|Credit Card||Intro Offer||Rewards||Regular APR|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Best Overall, Best for Cash Back||Earn $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.||Unlimited 1.5% cash back||16.49%-26.49%|
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Best for Dining||Earn $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening||Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.||16.49%-26.49%|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited Best for First-Year Cash Back||Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on gas station purchases on up to $6,000 spent in the first year||Earn 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3% on dining and restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services. Earn 3% on drugstore purchases. Earn 1.5% on all other purchases.||16.49% to 25.24%|
|Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card Best for Travel||25,000 points after $1,000 in 90 days 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases||Unlimited 1.5x points||15.49% to 25.49%|
|Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students Best for Students||25,000 points after $1,000 in 90 days 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases||Unlimited 1.5x points||15.49% to 25.49%|
|Citi Double Cash Card Best for Highest Ongoing Earnings||0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers||Unlimited 2% cash back||16.24% to 26.24%|
|United Gateway Card Best for Airlines||Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.||3x miles groceries for a limited time Unlimited 2x miles on United, gas, transit 1x miles all else||17.99% to 24.99%|
|Hilton Honors American Express Card Best for Hotels||Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership starting from the date your account is approved.||Unlimited 7x at Hilton Unlimited 5x at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations 3x all else||17.99% to 26.99%|
Editorial Picks for Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best Overall, Best for Cash Back
Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no caps. Offers a 0% APR promotion on purchases for 15 months.
Read the full Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Review.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best for Dining
Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
Read the full Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Best for First-Year Cash Back
Earn 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3% on dining and restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services. Also, earn 3% on drugstore purchases and earn 1.5% on all other purchases. Purchases enjoy a 0% APR for the first 15 months after the account is opened.
Read the full Chase Freedom Unlimited Review.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Best for Travel
All purchases receive 1.5x points for every dollar spent with no caps. Receive up to 75% more points based on your banking and investment balances.
Read the full Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card Review.
Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students
Best for Students
Students can build their credit history with a card that matches the best features of the standard version of this card. Use the 0% APR to receive interest-free financing on purchases for 15 months.
Read the full Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students Review.
Citi Double Cash Card
Best for Highest Ongoing Earnings
Receive double cash back on your purchases—1% when you make a purchase plus 1% when you make a payment. Convert rewards into ThankYou Points to take advantage of Citi’s airline and hotel transfer partners.
Read the full Citi Double Cash Card Review.
United Gateway Card
Best for Airlines
Good card to earn airline miles on purchases when you don’t need the checked bag and priority boarding benefits of the United Explorer Card. The primary cardholder has expanded award availability when using miles to book flights on United with no restrictions or blackout dates.
Read the full United Gateway Card Review.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Best for Hotels
Cardholders receive automatic Hilton Honors Silver status and the ability to upgrade to Gold status based on spending. Earns 7x points per dollar at Hilton, 5x points at U.S. restaurants and grocery stores, and 3x points everywhere else.
Read the full Hilton Honors American Express Card Review.
Types of No Annual Fee Cards
There are many types of no annual fee credit cards available for consumers and small businesses to choose from, depending on what is most important to them. You can find no annual fee cards in the following categories:
- Cash back credit cards
- Rewards credit cards
- Student credit cards
- Small business credit cards
- Secured credit cards
- Airline, hotel, and co-branded credit cards
- 0% APR promotion cards
Credit cards with an annual fee typically offer higher rewards on spending and additional benefits than those with no annual fee. We suggest that you consider how much you’ll realistically spend on the card and how often you’ll use the benefits to determine whether or not paying the annual fee is worth it for you.
Pros and Cons of No Annual Fee Credit Cards
Inexpensive to carry (assuming no other fees or interest are incurred)
Often provide cash back, points, and miles-based rewards
May have introductory APR offers on purchases and balance transfers
No need to generate enough rewards to justify an annual fee
Smaller introductory bonuses, if any, compared with more lucrative rewards cards that charge annual fees
Fewer features and insurance coverages vs. premium cards
Can easily become inactive if not used
What Is an Annual Fee?
An annual fee is a fee imposed by some credit card issuers on their cardholders each year. This fee, sometimes called an annual membership fee, is similar to the membership fee you might pay for an Amazon Prime account or a Costco wholesale club membership and is designed to offset some or all of the costs that the card issuer incurs in providing the card to consumers. In decades past, banks often charged modest annual fees as a matter of course on many of their products, but competitive pressures ushered in no annual fee offers as a marketing incentive.
No annual fee credit card offers then became the standard due to competitive pressures, except in cases of unusually lucrative rewards programs, large upfront bonuses, or for cards aimed at people with impaired credit (in which case the fee helps offset the increased losses typically associated with subprime lending).
What Is an Average Annual Fee for a Credit Card?
For cards that charge them, annual fees can range from as low as $25 up to an eye-popping $695 for ultra premium cards like The Platinum Card from American Express. Many popular general travel cards and most co-branded airline and hotel rewards credit cards charge annual fees, but these tend to be under $100 per year and are sometimes waived for the first year. However, there are still many travel and even co-branded no annual fee options available, allowing you to avoid this expense entirely, though with diminished rewards.
What Does No Annual Fee Mean?
No annual fee means that the bank does not charge a fee each year for being a cardholder. While some credit cards charge an annual fee to receive additional rewards on purchases, benefits, or exclusive perks, many no annual fee credit cards offer valuable rewards and features that are very competitive.
How Do You Choose a No Annual Fee Credit Card?
Choosing a credit card with no annual fee starts with deciding whether you are truly averse to an annual fee for any of the reasons mentioned above. Then it becomes a question of which type of no annual fee card is right for you.
For example, a no annual fee card that offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for a year or more can be a good choice for anyone with existing high-interest credit card debt.
For people who want rewards (either from a single card or in conjunction with another card), it’s useful to analyze your spending patterns. There are numerous no annual fee cards that provide bonus earnings for everyday spending categories like groceries, gasoline, drugstores, or monthly streaming services. Or, if you simply find the whole rewards earning and tracking game a bore, then a card that pays a flat percentage in cash back, points, or miles could be a better bet.
If you are willing to play the game, however, there are no annual fee credit cards that offer compelling bonus cash back percentages (up to a quarterly or annual cap on eligible spending in fixed or rotating purchase categories). They can be lucrative, but they may require jumping through some hoops in terms of staying informed and registering on the issuer’s website.
Another consideration is the process for redeeming rewards. Few, if any, cards provide automatic redemption, but cash back cards offer the simplest and most straightforward options, such as a statement credit, check, bank deposit, or gift card. The rewards on points and miles cards must usually be redeemed online for travel, merchandise, or gift cards through a special rewards portal and can be less transparent in terms of redemption value.
To decide which no annual fee credit card best suits your needs, we invite you to read our extensive and objective product reviews and consider how each card stacks up relative to other cards in their respective category in terms of fees, interest rates, rewards, customer service/security, and benefits.
Who Is a No Annual Fee Card Right For?
No annual fee credit cards are best suited for those who are averse to paying fees for one of several reasons—they can’t afford them, can’t justify them due to low spending/low rewards earnings, or simply because they don’t feel that they should have to pay to use a credit card, even one with rewards.
For people who can’t afford the fee because they are on a limited budget or are paying down outstanding balances, avoiding an annual fee can certainly make sense. People who want to earn cash back, points, or miles but aren’t sure they’ll earn enough throughout the year to justify the fee may also opt for no annual fee cards. These types of cards, when they offer 1.5% cash back on all purchases or extra points/miles for certain categories of spending, can be an excellent, low-maintenance back-up card to use in combination with another rewards card that carries an annual fee but offers more generous rewards in other categories.
While the majority of no annual fee credit cards is reserved for people with good to excellent credit scores, there are some options for those with less-than-stellar credit or no credit history at all. These include certain secured credit cards (which require a security deposit) and several non-secured cards from a few national issuers that specialize in non-prime consumers.
What Credit Score Is Needed for a No Annual Fee Credit Card?
The credit score required to be approved for a no annual fee credit card varies based on which bank is issuing the card and which card you are applying for. Many banks offer multiple no annual fee credit cards to meet the needs of a variety of customer profiles.
Each of the credit cards on this list recommends a good credit score of at least 670 when applying. If your credit score is considered bad or fair, there are competitive options for credit cards that build credit, and some do not have annual fees. As your credit score improves, you can always apply for one of these no annual fee credit cards.
To select our choices for the best no annual fee credit cards, we gathered numerous data points on every no-fee card available. These data points included annual fees, interest rates, rewards, welcome bonuses, benefits, 0% APR promotions, and more. Each data point is assigned a score that allows us to compare each card for a variety of customer types. The cards with the highest scores are chosen as the winners for each category. We continuously monitor data from card issuers to update our ratings and rankings to ensure that we provide readers with our best recommendations.
MEET OUR CREDIT CARDS EXPERT
Ben Woolsey is Investopedia’s Associate Editorial Director of financial products and services, including credit cards. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, including marketing for banking and financial institutions such as Associates First Capital and Bank One. Prior to Investopedia, he managed credit card content for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com.