Best 7 No-Annual-Fee Cash Back Cards Compared

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With so many no-annual-fee cash back cards available, you might wonder which is the best.

As always, it depends on your spending habits, travel goals, and how you like to use your rewards!

No-annual-fee cards are good to keep forever.  Because keeping your cards open for a long time can increase the average age of your accounts and potentially improve your credit score.

Best 7 No Annual Fee Cash Back Cards Compared

I’ll Help You Decide Which Cash Back Card Is Best for Your Goals!

I’ve picked 7 no-annual-fee cash back cards to compare.  I’ll help you decide which one makes sense for YOU!

How Do You Decide Between Cards?

When deciding which cards to apply for (and keep!) consider the:

  • Sign-up bonus
  • Ongoing or rotating category bonuses (like restaurants, movie theaters, gas stations, etc.)
  • Minimum threshold for getting cash back
  • Transfer partners for Big Travel with Small Money
  • Foreign transaction fees

7 No-Annual-Fee Cash Back Cards

Here’s my comparison of 7 of the best no-annual-fee cash back cards.  My favorite is #7!

1.   Chase Freedom Unlimited

Link:   Chase Freedom Unlimited

Link:   My Review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited is a new no-annual-fee card from Chase.  You’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) after you spend $500 within the first 3 months of account opening.

It also offers 1.5% cash back or 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on all purchases with no limit. 

My favorite aspect of the Freedom Unlimited is that you can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn from the card to your Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold (no longer offered), and then to Chase’s travel partners.

This could be a good card for you if like having the option to transfer your points for Big Travel.  AND if you don’t like tracking rotating bonus categories.  

Emily and I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for 6 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai!

Best 7 No Annual Fee Cash Back Cards Compared

Emily and I Used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai

You can read about our winter getaway to Kauai and how we used miles & points for the trip.

This card isn’t good for traveling abroad, because it adds a 3% foreign transaction fee for each transaction in US dollars.  

You can redeem your points for cash back in any amount.  Even as little as 1 cent.

The Freedom Unlimited is a really good no-annual-fee option because it has the best sign-up bonus (along with the regular Freedom).  Plus, it helps you start a good relationship with Chase, which has some of the best travel rewards cards available!

It’s also worth noting that you’ll be able to use it at Costco when they start accepting Visa in-store soon.  And that savings could add up!

2.   AMEX Blue Cash Everyday Card

Link:   Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Link:   My Review of the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday

With the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card you’ll earn $100 back (as a statement credit) after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account, until June 15, 2016.

You can also earn up to an additional $200 back by getting 10% back at US wireless telephone service providers, on the first $2,000 in purchases made with your card, until December 31, 2016.

You’ll also get 3% cash back at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year), 2% cash back at US gas stations and select department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.  

You can redeem your cash back as a statement credit in increments of $25.

This card has no annual fee.  But it does add 2.7% in foreign transaction fees.

This is a great option for folks who will spend a significant amount on US wireless service by the end of the year.  Otherwise, it offers similar cash back rates to other cards on this list.

3.   Capital One Quicksilver

Link:   Capital One Quicksilver

The Capital One Quicksilver card has a $100 sign-up bonus when you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.  And you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% back on every purchase with no annual fee.  It also is one of only a few cards with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

BUT, Capital One usually pulls your credit from 3 bureaus.  This can sometimes make it more difficult to apply for other cards in the near future.

Best 7 No Annual Fee Cash Back Cards Compared

It’s Important to Know Which Credit Bureau Your Score Will Be Pulled From When Applying for a New Card

This could be a good card for you if you travel overseas a lot (because Visa is accepted almost everywhere), AND if you’re looking for a cash back card with a straightforward rewards program.

Plus, the minimum balance you need to get your cash back is only 1 cent.

Other cards on this list have bigger sign-up bonuses, but this could be a good option for folks who only want one card AND want to be able to use that card outside the US.  You’ll be able to use Visa cards at Costco soon, too!

4.   Citi Double Cash

Link:   Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus.  But you can earn 1% cash back on all purchases and 1% cash back on all payments.  

You won’t have to worry about spending in specific bonus categories to earn cash back.  Because there are no rotating categories to track.

So this could be a good option for you if you like simplicity along with a decent cash back rate.  But it’s not good to use abroad because it charges 3% in foreign transaction fees.

The minimum balance you need to actually get your cash back is $25.

And you’ll get Citi Price Rewind, where Citi will track your purchases over the last 60 days and refund the price difference if they find a lower price (you must request the refund).

5.   Discover it Miles

Link:   Discover it Miles

Link:   Review of the Discover it Miles card 

The Discover it Miles card isn’t advertised as a cash back card, but you can use it that way!

That’s because you can redeem miles for statement credits toward travel expenses (within the past 180 days), or for cash deposited to your bank account.

Best 7 No Annual Fee Cash Back Cards Compared

Reimburse the Cost of Your Hotel Room Using Discover it Miles

There’s no sign-up bonus, but with the Discover it Miles card you get 1.5 miles per $1 you spend (worth 1.5% back) on all purchases.  And new cardholders get their miles doubled at the end of the first 12 billing cycles.  So that’s an effective 3% back on everything.

Along with having no annual fee, this is a great card because it is the only card that essentially earns unlimited 3% back on everything for the first 12 months!  And the minimum withdrawal amount for cash back is only 1 cent.

If you’re trying to decide between this card and the similar Quicksilver by Capital One card, the Discover it Miles card is a better choice based on the cash-back rate because your cash back is doubled at the end of the first year.

Just remember, it can be tough to find merchants that accept Discover in places like Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  So a Visa card might be a better option depending on your travel plans.

6.   Discover it

Link:   Discover It  

The Discover It card gives you 1% back on every purchase and 5% back (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter) on rotating categories (when you register) with no annual fee.

And you pay NO foreign transaction fees.

A great perk of this card is that for new card applicants, your cash back is doubled after the 12th billing cycle.  Earning you effectively 10% back on bonus categories and 2% back on everything else during the first year of card membership.

It’s very similar to the Discover it Miles card, but it’s a better choice if you spend a lot in the rotating 5X bonus categories like grocery stores, gas stations, and movie theaters.  AND if you don’t mind tracking the bonus category calendar.

There’s also no redemption minimum for cash-back!

7.   Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   Review of the Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom has a $150 (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.

You’ll also get $25 (2,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) for adding your first authorized user who makes a purchase within this same 3-month period.

And 5% cash back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.

The Chase Freedom card is my favorite no-annual-fee card because I don’t mind tracking which card to use.  And most of all, I like the ability to transfer points for Big Travel with Small Money.  Because I also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Bold card.

But for folks who don’t want to fuss with rotating categories, consider the other cards depending on your situation.

It’s worth noting there’s a $20 minimum redemption for cash back.  And it charges 3% in foreign transaction fees for each transaction in US dollars.

Keeping this no-annual-fee card in your wallet will help you build a long-term relationship with Chase.  Which is one of the keys to getting approved for more Chase cards in the future!

It’s also a Visa card, which you’ll soon be able to use at Costco.  And you can take advantage of Visa Offers discounts on shopping and more!

Bottom Line

When deciding between credit cards, consider your spending habits, sign-up bonuses, ongoing bonus categories, and transfer partners.

My favorite no-annual-fee cash back card is the Chase Freedom.  Because I can transfer the points to airline and hotel partners for Big Travel with Small Money.  But remember, you can only transfer points if you ALSO have the Chase Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold.

For folks with different priorities, cards like the Discover it Miles card, AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card, or the Citi Double Cash card could be good choices.

What’s your favorite no-annual-fee cash back card?  Let me know in the comments!

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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.

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5 responses to “Best 7 No-Annual-Fee Cash Back Cards Compared

  1. “Just remember, it can be tough to find merchants that accept Discover in places like Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean.” – more like you could write all the names of all the business which accept Discover in those places on the back of a business card and still have space for other notes.

  2. If I convert my Citi Premier to the Citi Double Cash, does the Citi Double Cash card count toward the Chase 5/24 ( 5 cards in a 24 month period)?

  3. Love my Citi Double Cash card. Only downside is that it can take awhile for rewards to post, unlike other issuers like Capital One which usually post rewards within 1-2 days of the transaction posting.

  4. @Jason – I’ve had luck with my Discover card abroad, but that’s certainly worth keeping in mind. Always have a backup!

    @Mr Squirrel – No, it shouldn’t count.

    @Josh R – Agreed on that point. Hopefully the other card features make up for the lag in your cash rewards posting!

  5. I haven’t seen you mention the regular Chase Ink business cards with no annual fee. They earn the same points as the Ink Plus and Bold but without the annual fee. I’ve had mine for a while, are they no longer offering it? I get 5x points for cable store, phone, and supply store purchases, 2x points for restaurants, gas, & travel, and I do NOT have an annual fee so I gladly use & keep this card.