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The best airline credit cards with annual fees under $100


Airline credit cards can be valuable tools to help you save money and enjoy the additional perks while flying. While some airlines have started offering no-fee credit cards, they are typically stripped-down versions that don’t deliver many valuable benefits.

On the other hand, the best airline credit cards provide the first checked bag for free, priority boarding, discounts on inflight, in flight purchases, and additional rewards on your spending…for an annual fee. Still, there are great airline credit cards with annual fees of under $100 a year, and some of them even waive the first year’s annual fee so you can test drive the benefits before paying a fee.

Here’s a list of the best airline credit cards with annual fees under $100 and why you might want to consider each.

The best airline credit cards with annual fees under $100

The information for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and JetBlue Plus cardS has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Comparison of the best airline credit cards with annual fees of $100 or less

Card Annual fee Reward rates Welcome offer
Alaska Airlines Visa credit card $95 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases

2 miles per dollar on eligible gas, EV charging station, cable, streaming services and local transit, including ride-share, ride-sharing purchases

1 mile per dollar on other purchases

Get 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $23 ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $23). To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard $99, waived first year 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases, restaurants and gas purchases

1 mile per dollar on other purchases

50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first three months of account opening
Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $99 (see rates and fees) 2 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases, dining at restaurants (takeout and delivery in the U.S. included), and U.S. supermarket purchases

1 mile per dollar on other purchases

Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership
JetBlue Plus Card $99 6 miles per dollar on eligible JetBlue purchases

2 miles per dollar on dining and eligible grocery purchases

1 mile per dollar on other purchases

Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card $99 2 miles per dollar spent on Southwest purchases

2 miles per dollar on local transit and commuting (including rideshare)

2 miles per dollar spent on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming

2 miles per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners

1 mile per dollar on other purchases

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months
United Explorer Card $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $95 2 miles per dollar on United, dining, and hotel purchases (direct with hotel)

1 mile per dollar on other purchases

Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open

Alaska Airlines Visa credit card

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Annual fee: $95

Current sign-up bonus: Get 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $23 ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Why it’s worth it: The Alaska Airlines Visa credit card is most famous for its annual Companion Fare. This benefit allows the cardholder to book a paid round-trip economy airfare on the airline and add a companion for only $99 plus taxes. Best of all, the primary ticket can be purchased for someone else, too, and both the first passenger and the companion earn miles and are eligible for upgrades, just like with a paid ticket.

Eligible purchases from Alaska Airlines earn 3 miles per $1, while all other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar. Cardholders also receive 20% back on inflight, in flight purchases.

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Related: Your guide to earning and redeeming with Alaska Airlines MileagePlan

The card provides one free checked bag for the cardholder and up to six guests on the same reservation. With checked bag fees of $30 each way, that’s a savings of $60 per person on every round-trip flight.


Apply here: Alaska Airlines Visa credit card


Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Annual fee: $99; waived for the first 12 months

Current sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after making $2,500 in purchases within the first three months.

Why it’s worth it: The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard earns cardholders 2 miles per dollar spent on dining, gas, and eligible American Airlines purchases. These bonus categories are a quick way to earn enough miles for a free flight.

A welcome bonus of 50,000 miles is earned when you spend at least $2,500 in three months. When you take advantage of American’s low-cost web specials, this is enough miles for multiple award flights. You’ll also earn a $125 flight credit when you spend $20,000 each account year and renew your card.

The big savings come with people who check their bags. Cardholders and up to four companions traveling on the same itinerary can get their first bags checked for free. That’s a savings of $60 per person on round-trip flights.

Related: Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard review

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $99 (see rates and fees).

Current welcome bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

Why it’s worth it: Delta passengers should apply for the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card because it provides the most free checked bags of any of the best airline credit cards with annual fees of under $100. The cardholder and up to eight companions on the same itinerary can check their first bag for free, which is a savings of $60 per person on each round-trip itinerary.

When you spend $10,000 in a calendar year, you’ll receive a $100 flight credit toward future travel on Delta. That benefit alone offsets the annual fee that you’re charged. Plus, since the intro annual fee is $0 the first year, you can earn extra miles and use all of the card’s perks for a full 12 months before paying any fees.

Related: Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card review


Apply here: Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card


JetBlue Plus Card

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Annual fee: $99

Current sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 and paying the annual fee within the first 90 days.

Why it’s worth it: The JetBlue Plus Card provides a generous solid bonus of 40,000 points after spending just $1,000 in the first 90 days. Plus, cardholders earn an additional 5,000 bonus points yearly when they renew the card. With JetBlue points worth 1.3 cents on average, according to TPG valuations, this welcome bonus is worth $520, and the annual bonus is worth $65.

Cardholders receive the first checked bag free for themselves and up to three companions on the same reservation, which saves the $35 fee each way. For a family of four, that’s a savings of $280 on a round-trip flight. You’ll save 50% on inflight, inflight food and cocktail purchases.

Big spenders can earn JetBlue Mosaic status by spending $50,000 on purchases in a calendar year. Mosaic status includes an extra 3 points per dollar spent with JetBlue, free same-day changes, free checked bags and inflight, in flight drinks, priority boarding, and free same-day Even More Space seat selection.

Related: JetBlue Plus Card review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Annual fee: $99

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Why it’s worth it: LUV is in the air with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. Not only can cardholders earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months, but they’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on dining, including restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

The welcome bonus and all of your points from spending count toward qualifying for the coveted Southwest Companion Pass. I’ve had the Companion Pass every year since 2007, saving my family thousands of dollars yearly on flights.

Cardholders also receive 3,000 bonus anniversary points when they renew their card each year. With Southwest points worth an average of 1.5 cents each, that’s $45 toward future travel that comes close to offsetting the card’s annual fee.

Related: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card review


Apply here: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card


United Explorer Card

THE POINTS GUY

Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee the first year, then $95

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

Why it’s worth it: The United Explorer Card is the only one on this list that includes airline club passes (two one-time United Club passes each year), upgrade eligibility on award tickets, and reimbursement of up to $100 for either a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years (4½ years for PreCheck). Cardholders are also eligible for complimentary Premier Upgrades on United award tickets when available. These benefits, plus the fact that the first year’s annual fee is waived, make it a no-brainer to try out.

Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, dining, and hotel stays booked directly with hotels. All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar. Folks with this card also receive a first checked bag free for themselves and one companion traveling on the same reservation. Although this is the lowest number of free checked bags of any card on this list, it still amounts to a potential savings of $140 per round-trip itinerary.

Related: United Explorer Card review


Apply here: United Explorer Card


Bottom line

Airline credit cards offer numerous benefits for travelers. Although some of the best airline credit cards charge annual fees, at the minimum, you can still expect the benefits of free checked bags, discounts on inflight, in flight purchases, and priority boarding with those that charge $100 or less per year to carry.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.

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