Best credit cards with an annual fee of April 2021

Sometimes choosing a credit card with an annual fee is worth it. CardRatings editors reveal the best credit cards with an annual fee including cash-back rewards cards, travel rewards cards, business cards and more.
Jennifer Doss, CardRatings Editor Last Updated, April 20, 2021

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best rewards credit cards with an annual fee
LIST OF WINNERS

Let's be honest: no one likes paying the annual fee on a credit card. So quite often, when given a choice, people will pack their wallets with no-annual-fee credit cards and feel like they are ahead of the game. But are no-annual-fee credit cards always really the best choice? Don't be so quick to pass over cards that carry an annual fee. Not only are there ways you can offset the fee, you will find that the best credit cards with an annual fee from our partners are often also the cards that have the best perks and rewards programs.

Taking into consideration the cost of the cards, the bonuses, ongoing rewards, travel perks, and ease of offsetting the fees, we've pulled together a list of what we think are the best credit cards for the annual fee. Keep in mind though, we're only featuring cards with moderate annual fees here. For the true cream-of-the crop, be sure to check out our top picks for the best premium credit cards.

BEST CREDIT CARD WITH NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
For those who travel for business or pleasure and enjoy dining out, the benefits offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card far outweigh the annual fee of $95. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a strong welcome bonus of 80,000 points, worth up to $1,000 in travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, when you spend at least $4,000 in the first three months after the card is issued. Add to that perks such as no foreign transaction fees, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and zero liability protection.

The Bonus: Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That's worth $1,000 in travel. Furthermore, earn up to $50 in statement credit toward grocery store purchases during your first year.

The Rewards: Earn two points for every dollar spent on travel related expenses and dining out, and one point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus earn five points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's three points in addition to the two points you already earn on travel. And, through April 30, 2021, earn two points per $1 on up to $1,000 spent on grocery store purchases monthly (including eligible delivery and pickup services).

The Annual Fee: $95

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? The welcome bonus easily covers the annual fee, but even if you don't achieve the bonus, you can easily cover the annual fee if you are someone who travels or dines out often. For example, spending $6,000 a year on dining out and travel ($500 a month) would net you 12,000 points. That alone would be worth $150 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • We really like the travel perks, such as no foreign transaction fees and trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
  • It isn't just that there are high reward rates, but there are no blackout dates, restrictions or expiration dates on rewards.
  • The points earned with this card are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal, meaning the bonus alone is worth $1,000 in travel.

CONS:

  • No introductory 0% APR balance transfer or purchase offer.
  • If you are not a frequent traveler there are other cards on the market with higher points earning potential.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 82.3 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.3 8.3
Customer Service 8.4 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD WITH GLOBAL ENTRY AND TSA PRECHECK REIMBURSEMENT

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
A healthy welcome bonus combined with an enticing rewards program make the annual fee merely a blip on your fiscal radar screen. This card earns users 2X miles on every purchase made, making it a cinch to offset the annual fee, and in addition, cardholders are eligible for a reimbursement for a Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee, a perk alone that's worth up to $100.

The Bonus: Enjoy 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

The Rewards: Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent with the card.

The Annual Fee: $95

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? The reimbursement for a Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee immediately covers the annual fee for one year, and the welcome bonus can be worth $1,000 through the Capital One Rewards program, covers several years of annual fees. Bonuses aside, the rewards program makes it easy to quickly cover the cost of the annual fee. At 2X miles earned on every purchase made you'll rack up enough miles to offset the fee in no time if you're using your card frequently.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • There is a lot of flexibility with their travel program, which these days, you need: no blackout dates or restrictions for redemption.
  • You can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime, and transfer miles to several leading travel loyalty programs.
  • No foreign transaction fee.

CONS:

  • Earning 2X miles on every purchase is certainly easy to understand, however there are alternative travel rewards cards on the market that have higher points earning potential.
  • The current partner airlines with the Venture card are not the most common or frequently used for rewards travel so transferring points may not provide as much value as other card programs.

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 81.6 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.2
Customer Service 8.3 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.8 9.1
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR GROCERY PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This cash back card not only offers a generous rewards program, but it's actually easy to use. The rewards categories don't rotate, making them simple to keep track of and take best advantage of. An easily-attainable welcome bonus of $300 (earned as a statement credit once you spend $3,000 with your card in the first six months of card membership) gets the ball rolling but the 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 annually) and on select U.S. streaming services builds your account in a hurry. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Bonus: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.

The Rewards: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations; and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? Beyond the first year, with a cash back rate of 6%, grocery shopping at U.S. supermarkets with your card will easily offset your annual fee. Even spending just $150 a month on groceries (well-below most household averages) will reward you with enough to offset the annual fee and then some - $108.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • This card offers a whopping 6% cash back on all grocery purchases up to $6,000 per year. That works out to a maximum of $360 in cash back on groceries alone. You can also earn unlimited 3% cash back on transit and gas purchases at U.S. gas stations.
  • Global Assist Hotline. That is, you'll get concierge service, which can help you with issues like a lost passport or missing luggage.
  • You can receive up to two year extended warranties for purchases (as long as the purchases were made with this card).

CONS:

  • This is a great card with outstanding benefits for those who spend a lot; however, if you don't spend a lot at U.S. supermarkets you may have a difficult time offsetting the annual fee.
  • This isn't the best card to travel abroad with as it charges a fee on foreign transactions.

Read our full Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 87.0 86.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.6 8.3
Customer Service 8.7 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.8 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.9 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.8 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CARD FOR DINING OUT

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This card is good for so much more than just travel thanks to bonus rewards earned in popular everyday categories like dining at resturants worldwide and purchases at U.S. supermarkets.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within your first six months as a cardholder.

The Rewards: You'll earn four times the Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too; four points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases at supermarkets (then one point per $1); three times the Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; and one point per $1 on your other purchases.

The Annual Fee: $250

How do you Offset the Annual Fee?: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year. This alone gets you almost halfway there. Take advantage of up to $10 total monthly in statement credits when you use your card to pay for purchases at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Plus, there's the generous welcome bonus, and with strong ongoing rewards, if you use this card regularly you'll easily earn enough to offset the cost of the card. 

Credit Needed:  Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • This card gives you the flexibility to earn rewards with any airline, so you aren't restricted to earning bonus rewards with just one.
  • Earn up to $10 total monthly in statement credits when you use your card to pay for purchases at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required. 
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it's a good one to travel abroad with.

CONS:

  • Unlike typical credit cards, this card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
  • If you don't fly often, you might be better off with a card that rewards gas purchases or hotel stays instead of airline expenses.

Read our full American Express® Gold Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 88.9 84.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.3
Customer Service 9.1 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.9 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.7 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR POINT REDEMPTION VALUE

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
Yes, the annual fee is steep, but hear us out: there are a ton of benefits offered with this card that more than offset this. Plus, points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and if you have any other Chase-Ultimate-Rewards®-earning cards, those points can be pooled under your Reserve® account, and therefore be worth 50% more as well. So in short, there's some serious reward potential offered with this card.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, worth $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The Rewards: Earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning a $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

The Annual Fee: $550

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? The $300 travel credit this card offers, access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollement in Priority Pass™ Select, up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®, and one year complimentary Lyft Pink access (a $199 minimum value) more than offset the annual fee with ease. And that's not even taking the welcome bonus or 50% more value on points into consideration.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • There are so many. One of the biggest though is the fact that points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
  • Enjoy a $300 travel credit, no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, car rental insurance, and so many other valuable travel perks.
  • Lounge access and Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® application reimbursement are huge, money-saving benefits.

CONS:

  • Of course, the annual fee. This card is designed with travelers in mind, so if you don't travel enough to use the numerous perks this card offers, you may have trouble offsetting its cost.
  • There is a $75 fee for authorized users, so if you plan to add additional users to your account, this is something to keep in mind.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 79.6 85.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 7.9 8.7
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.0 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR FLIGHT DISCOUNTS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
For frequent flyers who make American Airlines their carrier of choice, this card offers the types of perks that make air travel much more pleasant. One free checked bag on domestic American Airlines flights, for you and up to four travelling companions on the same reservation, is a fiscal benefit everyone will appreciate. And if you fly often you're sure to also love the benefit of preferred boarding on flights, allowing you to get to your seats easily and have first shot at the precious overhead storage compartments. Add to that a 25% discount on all inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights and the annual fee (waived for the first year) will feel like nothing compared to the value of these perks. Plus, those who spend at least $20,000 on American Airlines expenses on their card can earn a $125 American Airline flight discount when they renew their card. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles when you spend at least $2,500 in the first three months of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn two AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases. You can redeem your miles for flights with American Airlines and American Eagle as well as with OneWorld partners such as British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas, airberlin and several others, or you can upgrade your ticket to the next cabin. But you have other redemption options, too. AAdvantage® miles can also be redeemed for hotel rooms, rental cars, or to book a vacation through American Airlines Vacations.

The Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? For devotees of American Airlines, the annual fee can be offset easily in several ways, starting with the free checked bag for you and four traveling companions on the same reservation. Most airlines charge $30-$50 per checked bag, so on just one round-trip flight, this perk could save you as much as $500. Plus, if you spend more than $20,000 in a card membership year and renew your card, you earn a $125 American Airline flight discount, which is more than enough to offset the cost of the card.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Your first checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation.
  • This card gives you preferred boarding on flights and 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.
  • You don't have to use your miles for trips. You can redeem them for magazines, newspapers, gift cards and identify theft protection – or donate your miles to a charity.
  • The annual fee is waived the first year.

CONS:

  • If you're looking for a travel card with a lot of flashy perks, like access to an airport lounge, this isn't it.
  • While your miles can be redeemed for a lot of things, such as gift cards and vacation packages, you can't redeem them for cash.

Read our full Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 82.3 84.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.5
Customer Service 8.6 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.3 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 8.3

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR HOTEL STAYS

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
If rewards points, flexibility and comfort when you travel make you smile, this card will have you grinning ear-to-ear. To start, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card automatically gives you Gold Status in the Hilton Honors program, which offers an 80% bonus on qualifying base points earned, plus your 5th standard night free when booking a reward stay of five or more consecutive nights. This card also gives you 10 free airport lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select, and so much more. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

The Bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you use your new card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn 12X bonus points on eligible purchases made directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; 6X points on eligible purchases made at at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases.

The Annual Fee: $95

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? Automatic gold status, a huge welcome offer, a ton of points earned across various categories, a free weekend night reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year, free airport lounge visits, and more easily help to offset the comparatively low cost of this travel rewards card.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Feel free to comfortably travel abroad with this card. It does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  • We've mentioned it before but it's such a big deal, we'll say it once again: you can earn 130,000 points as a welcome offer!
  • If a store refuses to take a return, and you can return stuff for any reason, purchase protection may provide a refund of up to $300 per item with a total limit of $1,000 per calendar year.
  • Usually, we don't get that excited about extended warranties. Who does? But this card offers an extended warranty that matches the existing warranty up to one additional year, if the item has a manufacturer's warranty of five years or less.

CONS:

  • If you don't often stay at a lot of Hilton properties, there's not a big reason to get this card.
  • Hilton Honors points can also be redeemed for perks other than free hotel stays including purchases on Amazon.com; car rentals and rental upgrades; and special experiences such as private concerts, luxury weekends and VIP access to special events; however, you'll likely get the most out of your points using them for free hotel stays, so again, this card is really best for those who often stay at Hilton properties.

Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 85.7 83.9
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.5 8.4
Customer Service 8.6 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.7
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.8 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR GAS PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
From hotel stays to everyday purchases this card rewards you generously, and the level of rewards easily helps to offset its manageable annual fee.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, worth $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com.

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 spent at gas stations, air travel and hotels; three points per $1 spent at restaurants and supermarkets; and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

The Annual Fee: $95

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? The welcome bonus alone easily offsets years worth of annual fees, but beyond that, enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through thankyou.com once per calendar year. If you frequently stay at hotels, this is a nice perk that offsets the cost of the card.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Planning a trip abroad? Feel free to bring this card along as it does not charge fees on foreign transactions.
  • ThankYou® Points can be transferred to participating airline loyalty programs, or redeemed for gift cards including for department and home stores, restaurants, and more. Or, use ThankYou® Points to shop online at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com.
  • Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through thankyou.com once per calendar year.

CONS:

  • If you're after cash-back rewards, you might not find the redemption options as lucrative as some other cards.
  • Though the hotel savings benefit is a nice perk, if you don't frequently stay in hotels, you might have trouble offsetting the cost of the card.

Read our full Citi Premier® Card review.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

BEST CREDIT CARD FOR FAIR CREDIT

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This is a cash-back card for those thinking they probably aren't eligible for one. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is available to people with average/fair/limited credit, which is rare for a good cash-back card. It offers a rewards system with just one tier (1.5% cash back on every purchase) which makes earning cash back super easy.

The Bonus: There is no traditional bonus offered with this card, however, you can get access to a higher line of credit in as little as six months, which is a nice perk for those working on their credit.

The Rewards: Earn 1.5 % cash back on every purchase, every day.

The Annual Fee: $39

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? With the annual fee a modest $39, it doesn't take much spending to offset. In fact, at a cash back rate of 1.5%, using the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card for just $250 in spending a month will earn $45 in cash back. Considering the fact that this card is designed for people with lower credit, $39 is a small sacrifice to pay in the road towards a better credit score - especially when it can so easily be offset by making just $3,000 in purchases a year.

Credit Needed: Average, Fair, Limited

PROS:

  • You can feel particularly good about making expensive purchases on things that might break. You'll receive extended warranty protection which doubles the time of the original U.S. manufacturer's warranty (up to one year) on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • The card comes with some helpful travel protection benefits such as travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, and auto rental collision damage waiver.
  • Many rewards cards require excellent credit, but you could qualify for this card even if your credit isn't perfect, and enjoy some great rewards for a relatively low annual fee.

CONS:

  • The rewards offered with this card are good for someone with a lower credit score, but if you have very good or excellent credit, you'll likely want to consider another option.
  • There is no welcome bonus to entice new cardholders.

Read our full Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 86.6 Did not survey
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 n/a
Customer Service 8.8 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.9 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.3 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.9 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST BUSINESS CREDIT CARD FOR CELL PHONE INSURANCE

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
It would be easy just to begin and end with the eye-popping 100,000 points this card offers as a welcome bonus (earned once spending $15,000 in the first three months of card membership), but the card also offers a plethora of perks that matter to people in charge of a business's operations and bottom line. These benefits include no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, cell phone insurance for the primary cardholder and employee phones on the same account, and employee cards at no additional cost.

The Bonus: Enjoy 100,000 bonus points, worth $1,250 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, when you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months after the card is issued.

The Rewards: Earn three points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

The Annual Fee: $95

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? The whopping welcome bonus of 100,000 points, with a value of $1,250 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, certainly offsets the annual fee for several years, and then some. Beyond that, it would take just modest spending to cover the annual fee each year. For example, just $3,000 in spending on travel, shipping or social media/search engine advertising would net a redemption value of $112 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This doesn't even take into consideration money that can be saved by the waiving of foreign transaction fees, auto rental collision insurance, cell phone insurance, etc.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • We really like the cell phone insurance for the primary cardholder and employee phones on the same account.
  • With the state of travel these days, you'll likely appreciate the trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance and trip delay reimbursement.
  • This is a business credit card that gets that it's a business credit card: Employee cards can be distributed at no additional cost with the option to set individual spending limits, helping you to earn rewards even faster and keep track of your business' spending.

CONS:

  • If the bonus cash-back categories don't really fit your business needs, or you spend above the $150k threshold annually, you may want to look elsewhere for maximum cash back.
  • This isn't a credit card that you'd want to transfer a balance to. The balance transfer fee is 5%, and if transferring debt to a low interest card is your goal, you could likely find something better.

Read our full review of the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 83.4 81.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.3
Customer Service 8.5 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.0
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 7.9

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST CARD FOR SMALL BUSINESS PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings
Why We Like It:
This card rewards you in the two select categories where your business spends the most each month, so you can rest easy knowing you're getting the most of the rewards program with little effort on your part.

The Bonus: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points on the two select categories where your business spent the most each month and 1X point on other purchases. The 4X points rate applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these two categories each calendar year. Plus, get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.

The Annual Fee: $295

How do you Offset the Annual Fee? If you travel often the 25% points back on eligible flights booked with Amex Travel feature is huge. This offer is good for up to 250,000 points back per calendar year. Depending on flight location and dates, this could be enough to pay for several flights, a value far exceeding the cost of the annual fee.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • This card doesn't charge any foreign transaction fees so it's good for international travel.
  • You can combine rewards you earn with this card with Membership Rewards® you earn with a personal card.
  • Earning four points in the categories where you spend most is huge. This gives you the opportunity for some serious point earning potential.

CONS:

  • Don't overlook the annual fee. Ensure the rewards and other perks and features will allow you to more than offset that fee.
  • There is a cap on the amount of bonus rewards you can earn. It's still pretty high, but if your business spends far more than $150,000 in certain categories each year, you might want to consider another option.

Read our full American Express® Business Gold Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 84.3 83.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.3
Customer Service 8.5 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.5 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

WHAT IS THE BEST ANNUAL FEE CREDIT CARD?

If you want to earn rewards on every purchase you make, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a clear winner. This card offers a number of valuable perks, a ton of flexibility and a generous welcome bonus. It earns two miles on every purchase made, and there are a number of convenient redemption offers, including the ability to transfer miles to several leading travel loyalty programs. If you don't want to think about how, when, or where you earn rewards, this is a hard card to beat.

You may spend heavily in certain categories though, or maybe you don't mind keeping up with rotating rewards. No two credit card users are the exact same, so it's not so easy to declare one winner overall.

When it comes to deciding what the best credit card for the annual fee is, it's important to consider which rewards make the most sense for you and your spending habits, and evaluate whether or not you'll actually use your card and any added benefits it offers. If you're not utilizing a card's perks, it'll be hard to offset the annual fee. So don't choose a card just because the benefits sound great. Make sure they're perks you'll actually use.

WHAT IS A CREDIT CARD ANNUAL FEE?

A credit card annual fee is the fee charged by a credit card company simply for the privilege of membership. The amount varies broadly depending on the card. Some companies have no fee at all. Others will waive the fee for the first year as part of an introductory offer.

WHEN DO YOU PAY ANNUAL FEE ON CREDIT CARDS?

For cards with an annual fee from the time it is issued, the fee is most often applied to your account during the first billing cycle. If the fee is waived for the first year, it will be applied to your account in the first billing cycle following your card member anniversary.

ARE CREDIT CARDS WITH ANNUAL FEES WORTH IT?

If you plan to regularly use a card and take advantage of any added benefits offered, then yes, credit cards with annual fees are usually worth it.

Evaluate the perks and bonuses of the card you are considering applying for and decide if you will be using the card often enough to take full advantage. If you expect to use the card frequently enough to reap the benefits, such as the welcome bonus, then the card is likely a good addition to your wallet. On the other hand, if you don't expect to use the card very often, the fee could quickly become a waste of your financial resources.

Infographic describing situations when credit cards with annual fees might be worth it

CANCELING A CREDIT CARD WITH AN ANNUAL FEE

If you have a credit card with an annual fee and you aren't utilizing its benefits enough to offset its cost, instead of just canceling your account altogether, you might want to consider making a credit card product change instead. A product change, in short, is simply moving your account from one credit card to another offered by the same company or bank. To make a product change, no hard credit pull is needed and you'll maintain your credit history, and then of course you'll lower your costs.

Take the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for example. Perhaps you love earning rewards on every purchase you make, but aren't using the card quite enough to justify its annual cost. Switching to the no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card will grant you some of the same great benefits, like the flexibility to redeem miles for any travel purchase, and you'll still earn rewards on all purchases that you make (albeit at a lower rate of 1.25X miles per dollar spent).

Switching from a card with a high annual fee to one with a lower annual fee is also a possibility. The Chase Sapphire cards are a good example of this. Maybe you used to travel all the time making the numerous benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card worth its high annual fee, but now you don't travel quite as often. If you want something that offers similar rewards but a lower annual fee you might be happy with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It still earns rewards on travel and dining purchases, but its annual fee is a fraction of its premium cousin.


Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

To see the rates and fees for the cards featured in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Business Gold Card: See Rates and Fees; Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees; Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: See Rates and Fees; American Express® Gold Card: See Rates and Fees

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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