How Does ValuePenguin Get Paid?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Citi is an advertising partner

Top no-annual-fee credit cards of 2022

Best overall and best for Chase:

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's Secure Website

Best for rewards:

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

On Citibank's Secure Website

Best for American Express:

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Pick a card category:

While many of the best credit cards charge an annual fee, there's still no shortage of no-annual fee-credit cards that are packed with perks and high-value rewards. You can find lucrative cashback credit cards, high-powered travel credit cards, 0% intro APR credit cards and even credit cards for bad or fair credit that charge no annual fee.

While these cards don't come with an annual fee, keep in mind that they will come with a slew of interest fees and charges if you fail to make a payment on time. This is why we recommend to never carry a balance on your credit card — even if it has no annual fee.

Compare the best no-annual-fee credit cards of 2022

Card
Welcome Offer
Credit Needed
Annual Fee
Best overall
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.660 - 850$0
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Travel
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel660 - 850$0
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Rewards
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
No bonus660 - 850$0
Apply Now
On Citibank's Secure Website
Compare all cards

Welcome Offer

Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

Credit Score Needed

660 - 850
660 - 850

Annual Fee

$0
$0
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website

Best no-annual-fee credit card overall and best no-annual-fee card for Chase

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

$0

15.24% - 23.99% Variable

660 - 850

  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.24% - 23.99%.
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.

Pros

  • Generous cash bonus.
  • Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months on purchases (15.24% - 23.99% Variable APR thereafter).
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months (15.24% - 23.99% Variable APR thereafter). Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days. Then, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Cons

  • High ongoing APR, not good for carrying a balance.

Our thoughts

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is an excellent flat-rate cash back credit card that's loaded with extra perks. In addition to the card's unlimited cash back rate and generous sign-up bonus. If you have one of Chase's Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards, you can also convert your cash back to points that can be redeemed for travel at a higher value.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for travel

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

$0

15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24% - 25.24% variable APR after that

Pros

  • Generous welcome bonus.
  • 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 5 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Easy-to-redeem rewards
  • 0% intro on purchases for 15 months (the regular APR is 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)).
  • Foreign transaction fees: None

Cons

  • Not as rewarding as some competing travel cards that charge annual fees
  • Travel benefits are limited compared to a paid travel card

Our thoughts

If you want a simple, straightforward no-annual-fee travel rewards card that happens to offer some decent travel perks, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is one of your best bets. The card offers the same flat rate on every purchase: 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 5 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. And those rewards are just as simple to redeem as they are to earn. You can redeem miles as statement credits to cover any eligible travel purchase on your credit card at a value of 1 cent per mile. The card doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee, so you can use it just about anywhere you travel without racking up extra fees on your purchases. Also, the card comes with a valuable sign-up bonus, worth $200 in travel statement credits — maybe enough to launch you on your next trip.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for rewards

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

On Citibank's Secure Website

$0

14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Pros

  • Earn the same high rate of cash back on every purchase.
  • Easily redeem rewards as statement credits to cover your purchases.
  • Long intro APR on balance transfers, making this one of the best cards for paying off debt interest-free.

Cons

  • No welcome bonus.
  • You'll pay a fee on balance transfers.
  • Charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made abroad.

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Our thoughts

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is one of the best cashback cards if you're looking for an easy, one-size-fits-all option. You'll Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. This is one the highest rewards rates you can get for $0 annual fee.

This card doesn't come with a welcome bonus, but it does come with one of the best balance transfer offers, so it's also excellent for paying off debt quickly. You'll get an intro APR of 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers (14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) APR thereafter). This offer is still loaded with money-saving potential even though There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after 4 months of account opening.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for bad credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Generic card art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

See terms

See terms

540 - 669

  • No credit score required to apply.*
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Using your secured credit card helps build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can’t do that.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.*
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Pros

  • You'll earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Unlimited cashback match on everything you earn in the first year.
  • Free FICO® Score helps you track your credit-building progress.
  • Possibility of graduating to an unsecured card in as little as eight months.
  • Low credit limit helps you avoid falling into debt while still building credit with responsible use.

Cons

  • Requires a refundable security deposit of at least $200.
  • Your credit limit is equal to your security deposit, and you can't access a larger credit line until you graduate to an unsecured card.

Our thoughts

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card Credit Card is designed for people with fair or bad credit who want to improve their score by making a series of on-time credit card payments. You'll have to pay a security deposit of at least $200 with this card, and your deposit acts as your credit limit.

While you might be able to find a secured card with a lower minimum security deposit, this one comes with a host of other benefits. You'll get automatic monthly reviews starting just seven months in to see if you're eligible to graduate to an unsecured Discover credit card. You'll also get access to your free credit score, which is important to check regularly while building credit. Finally, this is one of few secured credit cards to offer rewards. Not only do you earn cash back, but the card also comes with a generous cashback matching offer.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for airlines

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

$0

16.49%-25.49% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, and 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Pay with Miles: take up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem with Pay with Miles when you book on delta.com.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Terms Apply.

Pros

  • Generous welcome offer.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees, making it a good option for international travel.
  • Terms apply

Cons

  • Low rewards rate.
  • Ongoing APR is high, so you don't want to carry a balance on this card.
  • Limited airline perks.
  • Terms apply

Our thoughts

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card is a good starter card for folks looking to get their feet wet in the world of airline credit cards, particularly if you prefer to fly Delta or want to try out the Delta SkyMiles program. It comes with a fair welcome offer, and you'll earn double miles on dining and Delta purchases.

For a flexible redemption option, you can save $50 on your next Delta flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem through the Pay with Miles option, getting you 1 cent per mile. That being said, a good flat-rate cashback card will be more lucrative than that. Frequent flyers will get more value from one of Delta's credit cards with an annual fee.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

$200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

$0

14.74%-24.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 15 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 14.74% to 24.74%.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations.
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Pros

  • Generous welcome offer.
  • Earn bonus cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. department stores.
  • Terms apply

Cons

  • The ongoing APR is high, so don't plan to carry a balance.
  • Spending limit on cash back earnings at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Terms apply

Our thoughts

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is one of the best grocery credit cards. You'll get 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations. 1% cash back on other purchases. Terms apply. Rewards can be redeemed easily for statement credits toward your purchases.

Don't expect a lot of extra benefits aside from the cash back, but this is an excellent everyday card — hence the name.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for cash back

Discover it® Cash Back

Generic card art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.

See terms

See terms

660 - 850

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • NEW Intro APR: Get a 0% intro APR‡ for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.24% to 23.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Pros

  • Cashback matching on all your earnings in the first year.
  • 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically
  • Free FICO® Score.

Cons

  • Quarterly spending limit on cash back.
  • No welcome bonus.

Our thoughts

The Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card lets you earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically. These often include major expenses, such as groceries, gas stations and restaurants, so the opportunities to earn big are endless.

Discover 2022 cash back categories

January-March
April-June
July-September
October-December
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness club and gym memberships
  • Gas stations
  • Target
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
  • Amazon.com
  • Digital Wallets

On top of that, Discover will match all the cash back you earn in your first year at the end of the year. There's no welcome bonus, but if you spend a lot, the cashback matching offer might be more lucrative.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for 0% intro APR

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

On Citibank's Secure Website

$0

14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.49% - 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Pros

  • Long introductory 0% offer for both balances and new purchases.
  • Choose your payment due date

Cons

  • No ongoing rewards.
  • A Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
  • High regular APR (14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)), so you'll want to pay off your balance before the introductory period ends.

Intro APR of 0% for 12 months on Purchases (14.49% - 24.49% (Variable) APR thereafter) and 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers (14.49% - 24.49% (Variable) APR thereafter)

Our thoughts

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card doesn't come with a lot of bells and whistles, but if you're looking to do a balance transfer so you can pay off debt interest-free, this card is one of the best options. You'll get a lengthy introductory period to pay off your balance before the APR shoots up to the regular rate, and you can choose your payment due date for added flexibility.

You will have to pay a balance transfer fee, but the fee on this card is fairly standard and often worth it given the money you end up saving on interest. The main drawback of this credit card is the lack of a rewards program, making it less useful once the intro period ends.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for hotels

Hilton Honors American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

$0

16.49%-25.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Pros

  • Generous welcome offer.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status (enrollment required).
  • Terms apply

Cons

  • Short list of hotel perks.
  • Several bonus spending categories only apply to U.S. establishments, so frequent international travelers won't earn as much.
  • Rewards are only good for Hilton stays if you want to maximize value.
  • Terms apply

Our thoughts

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is one of the more generous travel rewards credit cards with $0 annual fee, especially if you like staying with Hilton. Even if you're just looking to try out the Hilton Honors rewards program, this card will get you complimentary Silver Elite status (enrollment required) and help you accumulate Hilton points faster at no additional cost.

The welcome offer is one of the most valuable for a $0-annual-fee credit card, and the rewards rate is great, too. That being said, the rewards are only worthwhile when redeemed for stays at Hilton hotels, so you should be planning to stay with Hilton if you get this card. Most die-hard Hilton fans, on the other hand, would be better off with one of the brand's annual fee credit cards.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for dining and entertainment

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

$0

15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24% - 25.24% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Pros

  • Strong sign-up bonus
  • High rewards on dining, entertainment and groceries
  • $0 annual fee
  • Low interest APR period
  • Foreign transaction fees: None

Cons

  • Few additional card perks

Our thoughts

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is an extremely rewarding no-annual-fee credit card for those who spend heavily on dining and entertainment. Cardholders can earn an 3% Cash Back on dining and entertainment; 3% Cash Back on popular streaming services; 3% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats.

You can also Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. In addition to not charging an annual fee, cardmembers will also have an APR of 0% intro on purchases for 15 months (15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) thereafter). This can give you a bit of buffer when it comes to paying off large expenses during that time period. This card also offers an intro APR of 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months (then 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) APR), a helpful benefit for consolidating any debt you may have.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for everyday use

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

$0

15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 15.24%-25.24% variable APR after that

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Low intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers
  • Valuable sign-up bonus for no-annual-fee card
  • High flat earning rate
  • Extended warranty and travel accident insurance

Cons

  • No bonus categories
  • Other cards offer higher cash back flat rates

Our thoughts

Consumers looking for a rewarding no-annual-fee credit card for everyday purchases will likely appreciate what the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has to offer. Cardholders can earn 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day; 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply), as well as a One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

In addition to not paying an annual fee, you can also take advantage of the APR of 0% intro on purchases for 15 months and 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months (a 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) APR applies after that). These are excellent benefits for someone looking for a solid credit card for everyday use who doesn't want to worry about paying an annual fee.


Best no-annual-fee credit card for flat rate rewards

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

See Rates & Fees. On Wells Fargo's Secure Website

Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

$0

15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% Variable APR

660 - 850

  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5
  • $0 annual fee
  • No categories to track or remember and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Enjoy a premium collection of benefits at a selection of the world's most intriguing and prestigious hotel properties with Visa Signature Concierge
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  • Select “Apply Now” to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • Strong sign-up bonus for no-annual-fee card
  • High flat rate rewards
  • Numerous redemption options
  • Comes with cell phone protection and security features
  • Luxury Hotel Collection
  • 24/7 concierge service

Cons

  • Charges foreign transaction fees
  • No bonus spending categories

Our thoughts

Our top pick for the best no-annual-fee credit card for flat rate rewards is easily the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card. This card offers a solid flat rate on all purchases: Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases. That is a generous offer for a card that doesn't charge an annual fee. Additionally, cardholders can Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, another unusually valuable perk for a no-annual-fee card.

Finally, cardholders will also get a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers; 15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% Variable APR APR after that. (Know that a balance transfer fee applies: 3% intro for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.) These benefits are great for someone looking for a solid flat rate card that won't cost them a cent.

Who should get a no annual fee credit card?

A no-annual-fee credit card can be a great option for anyone looking to open a new credit card. These types of consumers in particular should definitely consider opening a card with no annual fee:

A no-annual-fee credit card puts less pressure on users to make sure you're making the most of your card's benefits and rewards to offset an annual fee, and just lets you focus on being a responsible credit card owner. For new credit card users, this is just what you need.

A no-annual-fee credit card can be great for building or rebuilding your credit history. You won't need to worry about being able to afford a card's high annual fee, and can simply focus on paying off your balance on time and in full each month.

There's nothing worse than trying to pay off your credit card debt while also needing to pay your credit card's annual fee. Some no-annual-fee cards also come with low interest APR offers on purchases and balance transfers, which can provide some relief for those working to get their debt under control.

Experienced cardholders who already own more than one credit card may be looking for a low-risk way to add another type of credit card to their repertoire. For example, if you already own a cash back card and a general travel rewards card, but you're finding yourself frequently staying at Hilton hotels, you might consider opening the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card to elevate your hotel benefits.

How to choose a no-annual-fee credit card ?

When comparing no-annual-fee credit cards, you should consider all the factors at play to make sure you choose the card that's going to benefit you the most.

1. Eliminate cards with an annual fee

Many credit card companies offer several versions of the same type of card, which will include a no-annual-fee version, a version with a moderate annual fee and a premium version with a high annual fee. If you're not comfortable paying for a credit card, you'll want to stick to a no-annual-fee credit card. However, if you do travel often or use your credit card regularly, it's worth considering credit cards with an annual fee.

2. Decide on a balance transfer or non-balance transfer card

No one credit card has it all, so you want to focus on the primary way in which you want to use the card. If you're looking to pay off a balance at a lower rate or finance a purchase, you'll want to opt for the best 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers out there, regardless of the rewards it offers. Cardholders who tend to carry a balance should prioritize a low interest rate over tantalizing perks, and anyone trying to build credit should consider only the card's credit-building potential and whether or not they'll qualify.

On the other hand, if you're looking to earn rewards, go for the most lucrative card you can get. As long as you're sure you'll always pay your balance off in full, you don't have to worry much about the interest rate.

3. Decide what type of rewards to earn

If rewards are a priority for you, you still have to decide what type of rewards you'd like to earn. Cash back is the most versatile option, but cards that earn points often earn them at a higher rate — the question is whether or not you can make use of those points. Hotel points are best used on stays with that hotel chain, and airline miles are best used on flights with that airline, so only opt for a card that earns those if you frequent the respective hotel chain or airline. For those who travel but don't want to be confined to flying with one airline or staying with one hotel chain, a rewards system that offers flexible points might be the answer.

4. Confirm earning categories are a fit

Many rewards credit cards earn additional points or cash back on certain bonus spending categories, like travel, dining, gas or supermarkets. Make sure to choose a card that offers a high rewards rate on your main spending categories. This might require going into your bank account or budget to figure out where most of your money goes. If your spending tends to be irregular, a flat-rate credit card might be better for you.

5. Take advantage of a large welcome offer

Credit card sign-up bonuses, or welcome bonuses, are an excellent way to earn big rewards in a short period of time. Some welcome bonuses offer cash, while others offer airline miles, hotel points, or flexible points, so make sure you'll get use out of what's on the table. It's important to prioritize cards that are a good fit regardless of any welcome offer, but if it comes with a generous sign-up bonus, that certainly doesn't hurt.

6. Determine if you want flexible rewards

Many people will prefer flexible points over airline miles or hotel points. Cards that offer flexible redemption options usually allow you to redeem points in many different ways or with a long list of transfer partners rather than with one specific brand. That being said, co-branded credit cards that earn rewards with one specific airline, hotel or other partner can be more lucrative for those who are highly brand-loyal.

7. Consider transfer partners

Credit cards that earn flexible points often allow you to transfer your points to a long list of transfer partners for added versatility. These transfer partners typically include popular hotel and airline loyalty programs. If you plan out your reward travel strategically, these transfer options can yield more value per point than any other redemption option.

8. Weigh additional perks

While rewards and interest rates are a big concern, it's also worth considering some peripheral benefits. Some credit cards come with a long list of protections and insurances that can save you lots of money and hassle, including price protection, purchase protection, cellphone insurance, rental car insurance and travel insurance. Premium cards tend to offer the best protections, along with VIP perks like airport lounge access, concierge services and valuable memberships.

How to compare a no-annual-fee vs. an annual fee credit card

Frequent travelers and high spenders might even want to consider whether a premium credit card is worth the high annual fee.

While annual fee credit cards cost money to keep, they also tend to come with better benefits and rewards that might save you more money than they cost. If you use a credit card often and choose one that aligns with your spending habits, it might be preferable to opt for a card that has an annual fee. If you're looking at a no-annual-fee credit card, it's smart to do the math before applying to make sure the annual fee version wouldn't be more lucrative.

The table below compares the no-annual-fee and annual fee versions of Capital One's popular Venture credit cards. For someone who spends $20,000 in the first year, that person would earn $355 more with the Capital One Venture than what they'd earn with the card's no-annual-fee counterpart.

No-annual-fee card
Annual fee card
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Earning rateUnlimited 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 5 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 5 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 5 Miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Rewards earned ($20,000 in purchases per year)$20,000 x 1.25% = $250$20,000 x 2% = $400
Sign-up bonusEarn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travelEnjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
Annual fee$0$95
Total rewards in first year (minus annual fee)$450$1,055
Other benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary car rental insurance
  • Extended warranty
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary car rental insurance
  • Extended warranty
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website

How to maximize a no-annual-fee credit card

  1. Avoid carrying a balance: The primary reason to get a no-annual-fee credit card is so the card itself doesn't cost you any money. You won't want to pay high interest rates for carrying a balance on your card, ultimately defeating the purpose.
  2. Always pay your bill on time: If you pay your balance off in full and on time each month, your no-annual-fee credit card won't incur extra charges. However, you'll face interest charges if you carry a balance, as well as additional fees like late fees and balance transfer fees. Credit cards come with high interest rates and late fees, and paying those fees on a regular basis outweighs any benefits or rewards offered by the card.
  3. Utilize your bonus categories: If your credit card offers rewards, you can maximize them by using it as often as possible, particularly for purchases that fall under your credit card's bonus categories.
  4. Consider a card with a low interest APR period: Credit cards with 0% intro APR offers are best used by taking advantage of the interest-free period but paying off the balance before that period ends.
  5. Know your benefits: Read through your card's benefits guide, which can typically be found online. You might find some perks you weren't aware of that can help you make the most out of your credit card.

If you're able to manage multiple cards at once, it's advantageous to own both a no-annual-fee card with a card with an annual fee.

For example:

Let's say that you own the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® lets you Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases

For dining and travel purchases, you will pay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. For everything else — such as retail, grocery or gas purchases — you'll pay with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Both cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, so you can transfer all points earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll earn a 25% redemption bonus for booking travel, or you can transfer your points to 14 loyalty programs.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodePullquote--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodePullquote--text ShortcodePullquote--black\"\u003E\n If you're able to manage multiple cards at once, it's advantageous to own both a no-annual-fee card with a card with an annual fee.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EFor example:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ELet's say that you own the Chase Freedom Unlimited\u00ae and the Chase Sapphire Preferred\u00ae Card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred\u00ae Card lets you earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards\u00ae, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited\u00ae lets you Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards\u00ae, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EFor \u003Cstrong\u003Edining and travel purchases\u003C\/strong\u003E, you will pay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred\u00ae Card. For everything else \u2014 such as \u003Cstrong\u003Eretail, grocery or gas purchases\u003C\/strong\u003E \u2014 you'll pay with the Chase Freedom Unlimited\u00ae. Both cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, so you can transfer all points earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited\u00ae to the Chase Sapphire Preferred\u00ae Card. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred\u00ae Card, you'll earn a 25% redemption bonus for booking travel, or you can transfer your points to 14 loyalty programs. \n","padding":"double"}

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee on your credit card, you definitely don’t have to. Whether you’re all about cash back, travel or any other types of rewards, no-annual-fee options are likely available for you. Those rewards offers may not be as rich as the ones offered by those high-annual-fee cards, but there are still plenty of good deals to be had.

Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at ValuePenguin

FAQs about no-annual-fee credit cards

What does "no annual fee" mean on credit cards?

An annual fee is a membership fee, you pay once a year to keep your credit card. If your card does not charge an annual fee, you do not have to pay to own it. Not all credit cards charge an annual fee, and those that do typically offer additional rewards and benefits.

What are the pros of choosing a no-annual-fee card?

Owning a no-annual-fee card can help you build credit and learn responsible credit habits — all while earning valuable rewards on your everyday purchases. While credit cards with annual fees offer better benefits, people trying to minimize their costs will fare well with just a no-annual-fee card.

What are the cons of choosing a no-annual-fee card?

Cards with no annual fees may come with fewer perks depending on the card. For example, an airline card with a $95 annual fee may come with free checked bags or priority boarding, while its no-annual-fee version may come with neither of those perks. Therefore, you'll want to make sure that you're willing to give up these benefits by switching.

What perks are common with no-annual-fee cards?

A great no-annual-fee card will come with a sign-up bonus, the ability to earn and redeem rewards and fraud and liability protection. Some will even include complimentary trip insurance. Plenty of cards with no annual fees offer an introductory APR offer. You'll want to pay attention to the ongoing APR, since this is the rate you'll have to pay if you ever miss a payment.

What types of no-annual-fee cards are available?

No-annual-fee cards come in all shapes and sizes. You can get a cashback card, general travel rewards card, hotel card, airline card, store card and more.

Are credit cards with annual fees worth it?

Credit cards with annual fees can be worth it if you use your credit card often and will take full advantage of the perks and rewards that come with it. Do the math to figure out how much you'd earn each year in rewards, and then subtract the annual fee to figure out if an annual fee credit card is right for you.

When should you downgrade to a no-annual-fee card?

Even when your credit card comes with a ton of benefits, you may find yourself not using them as much as you originally thought. Instead of canceling your card, downgrading your card is a solid option to consider. For example, if you opened a travel credit card and haven't flown because of the pandemic, you should downgrade to a no-annual-fee card from the same issuer. This ensures that you keep any points or miles that you've already earned.

Why do credit cards have annual fees?

Credit card benefits cost credit card issuers money, so cards that offer valuable perks and rewards typically come with an annual fee to offset costs. For example, annual fees can help a credit card issuer cover the cost of offering big welcome bonuses, robust travel protections, partner rewards and premium memberships.

Should you pay the annual fee on a credit card?

If your annual earnings in credit card rewards and benefits are notably greater than the card's annual fee, then you should pay the annual fee on a credit card. If you decide that the benefits and rewards aren't worth the cost of the annual fee, you'll need to either close the credit card or downgrade to a no-annual-fee version to avoid being charged.

What are the best credit cards with no annual fee?

The best cards with no annual fee offer benefits that align with your needs. That might be a secured credit card with a low security deposit if you're building credit, or a 0% intro APR credit card with a long introductory period if you're paying off debt or financing a purchase. If you're just looking to earn rewards, the best credit cards with no annual fee are those that offer high-value rewards that match your spending habits. For example, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is the best travel credit card with no annual fee, as it comes with a strong sign-up bonus, a fantastic earnings rate and the ability to book travel with your points.

Can I waive my credit card annual fee?

Sometimes it is possible to have your credit card annual fee waived by simply calling your credit card issuer and asking them to waive it. They might say no, but they might offer to waive the annual fee for a year in order to retain you as a customer. Some credit cards automatically waive the annual fee for the first year, which makes them a good option for folks who want to try out a better rewards card but aren't sure if the annual fee is worth it.

When do you pay the annual credit card fee?

If your credit card's annual fee isn't waived in the first year, you'll pay the annual fee on your first credit card statement. Subsequent annual fees will typically be charged to your account on or close to the anniversary date on which you opened the credit card.

Which credit cards waive the annual fee for military members?

Many credit cards waive the annual fee for military members thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Chase offers reduced or waived interest and fees on their credit cards for active-duty servicemembers.

You can determine your eligibility through the SRCA website. If you're eligible, contact your credit card issuer to find out if they offer any reduced or waived fees for you.

Can you get a Visa Signature card with no annual fee?

There are some Visa Signature cards with no annual fee. Visa Signature cards come with more robust benefits, from zero-liability policies, warranty protection and roadside and emergency assistance to a long list of travel insurances and perks. The Avianca Vida Visa® Card, the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card and the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card are all Visa Signature cards with no annual fee.

Recap of the best no-annual-fee credit cards of May 2022

Methodology

What is the best no-annual-fee credit card?

ValuePenguin's pick for the best no-annual-fee credit card is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

While the best no-annual-fee credit card will depend on how you plan to use your card, Chase Freedom Unlimited® comes with a long intro APR offer and $0 annual fee in addition to its generous rewards structure. For consumers looking for a valuable no-annual-fee card, Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be a great option.

How we chose the best no-annual-fee credit cards

To make choosing the right no-annual-fee credit card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin as well as cards on major issuer sites to compile a list of the best credit cards available right now. Our recommendations are based on the additional value you can earn with the cards — including the rewards value, cost of ownership and value of benefits such as travel and purchase protections, lounge membership and airline companion passes. Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here.

The information related to Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, Discover it® Secured Credit Card, Discover it® Cash Back, Avianca Vida Visa® Card, Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card and the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).