Many credit cards have an annual fee that you must pay just for having the card. But personally, I prefer a credit card with no annual fee - many even allow you to earn rewards on your spending. Having one of these credit cards can help you build your credit score, since you can keep your account open even if you don't use it. This can help you increase your account age, as well as decrease your debt-to-credit-limit ratio. Why get a credit card with an annual fee when you can get a balance transfer, low interest or rewards card with similar (or in many cases even better rewards) for no annual fee?
GET.com's best no annual fee cards
|Best For||Credit Card|
|Travel||Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card|
|Cash back||Discover it® Cashback Match™|
|Travel With Bonus||BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card|
|Balance transfer||Chase Slate®|
|Low interest||Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card|
Here is a list of GET.com's pick of credit cards with no annual fee, most of which offer rewards on your spending.
Best Unlimited Flat-Rate Travel Card With No Annual Fee
Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card lets you earn unlimited 1.5x rewards on each purchase you make (which means that you earn 1.5x Miles for each $1 spent). This travel card lets you redeem your rewards at a rate of $1 for every 100 Miles you've earned and you can redeem your rewards for cash or for a travel credit. New cardmembers can benefit from this card's exclusive offer: If you're a new cardmember Discover will match all the rewards you have earned at the end of your first year - there's no need to sign up for this offer and you're not tied to any purchase caps, minimums or limits. You will also be able to access your FICO® Credit Score on your monthly statements, online and on mobile for free. Customer service is top notch since it's 100% U.S. based and you'll be able to talk to a real person (instead of a frustrating machine that doesn't understand you). Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card has a 0% intro APR on purchases and 10.99% intro APR on balance transfers for 14 months (there's a 11.49% - 23.49% variable APR after). Each balance transfer has a 3% fee. No annual fee.
Click here to read our review of Discover it® Miles - Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card.
Best Unlimited Flat-Rate Cash Back Card With No Annual Fee
Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is a straightforward card that lets you earn unlimited, automatic 1.5% cash back on every purchase that you make. As a new cardholder, you can earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. The cash back you earn does not expire as long as your account is open and in good standing and can be redeemed for any amount, anytime. This card has a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers and a standard 15.49% - 24.24% variable APR after that. Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ has no annual fee.
Best Rotating Category Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee
Discover it® Cashback Match™ has no annual fee, and Discover matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically (offer only for new cardmembers). You get 5% cash back for purchases you make (up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500) in bonus categories that change every quarter. You have to sign up for the 5% cash back each quarter (it's easy and free), but you automatically earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases you make. You get a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months (11.49% - 23.49% variable APR after). You pay a 3% fee for each balance transfer. Perks like the Freeze It® on/off switch which lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds using the mobile app or your online account, and free tracking of your recent FICO® Credit Scores in an easy-to-read chart online and on monthly statements make this a very practical card for everyday use. If you travel a lot, you can save money by using this card because it has no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Freedom® has no annual fee and comes with a bonus offer which lets you earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from the time your account is opened. Plus you earn a $25 Bonus after adding your first authorized user, and making your first purchase within that same 3-month period. You earn 5% cash back for up to $1,500 of combined purchases you make in bonus categories each quarter. The categories change quarterly, and you need to activate the 5% bonus every quarter (its easy and fast). You earn unlimited 1% cash back (automatically) on all other purchases. But the pros don't stop there. You enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months for purchases and balance transfers, which makes this an attractive card account to transfer old credit card debt onto. Just note that there is a balance transfer fee, which comes to either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. The intro APR period for purchases means you can make big ticket purchases and pay them off over time, before the 15.49% - 24.24% variable APR for purchases and balance transfers kicks in.
Best Fixed Category Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card. This card has no annual fee, and comes with a bonus offer that lets you earn a $100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in your first 90 days after account opening. You earn 3% on gas and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined wholesale clubs, grocery and gas purchases charged to this card each quarter. You earn 1% cash back on every other purchase. You get a 10% customer bonus when you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. If you're a Preferred Rewards client (meaning you maintain certain amounts of money in an eligible Bank of America account), that bonus can increase to 25%-75%. Click on the "Apply Now" button to learn more about Preferred Rewards. You get a 0% intro APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days followed by 13.49% - 23.49% variable APR (3% fee or $10 minimum applies to balance transfers), so this is also a useful card for paying off large purchases or credit card debt.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has no annual fee and you earn $100 back (in the form of a statement credit) after you spend just $1,000 in purchases using your new Card in the first 3 months after account opening. Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. department stores. You earn 1% cash back for other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. This card gives you a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (13.49% - 23.49% variable APR after that). That helps you avoid wasting money on interest if you have large purchases to make, as you can pay them off within that intro APR period without paying and APR. This is also a good card for balance transfers. Benefits like return protection, extended warranty and a purchase protection plan add to this card's appeal.
Best Double Cash Back Credit Card With No Annual Fee
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is the only card that earns you cash back two times on every purchase you make. You earn unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. So if you use this card to pay and then make your payments in full every billing period, you earn double cash back on all purchases you make each month. You don't get any category restrictions or caps on the amount of cash back you can earn, so this is a rewarding card to use for all your purchases. This card has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months with a standard 13.49% - 23.49% variable APR after that (click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and find out how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases). A major benefit of this card is Citi® Price Rewind, a price protection service which searches online stores for a lower price on things you buy for 60 days from the date of purchase. If it finds a lower price, you will be alerted and can claim reimbursement for the difference in price. This card has no annual fee.
Best Travel Rewards Credit Card With No Annual Fee
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card. This credit card lets you earn 20,000 online bonus points (can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases) when you make at least $1,000 in purchases in your first 90 days after account opening. For every purchase you charge to this card you earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent. You get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase if you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account, and if you are a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%.75% (click "Apply Now" to learn more about Preferred Rewards). So this card can potentially be very rewarding. The miles you earn are not actual frequent flyer miles, but rather miles that can be redeemed towards any travel purchases you make (flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees), so you get a lot of flexibility.
Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards With No Annual Fee
Chase Slate® is a money-saving balance transfer credit card which gives you a $0 introductory balance transfer fee for any transfers you make during the first 60 days after account opening. That means you can skip the balance transfer fee if you make your balance transfers in the first 60 days. Most cards charge 3% of the amount you transfer as a balance transfer fee, so skipping that fee is a big saver. You can then enjoy the 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that intro period, you will have a regular 15.49% - 24.24% variable APR. This card has no penalty APR (paying late won't raise your APR) and you get access to a credit dashboard and your free monthly FICO® Score.
Citi Simplicity® Card is a very effective card to use if you have a credit card debt that you want to transfer and pay off without accumulating interest. This card gives you a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months, which is a very long introductory APR period. After that intro period, the standard 13.49% - 23.49% variable APR applies. You do pay a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater). This card has no annual fee, no penalty rate and no late fees. Those benefits can help you avoid credit card debt.
Best Low Interest Credit Cards With No Annual Fee
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months, which is a very long intro APR period. After that intro period the standard 12.49% - 22.49% variable APR (depending on your creditworthiness) applies. The balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3% of each transferred amount. You can take advantage of the long intro APR period for purchases to pay off any big purchases you make shortly after getting this card. Card benefits include a 24/7 concierge service and Citi® Private Pass®, a program which gives you access to pre-sale tickets, preferred seating and other benefits at events (sports, concerts, entertainment). This card has no annual fee.
Best Gas Credit Card With No Annual Fee
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has a $0 annual fee and lets you enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers and a 13.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that.Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is also a gas rewards card so you'll benefit from the 3X points you earn at U.S. gas stations that accept American Express credit cards and 2X points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 1X point on any other qualifying purchase you make. Plus you get to redeem points for travel, gift cards, cash redemption options or merchandise through Go Fartm Rewards. It also has exclusive offers on airline tickets you book, hotels, car rentals, and cruises and an annual relationship bonus of 10% Go Fartm Rewards points on non-bonus rewards points if you maintain a qualifying Consumer Wells Fargo Checking or Savings account.
No Annual Fee Card Benefits
Although there are very good payment cards that come with an annual fee, you don't need to cough up a card fee each year to enjoy world-class rewards and benefits.
You can now get flexible rewards cards with useful benefits for no annual fee. Unless you need certain exclusive benefits offered only by cards with annual fees, a no annual fee credit card is the way to go.
If you have excellent credit, you can even enjoy the perks of a Visa Signature card or a World Elite MasterCard® without paying an annual card fee.
Visa Signature benefits include:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Travel accident insurance
- Roadside Dispatch
- Purchase security
- Year-end summary statements
- Zero fraud liability
World Elite MasterCard® benefits include:
- Hotel and flight privileges. Hotel benefits include complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out upon availability, daily breakfast for two and exclusive amenities for eligible Luxury Hotels & Resorts Portfolio bookings.
- Trip cancellation insurance (get reimbursed if you are forced to cancel a trip)
- 15% discount for MasterCard Airport ConciergeTM (meet and greet airport service)
- Price protection (if you find a lower price on something you purchase)
- Extended warranty
- Access dining privileges, chauffeured car services, private jet services, and other exclusive privileges.
BuyPower Card from Capital One® is an example of a World Elite MasterCard® with no annual fee. That card gives you access to all the World Elite MasterCard benefits, and also lets you earn rewards towards General Motors purchases (Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and more). If you want a rewarding miles credit card with World Elite MasterCard benefits and you don't mind paying an annual fee, Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is a good choice.
Although you will usually pay an annual fee to use dedicated hotel or airline cards, there are exceptions. For example, Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card has no annual fee, and has many privileges if you stay at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
As you can see, there are many good cards out there that don't charge an annual fee. You will need excellent credit to successfully apply for most of the really rewarding cards.
If you have bad or fair credit, your choices will be more limited. You will most likely have to pay an annual fee if you want a card with decent benefits and a reasonable APR.
How We Rate No Annual Fee Credit Cards
Cards are rated by GET.com staff based on the absence of an annual fee, rewards, bonus offers, card benefits and APR. Benefits that we take into account when rating no annual fee credit cards include introductory APR periods, purchase benefits (including extended warranty, purchase protection, price protection, guaranteed returns), travel benefits (including lounge access, travel insurance, car rental insurance, free checked luggage, airline or hotel fee credit, free flights or hotels), and unique card benefits.
We also look at foreign transaction fees, late payment fees, penalty APRs, grace periods, and cash advance fees. Ratings are also influenced by a card's flexibility in earning and redeeming rewards and bonus offers, transferring balances and making purchases.
Katrina Gutierrez is a writer at GET.com. Email: email@example.com.Editorial Disclosure: Any personal views and opinions expressed by the author in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of GET.com. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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Just pay cash
October 11 2014 at 21:18
No matter what your Credit Report looks like, there is no logic in having a Credit Card when a Debit Card from your Bank or Credit Union is free (at least mine is) and there is no monthly/yearly fee.What's in your wallet?
October 13 2014 at 17:07
As long as you have the willpower, a cash-back card is a GREAT thing to have in your wallet. I use mine for anything and everything and pay it off every month. Which means I don't pay an annual fee and I don't pay interest, but I do get a check in the mail every few months. I treat it like a debit card and write every purchase in my checkbook at the time I make the purchase. That way, I keep a running balance and when I pay it off when I get the statement, it's not a huge hit to the checking account balance.
October 17 2014 at 10:43
You should have a least one credit card that you use responsibly. It's called building credit
October 27 2014 at 22:52
November 14 2014 at 21:16
I'm italian and i just come in USA i think that you can't spend money that u don't Have, IS better use your cashier or debit card .
January 06 2015 at 02:05