Getting a credit card with no annual fee is a simple and effective way for many people to reduce their household bills. Fortunately, many fee-free cards are available right now, many of which provide appealing incentives and even sign-up bonuses, making it easier to eliminate the annual charge from your credit card.
A credit card with no annual fee does not cost you anything extra to use it. There is no yearly fee for the card; however, there may be charges for some activities, such as making purchases in a foreign currency or transferring funds to the card.
Many credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee have rewards programs and other perks that make them worthwhile alternatives to those that do.
Consider whether or not you will be able to earn rewards with your no-annual-fee credit card. Most credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee offer cash back as their primary incentive, but a select few also offer travel benefits (either on their own or in conjunction with a premier credit card).
Travel and purchase protections, introductory bonuses on new transactions, and balance transfers are other things to consider. You should also check if your no-annual-fee credit card provides any statement credits or perks like Amex Offers.
The Chase Freedom Flex credit card, which charges no annual fee, offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in cumulative purchases in revolving bonus categories every three months, in addition to a whopping 3% cash back on dining and qualified food delivery services (one of three permanent bonus categories).
Look no further if you’re looking for a credit card with bonus rewards for dining out and rotating categories.
Spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account, and you’ll get a bonus of $200 in cash back.
While the Chase Freedom Flex’s sign-up bonus is enticing, the card’s ongoing bonus categories—including 3% cash back on restaurants and food delivery providers and 5% cash back on everyday expenditures like groceries and gas—are what will make it a wallet mainstay.
Target, grocery stores (other than Walmart), and health club/gym memberships are the bonus categories for the Chase Freedom Flex card from January through March 2023. Since you can buy gift cards for other businesses like Target and the grocery store, you can rack up bonus cashback of up to $75 just by making everyday purchases there.
More so, the Chase Freedom Flex can adapt as your needs change. Chase Freedom cashback can be moved to the Chase travel site or transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partners for possibly even more value if you later apply for and are approved for a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.
The Chase Freedom Flex is an excellent card with few drawbacks beyond the 3% charge on foreign transactions and the need to activate quarterly bonus categories to get 5% cash back on certain purchases.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited, when used in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, is an excellent option for those who can’t decide between earning cash back and travel points.
If you’re looking for a no-annual-fee credit card that gives you a lot of leeways, this is the one to choose.
In the first year after establishing your account, you can get 1.5% cash back on all purchases up to $20,000.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a good choice if you’d rather have cash back now but also plan to travel in the future.
Using a premium Ultimate Rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can exchange your cashback for traveling points at a rate of 1 cent per point when using the Chase Freedom Unlimited. After that, you can use the Chase travel portal to redeem your points for travel at a rate of 1.25 cents to 1.5 cents apiece.
Not only can you convert cash rewards to points, but those points can be transferred to any of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel loyalty providers. With so many options, it’s no wonder that frequent flyer resource The Points Guy gives Ultimate Rewards points a value of 2 cents each. To put it another way, you could finish up with a return of 3% on your purchases using Freedom Unlimited since it offers 1.5% cash back.
Chase Freedom Unlimited cardholders receive 1.5% cash back on all other transactions in addition to 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on eating (which includes takeout and delivery), and 3% cash back at drugstores. The card also provides additional security in the form of purchase protection and extended warranty protection.
Other no-annual-fee credit cards provide higher earning potential than Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% flat rate. Chase Ultimate Rewards is among the best flexible rewards programs. The bonus categories are the icing on the cake, but the opportunity to transfer cash back to points might be worth the compromise.
The Blue Cash Everyday credit card provides an enticing 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, in addition to 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%), U.S. internet retail stores (up to $6,000 yearly, then 1%), and U.S. gas stations, all without charging an annual fee.
People who spend a lot of money at U.S. grocery shops, online retailers, and gas stations would benefit the most from this card because of the 0% intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers.
Spend $2,000 on purchases during the first six months after creating your account, and they’ll give you a bonus of $200.
Grocery stores, online stores, and gas stations consume many American household budgets every month. Blue Cash Everyday, which does not charge an annual fee, offers increased cashback bonuses in these three categories, making it a convenient card to keep on hand.
In addition to its bonus categories, this credit card offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and debt transfers for the first 15 months from account opening. Make every effort to settle your debt before the introductory period ends since the APR will increase to 18.49%–29.49% after that.
In addition to a reasonable minimum spending requirement and rental car loss and damage insurance, Blue Cash Everyday provides a generous welcome incentive. To round out a comprehensive offering, the card provides up to $264 in annual statement credits, including up to $84 for The Disney Bundle and up to $180 on Home Chef purchases.
Suppose you plan to travel internationally in 2023. In that case, consider looking elsewhere for a credit card because Blue Cash Everyday doesn’t offer bonus cash back on purchases made outside of the U.S. and has a 3% international transaction fee on top of that.
Additionally, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers twice as much cash back at U.S. supermarkets as the Blue Cash Everyday Card if you are willing to forego the introductory rate on purchases for a few months.
The Blue Cash Preferred has a $95 annual charge (no annual cost for the first year) but offers 6% cash back on grocery purchases of up to $6,000 per year (then 1%). The promotional period for purchases is just 12 months long, shorter than the industry standard of 15 months.
The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card provides a 0% intro APR on purchases for the initial 18 billing cycles, making it attractive to people who value interest-free financing more than cash back or travel benefits. Once the introductory period expires, the APR will increase from 18.99% to 28.99%.
This card is for you if you require an extended grace period before interest starts to accrue on your purchases.
Suppose you’re having trouble making your monthly payments right now. In that case, you’ll be able to relax knowing that you have more time than usual without incurring any interest charges on your balance thanks to this card’s exceptional 18-billing-cycle interest-free grace period.
The identical low introductory APR that applies to purchases also applies to balance transfers performed during the first 60 days of account opening. Thus, if you have a lot of debt and a large enough credit limit, you can utilize the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum to pay it off all at once.
This card comes with an extra perk—continuous cell phone security. Suppose you pay your monthly cell phone bill using a U.S. Bank Visa Platinum credit card. In that case, you’ll receive up to $600 in coverage against theft or damage, with a $25 deductible per claim, for a total of two claims per year.
U.S. Bank’s Visa Platinum card is designed for short-term use. There is no reward system, sign-up incentive, and few other benefits. Because of the 3% international transaction fee and the $0 annual fee, this card is unsuitable for usage abroad.
That is, you could use it regularly to pay your cell phone bill in exchange for the bundled cell phone protection, but its use beyond the introductory rate period is limited.
Citi Points+’s “round-up” feature can help you earn more rewards if you make lots of purchases under $10. The card’s introductory rate on new purchases can reduce the cost of debt if you have to carry it.
Anyone who wants a flexible way to pay some bills over time while earning rewards on low-dollar purchases should consider getting this card.
You can get 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in the first three months.
You should think about getting a Citi Rewards+ card because of three benefits. First, all of your prizes will be rounded to the closest 10 points at the end of the month. While this may not seem like much, consider the 400% increase in points earned on a $2 pack of gum. A large number of these minor deals might quickly pile up.
Second, you’ll get 10% back on your annual point redemptions (up to 100,000 points) if you’re a loyal customer. If you redeem 2,500 points for a $25 gift card, you’ll get 250 points back to use in the future. The annual maximum point rebate is 10,000, which translates to an additional $100 in gift card points.
And finally, if you already have a Citi Premier card, you can transfer your points to it and unlock even more possibilities, such as redeeming them for travel in the future or transferring them to Citi’s airline and hotel partners.
Citi Rewards+ points are only worth 1 cent each toward gift cards if you don’t combine them with a premium Citi ThankYou card. You’d be better served with the flat-rate cash back of our baseline Citi Double Cash card or one of the other no-annual-fee credit cards on our list, as each point is only worth 0.5 cents when redeemed for cash back.
With the Discover it Cash Back card’s first-year cashback match bonus and changing categories, you can quickly rack up rewards.
People who frequently make purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, wholesale clubs, online at retailers like Target, Amazon, and Walmart, and at gas stations are the ideal candidates for this card. You may optimize your rewards if you plan your purchases carefully, as all of them and more fall within Discover’s changing bonus categories.
Get a welcome bonus equal to 100% of your cashback earnings after the first year.
If you are okay with setting reminders for when and where to use your Discover card, you can rack up the rewards with the card’s rotating cashback categories.
In January, February, and March of 2023, you can get 5% cash back at supermarkets, pharmacies, and some streaming services. For this quarter, you can expect to rack up 1% cash back on all other transactions in addition to the extra cashback of up to $75, so it should take a little time to reach your goal.
Suppose you’re planning on racking up many credit card charges in the coming year. In that case, Discover it Cash Back may be the best option because your cash rewards are doubled after the first year. In the first year, you can expect a good 2% return on any transactions beyond the bonus categories, while the rotating bonus areas are worth 10%.
To get the bonus cash back with Discover it Cash Back, you must manually activate the categories each quarter before making purchases online or over the phone. There is no cellphone insurance or travel insurance with this card.
With the Bilt Mastercard, you can make interest-free rent payments, earn rewards, and enjoy a wide range of protections and privileges, including cell phone insurance, purchase protection, and access to Mastercard World Elite benefits—all without paying an annual fee.
This card is your best option if you’d like to utilize a credit card to pay your rent.
The Bilt Mastercard from Wells Fargo is one of the only credit cards that will let you pay your rent without incurring a fee. Yet, rent is one of the significant expenses for many Americans.
Suppose your landlord doesn’t accept electronic payments. In that case, you can still use the Bilt app to pay your rent, and the company will submit the money to your landlord on your behalf.
When you use your Bilt Mastercard to pay for everyday expenses, such as rent, you’ll earn Bilt Rewards points that can be quickly exchanged for a reduction on your subsequent rent payment or moved to one of Bilt’s 14 travel partners. United Airlines and American Airlines, two domestic carriers that do not currently convert from any other credit card program, are among the many that the company has partnered with to provide their customers with various loyalty rewards.
The Bilt Mastercard comes with an extensive set of perks, some of which are unusual for cards with no annual charge. Payment of your monthly cell phone bill with your Bilt Mastercard entitles you to complimentary cell phone protection, which will reimburse you up to $800 per claim and two claims per year if your phone is ever lost, stolen, or damaged.
If you don’t use your Bilt card at least five times a month, you’ll only get 250 Bilt points for paying the rent that month, no matter how much you spend. If the Bilt Mastercard is your primary credit card, this is a minor concern, but if you plan to use it solely for rent payments, you should keep this in mind.
Capital One VentureOne is one of the handful of no-annual-fee credit cards with transfer partners and direct redemptions already built in; however, it earns less than its more expensive sibling but still provides decent redemption alternatives.
Those who benefit most from Capital One Venture’s features but could live with a slightly reduced standard earning rate in exchange for a waived annual fee may consider applying for this card.
Spend $500 on eligible purchases during the first three months of account opening and receive 20,000 bonus miles.
When a credit card comes in two flavors, one with an annual fee and one without, the latter is typically a pared-down version of the former. However, Capital One VentureOne is an exception to this rule.
Aside from its lower base APR, the VentureOne is identical to the more expensive Capital One Venture, even down to the 1 cent per mile redemption benefit when utilizing the “Purchase Eraser” to cancel a related travel expense. The card offers the same perks, including zero foreign transaction costs, the same number of transfer partners (airlines and hotels), and the same transfer ratios (for both).
The VentureOne’s two main drawbacks are a lower 1.25 miles earned for every dollar spent (compared to the Venture’s 2 miles) and a smaller 20,000-mile sign-up bonus, but one that requires spending only $500 in the first three months of account opening. The VentureOne, which requires no yearly fee and offers the majority of the top rewards, may be worth considering if these two characteristics are critical to you.
In comparison to the VentureOne, we recommend the Citi Double Cash card if you don’t plan on using Capital One’s transfer partners. Compared to the Citi Double Cash, which gets 2 cents per dollar spent, the Capital One VentureOne’s 1.25 miles per dollar and 1 penny per mile when cashing them using the “Purchase Eraser” yield an effective return of 1.25 cents per dollar spent.
If you do your research, you can find transfer partners that will allow you to redeem your miles for more than 1 cent each. Suppose you’re ready to take that next step. In that case, you’re better off with the more robust Capital One Venture card and its more significant welcome bonus.
The Citi Double Cash Card is our reference card because of its advantageous features. It offers 2% cash back on all purchases (1% at the time of transaction and another 1% when you pay it off). It has no yearly fee, so you won’t lose any money every year just for using it.
Suppose you want the highest possible return on your spending with a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee and doesn’t require you to memorize any bonus categories. In that case, this is the card for you.
In addition to being one of the few credit cards with no annual fee, Citi Double Cash also offers one of the industry’s highest and most transparent earning rates. Each and every purchase you make will earn you 1% cash back, with no limits on how much you can earn.
Flat-rate cashback may be the most appealing reward for cardholders who don’t put a significant portion of their spending toward bonus categories like dining out, groceries, or travel, and no other major credit card currently on the market provides such a high continuous flat-rate return on each purchase without charging an annual fee.
Balance transfers made by new Citi Double Cash cardholders are eligible for a 0% intro APR for the first 18 months. Suppose you wait to pay off your balance in full or move it to another card before the 18-month introductory APR ends. In that case, you’ll be charged 18.49%-28.49% (based on your creditworthiness) on the outstanding balance.
The Citi Double Cash is sufficient for most people to generate and receive cash back. However, advanced credit card users can use the points they earn for travel instead of cashback because the cashback they make is in the form of Citi ThankYou points, with $1 in cash back equaling 100 ThankYou points. By allowing you to transfer your points to any of Citi’s airline and hotel transfer partners, you can get even more value out of your points.
Citi Double Cash’s lack of bonus categories is an unfortunate consequence of its uncomplicated design. Therefore, an alternative credit card that provides a bonus for purchases in that category may be preferable if you often make many purchases in that category.
The answer to whether or not you should apply for a credit card with no annual fee depends on your specific circumstances. A no-annual-fee credit card can be an excellent place to start if you’re curious about the rewards system but have never used a credit card before.
You may also profit from a credit card with no annual fee if you realize that the advantages and benefits you’re receiving from your present card aren’t worth the cost. Plenty of cardholders would rather not use the travel credits and “free” perks that come with high-priced cards just to break even on the annual charge.
You’ll also notice that several credit cards with promotional 0% APR on purchases or balance transfers or that are designed for persons with poor or no credit do not charge an annual fee. A credit card with no annual fee is a terrific option for people who fit into one of these categories.
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