9 Highest Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

CREDIT CARDS - NO ANNUAL FEE CREDIT CARDS
Save money with these eight credit cards, which offer great cash back and no annual fees.
Updated April 12, 2024
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Using a credit card with a high cashback rate for common expenses is a smart money move. This move is even smarter when the card you use has no annual fee. This includes credit cards such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees), Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, and Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Whether you prioritize simplicity, bonus categories, or specific perks, this guide aims to help you find a no-annual-fee cash back credit card that complements your financial strategy.

In this article

9 highest cash back credit cards with no annual fee

  1. Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  2. Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
  3. U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card
  4. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
  5. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  6. Chase Freedom Flex℠
  7. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  8. Citi Double Cash® Card
  9. Discover it® Cash Back

Cash back credit cards with no annual fee comparison

Credit card Best for someone who... Rewards rate Annual fee

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

5.0

Wants to earn easy, but generous rewards program for everyday spending Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases $0

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

4.4

Spends a lot in categories such as gas, online shopping, and dining 3% cash back in the category of your choice and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and 1% on all other purchases $0

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

4.5

Has varied spending and can maximize the bonus categories 5% cash back on two categories you choose (up to $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter) and on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Center; 2% cash back on one everyday category, like gas stations/EV charging stations, grocery stores, or restaurants; and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases $0

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

4.5

Wants effortless cashback on all of their purchases 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply) $0

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

4.9

Enjoys spending on dining and entertainment 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), popular streaming services, and entertainment; 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); and 1% cash back on all other purchases $0

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

4.7

Has varied spending throughout the year and can maximize the quarterly spending categories 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service); and 1% cash back on all other purchases $0

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

4.7

Wants a powerful rate for everyday spending, plus bonus categories for travel and dining 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases $0

Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card(Rates and fees)

4.8

Wants effortless cash back on all of their purchases 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24 $0

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back(Rates and fees)

4.7

Has varied spending throughout the year and can maximize the quarterly spending categories Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. $0

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Pros
  • Simple rewards structure
  • Cell phone protection
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • No bonus categories

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees) has a relatively high baseline rewards rate that makes it stand out from the crowd. This card also has intro APR offers on purchases and balance transfers. 

You can get a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable. Plus a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months from account opening, then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable.

Rewards rates: With this card, you can earn a generous 2% cash rewards on purchases. This rate doesn't come with a spending cap.

Welcome offer: You can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months.

Why we like it: This card is a great fit if you have big spending planned, or you're currently carrying a balance you want to transfer from a different credit card, since it has some decent intro APR offers.

What we don’t like: This card doesn’t offer any bonus categories with higher rewards rates. Still, the Active Cash’s 2% rate on purchases is good overall.

Other benefits include: 

  • Cell phone protection. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers a cell phone protection benefit that most credit cards don't. It covers up to $600 per claim on covered theft or damage as long as you pay your monthly cell phone bill with this card. Keep in mind that there's a small $25 deductible if you file a claim, and you're allowed up to two paid claims per calendar year.

Apply now or find more details in our Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Pros
  • Choice of bonus categories
  • Good for gas and dining
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Must opt in to chosen bonus category

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is a great choice for someone with spending that’s predictable from month to month.

Bonus category of your choice: With this card, you will earn 3% on the category of your choice — gas and EV charging stations, online shopping, dining, travel, drug store/pharmacy or home improvement/furnishing (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter).

Intro APR offer: You can get a 0% APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles (after that, the APR goes to 18.24% - 28.24% Variable). You also get a 0% APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (after that, 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR).

Why we like it: Since you can choose your own bonus category, it's easy to maximize the rewards you can earn with this card. You'll have the ability to choose your bonus category once you receive your card, and you can change it up to once a month. If you do not select a category, it will automatically default to gasoline.

What we don’t like: There's a cap on how much you can get back on spending in your chosen bonus category. That's a common practice with rewards cards, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

Other benefits include:

  • A welcome offer. Along with its regular benefits, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card comes with a fairly simple welcome offer. You can earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. That's achievable for many people if you opt to put your typical everyday spending on the card.

Apply now or get more details in our Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card review.

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

Pros
  • Choice of bonus categories
  • Good for varied spending
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Must opt in to chosen bonus categories

The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card is worth considering for your cashback strategy. This card's flexible bonus categories make it possible to earn more rewards than with its baseline rate alone. 

Bonus categories: With the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, you will have the opportunity to earn 5% on two categories you choose (up to $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter).

Welcome offer: To get your rewards going in the right direction, you can earn a $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening.

Why we like it: This card's bonus category rewards equate to up to $100 in rewards each quarter if fully maximized. Plus, the regular rewards rate doesn't have a cashback limit.

What we don’t like: This card isn’t ideal if you want a hands-off approach to credit card rewards. You have to choose your categories every quarter. If you don’t, you’ll earn the regular 1% cash back on bonus category purchases, the same as you would on all other eligible purchases.

Other benefits include:

  • Intro APR on balance transfers. If you need a way to consolidate credit card debt in one place, the Cash+ Visa Signature comes with an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, then 19.74% - 29.74% (Variable) APR.

Learn more in our U.S. Bank Cash+ review.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros
  • Simple rewards structure
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Not the highest rewards rate

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great card for someone looking for consistent cashback earnings with low effort. 

You can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). 

Cash back on every purchase: With this card, you will earn a respectable 1.5% on every purchase, every day. Since this card has no rotating bonus categories, you can earn steady rewards on every single purchase without having to give it any thought.

Welcome offer: To kick off your cashback earnings, you will have the chance to earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Why we like it: Along with the simple cashback earnings, you will have a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months, then 19.99% - 29.99% (variable) APR. This introductory rate can come in handy if you need time to pay off a new purchase.

What we don’t like: This card doesn’t offer any bonus categories unless you count the 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). If you prefer a simple, straightforward approach to cashback rewards, then that's not a big deal. But it does limit your options to maximize earnings.

Other benefits include:

  • No foreign transaction fees. If you travel internationally, you can use your card overseas without worry. The Quicksilver has no foreign transaction fees.

Learn more by checking out our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards review.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Pros
  • Good for dining and entertainment
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Can be hard to predict if some purchases are part of specific categories

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is designed for people who love to go out to eat or catch a show. This card has an impressive array of rewards on things like dining and entertainment. 

You can earn 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), popular streaming services, and entertainment; 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Welcome offer: To add to the savings, you can earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. If you earn this offer, you can treat yourself to a nice dinner out or that concert you’ve been dying to see.

Intro APR offer: If you need to pay off a big purchase over time, this card gives you a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months, then 19.99% - 29.99% (variable) APR.

Why we like it: Not a lot of no-annual-fee cards that earn cash back also offer good rewards on dining and entertainment. (That’s more commonly a travel rewards card thing.) But the SavorOne card has relatively good rates for the foodies and nightlifers out there.

What we don’t like: Sometimes it's hard to predict whether or not a specific purchase is part of a rewards category. Credit card companies use vendor coding to assign rewards and if a certain vendor has the wrong code, you may miss out on the higher return rate for that purchase. 

Other benefits include:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to premier culinary experiences

Learn more in our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards review.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Pros
  • Bonus categories rotate each quarter
  • Good rewards rates
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Must opt in to bonus categories each quarter
  • Bonus categories are not flexible

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a popular cash back credit card with a $0 annual fee. This card is mainly popular for one really good reason: bonus categories that change every quarter.

You can earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service); and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Rotating bonus categories: Having different categories each quarter gives you fresh opportunities to maximize your rewards. Chase announces the bonus categories only a few weeks prior to the next quarter. So if you're a flexible spender, this card may be a great fit for you.

Welcome offer: You can earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Why we like it: The rotating bonus categories are easy to activate and, if you maximize the bonus categories each quarter, you will be putting $75 back in your pocket. The Freedom Flex also offers excellent rewards on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service).

What we don’t like: If you don’t opt into the bonus categories each quarter, then you don’t get the higher rewards rate. Not everyone wants to deal with waiting for category announcements and remembering to enroll.

Other benefits include:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection

To activate your bonus categories each quarter, you just need to log in online and click the Activate Now button. You can check out the most current Chase Freedom bonus categories here.

Check out more details in our Chase Freedom Flex review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Pros
  • Good rewards rates
  • Somewhat simple rewards structure
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Has foreign transaction fees

If you want a powerful cashback rewards card that’s also simple to use, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® fits the bill.

Easy-to-earn rewards: With the Freedom Unlimited, you can earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Welcome offer: This card has a welcome offer that lets you earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

Why we like it: This card has no rotating categories to track, so you’ll always know what you’re earning on every purchase. And while this card’s base rate of 1.5% is just OK, it has pretty impressive rates on Lyft rides, drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and travel purchased through Chase Travel.

What we don’t like: There’s not much to complain about with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, but if you like to travel then this card’s not great for international trips since it has a foreign transaction fee.

Other benefits include:

  • Intro APR offer: You will also have a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months, then 20.49% - 29.24% Variable APR. So if you want to buy a computer or renovate your home, this card can save you money while giving you payment flexibility at the same time.

Apply now or learn more in our Chase Freedom Unlimited review.

Citi Double Cash® Card

Pros
  • High overall rewards rate
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Has foreign transaction fee 

The Citi Double Cash is a popular cash back card for its consistent reward rate on all purchases. It’s a good option if you frequently make purchases that don’t fall into typical cashback categories, such as groceries, gas, or restaurants.

Simple rewards structure: With the Citi Double Cash® Card(Rates and fees), you will earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the citi travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

Intro APR offer: You will have a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable) APR.

Why we like it: This card makes cashback rewards easy. You don’t have to track categories or use complex strategies to maximize your rewards. Since the Double Cash keeps it simple, you can just buy all the things you normally do and get rewards on every purchase.

What we don’t like: If you like to redeem your cashback rewards as soon as you get them, then the Double Cash might be a little annoying. You have to wait until after you’ve paid your balance to get the second half of your rewards amount, which can feel like a long delay.

Other benefits include:

  • No caps: Unlike many cards, Citi doesn’t have limits on the amount you can spend with the Double Cash and still get the highest rewards rate.

Apply now or get more information in our Citi Double Cash® Card(Rates and fees) review.

Discover it® Cash Back

Pros
  • High rewards rate on bonus categories
  • $0 annual fee
Cons
  • Discover is not as widely accepted as some other payment networks

The Discover it Cash Back has really good rewards if you don’t mind tracking rotating bonus categories each quarter.

With this card, you'll be able to earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

Cashback match: To add to your rewards, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year..

Intro APR offer: You will have a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable) and a 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).

Why we like it: Revolving cashback categories give you a great opportunity to make the most of your purchases. Plus, the Discover it® Cash Back’s highest rewards rate (up to 5% cash back on rotating categories up to quarterly maximum when you activate) is really good for a card with a $0 annual fee.

What we don’t like: Discover is a less-common payment network, and some merchants don’t accept it — especially if you travel abroad. Most merchants in the U.S. take Discover, but international payments can be difficult.

Other benefits include:

  • Variety of card designs. You can choose from 25 different card design options for your Discover it Cash Back card.
  • Rewards don’t expire. You can save up your cash back over time to redeem later because this card’s rewards never expire.

Apply now or get more info in our Discover it® Cash Back(Rates and fees) review.

What to consider before you choose a cash back card

When you are considering a cash back card, there are many factors to consider outside of the earning potential.

First, what type of cash back are you going to benefit from the most? Is a flat-rate cash back card enough, or are many of your expenses in a few specified spending categories like gas or groceries? Take a close look at your past expenses to see where you spend the most, and research cards that can help you maximize your earnings based on that.

Second, how easy is it to redeem the cash back? Some cards make it easier to redeem rewards than others. With the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, for example, you can redeem your cash back in any increment you would like. However, with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, you can only redeem your cash back in increments of $25. Check whether your card provides redemption options in the form of statement credit, gift cards, shopping rewards at Amazon, or more. 

Third, are there other credit card perks you want or need? Some cards cover TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fees, for example, while others offer 0% APRs or travel insurance. Regardless of what you are looking for, be sure to look closely at the extra perks that each card offers. Cardholders may find one or two perks that could sway their choice. For example, if you are a Fidelity brokerage client, you might appreciate that the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers an additional 2% cash back when redeeming bonus points for deposit to eligible Fidelity accounts.

Once you can answer these questions, you will have a much better idea of which no-annual-fee cash back credit card will work best.

No-annual-fee cash back credit cards FAQ

Are cash back cards worth it?

Generally, yes. If you get a credit card with no annual fee that offers rewards on the things you buy all the time, then it’s very easy for a cash back card to be worth it. Used properly, cash back cards are a valuable way to get some money back on things like gas, groceries, and dining.

Is it worth it to pay a fee for a cash back credit card?

If the amount you expect to earn in rewards is worth more than the credit card's annual fee, then it might be worth it. But don't forget to make the same calculation for a fee-free card to see which one would be most valuable for you overall. Whether or not a card will work best for you comes down to your personal spending habits in combination with the credit card's benefits and rewards.

Is cash back on credit cards free?

No, you don’t get cashback rewards for free — you earn them by buying things with your credit card and getting rewards on those purchases. Different cash back cards offer rewards on different kinds of purchases, but you always have to spend money before you can get rewards.

Is there a 5% cash back card?

Yes, there are cash back cards that offer 5% on various kinds of purchases. Many 5%-back cards charge annual fees, but you can find some fee-free cash back cards that also offer 5% back. Typically these fee-free cards give you 5% back on one or more specific bonus categories and have a spending limit. After you hit the spending limit, your rewards rate drops until the next quarter or year.

No-annual-fee cash back credit cards: bottom line

Debating between cash back vs. miles credit cards can be a difficult one. If you decide that cashback is best for you, keep in mind that there is not one single “best cash back credit card” out there. The best credit card is the one that fits your spending habits and goals the best. The suggestions above are a great place to start on your cashback journey.

Methodology

To identify the best no-annual-fee cash back credit cards, we considered various credit cards based on their cashback rewards, benefits, and perks for everyday purchases.

We made sure that these credit cards have no annual fees while offering elevated cashback rewards rates. We selected a number of credit cards that cater to different needs and preferences, but keep in mind that our list doesn’t include all available options. Our goal is to provide a variety of options that can help individuals research their options and find ways to earn cashback rewards on their everyday expenses.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards

5.0

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

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.

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