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Lots of travel rewards cards can be worth paying the annual fee. Because they come with great travel perks like big sign-up bonuses, free hotel nights, trip insurance, and other benefits.
But there are plenty of personal no-annual-fee cards that can get you Big Travel with Small Money too!
These 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.
My Favorite No-Annual-Fee Cards for 2017
1. Chase Freedom
Link: Chase Freedom
You’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150 cash back) after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. And another 2,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($25 cash back) for adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the same timeframe.
Plus, if you have other Chase cards like the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred, or Ink Plus or Ink Bold (no longer available), you can combine your points and transfer them to valuable airline and hotel partners. Like Hyatt and United Airlines!
If you redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back, they’re worth 1 cent per point. And you need at least 2,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($20) for a cash back redemption.
2. Chase Freedom Unlimited
Link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Much like the Chase Freedom card, you can earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150 cash back) after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening a Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
And because the card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer your points to travel partners if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred, or Ink Plus or Ink Bold (no longer available).
But the Chase Freedom Unlimited does NOT have rotating bonus categories like the Chase Freedom. Instead, you’ll earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) per $1 you spend on all purchases with NO limit.
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!
And don’t forget, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent per point when redeemed for cash back. With a minimum redemption amount of 2,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($20).
Here’s my review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
3. Discover It
Link: Discover It
The Discover It card is another great no-annual-fee card.
You’ll earn $50 cash back when you sign-up and make a purchase within the first 3 months. And if you’re a new cardmember, all the cash back you earn will be matched after your 12th billing cycle. Including the sign-up bonus!
So you’ll effectively get 2% back on every purchase for your first year. And 10% cash back in the rotating quarterly categories when you register.
4. Discover It Miles
Link: Discover It Miles
The Discover it Miles card is similar to the Discover it card. But it earns 1.5 miles per $1 you spend (1.5% back) on all purchases and has no bonus categories to track. So it’s a good option for folks who don’t like tracking 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.
Plus, Discover will match your earnings at the end of your first 12 billing cycles. So you’ll get effectively 3 miles back on everything you buy for the first year!
There are no foreign transaction fees. But note, Discover cards are not as widely accepted as other cards, especially outside the US. In Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean, you might have difficulty using the card!
5. AMEX EveryDay Card
You’ll also get 2 points per $1 at US supermarkets (up to $6,000) per year (then 1x), and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. And a 20% bonus on the points you earn when you complete 20 or more purchases each billing cycle.
Plus, you can transfer your AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners, like Delta and Singapore Airlines for Big Travel!
That’s a LOT of flexibility and rewards for a card with no annual fee!
6. Capital One Quicksilver
The Capital One Quicksilver card has a $150 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.
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.
Keep in mind, 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.
7. Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi Double Cash card is a strong no-annual-fee cash back card. You’ll earn 1% cash back on purchases and 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.
8. Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card
With the Fidelity Visa Signature card, you’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits or caps. And no category bonuses to think about!
And because it’s a no-annual-fee card, it’s an excellent card to keep forever to help boost your credit score.
But you’ll need a qualified Fidelity account if you wan the full 2% back. And the cash back you earn will be automatically deposited into that account.
There is NO sign-up bonus for opening this card. But it’s a Visa Signature card, so it’s widely accepted at lots of merchants. And you’ll be able to enjoy Visa Signature perks!
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%.
And there’s a 1% foreign transaction fee. That’s low, but it’s still NOT a good idea to use it overseas!
9. AMEX Blue Cash Everyday Card
Link: My Review of the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday
With the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card, you’ll earn $150 back (as a statement credit) after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
It offers similar cash back rates to other cards on this list.
You’ll 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.
Although it has no annual fee, it does add 2.7% in foreign transaction fees.
10. JetBlue Card from Barclaycard
Link: JetBlue Card
The Barclaycard JetBlue card has a decent rewards earning rate for a no-annual-fee card.
- 5,000 JetBlue points (worth ~$70 in JetBlue flights) after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening your account
- 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. And it has chip-and-signature technology with PIN capability, which is useful in Europe!
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!
My top picks for a no-annual-fee personal credit card in 2017 are the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Because you’ll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with both of these cards, which can be very valuable if you also have the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred, or Ink Plus or Ink Bold (no longer available).
But depending on your travel goals, you might prefer no-annual-fee cards that earn cash back, like the Discover It or Capital One Quicksilver. Or a card that earns transferable AMEX Membership Rewards points, like the AMEX EveryDay.
Keeping a no-annual-fee card in your wallet is a great way to improve your credit score by lengthening your credit history! It also helps to build strong relationships with the bank.
Are there any no-annual-fee personal cards you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments!