Paying an annual fee can sometimes be a bit of a drag. Many credit card users are of the mindset that you shouldn't have to pay to simply hold a credit card — and for good reason.
The average annual fee for credit card is nearly $110, according to the 2019 U.S. News Consumer Credit Card Fee Study, and premium travel cards can easily charge more than $400 annually.
In many cases, credit card annual fees can be recovered through valuable card benefits and rewards. However, a J.D. Power study found that just 66% of consumers said they completely understood their card’s rewards. In these cases, that annual fee could be a wasted investment if you don’t take advantage of all the rewards and perks available.
There are many simple ways to save money on your expenses, and using a cashback credit card is a great option. Here are eight of the best no annual fee credit cards offering cash back, and who each card would work best for.
- 8 top cashback credit cards with no annual fee
- What to consider before you choose a cashback card
- Bottom line
8 top cashback credit cards with no annual fee
|Card||Rewards rate||Best for someone who...|
|Bank of America Cash Rewards||3% cash back on the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on the first $2,500 spent each quarter in the 2% and 3% categories combined); and 1% cash back on all other purchases||Spends a lot in categories such as gas, online shopping, and dining|
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash||1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day||Wants effortless cashback on all of their purchases|
|Capital One® SavorOne®||3% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases||Enjoys spending on dining and entertainment|
|Chase Freedom Flex||5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases||Has varied spending throughout the year and can maximize the quarterly spending categories|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases||Wants a powerful rate for everyday spending, plus bonus categories for travel and dining|
|Citi Double Cash||up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay||Wants effortless cash back on all of their purchases|
|Discover it Cash Back||5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories (including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Amazon.com), up to quarterly maximum; 1% cash back on all other purchases||Has varied spending throughout the year and can maximize the quarterly spending categories|
|U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature||5% cash back on two chosen categories (up to $2,000 quarterly), 2% cash back on one chosen everyday category, and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases||Has varied spending and can maximize the bonus categories|
Bank of America Cash Rewards
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card is a great card for someone with spending that’s predictable from month to month.
With this card, you will earn 3% on the category of your choice (dining, drug stores, gas, home improvement/furnishings, online shopping, or travel). You can choose your bonus category once you receive your card, and change it up to once a month. If you do not select a category, it will automatically default to gasoline.
You will also earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. After that, you earn 1% until the next quarter.
For example, let's say you spent $2,000 in travel (3% category) and $500 at grocery stores (2% category) for a quarter. In total, this would earn you $70 in cash back.
In addition to great reward potential, there’s also a valuable introductory APR. You can get a 0% APR for 12 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers.
Lastly, the card also comes with a fairly simple sign-up bonus. You can get $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Card is the perfect card for someone looking for cashback earnings with no effort.
With this card, you will earn a respectable 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day. Since this card has no bonus categories, you can earn steady cash back on every single purchase without having to give it any thought.
To kickoff your cashback earnings, you will have the chance to earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Along with the simple cashback earnings, you will have a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months. This introductory rate can come in handy if you need time to pay off your monthly statement.
Lastly, you can spend away overseas without worry. You will have no foreign transaction fees when spending outside of the United States.
Capital One SavorOne
The Capital One SavorOne Rewards Card is designed for people who love to go out to eat or catch a show. With this card, you will earn 3% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
To add to the savings, you can earn a $150 one-time cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months. With this bonus, you can treat yourself to a nice dinner out or that concert you’ve been dying to see.
Similar to the Capital One Quicksilver Card above, you will have a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months.
In addition, you will have the following benefits and coverages: no foreign transaction fees, extended warranty, travel accident insurance, 24-hour travel assistance services, access to premier culinary experiences, and complimentary concierge services.
Chase Freedom Flex Card
The Chase Freedom Flex Card is a popular cashback credit card with no annual fee, and for one really good reason: bonus categories that change every quarter.
You can earn 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases. However, the categories are only announced a few weeks prior to the next quarter. So if you can spend with flexibility, this card may be a great fit for you.
In January through March of 2020, you can earn bonus points at gas stations, cable and phone services, and select streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music. Previous bonus categories have also included department stores, grocery stores, and Chase Pay purchases. You can check out the most current Chase Freedom bonus categories here.
To start earning extra cash back, you simply need to activate your bonus categories each quarter. You can do that by visiting the Chase site and clicking the “activate now” button. If you maximize the rotating bonus categories each quarter, you will be putting $75 back in your pocket.
To add to the perks of the Chase Freedom Flex card, you will also have purchase protection and extended warranty protection, plus you can earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you’re looking for a powerful cashback rewards card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited may be for you.
With this card, you can earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus new cardholders get 5% on grocery store purchases (on up to $12,000 in spending in the first year). You can earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases. There are no rotating categories to track, so you’ll always know what you’re earning no matter the purchase.
You will also have a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months. So if you need to make a large purchase such as a computer or renovate your home, this card can save you money while giving you payment flexibility at the same time.
Citi Double Cash Card
This card could be a great option for consumers who frequently make purchases that don’t fall into typical cashback categories such as groceries, gas, or restaurants. With the Citi Double Cash Card, you will up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay.
Discover it Cash Back
Revolving cashback categories give credit card users a great opportunity to maximize purchases in specific categories. The Discover it Cash Back Card offers quarterly rotating categories where you can earn up to 5% cash back.
In 2020, the quarterly categories are as follows:
- January-March: Grocery stores, Walgreens, and CVS
- April-June: Gas stations, Uber, Lyft, and wholesale clubs
- July-September: Restaurants and Paypal
- October-December: Amazon.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com
Each quarter, you will be able to earn 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter. This amounts to $75 in cashback each quarter. If you maximize this in the first year, that would be $300 in cash back.
To add to those earnings, Discover will match you on all cash back earned throughout your first year of card membership. So that $300 in cash back could become $600 at the end of your first year of spending.
Lastly, you will have a 0% intro APR on purchases for 14 months and a 0% (for transfers that post to your account by by January 10, 2021) APR on balance transfers for 14 months.
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature
To wrap up the best cashback credit cards with no annual fee, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature is worth considering for your cashback strategy.
With the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, you will have the opportunity to earn 5% cash back on two chosen categories (up to $2,000 quarterly), 2% cash back on one chosen everyday category, and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
Because you can earn 5% back on up to $2,000 in quarterly purchases, that equates to $100 in rewards each quarter if fully maximized. The 2% categories include restaurants and grocery stores, and this cash back can be earned without any limit.
To select your quarterly categories, you simply need to log into your U.S. Bank account to pick each category for the quarter. If you do not do this, you will earn the bare 1% cash back on these purchases.
To get your cashback earnings started in the right direction, you can also get $200 cash back after spending $500 in the first 90 days.
And if you need a solution to consolidate credit card debt in one place, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card does come with an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles on balances transferred in the first 60 days.
What to consider before you choose a cashback card
When you are considering a cashback 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 cashback card enough, or are many of your expenses in a few specified 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.
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. You may find one or two perks could sway your choice.
Once you can answer these questions, you will have a much better idea of which no-annual-fee cashback credit card will work best.
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 cashback 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.