Short Review of Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards
|Name||Best for||Rewards Rate||APR||Apply|
|This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||None||Apply now|
On Acceptedplatinum‘s website
Triple Cash Rewards Visa®
|3% Cash Back on Home, Auto and Health categories.1% Cash Back on everything else.||8.99% - 29.99% Regular.||Apply now|
On Upgrade‘s website
|1.5% Cash Back on payments.||8.99% - 29.99% Regular.||Apply now|
On Upgrade‘s website
Deserve® EDU Mastercard from Celtic Bank
|Cash Back, Low Interest, Without SSN, Student||1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning Cash Back on all purchases.||18.74% Variable.||Apply now|
On Celtic Bank‘s site
Evolve℠ from Sallie Mae Bank
|2% Cash Back on your two highest-spending eligible categories per month.1.5% Cash Back on everything else.||12.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.||Apply now|
On Sallie Mae Bank‘s site
Double Cash from Citi
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee, Daily use||2% Cash Back on every purchase with unlimited 1% Cash Back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for purchases.||13.99% - 23.99% Variable.||Learn more|
SavorOne from Capital One
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Restaurants, Entertainment, Daily use||3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||15.49% - 25.49% Variable.||Learn more|
Freedom Unlimited® from Chase
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use||5% Cash Back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.3% Cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.3% Cash Back on drugstore purchases.1.5% Cash Back on all other purchases.||14.99% - 23.74% Variable.||Learn more|
Discover it® Cash Back from Discover Bank
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Young couples, Daily use||5% Cash Back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||11,99% - 22,99% Variable.||Learn more|
Travel Rewards from Bank of America
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee||1.5x Unlimited points per dollar on all qualifying purchases.||13.99% - 23.99% Variable.||Learn more|
Quicksilver from Capital One
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use||1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.||15.49% - 25.49% Variable.||Learn more|
Freedom Flex℠ from Chase
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use||5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.5% Cash Back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.3% Cash Back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.3% Cash Back on drugstore purchases.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||14.99% - 23.74% Variable.||Learn more|
Discover it® Secured from Discover Bank
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee, Young couples, For bad credit||2% Cash Back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||22,99% Variable.||Learn more|
Cash Rewards from Bank of America
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee, Single mom||3% Cash Back rewards in a selected purchase category.2% Cash Back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||13.99% - 23.99% Variable.||Learn more|
Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express
|Cash Back, Gas, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Families, Shopping, Groceries||3% Cash Back on groceries, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.2% Cash Back on gas.2% Cash Back at select department stores.1% Cash Back on other purchases.||13.99% - 23.99% Variable.||Learn more|
VentureOne Rewards from Capital One
|Rewards, No Annual Fee, Daily use||1.25x Miles per dollar on all purchases.||15.49% - 25.49% Variable.||Learn more|
Diamond Preferred® from Citi
|0 APR, No Annual Fee||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||13.74% - 23.74% Variable.||Learn more|
Rewards+® from Citi
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee||2x Points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1x points).1x Points on all other purchases.||13.49% - 23.49% Variable.||Learn more|
Delta SkyMiles® Blue from American Express
|No Annual Fee||2x Miles at restaurants.2x Miles on Delta purchases.1x Miles on all other purchases.||15.74% - 24.74% Variable.||Learn more|
Hilton Honors from American Express
|No Annual Fee||7x Points on hotels & resorts.5x Points on dining.5x Points on groceries.5x Points on Gas.3x Points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.||15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR.||Learn more|
Ink Business Cash® from Chase
|No Annual Fee, Small business||5% Cash Back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year.2% Cash Back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||13.24% - 19.24% Variable.||Learn more|
Visa® Platinum from US bank
|0 APR, No Annual Fee||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||14.49% - 24.49% Variable.||Learn more|
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash comes with an unlimited, generous flat-rate cash back on all purchases. You'll earn 1% when you buy and then 1% more when you pay for the purchase. This card can also take some weight off your back with its 0% APR intro offer on balance transfers. It lacks a sign-up bonus and an intro APR on purchases, but it’s still a very valuable card.
Read more about Citi Double Cash
Capital One SavorOne
The Capital One SavorOne will earn you cash back while you’re having fun! It offers a great 3% rate on dining and entertainment and 2% at grocery stores. By spending $500 in the first three months, you’ll get yourself a nice $200 cash back bonus.
Read more about Capital One SavorOne
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
What makes Chase Freedom Unlimited® stand out is its great 1.5% flat rate on all purchases, followed by bonus categories rewards. You’ll get 5% on travel (if purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards) and 3% at restaurants and drugstores. On top of that, there’s a 15-month 0% APR offer on purchases and a $200 bonus.
Read more about Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Discover Bank Discover it® Cash Back
The Discover it® Cash Back offers an amazing 5% cash back rate in various everyday spending categories that rotate quarterly. In the previous 2 years, those included grocery stores, gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, and the Home Depot. The 5% rate applies to the first $1,500 spent each quarter, and you'll earn an unlimited 1% on all other purchases. This card can also help you finance a big purchase or carry a balance with its 14-month 0% APR offer on balance transfers and purchases. Your cash back being matched at the end of the first year is the cherry on top.
Read more about Discover Bank Discover it® Cash Back
Bank of America Travel Rewards
The Bank of America Travel Rewards is a simple travel card that’ll earn you 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases and has a decent 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 billing cycles. What makes it worthwhile is the chance to qualify for the Preferred Rewards program, which can increase the points per dollar rate by up to 75%, depending on your three-month average balance.
Read more about Bank of America Travel Rewards
Capital One Quicksilver
Probably one of the most straightforward cards, the Capital One Quicksilver will earn you an unlimited 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases. There’s also a solid 15-month intro 0% APR offer on purchases.
Read more about Capital One Quicksilver
Chase Freedom Flex℠
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is the sister card of Chase Freedom Unlimited®, except it has a few differences in the rewards program. The Freedom Flex℠ also offers 5% on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each activated quarter. Also, this one has a 1% cash back rate on all purchases (compared to Unlimited, which has 1.5%).
Read more about Chase Freedom Flex℠
Discover Bank Discover it® Secured
This card is for the credit builders, and we like it because there aren't many rewards cards for people with bad credit. You'll have to pay a $200 security deposit which will also be the amount of your credit limit. The rewards program consists of 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations for up to $1,000 spent on combined purchases each quarter and an unlimited 1% cash back rate on all other purchases. As all other Discover rewards credit cards, this one also has its signature benefit - matched cash back at the end of the first year.
Read more about Discover Bank Discover it® Secured
Bank of America Cash Rewards
The Bank of America Cash Rewards offers you flexibility as it’s you who makes the decisions. You can select your bonus category on which you’ll earn a 3% rewards rate, and also 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,000 spent each quarter in all three categories, then it’s 1%). If you spend $1,000 in purchases during the first three months, you’ll get a $200 bonus.
Read more about Bank of America Cash Rewards
American Express Blue Cash Everyday®
The Blue Cash Everyday® is really an everyday, family card. It'll earn you a 3% cash back rate on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually, then it's 1%), 2% at U.S. gas stations and several department stores, and 1% on everything else. It is also the card to finance your next appliance purchase, for example, as it has a 15-month intro 0% APR offer on purchases.
Read more about American Express Blue Cash Everyday®
Capital One VentureOne Rewards
If you want to earn miles, consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards which is one of the best, no-annual-fee credit cards. You'll earn 1.25 miles per dollar spent on all purchases, and new cardholders can get 20,000 bonus miles. With this card, you won't have to commit to any particular skyline or hotel brand, as the redemption options are very flexible.
Read more about Capital One VentureOne Rewards
Citi Diamond Preferred®
This card won’t earn you any cash back or miles, but it’ll help you with your credit card debt if you take advantage of its lengthy intro 0% APR period. The 18-month 0% APR offer is valid both for balance transfers and purchases. Despite the lack of rewards, you can use Citi Entertainment to get early access to many event tickets.
Read more about Citi Diamond Preferred®
The Citi Rewards+® is another useful card for everyday spending. It offers 2 points per dollar spent at supermarkets and gas stations (up to the $6,000 spent in a year, then it's 1x) and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. This card also has a few other features that will boost your rewards. Each purchase is automatically rounded up to the nearest 10 points, and you'll get 10% of the points back for the first 100,000 earned per year.
Read more about Citi Rewards+®
American Express Delta SkyMiles® Blue
The Delta SkyMiles® Blue is the only Delta credit card that doesn’t have an annual fee, and it's best suited for infrequent Delta travelers. You won't find any luxury perks with this card, but the rewards are similar to its annual fee counterparts. You'll earn 2 miles for each dollar spent at restaurants, and eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile for each dollar spent on everything else. New cardholders can also get 10,000 bonus miles by spending $500 within the first 3 months.
Read more about American Express Delta SkyMiles® Blue
American Express Hilton Honors
The American Express Hilton Honors is for Hilton Hotel fans who want a no-annual fee card that'll still earn them great rewards. You'll get 7 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at the Hilton, 5 points per dollar at gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants, and 3 points for all other purchases. Although this card lacks some premium benefits, you'll automatically get a Hilton Honors Silver membership which comes with many perks like a free fifth night when booking a reward stay of five nights or more.
Read more about American Express Hilton Honors
Chase Ink Business Cash®
The Ink Business Cash® by Chase will be of great value to small businesses. There is a 5% rewards rate at office-supply stores and telecom services, with a cap on $25,000 annual spending combined. The 2% cash back rate at gas stations and restaurants is capped at $25,000 as well. A $750 bonus is available too by spending $7,500, which should be easy to reach for businesses. The intro 0% APR offer on purchases will also come in handy, for a new office equipment, for example.
Read more about Chase Ink Business Cash®
US bank Visa® Platinum
Whether you're looking for a card to carry on your balance or to help with your new purchase – look no more! The US bank Visa® Platinum is definitely the best card when it comes to intro APR offers. With it, you'll get an unmatched 0% APR period for 20 billing cycles on both balance transfers and purchases. There are no rewards, but it does come with a cool cell phone protection benefit.
Read more about US bank Visa® Platinum
What is a no annual fee credit card, and how does it work?
Some credit cards will charge you an annual fee which is the cost you pay to keep your account open. While there are also credit cards without this yearly cost. There is a wide choice of no annual fees credit cards with numerous benefits, and you can easily save money or earn rewards with them. Some of the best credit cards, like those on our list, have no annual fees.
Although they can be of great value, don't let the no-annual-fee part fool you as these cards have other fees and costs. It's important to read the fine print of the card to be well aware of the benefits and costs that come with it.
Common benefits of a no annual fee card
Ranging from a simple, flat-rate cash back card like the Capital One Quicksilver to a card with a customized bonus category like the Bank of America Cash Rewards, or a great travel rewards card like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards – there is a diverse selection of rewards credit cards without an annual fee. Some of them also have welcome offers that allow new cardholders to earn a bonus by spending a certain amount on purchases during the first few months.
Intro APR offers
The clear winner for 0% APR offers is the US bank Visa® Platinum which has the longest intro period. Still, there are also other cards with solid intro APR periods, like the Citi Diamond Preferred® that offers cardholders an interest-free 18-month period on purchases and balance transfers. If you plan to carry a balance on the card, take a look at the ongoing APR rates and think whether you’ll be able to pay it all off during the interest-free period.
With most cards, you'll find some usual benefits like zero fraud liability. Some might offer travel insurance or extended warranties on products purchased with the card, like the Capital One Venture Rewards
How to choose a no annual fee credit card?
You might need some time and research until you find the no annual fee credit card that will best fit your needs, but once you do – it will be worth it. Here’s a list of things you need to consider when deciding:
- The card’s purpose – What's your priority, the main reason you're getting a new credit card? Maybe you're a moderate traveler who doesn't want to pay an annual fee for a fancy travel card, or you want to take a break from paying interest? Of course, you might find cards that don't just offer one of your desired benefits, but you still have to rank them according to the feature that's most important to you.
- Rewards program – In case you decide you want a rewards card, the next step is to find the one that will offer the most lucrative deal for you. You can choose cash back, points or miles. Points and miles might value more depending on how you redeem them, but cash back is the most straightforward and flexible option. There are a variety of cards within the cash back category that differ in whether they have a flat rate or offer higher rewards in bonus categories. To know more visit Rewards Credit Cards.
- Other fees – A no annual fee credit card doesn’t mean a no-fee or no-cost credit card. You have to be aware of late or penalty fees, especially if you don’t always make your payments on time. Or if you plan to pay with your card outside the U.S. check if there’s a foreign transaction fee. Other common fees you may encounter are a balance transfer fee and a cash advance fee.
- Additional benefits – Finally, look at any extra perks that come with the card. In addition to those already mentioned throughout the text, you can also find something like rental car insurance or free access to your FICO score. Sometimes, if your choice narrows down to two or three cards, these marginal benefits might be a tiebreaker.
Who should get a no annual fee credit card?
A no annual fee credit card could be beneficial to a lot of people:
Beginners – people who have never had a credit card and are looking to dip their toes in the credit card world should start with a card without an annual fee. Once they gain a better understanding of how they work, it'll be okay to go for an annual fee card (of course, if they think it'll provide them bigger value).
People who need interest relief – As many no-annual-fee credit cards come with intro APR offers, people can take advantage of them for balance transfers or new purchases. As their incentive is probably to reduce costs, a no-annual fee card with an APR offer is exactly what they need. If their main objective is to escape interest for as long as they can, they should go for a card with the longest APR offer, like the US bank Visa® Platinum or Citi Diamond Preferred®. For those who want to earn rewards too, both Chase Freedom cards on the list have APR offers on purchases.
Infrequent credit card users – those who don’t use their card too often and don’t want to worry whether an annual fee would be worth it should apply for a card without an annual fee.
Which is better: annual fee or no annual fee?
You might be still in a dilemma whether you'd be better off with an annual fee card. Unfortunately, deciding this is not simple. It depends on factors like your financial situation or your lifestyle. A no annual fee credit card is a safer choice for newbies or people who are not sure they spend enough to offset the annual fee with rewards. Those who spend a lot or would like some fancy benefits that come with annual fee cards can get a great value of them. The general rule is that your rewards and benefits must outweigh the cost of the annual fee for the card to be worth it. In the next section, we'll compare some of the best rewards cards with their no-annual-fee counterparts. Take a look, as this could help you make up your mind.
Comparing top rewards cards and their no-annual-fee counterparts
We’ll start with a comparison of the Blue Cash Everyday® and the Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express.
| Blue Cash Everyday®|| Blue Cash Preferred®|
||$95(waived the first year)
U.S. gas stations
Select U.S. streaming services
Select U.S. department stores
All other purchases
|Sign-up bonus:||20% Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $150 back.$100 Earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.||20% Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back.$200 Earn $200 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.|
|Benefits:||15-month 0% APR on purchases
||12-month 0% APR on purchases
*for the first $6,000 spent, after 1%
To see at what amount of spending these two cards break even we’ll take the supermarkets category.
||Total rewards minus the annual fee
|Blue Cash Everyday®
||$3,170 x 3% = $95
|Blue Cash Preferred®
||$3,170 x 6% = $190
At annual spending of $3,170 at U.S. supermarkets, the Blue Cash Everyday® and the Blue Cash Preferred® are tied. But anyone who spends more than that amount will get a better value of the Blue Cash Preferred®.
Now, let’s take a look at the Capital One VentureOne Rewards and its annual fee counterpart, the Capital One Venture Rewards.
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards
|| Capital One Venture Rewards
|Rewards:||1.25x Miles per dollar on all purchases.||2x Miles on all purchases.|
|Sign-up bonus:||20,000x Bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.||60,000x Bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.|
|Benefits:||no 0% APR on purchases
||12-month 0% APR on purchases
||Total rewards minus annual fee
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards
||1.25 miles x $12,670 = $158
|Capital One Venture Rewards
||2 miles x $12,670 = $253
If you spend more than $12,670 with your credit card annually, the Capital One Venture Rewards will be a better fit for you.
We've come to similar conclusions after comparing the Blue Cash and the Capital One Venture Rewards cards - it all comes down to how much you plan on spending. So, when you're in two minds whether to choose a card with or without an annual fee, take a look at the rewards rate that makes the difference between them and compare the break-even amount to your annual spending in that category.
When to switch to a no annual fee credit card?
You can probably guess the answer to this question if you've carefully read the previous part. When the costs outweigh the rewards and benefits you have with the card. You might not spend as much as before, for example, if you have a card with higher rewards rates for travel or dining out, but because of the pandemic, you haven't had many opportunities to use it.
There's the option of canceling the card, but as that might damage your credit score, it's better to downgrade to a no-annual-fee card. You can do that by simply calling your credit card issuer.
What are other credit cards to consider?
Other great no-annual-fee cards we didn't mention in our list are the Discover it® chrome
and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa.
Is it worth getting a card with an annual fee?
This depends on how much you spend in the higher rewards categories, and how much you value the extra benefits that the card offers.
Can you get a no-annual-fee card with bad or no credit?
No annual fee cards aren’t just for those with excellent credit. There are also options for those with bad credit, like the Discover it Secured.