The Best Credit Card With an Annual Fee Under $100 Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here’s Why

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If paying a high annual fee for a credit card isn’t your cup of tea, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

We think it’s the best card with an annual fee under $100 right now. For a $95 annual fee, you’re getting 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases; and 2X points on all other travel purchases. Plus, there’s a solid sign-up bonus and valuable travel benefits like trip cancellation and rental car insurance.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering a welcome offer of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Those points are worth $750 when redeemed for travel, according to chase.

“It’s probably one of the favorite cards at The Points Guy, and it’s also a favorite card with readers,” says Benét Wilson, a senior credit cards editor at The Points Guy, which like NextAdvisor is owned by Red Ventures. “We like it so much because it’s a very versatile and flexible card for a reasonable $95 a year.”

Here’s more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred and why it’s the best card with an annual fee under $100. 

Pro Tip

You might be able to get the $95 annual fee waived for the first year when you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred in person at a Chase branch.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Compared to Other Cards Under $100 

Chase was among the first to apply premium credit card rewards to a card with a lower annual fee. The Sapphire Preferred, introduced in 2009 with a $95 annual fee, was all the rave long before the Chase Sapphire Reserve and its now $550 annual fee came into the scene, offering double points on travel purchases and 3x points per dollar on dining.

“The way Chase defines travel and dining is very broad, which gives cardholders a lot of flexibility when using this card,” says Wilson. “Travel is not just airlines and hotels. It’s parking lots, it’s freeway tolls, it’s Airbnb, it’s rideshare. On the dining side, it’s restaurants, it’s takeout, it’s delivery.”

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is consistently labeled as a “mid-tier” card, which is essentially a card that comes with just enough perks and rewards to justify a lower annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s most valuable assets include a hefty welcome bonus, premium points redemption options and access to Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program

There are few extra perks that come along with the card, including 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022, a complimentary 12-month DashPass subscription from DoorDash (must be activated by 12/31/21) and up to $60 in statement credits toward a Peloton membership.

Wilson says the Chase Sapphire Preferred is more approachable than most top travel credit cards, which can have annual fees up to five times higher. But how does it compare to other credit cards with annual fees under $100?

According to Wilson, the biggest competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. “For people who don’t want to think about different spending categories, the Capital One is very easy because it’s just a flat two miles for every purchase.”

Similar to the Sapphire Preferred, the Venture Rewards Card offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles. However, you have to spend just $3,000 within the first three months of account opening to earn the extra bonus.

Combining the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Cash Back Cards 

If you hold multiple Chase credit cards, you unlock a ton of value across spending categories. There are two main reasons: You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points in several ways, including purchases, gift cards, travel or statement credits, and Chase allows you to transfer points from one card to another.

Wilson calls it the “Chase Trifecta.” That’s when you have at least three Chase credit cards in your wallet, and each card covers a distinct area of spending to increase the number of rewards you earn. 

For example, you can use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for travel and dining purchases, the Ink Business Preferred for business expenses and the Chase Freedom Unlimited for purchases that won’t earn bonus points with your other cards.

“The beauty of these cards is you can rack up that cash back, but you can also transfer it to your points and miles in the Ultimate Rewards portal if you’re not interested in cash back,” says Wilson. 

Keep in mind all of these cards are believed to adhere to Chase’s 5/24 rule — an unspoken rule that you can’t open more than five credit cards from any bank in 24 months. So if you don’t currently have three Chase cards, you’ll want to be strategic about the timing of your applications to better your chances of getting approved. 

How Does the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Stack Up Against the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

There’s also debate among travel enthusiasts about how the Chase Sapphire Preferred compares to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and which is better.

The answer? It depends on what type of benefits and rewards you’re looking for in a credit card, as well as how much you’re willing to pay in annual fees. Chase doesn’t allow customers to carry both cards, so we recommend also taking a close look at your travel and lifestyle preferences to help guide your decision. Another route you could take is applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred now, and then requesting to upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve later on.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    60,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    50,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $550
  • Regular APR:
    16.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    60,000 miles
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site

The Chase Sapphire Reserve carries an annual fee of $550, much higher than its sister card, but it offers more benefits, like a $300 travel credit and access to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide. Like the Preferred, it has DoorDash and Peloton credits, but they’re worth more. 

They are both currently offering a sign-up bonus worth similar values, as well: The Preferred bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, while the Reserve offers 50,000 points with the same spending requirement. However, because the reserve has a higher redemption value when you redeem points for travel — 1.5 cents per point, versus the Preferred’s 1.25 cents per point — those points values are each worth $750 when you redeem for travel.

“The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the big luxury card. On the travel side, it is the absolute best, but a lot of people don’t want to pay the annual fee,” says Wilson. “The Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a good travel card, even though it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles.”

The Bottom Line

By picking up the Chase Sapphire Preferred and maximizing its respective bonus categories and welcome offer, you’ll have a sizable stash of points to use on flights, book hotel stays, and earn cash back. Sometimes, it pays to have a card with a lower annual fee and the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a clear example of that. 

All information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.