Paying an annual fee or similar credit card costs can feel a bit unorthodox. In essence, you’re paying a fee to spend money.
But many credit cards with annual fees offer ways to recoup those costs plus earn extra rewards, which can make these cards worth the expense.
Many popular credit cards have an annual fee, but if you aren’t in a place where paying an annual fee is possible, don’t fret. There are plenty of cards with no annual fees that can suit your spending and earning needs.
Best no annual fee credit cards of December 2021
A great no annual fee card is one that makes it easy to earn points or cash back without the hassle of tracking bonus categories or complicated rewards programs.
For many, the idea of juggling four or five cards to max out the cards’ earnings isn’t appealing. Instead, they want one card they can put everything on and still reap decent rewards.
For a no annual fee card, consider ones that offer at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases and a welcome bonus of some sort. Other perks to look for are features like rental car insurance, travel accident insurance, extended warranty, cell phone protection, and roadside assistance.
Here is our list of the best credit cards with no annual fee from a variety of credit card issuers.
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card||Someone who wants to save money with no fuss|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||A single person or couple with focused spending on groceries and gas|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Someone who wants to earn cash back on groceries, dining out, and drug store purchases|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards||Those looking to earn a quick early spend bonus and respectable returns on spending|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards||Those who enjoy dining and going out|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards||Earning points redeemable for travel|
|Citi Double Cash Card||Earning flat-rate cash back with diversified spending|
|U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature||Those who want to pay down a large purchase over time|
|U.S. Bank Visa Platinum||Those who need to consolidate debt for 20 billing cycles|
American Express Cash Magnet Card
The American Express Cash Magnet® Card is a great card for someone looking for a way to earn cash back on their purchases with little effort. You can earn up to 1.5% cash back (in the form of statement credits) on all purchases. Along with this, you will have an introductory 0% APR (annual percentage rate) for 15 months on purchases. After that the APR goes to 13.99% to 23.99% (variable) (See rates and fees) .
Along with the cash back (in the form of statement credits), you’ll have access to Amex Offers, which are card exclusive offers for discounts on various products. Amex offers require enrollment.
As for travel insurance, you’ll benefit from car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage), as well as a global assistance hotline.
If you’re looking for warranties, this card does come with extended warranty perks. This will extend the original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty for up to an additional year. Also, if you’re unable to return eligible items within 90 days of the date of purchase, American Express may refund the full purchase price, excluding shipping and handling.
Lastly, when something you buy breaks or is stolen, purchase protection can have you covered. If the item was purchased less than 90 days ago, it may be eligible for replacement.
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a solid choice for earning rewards on everyday purchases. With the Blue Cash Everyday Card, you can earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 a year, 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases.
You can also qualify for a welcome bonus: Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months.
The card can also be used to fund a large purchase. There’s a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months, then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable) (See rates and fees) .
You’ll also have all of the same travel coverages and warranty coverages listed under the American Express Cash Magnet Card. Select benefits require enrollment.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a top choice for anyone looking to take the next step in their cashback earnings. You can earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases. For the welcome offer: Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year).
To add to the savings, the card also comes with a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases, then 14.99% to 23.74% (variable).
This card does have unique features, which include no minimum to cash out your earnings, the ability to use cashback earnings on Amazon orders, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, and contactless pay.
If you happen to also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can take your cashback earnings from the Freedom Unlimited and transfer them as Ultimate Rewards to your Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve account.
In fact, many people like to have what they call the Chase Trifecta to earn the most rewards possible. You might also consider looking at the Chase Freedom Flex if you don't mind keeping track of rotating categories.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a straightforward option for earning cash back on everyday purchases. You can earn 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day. You can also earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
There’s even a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases that you can take advantage of. After the intro period, the APR goes to 14.99% to 24.99% (variable). Other benefits of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards include no foreign transaction fees, extended warranty, travel accident insurance, complimentary concierge service, and 24-hour travel assistance services.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards
The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card may be a good fit for someone interested in great food and entertainment.
You can get 8% cash back with Vivid Seats; 3% unlimited cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), plus 1% cash back on all other purchases. Capital One defines entertainment categories as buying tickets to a movie, theatrical play, sporting event, tourist attraction, theme park, aquarium, zoo, dance club, pool hall, or bowling alley.
To add, you can earn a $200 one-time cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
As for features of the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards, you’ll get the same benefits as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards above, including the 0% intro APR for 15 months months (then 14.99% to 24.99% (variable)) on purchases.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers the chance to earn valuable miles that can be used towards travel. You can earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Along with this, you can earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1.25X miles on all other purchases. You’ll also have a 0% intro APR for 15 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% (variable)) on new purchases.
The features on the card are identical to the above Capital One cards, plus you can transfer your miles to various airline partners, such as Aeromexico, Air Canada, Emirates, JetBlue Airways, and Singapore Airlines.
Citi Double Cash Card
For a flat-rate cashback credit card that earns on everyday purchases, consider the Citi Double Cash Card. Earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay. This card also has the added benefit of giving new cardholders a 0% intro APR balance transfer offer for 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable)). You will, however, have to pay a balance transfer fee on the amount of each transfer, so make sure to include that in your budget.
In addition, you can convert this card's cashback rewards into Citi ThankYou points in $1 increments. You’ll receive 100 points for every dollar transferred to your linked Citi ThankYou rewards account, putting the value of each ThankYou Point at one cent. After you make a transfer, you’ll have several additional redemption options that include booking travel, shopping with points on Amazon.com, purchasing gift cards, shopping online with PayPal, and more.
If you have another card that offers ThankYou Rewards points, such as the Citi Premier Card, Citi Prestige Card, or Citi Rewards+ Card, you can pool your converted points in with points earned from those cards.
U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature
If you are planning a large purchase and would like the option to pay it down over time, the $0-annual-fee U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature could be a good choice. It offers a 0% intro APR on new purchases for 12 months (then 14.99% to 23.99% (variable)). Whether you want to upgrade your furniture or get new appliances, this card will give you some wiggle room to pay down your balance over time without incurring interest charges.
In addition to its intro APR offer, cardholders also get 4X points on takeout, food delivery, and dining purchases; 2X points on grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services, and gas stations; and 1X points on all other purchases.
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum
The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum is largely for people looking for stress-free spending or to consolidate debt. You get a 0% introductory APR offer on balance transfers for 20 billing cycles . Just remember that after that intro period is over, your remaining balance will be subject to your card's APR of 14.49% to 24.49% (variable).
Along with this, you’ll have cell phone protection when you pay your monthly bill with your U.S. Bank Visa Platinum.
As this card doesn’t offer any sort of rewards, you won’t benefit from your everyday spending like you would with other cards on this list.
What to do if you want to apply now for a new credit card
- Make sure to thoroughly research all of a card's details before you decide to apply. Make sure you understand how the cashback rates or travel rewards rates work, for example, and also what the regular APR might be.
- After looking at a few credit card offers, pick the one that fits your regular spending habits best. If you make a lot of travel purchases or regularly spend on airfare, get a card that has a rewards bonus for that. If you get a lot of takeout or use delivery services for food, then make sure you pick a card that provides rewards earning for those kinds of purchases.
- Be prepared to hit the minimum spending requirement in the required period of time if you want the bonus points from a sign-up bonus or welcome bonus. Never overspend to earn these rewards points. You'll actually be losing money if you end up paying interest charges on that spending.
- If you plan to use your new card to make a balance transfer, remember that you need to have your entire balance paid off by the end of the intro APR period if you want to make the most of that interest-free time.
- If you're not sure if you have the required credit history for a certain card, then don't apply for it today and instead spend some time working to improve your credit score.
- Have your personal information, including your Social Security number and employment info, on hand if you're ready to fill out an application today.
When choosing the best credit cards with no annual fee we looked at a variety of factors and considered that different credit card offers might be a better fit for different people. As such we did our best to include a range of cards from different credit card companies, including cards that offered bonus points in different spending categories and provided different perks and benefits. We also looked at standard credit card details like interest rate offers and tried to include cards that require a range of different credit scores. We also included some of what we consider to be the best cashback credit cards and travel rewards credit cards.
Are annual credit card fees worth it?
Although some cards can have hefty annual fees, they may be worth the added expense. Several credit cards with annual fees provide extra value and savings that can offset its cost. You could qualify for travel credits, flight upgrades, travel insurance, airport lounge access, and rewards on purchases that can make the annual fee well worth it.
Why would anyone pay an annual fee for a credit card?
Credit card users who pay annual fees do so because they get more value from the card than its fee. They may enjoy premium perks, bonus rewards, or even enough cash back to offset the annual fee.
How can I avoid paying my credit card annual fee?
If you want to avoid paying an annual fee, you have a few options:
- Look for a no-fee card. Many excellent credit cards don’t charge an annual fee. You can get a good card and still earn valuable rewards and benefits without the added cost.
- Cancel your card at the end of your first year. Some credit cards waive your annual fee for the first year; after that, you’ll have to pay the full fee. However, you can skip the fee if you close your account before the card’s renewal date.
- Just ask. If you’ve been a loyal cardholder, you may be able to get the fee waived by calling and asking. If you go this route, do some research into other cards that don’t charge a fee. Contact customer service and explain that you’re considering switching to a new card if they can’t reduce or eliminate the fee. They may be willing to waive it to keep you as a customer.
What are the best travel cards with no annual fee?
Looking for a travel credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee? Consider these two cards.
- Capital One VentureOne Card: The Capital One VentureOne card has a $0 annual fee, but you’ll earn unlimited 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1.25X miles on all other purchases. Plus, you can earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months. There are no foreign transaction fees, and you can redeem your miles for flights, hotel stays, and more.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card: With the Marriott Bonvoy Bold, you’ll earn 14X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status); 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; and 1X points per $1 on everything else. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn, and your Marriott Bonvoy points will not expire as long as you make purchases on your credit card every 24 months.
Should I cancel a credit card with an annual fee?
Whether you should cancel a card with an annual fee depends on how much you use it. If it typically just sits in a drawer or is only used a few times a year, it’s not giving you much value. In that case, it may make sense to close the account.
But if you have a card with an annual fee that you use regularly and you earn rewards or have extra perks, it may be worth it to keep it open.
What will my credit limit be on a no annual fee credit card?
As with any credit card, the amount of credit line you are approved for will be based on a few factors, including your creditworthiness. The better your credit score, the more likely that you will be given a higher credit limit. That said, you can often request a credit line increase after you have demonstrated a history of on-time payments.
There are great perks to be earned from cards with no annual fee. Whether you’re looking for a points-earning or cashback card, there’s nothing wrong with refusing to pay an annual fee. Just make sure you also make on-time monthly payments and never miss a due date so you never get hit with late fees or a penalty APR either.
However, if you’d like to take your points earning to the next level or have higher monthly spending, you may want to consider getting a card with an annual fee to ensure better earnings. It may seem a bit counterproductive to pay to spend, but the right circumstances may earn you additional rewards.