No Annual Fee Credit Cards

When shopping online or at the store, it’s natural to assume that the most affordable options might not bring you the best product. Luckily, that’s not the case when it comes to no annual fee credit cards. On top of their accessibility, no annual fee cards offer a wide variety of benefits, including top-notch rewards, cash back bonuses and more.

The most obvious benefit of no annual fee credit cards is right in the name; you won’t be charged a yearly membership cost to continue on as a cardholder. This added flexibility not only frees up space in your budget, but you won’t be caught off guard with an annual fee that you might have forgotten about. Plus, these fees can be daunting. Some cardholders find ways to make up for it through clever spending and rewards-earning, but annual fee cards can cost as much as $550 per year – a pretty pricey ticket. With the right fit, no annual fee cardholders can take advantage of similar rewards without the yearly cost.

While many luxury credit cards charge an annual fee, there is a vast array of top tier credit cards that offer ample rewards without one. In fact, these include some of the best credit cards around.

Whether you’re looking to build credit, find an everyday card, capitalize on rewards, transfer a balance or make another financially-savvy move, there’s likely a card for you. Find low APR, rewards and more with the best no annual fee cards from our partners.

When shopping online or at the store, it’s natural to assume that the most affordable options might not bring you the best product. Luckily, that’s not the case when it comes to no annual fee credit cards. On top of their accessibility, no annual fee cards offer a wide variety of benefits, including top-notch rewards, cash back bonuses and more.

The most obvious benefit of no annual fee credit cards is right in the name; you won’t be charged a yearly membership cost to continue on as a cardholder. This added flexibility not only frees up space in your budget, but you won’t be caught off guard with an annual fee that you might have forgotten about. Plus, these fees can be daunting. Some cardholders find ways to make up for it through clever spending and rewards-earning, but annual fee cards can cost as much as $550 per year – a pretty pricey ticket. With the right fit, no annual fee cardholders can take advantage of similar rewards without the yearly cost.

While many luxury credit cards charge an annual fee, there is a vast array of top tier credit cards that offer ample rewards without one. In fact, these include some of the best credit cards around.

Whether you’re looking to build credit, find an everyday card, capitalize on rewards, transfer a balance or make another financially-savvy move, there’s likely a card for you. Find low APR, rewards and more with the best no annual fee cards from our partners.

Editor: Laura Mohammad | Writer: Garrett Yarbrough

|

December 28, 2020

Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards:

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable
Discover it® Cash Back
See Rates & Fees

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Cashback Match™

Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% variable
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.25X
Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
20,000 miles

Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3%
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
2%
Earn 2% at grocery stores
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
5%
Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase.
3%
Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores
1.5
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.74% variable
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3%
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
2%
Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
1%
Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Discover it® chrome
See Rates & Fees

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2%
Earn cash back on your next road trip with 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
1%
Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Cashback Match™

Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% variable
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
5%
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
5%
Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase.
3%
Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores.
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$200

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.74% variable
Alliant Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2X
Earn two reward points for every dollar spent

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
5,000 Points

Earn 5,000 bonus Alliant Rewards points after spending $500 or more in qualifying purchases during the first 90 days the account is opened.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.24% - 23.24% variable
Citi® Double Cash Card

Excellent

Credit Recommended (740-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2%
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Excellent

Credit Recommended (740-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2X
Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter.
1X
Earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
15,000 points

Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Excellent

Credit Recommended (740-850)

hfyhpf120.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% variable

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by hfyhpf120.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

All information about Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected independently by hfyhpf120.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


Comparing credit cards with no annual fee

Credit cards without an annual fee offer much-appreciated savings, a hassle-free experience and other benefits, say experts. In fact, the majority of our picks for the TD Bank’s 2019 Consumer Spending index found that millennials spend annually almost $1,000 more on dining than Baby Boomers and more than $500 than Gen Xers.

“Some consumers may save their credit card rewards points so that they can pay off their annual fee,” says Pukas. “By switching to a card with no yearly fee, they can put those rewards to something they really want, like flights, dining out and more.”

The trick is to identify whether one suits your lifestyle. Here, we look at:

  • see rates and fees).

    Compare the Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

    Credit CardBest ForAnnual FeeOur Rating
    Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit CardNew cardholders$03.4 / 5
    Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressU.S. Gas and U.S. Supermarket$03.7 / 5
    Discover it® Cash BackLow interest$04.3 / 5
    Chase Freedom Unlimited®Unlimited earning potential$04.7 / 5
    Discover it® chromeFirst year welcome offer$04.1 / 5
    Citi® Double Cash CardCash back$03.8 / 5
    Alliant Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit CardGood credit$04.1 / 5
    Chase Freedom Flex℠Rewards Variety$03.9 / 5
    Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit CardEarning travel miles$03.0 / 5
    Citi Rewards+℠ CardBonus rewards$03.0 / 5
    Citi® Diamond Preferred® CardLengthy introductory purchase window$03.9 / 5
    American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ CardEarning airline miles$03.5 / 5
    American Express Cash Magnet® Card0% intro purchase APR For 15 months, then 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR. $04 / 5

    Methodology

    With the literal thousands of no annual fee cards to explore, deciding which option should earn a slot in your wallet – without a reward-eating price tag – can be a tough call. We examined 2,744 credit cards to narrow down the best 9 to match your spending habits. See our no annual fee credit card rating process for detailed criteria and more detail on our review scores.

    No annual fee credit cards analyzed: 2,744

    Criteria used: Rates and fees, rewards rates, sign-up bonus, other promotional offers, redemption options and flexibility, regular APR, extra features and benefits, customer service, credit needed, security, ease of application, ability to upgrade

    What is an annual fee?

    An annual fee on a credit card is a charge made each anniversary year. An annual fee might be charged on a credit-builder card, a rewards card or a luxury card, for example. Typically, you are benefiting in some fashion for having the card, such as when it’s a hotel or airline card. In fact, we found in our November 2019 credit card fees survey that most annual fee credit cards are travel cards. Our survey determined that 26 of the 100 cards we looked at had annual fees, unchanged from the previous year.

    Who should get a no annual fee credit card?

    New credit card users

    If you’ve never held a card before, you might want to jump in with a card that has no annual fee until you better understand the market. That way, you can get in the habit of remembering those monthly payments, keeping track of your expenses and searching for the next upgrade, be it a travel card or a 0% intro APR card.

    People who need to consolidate debt

    Already hold cards and want to consolidate those balances? Many credit cards offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers, such as the Citi® Diamond Preferred® card, with a 18-month offer for balance transfers (14.74% – 24.74% variable).

    People looking to rebuild credit

    Similar to new card users, those looking to rebuild their credit can benefit from a no annual fee card. Some options are available to people with bad credit scores and have features to help you re-establish your credit. Plus, avoiding the cost of an annual fee can make budgeting easier, giving you more leeway to improve your credit score through timely monthly payments.

    Experienced cardholders looking to diversify

    Cardholders carrying a top-tier card may be able to add some value to their wallet with a no annual fee card. Premier credit card rewards are often tied to specialized categories such as travel, so a general-purpose rewards card with no annual fee that you can use for everyday purchases could come in handy.

    Occasional credit card users

    If you plan to use your card only occasionally, a card with no annual fee is the most economical choice. With a card that charges an annual fee, you would need to spend a certain amount every year to make it worth your while. A no annual fee card is not only cheaper but simpler.

    Common benefits of a no annual fee card

    Rewards

    You don’t have to get a credit card with an annual fee to enjoy rewards. Most cash back cards, such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards, don’t have an annual fee, and there are a couple of travel cards with no annual fee for the forward-looking traveler focused on daily-living expenses, such as the Capital One VentureOne Rewards.

    Free credit score

    Many cards, such as the Discover it Cash Back card, now offer a free credit score monthly or quarterly without you taking a hit to your credit.

    Car rental insurance & roadside assistance

    Called secondary auto insurance, cards like Chase Freedom Unlimited allow you to use this product as a supplementary item to your primary insurance. Some no annual fee cards also offer roadside assistance for such events as towing, fuel delivery and tire changing.

    Concierge service

    Some no annual fee cards such as the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, offer comprehensive, personalized assistance in dining, entertainment and travel 24 hours a day.

    Building credit

    If you get a credit card for credit building that has no annual fee, that’s one less fee to worry about. In addition, you can find credit-builder cards that have minimal fees, such as the Discover it® Secured and the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One.

    What to do if you’re unhappy with your annual fee card

    If you’ve committed to a card with an annual fee and now you’re feeling a bit trapped, there are actually ways to get out of the annual fee without harming your credit.

    Option 1: Downgrade the card

    If you’re unsatisfied with the card and perks, instead of closing the card, call the card’s issuer and request a product change to downgrade to a card with no annual fee, advises Chelsea Hudson, personal finance expert with TopCashback.com. This will allow you to skip the annual fee without affecting your credit score.

    If you want certain benefits of the older card, such as the credit limit, you’ll want to stay within product groups. So, for example you wouldn’t transition as a downgrade from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to a Southwest card, although you might downgrade to a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

    When you downgrade, everything transfers to the new card, including account number, credit line, payment history, even length of time you have had the card active. The payment history and length of history are particularly important, because those impact your credit, and by retaining these with a product change, you keep them beyond 10 years on your credit file. Also, by maintaining the credit line, you keep your credit utilization ratio low, provided your balances are low, which is another important part of maintaining a healthy score.

    Option 2: Close the card

    If your wallet is weighed down with cards, closing a credit card with an annual fee can be an option. You’ll want to pay off any debt (don’t just transfer it to another card) and make sure you don’t have high debt in your combined cards, because that can impact your credit utilization ratio, and therefore, your credit score. Also, think twice before closing an older card, because your oldest card and your average age are factored into your credit.

    Option 3: Ask for the annual fee to be waived

    There’s another little-known option – simply ask your issuer to waive the annual fee. The answer may surprise you. In fact, we found that 70% of consumers who asked successfully had their annual fees waived or lowered.

    Cardholders who asked…

    • Received a higher credit limit
    • 85%
    • Got a late fee waived
    • 84%
    • Got an annual fee waived or lowered
    • 70%
    • Got a lower interest rate
    • 56%

    Source: hfyhpf120.com study

    Is it worth getting a card with an annual fee?

    Putting it simply, yes, an annual fee can be worthwhile. To know if a credit card annual fee is worth it, you’ll have to take a close look at a card’s features and decide if the rewards and benefits will justify paying a fee. Doing this can require a little extra work, but there are a few factors you can key in on when considering annual fee cards:

    Sign-up bonus

    Cards with annual fees often come with lucrative sign-up bonuses that can eclipse the fee in the first year. Consider the affordability and value given with any card’s sign-up bonus to get a gauge on whether it’s a worthwhile option, but you can’t expect to get a huge bonus every year to offset the annual fee – be sure other features make the card a good fit long term.

    Ongoing rewards and bonus categories

    Cards with annual fees often feature higher ongoing rewards rates or unique bonus categories that can help offset a fee even after year one. If your spending habits align well with a certain card’s bonus categories, it could be the winning ticket. A card giving heightened rewards on your largest expense categories may pay for itself and then some.

    0% APR

    Does the annual fee card have an enticing 0% APR offer? If so, it’d be a rarity: Of the 100 most popular credit cards studied in our 2020 Balance Transfer Survey, 38 offered 0% balance transfer APR deals and only two were premium cards. Surprisingly enough, annual fee cards also tend to offer shorter 0% APR terms than their no annual fee counterparts, a crucial feature if you’re looking to move debt or make a large purchase.

    Ongoing interest

    Since some annual fee cards may not offer a 0% APR or even allow you to transfer to the card, it’s important to compare ongoing interest rates. No annual fee cards’ ongoing APRs can often be lower than their premium siblings, like when comparing the Venture and VentureOne cards, but the ultimate goal is to avoid interest charges altogether, so find an affordable option with personally valuable rewards.

    Perks & benefits

    On top of sign-up bonuses and inflated rewards rates, cards with an annual fee often feature unique, high-end perks for cardholders. Many cards offer benefits like airport lounge access or credits for dining, transportation and expedited security screening. Depending on your lifestyle, these perks alone could help justify the cost of an annual fee.

    Which is better: annual fee or no annual fee?

    Let’s take a closer look at comparable annual fee cards and their no annual fee counterparts. We’ll highlight options from American Express and Capital One as examples:

    CardAnnual feeRewardsBenefits
    Blue Cash Everyday from American Express$0Up to $300 intro bonus*; 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1% after that); 2% back at U.S. gas stations, select U.S. department stores. Terms Apply15-month 0% intro APR on purchases, then 13.99%-23.99% (Variable)
    Blue Cash Preferred from American Express$95$250 intro bonus/$1,000 spend in first 3 mths; 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1% after that), select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. Terms Apply12-month 0% intro APR on purchases, then 13.99%-23.99% (Variable)
    Capital One VentureOne Rewards$020,000-mile sign-up/$500 spend in 3 mths; 1.25X miles per dollar on every purchase12-month 0% intro APR on purchases, then 15.49%-25.49% (Variable)
    Capital One Venture Rewards$9560,000-mile sign-up/$3,000 spend in 3 mths; 2X miles per dollar on every purchaseNo 0% intro APR offer; ongoing
    17.24%-24.49% variable APR

    *Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

    As you can see, while the Blue Cash products have the same ongoing interest but vary on the 0% APR offer, VentureOne has a unique 0% APR perk and slightly lower interest compared to the Venture card. As expected, the rewards are better on the cards with an annual fee, but it’s worthwhile to read the fine print when it comes to ongoing interest.

    While cards with annual fees often have superior benefits, you can avoid your card’s annual fee include downgrading cards, closing a card or finding a new option entirely.

    Can I cancel my credit card and not pay the annual fee?

    If you’re not using an annual fee card often, it’s probably in your best interest to close the card account. You should try to negotiate with your issuer or explore downgrading first, though, because otherwise you’ll be stuck paying the fee.

    It may seem like a great idea, but taking advantage of cards with a waived first-year fee is too good to be true. Sure, you could try to sign up for multiple cards to take advantage of the initial bonuses and close the accounts after a year, but churning through cards like this will only create problems. Also, trying to hold out on paying doesn’t do you any good, either – rewards and benefits typically are inaccessible for those who haven’t paid their annual fee.

    Can you get a no annual fee credit card with bad credit?

    It’s rare, but there are credit cards without an annual fee for consumers with bad credit and even no credit history. For example, there’s the Discover it® Secured, which offers 2% at gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 a quarter in combined purchases, then it’s 1%.

    Do you have to pay an annual fee when you don’t use the credit card?

    If you have a credit card with an annual fee, you are responsible for paying the fee even if you don’t use the card. Some cards waive annual fees in the first year, however, giving you a trial period to determine whether it’s the right option for you. Of 100 cards we surveyed in November 2019, 9 waived the annual fee the first year.

    Want some more information?

    Check out our reviews for no annual fee cards to explore more credit card offers that waive that cost every year.