The Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards of September 2021

If paying an annual fee isn’t in your budget, here are some top no annual fee credit cards to consider.
Last updated Jun 4, 2021 | By Brett Holzhauer
Man paying for a purchase with a no annual fee credit card

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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.

In this article

Best no annual fee credit cards of September 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.

Card Best for...
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
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card Earning points based on specific spending

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.

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.

No Fuss, Unlimited Cash Back

Intro Offer

$150 statement credit

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 1.5% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

Drawbacks

  • Has foreign transaction fee
  • American Express isn't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard
Card Details
  • Earn $150 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases in the form of Reward Dollars, which can be redeemed as a statement credit
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable)
  • Terms apply

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 20% cash back at Amazon.com during the first six months (up to $150), 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 $100 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months; plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $150 back.

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.

A Simple Cashback Card for Day-to-Day

Intro Offer

$100 statement credit

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Up to 20% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn $100 cash back after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $150 back
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets
  • No annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • No travel rewards
  • Grocery rewards are capped
  • Rewards dollars can’t be used toward the minimum payment due
Card Details
  • Earn $100 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months; plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $150 back
  • 20% cash back at Amazon.com during the first six months (up to $150), 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
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable)
  • Terms apply

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. You can also 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 from account opening on purchases.

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.

Unlimited Cash Back

Intro Offer

$200 cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 5% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • $200 sign-up bonus
  • Bonus rewards on travel, dining, and drugstores
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (up to $12k in your first year)
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases

Drawbacks

  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • 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)
  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 14.99% to 23.74% (variable)

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. 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.

Unlimited Cash Back

Intro Offer

$200 cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1.5% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • $200 early spend bonus
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

Drawbacks

  • No bonus rewards
  • No options to redeem rewards for travel
Card Details
  • Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 14.99% to 24.99% (variable)

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 on purchases.

Cash Back With No Annual Fee

Intro Offer

$200

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 8% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • $200 early spend bonus
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases
  • 3% unlimited cash back on dining, entertainment, streaming, and groceries

Drawbacks

  • Minimal travel benefits
Card Details
  • Earn a $200 one-time cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 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
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 14.99% to 24.99% (variable)

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 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day. You’ll also have a 0% intro APR for 12 months 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.

0% intro APR on purchases

Intro Offer

20,000 miles

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Up to 1.25X miles

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 20,000 bonus mile welcome offer
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months
  • 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Other cards may offer higher rewards rate
  • No intro APR for balance transfers
Card Details
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 12 months then 14.99% to 24.99% (variable)

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 the 18 months after account opening. 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.

Earn Cash Back Twice

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 2% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 2% cash back on all purchases - 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Foreign transaction fee
  • No sign-up bonus
Card Details
  • Earn cash back twice: 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay
  • up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay
  • Intro balance transfer 0% offer: 0% for 18 months then 13.99% to 23.99% (variable)

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. 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. 

Impressive Rewards on Food Delivery & Dining

U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card

U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card

U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card

Intro Offer

20,000 points

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 4X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Earn 4X points on dining out, takeout, and deliveries
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • No rewards on entertainment spending
Card Details
  • Earn 20,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 12 months then 14.99% to 23.99% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% offer: 0% for 12 months then 14.99% to 23.99% (variable)

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 standard variable APR.

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.

0% introductory APR

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Annual Fee

$0

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Cell phone protection
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • No rewards program
  • Balance transfer fee applies
Card Details
  • Long 0% APR period on purchases and balance transfers
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 20 months then 14.49% to 24.49% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% offer: 0% for 20 billing cycles then 14.49% to 24.49% (variable)

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is another great card to turn focused spending into valuable reward points for travel.

With this card, you can earn 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, worth $200 when redeemed for cash. Along with this, you can also earn 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; and 1X points on other purchases.

The card even comes with an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases then 14.49% to 24.99% (variable). It also has an intro balance transfer APR.

As for other benefits, there are no foreign transaction fees with the card, and it comes with cell phone protection from damage or theft.

An Amazing Free Card for Travelers

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Intro Offer

20,000 points

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 3X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 3X points on several popular categories
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction or currency conversion fees
  • Terms apply

Drawbacks

  • American Express cards aren’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard
  • Extra bonus points do not apply to grocery store purchases
Card Details
  • Earn 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months
  • 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; and 1X points on other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 12 months then 14.49% to 24.99% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% offer: 0% for 12 months then 14.49% to 24.99% (variable)

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.

Methodology

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.

FAQs

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 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day. 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.
  • Wells Fargo Propel: With the Wells Fargo Propel card, you’ll earn 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; and 1X points on other purchases. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn, and there are no blackout dates on air travel when you redeem your rewards.

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.

Bottom line

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.

Unlimited Cash Back

Intro Offer

$200 cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

up to 5% cash back

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • $200 sign-up bonus
  • Bonus rewards on travel, dining, and drugstores
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (up to $12k in your first year)
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases

Drawbacks

  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • 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)
  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 14.99% to 23.74% (variable)

Author Details

Brett Holzhauer Brett Holzhauer is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He writes about using points & miles for travel, travel industry news, utilizing credit cards as financial leverage, and investing for the future. He has been featured in publications such as The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets, The Money Manual, Recruiter, Travel Pulse, and Bald Thoughts. He is a full-time digital nomad with his wife, Kiersten.