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What if you want a premium travel rewards card, but you don’t want to pay an annual fee? Unfortunately, the top travel rewards credit cards will always have an annual fee, but you don’t have to pay it every year. There are some competitive offers that waive the first year’s annual fee. This allows you to take a whole year to evaluate the card and see if it meets your needs, before having to pay the fee. Another way to look at it is that you get to pay just half the annual fee for your first two years of cardmembership. And when you factor these card’s welcome offers into your decision, it’s amazing how much value they can offer.

United℠ Explorer Card

This card offers you plenty of rewards and travel benefits. You earn double miles not just on United Airlines purchases, but also on restaurant and hotel stays. You also receive up to $100 in credit towards the application fees for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which includes PreCheck. When traveling, you’ll receive your first bag checked for complimentary for you and a companion, and priority boarding. Normally, this card has a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

This card offers you 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase within your first three months. You earn double miles on purchases made with Delta, and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. You also receive your first bag checked complimentary for you and your companions on the same reservation, a 20% savings on in-flight purchases and priority boarding. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year. (Please note: This offer has expired. You will be directed to the current offer)

Citi Premier℠ Card

This premium travel rewards card offers you 50,000 ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. You also earn 3x points on travel and gas, 2x on dining and entertainment purchases and one point per dollar spent elsewhere.  Points are worth about one cent each towards gift cards, merchandise and other awards. Or, points are worth 1.25 cents each towards airfare when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center. Finally, you can transfer your points to miles with several different airlines, and potentially receive even more value per point redeemed. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Small business owners can earn 70,000 miles when they make $4,000 in purchases within four months of account opening. It also offers double miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and all purchases from telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. You also get a complimentary checked bag on American Airlines flights and a 25% savings on in-flight purchases. This card has a $99 annual fee that’s waived the first year.

Intro image by Ti_ser via Shutterstock

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