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Best “No Annual Fee” Credit Cards

Annual Fee Credit Cards vs. No Annual Fee Credit Cards

When it comes to straight cash back cards without any bonus categories, there’s no need to pay an annual fee. To be clear, they may not produce the absolute best yield, but cards like the Citi Double Cash Card (personal) and American Express Blue Business Cash Card (for businesses), both earn a flat 2% cash back – which beats the 1% or less many of you currently earn on your cards!

Beyond that, though, we want to be very clear. Despite a myth from years ago that you should never pay an annual fee on a credit card, the simple truth is that *most* (but not all…) cards with annual fees these days have benefits or points / cash back rates that more than cover that fee.

Let’s start with a direct comparison of cards that have annual fee and no annual-fee versions:

Venture from Capital One ($95 fee) vs. VentureOne from Capital One (no annual fee):

The Venture has an annual fee of $95 but it’s waived the first year. It comes with a 50,000 point early spend bonus for new accounts – worth about $600. It earns 2 Capital One miles per dollar spent. 

The VentureOne comes with just a 20,000 point early spend bonus worth $240. It earns 1.25 Capital One miles per dollar spent. If you spent $11,000 on each card, the Venture would earn 22,000 points and the VentureOne just 13,750 points for that spend – an extra $99 worth of points (we value Capital One points at 1.2 cents each). 

Verdict: By paying the $95 annual fee (and you don’t even pay it the first year), you earn an extra $360 in rewards the first year from just the bonus + $99 more in rewards earned on $11,000 in spend. 

That new card / early spend bonus alone covers several years of annual fees, but you’re also earning more once you hit the break even point of about $10,500 in annual spend.

Now let’s look at an example of benefits you get from a card with a high annual fee:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, has a $450 annual fee that feels like a whopper.

But the first $300 you spend on any travel expenses at all (including cabs, Ubers, and parking meters alongside the obvious airfare and hotels) get auto-credited back. So that leaves a net fee of $150 a year. In exchange you get unlimited access to Priority Pass, an airport lounge network, for you and two guests. The membership direct from Priority Pass (with no guests!) would sell for $429 per year.

Now, compare that to Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which has just a $95 annual fee but no Priority Pass. That means for the difference in fees, you are paying $55 for airport lounge access all year for you and two guests. But wait, there’s more!

You also earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining vs 2 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It doesn’t take much spending to equal more than $55 in extra value as well. Finally, having a Chase Sapphire card with an annual fee allows you to transfer your points to airline and hotel partners, making them worth even more.

Now, you could have a no annual fee Chase card, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card. It will earn 1.5x points on everything, which is simple, but you won’t be able to transfer those points without one of those two cards with a fee above. That means you’re only getting 1.5% cash back – when you could be earning transferable points!

Cards with Annual Perks

Lastly, there are cards that provide things like annual free nights in a hotel and/or hotel status for paying a nominal annual fee.

For example, the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express gives you Hilton Gold status in exchange for your $95 annual fee. And both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card and the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card come with annual free nights – often worth 2-3x the annual fee!

Summary

You always need to look at the benefits and earning rates of cards with and without annual fees to determine which is credit card is best for you. We even created a free worksheet you can use to determine if the benefits outweigh the fee!

But if after all that, you still want a simple card with no annual fee, we’ve listed out favorite ones on this page.

We base our ratings below on the value of the points of each card multiplied by the amount of the bonus. Dive into each card for more details and to learn how to apply.

Advertiser Disclosure: Your Best Credit Cards has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Your Best Credit Cards and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Commissions do not affect or prioritize placement within our results and not all cards displayed earn us a commission. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

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15 Cards Available:

Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$875

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$875

Offer: Get $500 in the form of 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months

The simplest of the Chase Business cards, it earns a flat 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent on the card.

It is best used in conjunction with a Chase Ultimate Rewards card that is enabled for points transfers to airline/hotel partners, such as the Chase Ink Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve, as you can transfer points from this product to one of those.

Please note: The Estimated Rewards Value of an Ultimate Rewards point earned from this card assumes that you have a Chase Ink Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve as well, which allows portal redemptions worth 1.25 - 1.5 cents per point and the opportunity for even greater value with airline and hotel transfer partners. If you do not have one of these cards, points would be worth a flat 1 cent per point and this bonus would be worth exactly $500.

Offer: Get $500 in the form of 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months
Credit card

Chase Ink Business Cash

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$875

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$875

Offer: Get $500 in the form of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months

This card generously offers an excellent 5x on up to $25,000 annually at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services. It also offers 2x on up to $25,000 annually at gas stations and restaurants.

Businesses with a lot of spend at office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot can really clean up.

Please note: The Estimated Rewards Value of an Ultimate Rewards point earned from this card assumes that you have a Chase Ink Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve as well, which allows portal redemptions worth 1.25 - 1.5 cents per point and the opportunity for even greater value with airline and hotel transfer partners. If you do not have one of these cards, points would be worth a flat 1 cent per point and this bonus would be worth exactly $500.

Offer: Get $500 in the form of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$300

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$300

Offer: Get 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months.

The Propel offers 3x on gas stations, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, car rentals, and some streaming services. 1x elsewhere.

These points can be used in their travel portal to purchase travel of almost any kind. The card also provides complimentary cell phone insurance.

Offer: Get 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months.
Credit card

Chase Freedom Credit Card

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$263

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$263

Offer: Earn 15,000 Bonus Ultimate Rewards points (can be redeemed for $150) when you spend $500 within 3 months

A no-fee Chase card with rotating 5x Ultimate Rewards points earning categories. The categories change every 3 months and vary from gas to drug stores and anything in between. This card is excellent to have in conjunction with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, both of which unlock transfers to airlines and hotels and an ability to combine your points between them.

Because the 5% bonus categories rotate, we cannot factor this into your spend. Therefore, your actual rewards will be higher than shown.

This card is best combined with a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred to unlock the power of transfer partners.

NOTE: This card can be used as cash back or as an Ultimate Rewards points card. In valuing your rewards, we assume you also have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred. You can then transfer points from this card to one of those to unlock the power of transfer partners. If you have this card without one of the above cards, your rewards value will be lower with each point worth exactly 1 cent.

Offer: Earn 15,000 Bonus Ultimate Rewards points (can be redeemed for $150) when you spend $500 within 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$263

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$263

Offer: Get $150 (15,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months

A no-fee Chase card offering 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points on everything. It's best combined with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred to unlock the power of transfer partners.

NOTE: This card can be used as cash back or as an Ultimate Rewards points card. In valuing your rewards, we assume you also have a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred. You can then transfer points from this card to one of those to unlock the power of transfer partners. If you have this card without one of the above cards, your rewards value will be lower with each point worth exactly 1 cent.

Offer: Get $150 (15,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$255

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$255

Offer: 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months

Highly Recommended:

Earn 2x Membership Rewards points on everything - up to $50,000 per year. This is a great card to use when your expense doesn't correspond to a bonus category on any of your other cards.

Offer: 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$240

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$240

Offer: Get 20,000 Capital One miles after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months

This no-fee business card offers 1.5x Capital One miles and 5X miles on hotel and rental car booked via Capital One Travel on all purchases with no annual fee.

Use these miles as a purchase eraser at 1 cent per point, or transfer them to a range of airlines at the ratio of 2:1.5, which equals 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent.

NOTE: 5X on Hotels and Car Rentals applies only when you book via Capital One's own travel service. Otherwise, you will earn the standard 2X miles.

Offer: Get 20,000 Capital One miles after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$240

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Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$240

Offer: 20,000 miles when you spend $1,000 within 3 months

This no-fee card offers 1.25x on all purchases, except for 10x on hotels.com through January 2020.

Compare this card with the standard Venture which earns 2x miles on all purchases. Spend your miles to erase purchases or transfer them to more than a dozen airlines.

Most people would fare better with the standard Capital One Venture card, despite its annual fee, because it earns at the rate of 2x per dollar instead of 1.25x.

Offer: 20,000 miles when you spend $1,000 within 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

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Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Offer: $200 when you spend $3,000 in 3 months

This no-fee business card offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Offer: $200 when you spend $3,000 in 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Offer: Get $200 cash back when you spend $500 in 90 days

With no foreign transaction fees, no annual fee, and 3% back on dining as well as 2% back on grocery stores, this card is an easy way to up your cash back game.

Please note that applications are only being accepted in the following states:  Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C.

If you are not in an approved state, please see our other cash back credit cards.

Offer: Get $200 cash back when you spend $500 in 90 days
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

Offer: Get $150 (as a statement credit) when you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months

This card offers a flat 1.5% cash back with no annual fee.

Offer: Get $150 (as a statement credit) when you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months
Credit card

Blue Cash Everyday Card

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

Offer: Get a $150 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months.

The Blue Cash EveryDay credit card has no annual fee and earns cash back.

It features bonus cashback on groceries, gas, and department stores.

- Earn 3% cash back at US supermarkets for up to $6,000 in annual purchases

- Earn 2% cash back at US gas stations and certain US Department Stores

- Earn 1% cash back on everything else.

American Express defines a supermarket as offering a wide variety of food and household products such as meat, fresh produce, dairy, canned and packaged goods, household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies. (Superstores, convenience stores and warehouse clubs are NOT considered supermarkets.)

Offer: Get a $150 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

Offer: Get a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first 3 months.

Earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. For those with good credit.

Offer: Get a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first 3 months.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$150

Offer: Get a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 within your first 3 months (ELEVATED OFFER)

This no-fee card offers food-centric cash back bonus categories.

Get 3% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% everywhere else.

Offer: Get a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 within your first 3 months (ELEVATED OFFER)
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

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Annual Fee: $0

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Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: None

The American Express Blue Business Cash credit card allows you to earn a simple 2% in cash back (on up to $50,000 a year of purchases) without paying an annual fee. 

Offer: None

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