Lots of folks shy away from getting a credit card with an annual fee, even though many come with amazing perks! But you can still earn valuable travel rewards or cash back with a no-annual-fee credit card!
Most miles & points experts keep no-annual-fee cards in their wallets. Because you can keep them open forever without paying a dime. And this can increase the length of your credit history, which can potentially boost your credit score.
Opening a no-annual-fee rewards credit card can be a terrific first step to getting your feet wet in the miles & points hobby. That’s how team member Keith got started. And now he uses miles & points for incredible vacations, like a recent trip to New Zealand!
There are many fantastic personal no-annual-fee cards that can get you Big Travel with Small Money. I’ll share my top 10 picks!
My Favorite No-Annual-Fee Cards for 2018
Before applying for these cards, I recommend checking out this post with the best card strategy for beginners. While the below non-business cards are fantastic, they could impact your chances of getting more valuable cards in the future.
Emily and I don’t earn a commission for most of these cards, but we’ll always tell you about the best deals!
1. Chase Freedom
Link: Chase Freedom
When you sign-up for the 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.
On their own, you can only redeem the points you earn with the Freedom card for 1 cent each for cash back or towards travel. But Chase Ultimate Rewards points are much more valuable if you have cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred. When you have one of these cards, you can combine your points and transfer them to lots of great airline and hotel partners!
Note: Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold cardholders can also transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners. But these cards are no longer available to new applicants.
2. Chase Freedom Unlimited
Link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card makes it easy to earn my favorite flexible rewards points. With this card, you earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) per $1 you spend on all purchases with NO limit. There’s no need to worry about rotating bonus spending categories.
Team member Joseph says this is one of the top 5 cards he’s currently using. He usually takes this card out to pay if another card in his wallet doesn’t earn him a bonus for the purchase. This is the #1 card I recommend for Amazon purchases!
Similar to 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 you can combine points to other eligible Chase cards, which can help you save lots of money on travel!
3. Chase Amazon Prime Card
You can earn straightforward cash back with the no-annual-fee Chase Amazon Prime Rewards card. You’ll earn:
- 5% back on all Amazon purchases if you have an Amazon Prime membership (otherwise 3% back)
- 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores
- 1% back on all other purchases
And you’ll get a $70 Amazon gift card upon approval (no minimum spending requirement!). Plus, this card has no foreign transaction fees! So you can earn bonus cash back while dining overseas!
This card is NOT restricted by the Chase “5/24” rule. So even if you’ve opened lots of credit cards recently, you’re still eligible to be approved for this card.
4. Barclaycard Uber Visa
If you enjoy dining out (like me), you might consider the Barclaycard Uber Visa Card. You’ll earn 4% back for dining purchases. And the card has no foreign transaction fees. So you can earn bonus rewards dining abroad without paying more for your meal.
With this card, you’ll also earn:
- 3% back for hotels and airfare
- 2% back for Uber rides and online purchases
- 1% back for all other purchases
- $50 “subscription credit” for online subscription services (you must spend $5,000+ on your card in a year)
- $600 coverage for phone damage or theft (you must use your card to pay your monthly phone bill)
- Invitations to exclusive US events
The points you earn with this card are worth 1 cent each and can be redeemed for Uber rides, cash back, or gift cards. You must redeem at least 500 points at a time for Uber credits, or 2,500 points for cash back and gift cards.
5. Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card
Besides having no annual fee and not charging foreign transaction fees, the Capital One Savor card comes with a $150 sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Plus, you’ll earn:
- 3% cash back on dining
- 2% cash back on groceries
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
Redeeming the cash back you earn with the Capital One Savor card is easy. You can request a check or statement credit, any time, with no minimum redemption amount.
6. AMEX Blue Cash Everyday Card
The AMEX Blue Cash Everyday is a great choice for folks looking to earn straightforward cash back, especially if you make a lot of purchases at grocery stores.
- 3% cash back at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year; then 1%)
- 2% cash back at US gas stations and select department stores (includes Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Sears)
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
And when you sign-up for 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.
7. Capital One Quicksilver
The Capital One Quicksilver card comes with a $150 sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. And you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
With this card, you also get perks like:
- Travel accident insurance – Insurance for death or dismemberment at no extra charge when you purchase airfare using your card
- Auto rental insurance – Secondary collision and theft insurance for you and all additional drivers on your agreement
- Extended warranty – Additional warranty protection when you purchase items your card
- Price protection – Get reimbursed the difference if the price drops on eligible items within 120 days of purchase
Million Mile Secrets team member Keith has this card and likes the occasional promotions, like saving 50% off a monthly Spotify subscription until April 2018.
8. U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
Link: US Bank Cash+ Categories
When you sign-up for the US Bank Cash+ card, you can earn a $150 sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
With the US Bank Cash + card, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in 2 categories of your choice AND 2% cash back in 1 category of your choice. But you must select your categories each quarter.
Here’s a look at the some of the categories you can choose from:
- Bookstores – Barnes & Noble, Amazon Kindle Books, and some university bookstores (Note: Some folks say they’ve received 5% back on many Amazon purchases besides books with this category.)
- Car Rental – Avis, Budget, National Car Rental
- Cell Phone – AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon
- Charity – American Cancer Society, Kiva, The Salvation Army
- Department Stores – Bloomingdales, JCPenney, Nordstrom Rack
- Electronics Stores – Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, TigerDirect
- Fast Food – Chipotle, Panera Bread, Starbucks, and Cold Stone Creamery
- Furniture Stores – American Furniture, Ethan Allen, IKEA
- Gyms – 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, LA Fitness
- Movie Theaters – AMC Theatres, Fandango.com, Regal Cinemas
- Select Clothing Stores – Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew
- Sporting Good Stores – Big 5 Sporting Goods and REI
Million Mile Secrets team member Scott selects ground transportation as a 5% cash back category. This way he earns bonus cash back for taxis and Uber in the US. But he does NOT use it overseas because it charges foreign transaction fees.
9. Barclaycard JetBlue
Link: Barclaycard JetBlue Card
The Barclaycard JetBlue card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. And when you sign-up for this card, you’ll get:
- 15,000 JetBlue points 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
JetBlue points are extremely useful because there are no blackout dates on award flights! And award flight prices are based on the cash cost of a seat on same flight. Team member Keith redeemed JetBlue points over the holidays, which saved him $800 on flights to visit family in Florida!
10. Discover It
Link: Discover It®
Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories throughout the year. So making online purchases with this card can be an easy way to earn bonus cash back!
As a new cardmember with either of these cards, all the cash back or miles you earn will be matched after your 12th billing cycle. Team member Harlan has earned more than $1,500 in cash back thanks to this terrific perk!
Just keep in mind, 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!
These are the top 10 no-annual-fee cards I recommend:
- Chase Freedom
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Amazon Prime Rewards Visa
- Barclaycard Uber Visa Card
- Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- US Bank Cash+
- Barclaycard JetBlue Card
- Discover It®
You can earn flexible points with cards like the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited, which can save you lots of money on travel! Or earn straightforward cash back with cards like the Capital One Savor or AMEX Blue Cash Everyday.
Which no-annual-fee non-business credit cards would be on your Top 10 list?