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Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee for 2016

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee for 2016

Million Mile SecretsTop 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee for 2016Million Mile Secrets Team

Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.

There are plenty of cards with no annual fee that can get you Big Travel with Small Money!

Lots of cards can be well worth paying the annual fee.  Because they come with great travel benefits like free hotel nights, trip insurance, and other perks.

But paying an annual fee doesn’t appeal to some folks, especially those just beginning their journey with miles & points.

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
You Can Earn Points Quickly Fun Travel Experiences, Even With No-Annual-Fee Cards!

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.

Here are my top 10 picks of personal (not business!) credit cards with no annual fee.

1.   Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   My Review of the Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom is my favorite no annual fee card.  It’s one of the cards I have and use regularly.  I like it because you earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (or 5% cash back) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories each quarter when you activate the bonus.

You can combine your points them with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available).  And transfer to valuable airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt and United Airlines.

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
I Used Hyatt Points at the Park Hyatt Sydney for BIG Savings!

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
  • 2,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus points ($25) when you add an authorized user who makes a purchase in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

Here’s my full review of the Chase Freedom card.

2.   Chase Freedom Unlimited

Link:   Chase Freedom Unlimited

Link:   My Review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Thanks to Million Mile Secrets reader AJ for suggesting this card make the top 10!  I agree.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is similar to the Chase Freedom.  They have the same sign-up bonus, earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and, of course, have no annual fee!

Just like the Chase Freedom, you can transfer your points to travel partners if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available).

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
Emily Likes to Use British Airways Avios Points for Short, Expensive Flights to Visit Family

You’ll earn:

The Chase Freedom Unlimited does NOT have rotating bonus categories like the Chase Freedom.  This is a good card for everyday, non-bonus category spending because the rate of return is higher than any other card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

Here’s my review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

3.   Discover It

Link:   Discover It

The Discover It card is currently one of the best no-annual-fee cards.  If you’re a new cardmember, Discover will match the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your 1st 12 billing cycles!

You’ll earn $50 cash back when you sign-up and make a purchase within the 1st 3 months.  Discover will match that, too, at the end of 12 billing cycles!

The Discover It card is similar to the Chase Freedom because you’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% on certain rotating categories each quarter when you activate the bonus.

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

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
Get 5% Cash Back on Rotating Bonus Categories Each Quarter (10% During the First Year for New Cardmembers)

You can get additional discounts through Discover Deals, Discover’s online shopping portal.  Discover will match these earnings, too!

There are also NO foreign transaction fees.

4.   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 earns 1.5 miles per $1 you spend on all purchases and has no bonus categories to track.  That’s great if you don’t like remembering those details.

Discover It Miles are worth 1 cent per point.

There is NO sign-up bonus.  But you’ll get up to $30 credit per card anniversary year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases made with your card.

Remember, Discover will match your earnings at the end of your 1st 12 billing cycles.  So you’ll get effectively 3 miles back on everything you buy!

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

Because of Discover’s alliance with Tokyo-based credit card company JCB, you shouldn’t have a problem using your Discover card around East Asia (Japan, China, Singapore, etc.).  But Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean might give you difficulties!

5.   AMEX EveryDay Card

Link:   AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card

Link:   My Review of the AMEX EveryDay Card

The AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card card is a great no-annual-fee card.  Because it’s the ONLY no-annual-fee card that earns valuable American Express Membership Rewards points!

You can transfer your AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners, like Delta and Singapore Airlines for Big Travel!

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Fly to Israel on Delta

Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points to fly First Class on Singapore Airlines.  Or head to to Europe on Delta.  That’s a Great Perk for a Card With NO Annual Fee!

With the AMEX EveryDay card, you’ll earn:

  • 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 2 points per $1 at US supermarkets (up to $6,000) per year, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

You’ll also get a 20% bonus on the points you earn when you complete 20 or more purchases each billing cycle.  This means you’ll earn:

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

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

6.   Barclaycard Arrival

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Card

The Barclaycard Arrival earns 2 Barclaycard Arrival miles per $1 you spend on travel and dining, and 1 Barclaycard Arrival mile per $1 on all other purchases.

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% rebate when you redeem miles for travel.

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

In addition to the sign-up bonus, I like the Barclaycard Arrival because it has chip-and-PIN technology, which makes it a valuable card to have when you’re traveling in Europe!

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
I Needed a Chip-and-PIN Card to Buy Gasoline in Iceland!

Note:   This is different from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, which comes with an $89 annual fee (waived the 1st year) and 40,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles after meeting the minimum spending requirements.

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.

7.  Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

Link:   Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

Link:   My Review of the Citi Hilton HHonors Card

The Citi Hilton Visa currently has an increased sign-up bonus of 75,000 Hilton points (almost double the usual sign-up bonus of 40,000 points)!

Use the sign-up bonus for 1 night at a fancy hotel or up to 20 nights at category 1 hotels!

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
Emily and I Used Hilton Points to Stay at the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri!

It also has a decent rewards earning rate and benefits:

  • 6 Hilton points for every $1 you spend at Hilton hotels
  • 3 Hilton points for every $1 you spend at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations
  • 2 Hilton points for every $1 you spend on everything else
  • Free Hilton Silver elite status (late check-out, 2 free bottles of water, and 15% points bonus on Hilton points earned)
  • Free Hilton Gold elite status (free breakfast and internet) after staying 4 times at Hilton in the 1st 3 months or after spending $20,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • 10,000 Hilton points at the end of a calendar when you spend $1,000 or more at Hilton hotels

That’s a solid bonus for a card with no annual fee!

Hilton has lots of hotels all over the world.  You can redeem your points anywhere, but you should NOT use this card outside of the US.  Because it does NOT waive foreign transaction fees.  So it’s not a good card to use abroad.

My review of the card is here.

8.   Citi Double Cash Card

Link:   Citi Double Cash 

Link:   My Review of the Citi DoubleCash

The Citi Double Cash card is a strong no-annual-fee cash back card.  You’ll earn 1% cash back on purchases.  And you’ll earn another 1% when you pay them off, with NO limit to the amount you can earn.  But there is NO sign-up bonus.

In order to redeem your cash back, you must have earned at least $25.  You can request cash back in the form of a mailed check, statement credit, or gift cards.

This is a good card for folks who don’t want the hassle of tracking rotating bonus categories!

This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee when you use it outside the US, so it’s not a good card to use when traveling abroad.

9.   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 has one of the easiest rewards systems.  The card offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits on rewards.

The only catch is that you will need a qualified Fidelity account if you want the full 2% back.  Your 2% cash back will be automatically deposited into that account.

And, you’ll earn interest with certain Fidelity accounts when you invest the cash rewards.  That’s another great way to increase your savings!

Top 10 Credit Cards With No Annual Fee For 2016
Every Penny Counts! Earn 2% Cash Back, Plus Interest With an Eligible Fidelity Account

You can also use your Fidelity Rewards for merchandise and gift cards if you don’t have a qualifying Fidelity account.  But you’ll get a lower return than 2%.

There’s also a 1% foreign transaction fee when using your card abroad.  That’s much lower than many other no-annual-fee cards, but it’s still NOT a good idea to use it overseas!

Here’s my review of the card.

10.   JetBlue Card from Barclaycard

Link:   JetBlue Card

Link:   My Review of the JetBlue Card

Thanks again to reader AJ, as well as DWT for this recommendation!

The Barclaycard JetBlue card has a decent rewards earning rate for a no-annual-fee card.

You’ll earn:

  • 5,000 JetBlue points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening your account (limited-time offer)
  • 3 JetBlue points per $1 you spend on JetBlue purchases
  • 2 JetBlue points per $1 you spend at restaurants and grocery stores
  • 1 JetBlue point per $1 you spend everywhere else
  • 50% discount on eligible in-flight purchases like cocktails, food, and movies

This card has no foreign transaction fees, which is unusual for a no-annual-fee card.  So it’s a great card to use overseas!

Cardholders will NOT get a free checked bag, so if you fly JetBlue often, it could be well worth signing-up for the JetBlue Plus Card (with a $99 annual fee).  Lots of readers prefer the JetBlue Plus Card, and I agree with them!

You can read my review of all 3 Barclaycard JetBlue cards, and decide for yourself!

Bottom Line

Having a no-annual-fee credit card is a great way to improve your credit score by lengthening your credit history!  It also helps to build strong relationships with the bank.

My top picks for a no-annual-fee personal credit card card in 2016 are the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited.  Because these cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be incredibly valuable if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available).

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

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I have a credit card that has 15+ years of credit history. What is the best way to switch to a new card(same bank) and keep that long term relationship and credit history?

What about Bank of America Travel Rewards or AMEX Hilton Honors?