There are no foreign transactions fees with this card. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.
The Everyday Preferred card offers members 3X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (capped at $6,000 annually), 2X points at U.S. gas stations and 1 point on all other purchases. As an added bonus, if you make at least 30 transactions during your monthly billing cycle, you will earn a 50% bonus effectively giving you a rewards rate of 4.5X, 3X, and 1.5X respectively. Points can be transferred to 16 different airline programs and four hotel programs. Unfortunately, this card comes with an annual fee of $95 (not waived) and charges foreign transaction fees of 2.7% – but its reward program is solid.
Rewards for this card are given in the form of miles which can be redeemed for one cent per mile as statement credits towards all eligible travel expenses. Each dollar you spend earns double miles and members also receive a 10% rebate on miles redeemed so effectively the rate of return for rewards is 2.22%. This card comes with smart chip technology and no foreign transaction fees. There is an $89 annual fee which is waived for the first year.
Members earn rewards at the rate of 2X miles per dollar spent on United Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. A big plus for frequent fliers is the priority boarding privileges which come with the card. Additionally, cardholders get one free checked bag (and one for a traveling companion). You must pay for the tickets with your Explorer card to receive this benefit. Members also get two United Club passes per year. This card has a $95 annual fee which is waived for the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
This card offers double miles on all purchases and each mile is valued at one cent as a statement credit towards travel expenses. The Venture Rewards card only charges a $59 annual fee which is waived for the first year plus there are no foreign transaction fees.