Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards (September 2023)
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A no-annual-fee credit card may not seem as exciting as those with an annual fee and more benefits. However, a $0 annual fee credit card can be more valuable than you may expect.
For example, these rewards cards can provide elite travel status and prevent your travel points from expiring. These cards are also an excellent way to build credit for free as you can keep them for years even if you only make sporadic purchases.
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Best Flexible Rewards Credit Cards
The best no-annual-fee credit cards have flexible redemption options and are usually not connected with a particular airline or hotel loyalty program.
This is because branded airline and hotel credit cards usually charge an annual fee to provide perks like elite loyalty status, free checked bags, or anniversary night certificates.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Card
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is the best rewards credit card without an annual fee because it has powerful bonus categories and flexible redemption options.
You can earn up to 5% back on purchases:
- 5% on travel bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and delivery services
- 3% on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% back on remaining purchases
It’s possible to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for award travel, cash back, or gift cards. Each redeemed point is worth 1 cent for these three redemptions.
Unfortunately, you cannot transfer your points to the Chase airline and hotel transfer partners since this card doesn’t have an annual fee. But, you can transfer your points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ($95/year) if you want this feature.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best for International Travel
Consider the Capital One Quicksilver if you’re traveling overseas as you won’t pay any foreign transaction fees. While more no-annual-fee credit cards are waiving this fee, several popular cards charge up to 3% fees for purchases outside the United States.
Your purchases earn 1.5% back. Additionally, booking hotels or car rentals through Capital One Travel net 5% back.
You can redeem your rewards as a cash statement credit, cover recent purchases, paper checks, or gift cards. Unfortunately, this card doesn’t support point transfers to airlines and hotels.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Best for Capital One point transfers
Consider the Capital One VentureOne if you want a no-annual-fee credit card with 0% foreign transaction fees and point transfer capabilities.
This card only earns 1.25 miles per $1 on purchases and 5x miles for hotels and car rentals through Capital One Travel.
You can redeem your miles for travel statement credits or transfer them to over 15 participating airlines and hotels (usually at a 1:1 ratio).
If transferring miles isn’t appealing, consider the Capital One Quicksilver Card instead as you earn 1.5% back.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Best Bank of America Credit Card
The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card earns 1.5x points on purchases and 3x points through the Bank of America Travel Center (flights, hotels, and car rentals).
Additionally, Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn 25-75% bonus points on purchases. This is one of the best loyalty perks if you have a Bank of America or Merrill account.
Travel and dining statement credits are the BofA Travel Rewards redemption options.
You won’t pay a foreign transaction fee which also makes this card friendly for international travel.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Best for Earning Membership Rewards
The American Express EveryDay Card is the only no-annual-fee American Express credit card that earns Membership Rewards. Unfortunately, the 2.7% foreign transaction fee makes this one best for domestic trips.
These rewards points are most valuable when redeemed for award flights or 1:1 points transfers to airlines and hotels.
You earn 2x points on the first $6,000 in annual spending at U.S. supermarkets. In addition, prepaid Amex Travel bookings can earn unlimited 2x Membership Rewards. Your remaining purchases earn 1x points.
Making at least 20 purchases per billing cycle also sweetens the rewards pot as you receive 20% bonus points on your monthly earnings.
In time, you may also add The Platinum Card® From American Express or the American Express® Gold Card to your wallet to enjoy premium travel and dining benefits.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Best Credit Card for Road Trips
The American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card can be your best option for gas purchases and groceries.
Your cash back rates are as follows:
- 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 per year)
- 2% back at U.S. gas stations
- 1% back on remaining purchases
You can redeem your purchase rewards as a cash statement credit with a minimum $25 balance.
This card has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
Citi® Double Cash Card
Best Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Citi Double Cash Card earns 2% back on each purchase (1% when you make a purchase and the other 1% when you make a payment).
This flat-rate credit card can have more earning potential than tiered rewards cards as you earn more on non-bonus spending. However, watch out for the 3% foreign transaction fee.
There isn’t a redemption minimum for statement credits or bank deposits. As this card earns Citi ThankYou points, you can also redeem them for award travel.
Pooling your earnings with the Citi Premier® Card can help you book award flights sooner and transfer points to the ThankYou airline transfer partners.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best Credit Card for Entertainment
The Capital One SavorOne is an exciting tiered rewards credit card that helps increase your purchasing power for several popular categories that can be part of your monthly spending plan.
You earn 3% cash back on these expenses:
- Popular streaming services
Booking hotels and car rentals through Capital One Travel earn 5% back. All non-bonus purchases earn 1% back.
Through January 31, 2023, Vivid Seats purchases earn 8% back instead of the standard 3% reward for entertainment purchases.
You can redeem your rewards for cash statement credits, bank account deposits, erasing purchases, and gift cards.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card
Best for Rotating Bonus Categories
The Chase Freedom Flex awards up to 5% back on purchases and also provides up to $1,000 per year in cell phone protection (up to $800 per claim).
The bonus categories include:
- 5% back on rotating Freedom Flex bonus categories (on the first $1,500 per quarter)
- 5% back on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% back on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% back on drugstore purchases
- 1% back on all remaining purchases
Your point redemption options include cash back, award travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and gift cards.
Unlike the Chase Freedom Unlimited which is a Visa Signature product, the Freedom Flex provides Mastercard World Elite benefits. Some of these add-on perks include discounts at Fandango, Lyft, and HelloFresh.
The foreign transaction fee is 3%.
Discover it® Cash Back
Best Discover Credit Card
The Discover it Credit Card is a close competitor to the Chase Freedom Flex. Both cards offer 5% back on the first $1,500 in quarterly bonus categories.
However, the rewards categories can differ, and the better card depends on your spending habits. Discover also matches all the points you earn during the first 12 months instead of a lump-sum signup bonus like most cards so you can potentially receive more.
Unfortunately, this card has no additional bonus categories and all non-bonus spending earns 1% back.
You can redeem your rewards for cash back or gift cards.
In addition to not having an annual fee, the Discover it doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Best Credit Card for Groceries
The Citi Custom Cash can help you earn the most rewards on grocery purchases if it’s your biggest monthly expense.
You get 5% back on the first $500 in monthly spending in your top-spend category. The possibilities include:
- Grocery stores
- Gas stations
- Home improvement stores
- Fitness clubs
- Live entertainment
- Streaming services
All non-bonus spending earns unlimited 1% back.
Your purchases earn ThankYou points that you can redeem for travel, cash back, and gift cards.
Best Airline Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
A $0 annual fee airline credit card won’t help you get free checked bags or priority boarding. However, they will help you earn airline miles on every purchase, prevent your miles from expiring, and enjoy in-flight discounts. Further reading: The Best Airline Credit Cards.
American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®
Best American Airlines Credit Card
The American Airlines MileUp Card earns 2x AAdvantage miles on these purchases:
- American Airlines
- Grocery stores (including grocery delivery services)
All remaining purchases earn 1 mile per $1. You also receive 1 Loyalty Point for each mile earned to achieve American Airlines elite status sooner.
Your card purchases prevent your American Airlines miles from expiring after 24 months of inactivity.
This card also provides 25% discounts on in-flight food and beverage purchases.
Foreign purchases incur a 3% transaction fee.
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Best Delta Air Lines Credit Card
The Delta SkyMiles Blue Card can be an exciting option to earn SkyMiles on your purchases if Delta is your preferred airline.
You earn 2x SkyMiles on:
- Delta Air Lines purchases
- Restaurants worldwide
- Takeout and food delivery apps within the United States
All remaining purchases earn 1 SkyMile per $1.
While this card provides limited SkyMiles loyalty benefits, you can enjoy these extra perks:
- 20% savings on Delta in-flight purchases for food, beverages, and audio headsets
- $50 off the cost of a flight for every 5,000 miles that you redeem
- No foreign transaction fee
The miles redemption bonus can be an excellent way to get discounted award flights. This benefit is in addition to the other discounts that SkyMiles members can enjoy when redeeming miles for flights.
Learn more: Delta Air Lines baggage fees
United Gateway℠ Credit Card
Best United Airlines Credit Card
Having the United Gateway Card provides several ways to earn double MileagePlus miles:
- United purchases
- Gas stations
- Local transit and commuting (includes rideshares and tolls)
All non-bonus purchases earn 1 mile per $1.
You will receive 25% back on in-flight food, beverages, and Wi-Fi purchases.
There are no foreign transaction fees which is an excellent feature since United serves numerous domestic and international destinations.
The Gateway Card also offers up to $1,500 per person ($6,000 per trip) in trip cancellation and interruption benefits. This coverage makes it one of the better options for credit card travel insurance without an annual fee.
Learn more: United Airlines baggage fees
Best Credit Card for JetBlue Purchases
The JetBlue Card lets you earn up to 3x TrueBlue points on purchases:
- 3x at JetBlue
- 2x at restaurants and eligible grocery stores
- 1x on remaining purchases
This card also has an impressive 50% savings on in-flight cocktail and food purchases.
You can also pool points with other JetBlue loyalty members and also avoid foreign transaction fees.
Best Hotel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
No-annual-fee hotel credit cards typically provide entry-level elite status perks and stop point expirations. However, you will need to choose one with an annual fee to have the opportunity to receive free anniversary night certificates. Further reading: The Best Hotel Credit Cards.
Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card
Best Credit Card for Choice Hotels
The Choice Privileges Visa Card provides several ways to earn bonus points:
- 5x points at Choice hotels
- 2x points on all remaining purchases
- 10% bonus points at eligible Choice hotels (an Elite Gold status tier perk)
- 8,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within a year
You will also get Elite Gold Membership status with the Choice Privileges loyalty program. Some perks include member-only rates, bonus points on stays, reserved parking, and theme park discounts.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Best Hilton Honors Credit Card
The Hilton Honors Card provides a handful of benefits. Most importantly, your points won’t expire after 24 months of inactivity like non-cardholders encounter.
Featured card benefits include:
- 7x at Hilton hotels and resorts
- 5x at U.S. gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants (includes delivery and takeout)
- 3x on remaining purchases
- Hilton Honors Silver Elite loyalty status
- No foreign transaction fees
This card also helps you enjoy the starter benefits of the Hilton Honors loyalty program.
Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card
Best Credit Card for Hotel Booking Sites
If you’re not picky about where you stay and simply want the cheapest hotel room, the Hotels.com Credit Card helps you receive free night awards sooner.
This card awards one stamp per $500 in card purchases. You also receive one stamp for every night that you book through Hotels.com.
Every 10th stamp lets you book a free night (up to $125). You pay the cash difference if the nightly rate costs more than $125.
This card also provides automatic Hotels.com Silver loyalty status. Some benefits include complimentary breakfast, hotel internet, and airport transfers at participating properties.
Other card benefits include:
- Cell phone protection (up to $600 per claim after a $25 deductible)
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $2,000 per person)
- No foreign transaction fee
IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card
Best Credit Card for IHG Hotels
The IHG Traveler Card offers several IHG One Rewards loyalty club benefits:
- Silver Elite Status
- Gold Elite Status after $20,000 in annual card purchases
- 4th night is free after redeeming points for the first three nights
- IHG points don’t expire (typically after 12 months of inactivity)
This card also earns bonus points on these purchases:
- 5x on IHG purchases (up to 17x points including IHG Rewards perks)
- 3x on dining, gas stations, utilities, and select streaming services
- 2x on non-bonus purchases
There is no foreign transaction fee.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
Best Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold earns Bonvoy points on purchases and provides elite loyalty status.
These purchases earn loyalty points:
- 3x on Marriott purchases (up to 14 points per $1 total)
- 2x on other travel purchases
- 1x on all remaining purchases
You don’t have as many bonus categories as some of the other hotel credit cards but you will receive 15 elite night credits, which automatically qualifies you for Silver Elite status within the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program.
This card also doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card
Best for Wyndham Hotels
The Wyndham Earner Card provides easier access to Wyndham Rewards loyalty benefits.
- 5x points at Hotels by Wyndham and qualifying gas purchases
- 2x points on eligible dining and groceries (excludes Walmart and Target)
- 1x points on remaining spend
- 7,500 bonus points after spending $15,000 within an anniversary year
- Wyndham Rewards Gold loyalty status
- Redeem 10% fewer points on go free® awards
Rewards nights start at 7,500 points making this one of the only free hotel credit cards to offer free night benefits.
Additionally, there are no foreign transaction fees.
Best Business Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
Small business owners can benefit from these business credit cards to earn the most points on purchases and easily track business expenses.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Best Flat Rate Rewards Business Credit Card
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited earns 1.5% back on each purchase. You can redeem your rewards for award travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, cash back, the Apple® Ultimate Rewards Store, and gift cards.
This card doesn’t offer 1:1 point transfers and the Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is the only Ink Business credit card with this benefit.
In addition to the straightforward rewards program, business-related car rentals are also eligible for primary coverage for rental car insurance.
This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
You might be able to rack up the Ultimate Rewards points when your spending habits match the 5% and 2% bonus categories of the Chase Ink Business Cash.
- 5% back on the first $25,000 in combined annual spending at office supply stores and also on internet, cable, and phone services.
- 2% back on the first $25,000 in combined annual spending at gas stations and restaurants.
- 1% back on all remaining purchases
It’s possible to combine your points with your other Ink Business credit cards if you carry different products to maximize your purchasing power.
You can redeem your points for award travel, cash back, gift cards, and Apple products. Primary rental car insurance is also available on most qualifying rentals.
The foreign transaction fee is 3%.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Best American Express Small Business Card without an Annual Fee
The American Express Blue Business Plus earns 2x Membership Rewards on the first $50,000 in annual purchases. Then, your remaining purchases earn 1x points until your next card anniversary.
The card’s Expanded Buying Power feature lets you temporarily extend your card balance beyond your spending limit for large purchases.
Your points are most valuable for award flight bookings using American Express Travel or when you transfer them to the Membership Rewards travel partners.
The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.
It’s also possible to combine your points with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Business Gold Card if you also have one of these cards.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
A no-annual-fee credit card removes the stress of making sure you earn enough rewards points or redeem additional benefits to offset the annual fee.
While credit cards without an annual fee may not earn as many points on purchases or include as many travel perks, the benefits are competitive. In fact, you may come out ahead if you’re not a big spender or want a card that’s better for non-travel purchases.
You might choose a rewards credit card with flexible redemption options to earn the most rewards on purchases. The branded travel credit cards can also be beneficial if you’re a casual traveler who wants automatic elite benefits without being loyal to a specific loyalty program.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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