When picking from the best travel credit cards, many people go for the cards with the benefits. Those rewards credit cards can be great, but not everyone has the budget to spend $500 or more on the annual fees these benefits-rich cards tend to carry.
The good news is you don’t have to pay a fee to benefit from a rewards credit card. There are many credit cards with no annual fee that are available, and there are even travel credit cards that offer great rewards and benefits without you paying extra money to the bank.
That's why we're focusing this article on the best travel credit card with no annual fee. Here’s what you need to know to pick the right travel credit card for you.
To pick the best travel credit card with no annual fee, we looked for cards that offered a balance of the valuable rewards and benefits travelers love. The credit cards on this list have some combination of travel protection, rental car insurance, and/or automatic elite status. They are also all credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
None of these cards will have every benefit you might want, so keep in mind that it sometimes makes sense to have multiple travel credit cards to ensure you receive all the perks you desire.
The best travel credit cards with no annual fee
We've selected six of the best travel credit cards with no annual fee for you. This chart compares their welcome bonus, rewards earning rate, and travel benefits. As you review the chart, think about how you would use the card to earn rewards and what benefits are most important to you. This will help you decide which of these no-fee rewards credit cards works best for the way you spend and travel.
|Card name||Welcome bonus||Earnings rate||Travel benefits|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card||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||
|Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months||1.25X miles on every purchase, every day||
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card||Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months||3X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; 1X points per $1 on everything else||
|Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card||Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months||2X miles on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and at restaurants worldwide, and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases||
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months||7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases||
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card||Earn 10,000 AAdvantage bonus miles (and a $50 statement credit) after making $500 in purchases in the first 3 months||2X AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at grocery stores and on American Airlines purchases, plus 1X on everything else
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is the best travel credit card with no annual fee from Wells Fargo. You'll earn 3X points per dollar on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming services. The travel category include flights, hotels, homestays, and rental cars. Cardholders can really rack up the rewards with so many areas of spending earning 3X points per dollar spent.
When you make at least $1,000 in purchases during the first 3 months after account opening, you'll earn 20,000 bonus points. These points are worth $200 in travel, cash, gift cards, and more.
There is no limit to the number of points you can earn with this card. Plus, the points do not expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. There are also no blackout dates on air travel when you book flights through the Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards portal. And if you don't have enough points to book your ticket, you can use a combination of points and cash.
While you’re off on an adventure, you’re also covered by a few different types of travel insurance. You'll have the benefits of lost luggage reimbursement, car rental loss or damage waivers, and roadside assistance. These protections provide peace of mind so you can focus on making memories during your trips.
A special feature of this card is that your cell phone is covered for damage or theft when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with this card. Wells Fargo offers up to $600 in protection per claim and $1,200 per 12-month period. Cardholders will have to pay a $25 deductible for each claim. This great (and increasingly uncommon) benefit protects your phone whether you're traveling or spending time near home.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Many travelers are familiar with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. However, many don't know that Capital One also offers a no-fee version of this card with similar rewards and benefits.
Thie Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day. In addition, travel purchases made through the Capital One travel portal earn 5X miles per dollar. Both airfare and hotel reservations are eligible for 5X rewards. This card also offers a welcome bonus of 20,000 miles when you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months after account opening.
Miles can be used to book travel or erase travel purchases. You can also redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. You can transfer your miles to 17 different hotels and airlines that are Capital One transfer partners for potentially even greater value.
This card is good to bring on trips because there are no foreign transaction fees. Cardholders also receive an auto rental collision damage waiver to protect them in case of damage or theft. You're also covered with travel accident insurance when you use this card to purchase your airfare.
If you need extra time to pay off your big travel purchases, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card offers cardholders automatic Silver Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. Silver Elite members receive 10% more points on stays, priority late checkout, and free Wi-Fi. As a cardholder, you'll also receive 15 Elite Nights credits, which makes it easier to move further up the elite status tiers.
When spending with this card, you'll earn 3X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; 1X points per $1 on everything else. Your Marriott Bonvoy points will not expire as long as you make purchases on your credit card every 24 months.
After you're approved for the card, you'll have the opportunity to earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 within the first three months. You can redeem points for stays starting at just 5,000 points per night. This means that your sign-up bonus could be good for up to 10 free hotel nights.
There are no foreign transaction fees, so you can keep this card in your wallet when traveling internationally. The card also includes baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and trip delay reimbursement.
Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card
Travelers who want to earn Delta SkyMiles without paying an annual fee should get the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card. It earns 2X miles on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and at restaurants worldwide, and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases. You can also earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Delta SkyMiles can be used to book Delta award flights or redeemed like cash using Pay with Miles. For every 5,000 miles you redeem, you'll save $50 off the cost of your flight. We consider the potential value of Delta SkyMiles to be higher than this, so we wouldn't recommend this redemption if you can avoid it.
There are no foreign transaction fees when using the Amex Delta SkyMiles Blue Card. Your rental car is covered in case of theft or damage with car rental loss and damage insurance. Plus, you'll receive 20% back on in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers complimentary Silver elite status in Hilton Honors even if you've never stayed at a Hilton before. This mid-tier status level entitles you to attractive benefits such as 20% extra points on Hilton purchases, two free bottles of water in your room, and your fifth night free on award stays.
There's also an opportunity to earn Hilton Honors Gold status when you spend at least $20,000 in a calendar year. Moving up a tier of elite status earns you possible room upgrades, complimentary breakfast at all Hilton hotels, 80% bonus points on Hilton purchases, and more.
When spending with this card, you'll earn 7X points at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees on your purchases.
New cardholders have the opportunity to earn 75,000 Hilton Honors points after spending at least $1,000 in purchases during thefirst 3 months after account opening. Hilton award nights start at 5,000 points each, so this welcome bonus is potentially worth up to 15 nights.
Rental car reservations also receive protection from damage or theft when paying with this card.
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard
The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card doesn’t offer perks like priority boarding and free checked bags and is best suited for when you want to earn miles but aren't planning to travel right away.
The AAdvantage MileUp Card earns 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at grocery stores and on American Airlines purchases, plus 1X on everything else. There are no limits to the number of miles you can earn, and you can add an authorized user at no charge so their purchases earn you miles as well.
New cardholders have the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus of 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles after spending $500 within the first 3 months. You'll also earn a $50 statement credit when you meet that minimum spending requirement. This is one of the lowest spending requirements you'll find from a rewards credit card.
With the American Airlines web specials, you can find flights for less than 10,000 miles. This means that the sign-up bonus is enough for you to fly for (nearly) free. And if you fly on American, you'll receive a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases in the form of a statement credit.
Although the annual fee is $0, this card does have a 3% foreign transaction fee so it’s best used for everyday spending or during domestic travel.
Which of these no-annual-fee travel credit cards should you choose?
Picking the right travel credit card for your situation depends on how you use your credit cards and your travel goals. Although none of these credit cards charges an annual fee, each has specific benefits that are best for certain travelers. For example, if you travel internationally, you'll want a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
Earning power is another feature to focus on. Do you want a credit card that earns the same number of rewards, no matter where you use it because that just makes life easy? Or do you want a credit card that offers extra rewards at the types of stores where you spend the most? There is a best travel credit card with no annual fee that earns valuable rewards based on the way you make purchases.
Also, think about what type of rewards the credit card earns. Do you want to earn flexible points that can be used like cash to book travel or is it more important to earn airline miles or hotel points? Some credit cards offer the best of both worlds by earning flexible rewards that can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners.
Consider your spending and your travel goals and we’re sure there’s a card on this list that will be a great fit for you.
Bottom line on the best travel credit cards with no annual fee
Picking a great travel rewards credit card doesn't mean you have to pay an annual fee. Yes, these cards may not have all of the bells and whistles of higher-end travel credit cards, but they also don't charge an annual fee.
Some travelers are averse to paying fees; others want to add another card without increasing the number of annual fees they pay each year. These cards are perfect for either situation and we consider them among the best travel credit cards for beginners.
Which one will be the best travel credit card with no annual fee for you depends on how you travel, where you spend the most, and what benefits are important to you. Also, consider whether you want to earn flexible points, airline miles, or hotel points.