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|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening||1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel||
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card||Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||up to 14X points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2X points on other travel purchases; and 1X points on all other purchases||
|Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card||Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 6 months||2X miles on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases||
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points (plus a free night reward) after spending $1,000 in purchases 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®||Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||2X AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent at grocery stores (including grocery delivery services) and on eligible American Airlines purchases; plus 1X miles per dollar on everything else
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 $0-annual-fee version of this card with similar rewards and benefits.
Thie Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. This card also offers a welcome bonus of 20,000 miles when you spend at least $500 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 a number of 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% intro APR on purchases for 15 months (then 19.74% - 29.74% (Variable) APR).
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 up to 14X points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2X points on other travel purchases; and 1X points on all other purchases. 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 3 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 12 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.
Learn more in our Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card review.
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Travelers who want to earn Delta SkyMiles without paying an annual fee should look into the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card. It earns 2X miles on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases. You can also earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 6 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.
Learn more in our Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card review.
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 a welcome bonus. Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points (plus a free night reward) after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. 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.
Learn more in our Hilton Honors American Express Card review.
American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®
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 (including grocery delivery services) and on eligible American Airlines purchases; plus 1X miles per dollar 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.
Learn more in our American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card review.
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 how 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 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. See our list of the best no annual fee credit cards for even more options.
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.
Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards
- Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
- Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
- No foreign transaction fees
- Apply Now
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
- 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
- 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 17.99% - 27.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee applies to all balance transfers.
- If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
- Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
- This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
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Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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