Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

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You might be hesitant to pay annual fees on credit cards, especially if you’re new to the hobby of points and miles.

Some cards are well worth paying the annual fee!  That’s because they come with valuable perks, free hotel nights, or other travel benefits.

But there are other cards that are free to keep year after year that can also help get you Big Travel with Small Money!

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

Can You Get Big Travel With Small Money Without Paying an Annual Fee? Absolutely! I’ll Explain Your Options

And having a no-annual fee credit card is a great way to improve your credit history, credit score, and build a relationship with a bank.

Many of the cards in this post don’t earn us a commission, but we’ll always tell you about the best deals!

Here is my list of 10 of the top no-annual-fee credit cards.

1.   Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   My Review of the Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom card is my favorite no annual fee card, and 1 of the Chase cards I keep in my wallet .  You’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150 in cash back) after signing-up and spending $500 on purchases within the 1st 3 months.

You can also earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (or 5% cash back) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories like gas stations, restaurants, or commuter transportation each quarter.

I like the Freedom card because you can either redeem the points earned for cash back, OR you can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), or Chase Ink Plus.  

And from there to airline or hotel partners such as Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways, or United Airlines!

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

Emily Used United Airlines Miles to Fly Lufthansa Business Class

Read my full review of the Chase Freedom card here.

2.   Discover It

Link:   Discover It

The Discover It card is another great choice for a no-annual-fee card.  You’ll earn $50 cash back when you sign-up and make a purchase within the 1st 3 months.

The Discover It card gets you 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% on certain rotating categories each quarter when you activate the bonus.

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

You Can Save 5% on Meals When You Activate the Discover It Bonus Categories

If you’re a new cardholder or previously registered, Discover will also double all your cash back after your 1st 12 billing cycles!  

So you’ll get an effective 2% back on every purchase for your 1st year.  And a total of 10% cash back in the rotating quarterly categories when you register.

You can get additional discounts through Discover Deals and there are NO foreign transaction fees!

3.   Discover It Miles

Link:   Discover It Miles

Link:   My Review of the Discover it Miles Card

The Discover it Miles card is similar to the Discover It card, but it has no bonus categories to track.  That’s great if you don’t want that hassle!

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

The Discover It Miles Card Makes It Easy to Put Cash In Your Wallet

With the Discover It Miles card you’ll earn 1.5 miles per $1 you spend on all purchases.  However, there is NO sign-up bonus.

You’ll also get up to $30 credit per card anniversary year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases made with your card.

Discover will double your miles at the end of your 1st 12 billing cycles.  So you’ll get effectively 3% back!

There are no foreign transaction fees.  Just remember Discover cards are not as widely accepted as other cards, especially outside the US.

4.   Citi Double Cash Card

Link:   Citi Double Cash 

Link:   My Review of the Citi DoubleCash

With the Citi Double Cash card you’ll earn 1% cash back on purchases.  And you’ll earn another 1% when you pay them off.

There’s no limit to the rewards you can earn and no category restrictions.  But there’s NO sign-up bonus.

This is a good no-annual-fee option if you don’t want the hassle of tracking rotating bonus categories!

There IS a 3% foreign transaction fee so this is not a good card to use when traveling abroad.

5.   Barclaycard Arrival

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival   

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Card

You won’t pay an annual fee or foreign transaction fees with the Barclaycard Arrival card.  And you’ll earn 2 Barclaycard Arrival miles per $1 you spend on travel and dining, and 1 Barclaycard Arrival mile per $1 on all other purchases.

You’ll earn 20,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles after spending $1,000 in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.    

Barclaycard Arrival miles are worth 1 cent each towards travel purchases of $25 or more.  So your sign-up bonus is worth $200 towards travel (20,000 X 1 cent).  And you’ll earn a 5% miles rebate when you redeem miles for travel.

The Barclaycard Arrival also includes chip-and-PIN technology, which makes it a terrific card to have when you’re traveling in Europe!

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

The Barclaycard Arrival Has Chip-And-PIN Technology. That’s Useful When Traveling to Europe!

Note:   This is different from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card.  You’ll earn 40,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles when you sign-up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and meet the minimum spending requirements.  But there IS an $89 annual fee (waived 1st year).  

You’ll also get 2 Barclaycard Arrival miles per $1 spent on all purchases.  That’s double what you’ll earn with the Barclaycard Arrival card, so it could be worth paying the annual fee.

6.   AMEX EveryDay Card

Link:   AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card

Link:   My Review of the AMEX EveryDay Card

With the AMEX EveryDay card, you’ll earn 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of account opening.

You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 at US supermarkets (up to $6,000) per year, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.  

And when you complete 20 or more purchases each billing cycle, you’ll get an 20% bonus on the points you earn, giving you:

  • 2.4X AMEX Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets
  • 1.2X AMEX Membership Rewards points on all other spending

And with the AMEX EveryDay card, you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners for Big Travel!

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

You Can Transfer Your AMEX Membership Rewards for Stays At Hilton Hotels!

This card offers a lot of flexibility and rewards for a no-annual-fee card!

7.   Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

Link:   Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card (US Bank)  

Link:   My Review of the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card is a good no-annual-fee card because of its simple rewards system.  The card offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits on rewards.

You DO need a qualified Fidelity account if you want the full 2% back.  With a qualified account your 2% cash back will be automatically deposited into that account.

And you’ll earn interest with your Fidelity account.  That’s another great way to increase your savings!

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

Start Saving Money With the Fidelity Rewards Card

If you redeem your Fidelity Rewards for anything else like gift cards, statement credits, or travel, you won’t be guaranteed the full 2%.

There’s a 1% foreign transaction fee, so this isn’t the best card to use overseas.

8.   Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Update:   This offer is no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Link:   Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Link:   My Review of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday Card is another no-annual-fee card with a simple rewards system.  You’ll earn up to $300 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the 1st 3 months of account opening.

You’ll earn 3% cash back at US supermarkets for up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), along with 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores.

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

With the Blue Cash Everyday Card From American Express You’ll Earn 3% Cash Back on Groceries and 2% Cash Back on Gas

Beyond those categories, you earn 1% cash back on everything else.  Your cash back rewards can be redeemed in the form of a statement credit.

9.  AMEX SimplyCash Small Business Card

Link:  AMEX SimplyCash Small Business Card 

Link:   My Review of the AMEX SimplyCash Small Business Card

For a limited time there’s a $250 statement credit when you sign-up for the American Express SimplyCash small business card after spending $5,000 on purchases in the 1st 6 months. 

This card currently has no annual fee.

This is a small business card, but even if you don’t think you have a business, read my post about ways you might qualify for a business credit card!

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

Buying Toilet Paper at Office Supply Stores Can Get You 5% Cash Back

You’ll also get 5% cash back for up to $25,000 in purchases a year at US office supply stores and on US wireless phone services.

That said, there’s a different version of this card coming this spring (although some folks have already been targeted with an offer).

The current targeted sign-up bonus is a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening an account.  So if you’re considering this card, you might want to wait to apply!

You don’t normally see such good sign-up bonuses on a card with no annual fee!  Here’s my full review of the card.

10.   Chase Ink Cash Business Credit Card

Link:   Chase Ink Cash

Link:   My Review of the Chase Ink Cash

The Chase Ink Cash card is another small business card, and it’s a great choice for a no-annual-fee card if you like flexibility.  I wrote a full review of the card here.

You’ll earn $200 (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.  And get 5 points per $1 you spend (5% cash back) on the 1st $25,000 spent per year at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services.

You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 you spend (2% cash back) on the 1st $25,000 spent per year in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations.  And 1 point per $1 you spend (1% cash back) on everything else.

What makes this card EXTRA special is that if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold card, you can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with the Ink Cash to airline and hotel partners!  

Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

Transfer Your Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt for An Unforgettable Experience

That’s a great option for folks who don’t like annual fees, like cash back, and love Big Travel with Small Money!

Bottom Line

Having a no-annual fee credit card is a great way to improve your credit history, credit score, and build a relationship with a bank.

My top pick for a no-annual-fee card is the Chase Freedom card.  With this card you can earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (5% cash back) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories like gas stations, restaurants, and movie theaters each quarter.

The Discover It card is another great choice if you prefer cash back.  You’ll get 1% cash back on all purchases.  You’ll also earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in spending on rotating categories each quarter.  And new card members (or folks who previously registered) get their cash back doubled at the end of their 1st year!

Emily and I will always tell you about the best deals, even if they don’t earn us a commission, as is the case with many of the cards in this post!

Which no-annual-fee cards would you add to my list?

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

5 responses to “Top 10 Cards With No Annual Fee

  1. Good list, a couple of considerable additions, both new:

    1. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card–much for the same reasons you mentioned for the Chase Freedom and combining the points with the premium product (Sapphire Preferred, Ink). I realize that you can’t yet apply online so that could be a justifiable reason for not yet including it.

    2. The JetBlue card (no annual fee version)–3 points for JetBlue purchases, 2 points grocery and restaurant, no foreign transaction fees, Chip & PIN backup. You never see an airline no annual fee product this good.

  2. Hi Daraius,

    do you have any posts on maxing out the 5% category limit for the Chase Ink Plus/Bold? I currently have both cards (and the Sapphire Preferred), but have thought about dropping both for the Ink Cash (and keeping the Sapphire for transfer purposes). Thanks! [Edited]

  3. I’d second AJ’s recommendation of the new basic Jetblue card. With roughly 1.4% back on everyday spend, the double points categories, and no foreign transaction fees, it’s hard to beat for a card with no annual fee. Another recommendation is the BofA Travel Rewards Card that also has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and a rebate of at least 1.5%, with bonuses for BofA banking customers.

  4. No mention of the Capital One Quicksilver. 1.5% cash back and no FX fees.

  5. Also no mention of the Captial One Spark 2% back on everything. it comes with 59.00 annual fee but they are waiving that if requested.

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