Best No-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards 2021

Best No-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

When you're not paying an annual fee on a credit card, you won't have to worry about whether a credit card is worth owning. These travel cards offer generous rewards rates to redeem towards free travel.

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.

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When it comes to travel rewards cards, you don't always have to pay an annual fee — which can be as high as $550 per year. We've surveyed cards on ValuePenguin and top issuer sites to identify the top 11 credit cards that offer the most valuable travel rewards with no annual fee.

Best no-annual-fee travel credit cards

Recommended card
Best for
Credit needed
unavailable credit card
Discover it® MilesUnlimited milesExcellent/GoodRead Review
unavailable credit card
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit cardExisting Bank of America customersExcellent/GoodRead Review
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit CardTransfer your points to 15-plus loyalty programsExcellent/Good
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ CardAmerican AirlinesExcellent/Good
Apply Now
On Citibank's Secure Website
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express CardDelta Air LinesExcellent
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
unavailable credit card
JetBlue CardJetBlue AirwaysExcellent/GoodRead Review
United Gateway℠ Card
United Gateway℠ CardUnited AirlinesExcellent/Good
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express CardHiltonExcellent/Good
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit CardIHGExcellent/Good
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit CardMarriottExcellent/Good
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Recommended cards
Discover it® MilesRead Review
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit cardRead Review
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
Apply Now
On Citibank's Secure Website
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
JetBlue CardRead Review
United Gateway℠ Card
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

Best for earning unlimited miles

Discover it® Miles

Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

Our thoughts on this card

If you don't want to keep up with multiple rewards categories, the Discover it® Miles is one of the easiest ways to rack up tons of miles in no time. The card's 1.5% rewards rate is an above average rate that can help you earn bonus miles, regardless of the purchase category.

Similar cards come with sign-up bonuses valued at around $200 to $250. The Discover it® Miles comes with a unique offer: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match. If you earn an additional 35,000 miles per year, this introductory offer is worth $350 — since each mile is worth 1 cent each. Therefore, this card has the potential to be much more valuable for high spenders.

You can redeem your miles for travel, cash, Amazon.com or when using PayPal. Plus, your miles never expire and there are no blackout dates when booking travel, making the Discover it® Miles card the best option for a flexible yet straightforward rewards program.

Benefits

  • A unique welcome offer that can be lucrative for high spenders
  • Earn a flat rate of miles on every purchase

Drawbacks

  • Discover may not be accepted everywhere — especially when traveling internationally

Best no-annual-fee travel rewards card for existing Bank of America customers

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Our thoughts on this card

Sometimes it's easiest to open a credit card with an issuer that you already bank with. As the second largest U.S. bank (by assets), Bank of America offers its own travel rewards card — a great option for existing customers. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card also provides the ability to earn unlimited points: Earn unlimited unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.

Cardholders can redeem their points and pay themselves back with a statement credit for travel and dining purchases. Travel can not only include flights and hotels, but also ancillary purchases, such as baggage fees. Each point is worth 1 cent each.

What makes this card best for existing Bank of America customers is that it's part of the Preferred Rewards program. This unique program offers a boost in points value and other exclusive banking benefits for those with a certain balance in their Bank of America and Merrill investment accounts. For example, if you have between $20,000 and $49,999 in these accounts, you’ll enjoy Gold status and enjoy a 25% boost in your rewards points. At the highest level — Platinum Honors — you'll receive a 75% boost in your rewards points.

Benefits

  • Valuable sign-up bonus worth $250 (25,000 points * 1 cent)
  • Earn unlimited unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • Best for existing Bank of America and Merrill customers due to the Preferred Rewards program
  • Foreign transaction fee: None

Drawbacks

  • High threshold to qualify for the Preferred Rewards program — not ideal for non-Bank of America customers

Best no-annual-fee travel rewards card for loyalty transfer partners

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

$0

14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • $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 our 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; 14.99% - 24.99% variable APR after that

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

Our thoughts on this card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers the ability to earn a great sign-up bonus for a low spending threshold. You’ll just need to spend $500 on purchases within the first three months, which can be doable for most people; there are other sign-up bonuses that require you to spend at least $1,000.

Besides, you'll Earn unlimited 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. While this isn't the best rewards rate — other cards can offer a 1.5% return — the huge benefit to this card is the access to Capital One’s transfer partners. You can transfer and redeem your miles on 15-plus travel loyalty programs, such as JetBlue TrueBlue or Air France-KLM Flying Blue.

Only premium travel cards with an annual fee allow you to transfer your points and miles to other programs. When opting for this redemption option, you have the potential to unlock a sweet deal for your miles — often greater than 1 cent each. But for simplicity, you still also have the option to redeem your miles for a statement credit on travel purchases.

Benefits

  • Enticing sign-up bonus with low spending threshold
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Transfer your miles to Capital One's 15-plus loyalty programs
  • Foreign transaction fee: $0

Drawbacks

  • Rewards rate is mediocre and can be outdone by competing travel cards

Best no-annual-fee American Airlines credit card

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

On Citibank's Secure Website

$0

15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • No Annual Fee
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Our thoughts on this card

Frequent American Airlines flyers should consider the $0-annual-fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card. You'll earn rewards through the AAdvantage loyalty program — this not only grants you access to American Airlines flights, but also to other airlines that are part of the oneworld alliance.

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card offers the following rewards rate: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. While not necessarily the best offer, this card is best for beginner travelers that prefer American Airlines above other options.

Finally, cardholders enjoy a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases when paying with this card. However, you won't want to use this card while abroad — you'll get hit with a 3% fee for each purchase.

Benefits

  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Redeem miles through the AAdvantage program and access oneworld partners
  • 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases

Drawbacks

  • Below average sign-up bonus — worth $150 (10,000 miles * our 1.5 cent valuation)
  • Charges a foreign transaction fee (3%)

Best no-annual-fee Delta Air Lines credit card:

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

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

$0

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent

  • 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, now worldwide.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • 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.
  • Terms Apply.

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

Our thoughts on this card

Delta Air Lines fans can earn SkyMiles faster with the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. This card is best for those who fly only a few times per year, but do so consistently on Delta. The SkyMiles program includes valuable partners in the SkyTeam alliance, like Air France-KLM and Korean Air. We found that SkyMiles have an average value of 1.3 cents each, a much better value than most currencies’ 1 cent each.

You'll Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. This rewards rate does fall flat compared to its competitors — still, keep in mind that SkyMiles tend to hold more value.

Benefits

  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • SkyMiles often have a higher value than other rewards currencies
  • None foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Low sign-up bonus worth about $130 (10,000 miles * our 1.3 cent valuation)
  • American Express may not be accepted everywhere, especially when traveling internationally

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

Best no-annual-fee JetBlue Airways credit card

JetBlue Card

Earn 10,000 bonus points after making $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening.

Our thoughts on this card

The JetBlue Card is a top-notch pick for JetBlue flyers with a considerable rewards rate: Earn 3x points on eligible JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores and 1x points on all other purchases. These categories can help you earn TrueBlue points faster, and with one of the highest points value — 1.6 cents each — you could score some excellent deals by redeeming your points for JetBlue flights.

As an added perk, the JetBlue Card offers a 50% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases. This entry-level airline credit card is certainly worth taking a look at, as you'll enjoy $0 foreign transaction fees when making purchases abroad.

Benefits

  • Earn 3x points on eligible JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores and 1x points on all other purchases.
  • 50% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • OK sign-up bonus worth about $160 (10,000 points * our 1.6 cent valuation)

Best no-annual-fee United Airlines credit card

United Gateway℠ Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$0

16.49% - 23.49% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn up to 15,000 bonus miles
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United Airlines purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 3x on grocery store purchases up to $15k for the first year account is open.

Earn 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 3x on grocery store purchases up to $15k for the first year account is open.

Our thoughts on this card

The United Gateway℠ Card was released in late 2020 as a new $0-annual-fee card offering an excellent rewards rate: earn 2X miles per $1 spent on United Airlines purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.. While other airline cards offer limited bonus categories, the United Gateway℠ Card rewards users for routine purchases.

United MileagePlus miles are worth just 1.1 cents on average, but you can use them to book award tickets on Star Alliance airlines, such as ANA and Lufthansa Airlines. Lastly, you'll receive 25% back on United in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit.

Benefits

  • 2X miles per $1 spent on United Airlines purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases..
  • Receive 25% back on United in-flight purchases
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Mediocre sign-up bonus worth $110 (10,000 miles * our 1.1 cent valuation)

Best no-annual-fee Hilton credit card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

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

$0

15.74%-24.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.
  • 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.

80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.

Our thoughts on this card

At first glance, you may note that the Hilton Honors American Express Card presents a fantastic welcome offer. It's important to keep in mind that most hotel points tend to be inflated compared to other rewards currencies, and Hilton Honors points are worth around 0.5 cents each. However, this welcome offer is worth $400 — a great value off-the-bat.

With this card, 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. We like that this card offers tons of variety when it comes to bonus categories.

A unique loyalty perk that comes with the Hilton Honors American Express Card is complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status (enrollment required), which grants you benefits like guaranteed discounts and late check-out. By spending $20,000 on purchases in a calendar year, you'll be granted Hilton Honors Gold status (enrollment also required).

Benefits

  • High 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.
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Silver status (enrollment required)
  • Foreign transaction fees: None

Drawbacks

  • American Express might not be accepted everywhere, especially when traveling internationally

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

Best no-annual-fee IHG credit card

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Our thoughts on this card

The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card is a great option for loyal IHG customers. Although each point is worth about 0.5 cents each, the rewards rate is lucrative for IHG purchases: Earn up to 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

This card also comes with a suite of IHG-exclusive benefits, such as a guaranteed fourth reward night free when you redeem points for stays of four or more nights. You'll also save 20% on point purchases and earn Gold Elite Status when spending more than $10,000 in one calendar year. IHG Gold Elite Status can grant you $30 in-room spa credits, welcome amenities and more.

Benefits

  • Generous sign-up bonus worth $300
  • Earn up to 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • IHG benefits, including fourth night free, discounts on points purchases
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • No automatic elite status

Best no-annual-fee Marriott credit card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

$0

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • For a Limited Time Only! Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Pay no annual fee with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase®!
  • Earn up to 14X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Card.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.

For a Limited Time Only! Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Our thoughts on this card

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card is a popular choice as Marriott is the world's largest hotel brand. You'll Earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at 7,000+ hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® and 2X points on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains). Plus, earn 1X point for all other purchases. It's worth noting that each Marriott Bonvoy point is worth only 0.5 cents each, but points don't expire as long as you make purchases on your credit every 24 months.

Every year, you'll receive 15 elite night credits — this automatically qualifies you for Silver Elite status, which allows you to enjoy perks such as 10% more points on stays and priority late check-out. You can continue to be eligible for higher tiers of elite status the more you stay with Marriott.

Benefits

  • Earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at 7,000+ hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® and 2X points on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains). Plus, earn 1X point for all other purchases.
  • 15 elite night credits, qualifying you for Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Below average sign-up bonus worth $150 (30,000 points * our 0.5 cent valuation)

Should I upgrade to a travel card with an annual fee instead?

When it comes to travel cards with annual fees, you'll find that the benefits end up outweighing the ongoing cost — if used correctly. Some travel credit cards offer perks such as free Global Entry or TSA Precheck or waived checked baggage fees. Whether you travel with one airline or hotel brand — or just travel often — you'll enjoy significantly better perks at a $95 annual fee mark.

For our recommendations, we suggest reading our round-up of our top 10 travel rewards cards.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Opening a no-annual-fee travel card is a great way to get started with earning travel points and miles. They still offer a faster way to earn rewards than just flying or staying at a hotel, as you'll earn on your day-to-day purchases. All of these offerings are ideal for those who seldom travel or want to learn how to use a travel rewards credit card.

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

The information related to Discover it® Miles, Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card and JetBlue 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).