Select Page

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.

Card Category

Filter By

20 Cards Available:

Credit card

Chase Ink Business Cash

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,313

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$1,313

Offer: Get $750 in the form of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $7,500 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 as well as 5X on Lyft rides. 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 other Chase cards, points would be worth a flat 1 cent per point and this bonus would be worth exactly $500.

Offer: Get $750 in the form of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $7,500 in your first 3 months
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$350

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$350

Offer: Get $200 (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months + 5X on Groceries for one year.

A no-fee Chase card offering 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points on everything, except as noted below. 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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Rate:

  • 5X on travel when purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal*
  • 5X on rotating quarterly bonus categories (max of $1,500 per quarter in spend; activation required – same as existing Freedom card)
  • 5X on Lyft until March 2022
  • 3X on dining (including takeout and delivery)
  • 3X at drugstores
  • 1X on everything else

 

5X Points or Cash Back On Grocery Store Purchases With This Welcome Offer

This current new cardmember bonus offer will give new cardmembers 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) for one calendar year (offer is valid for purchases up to $12,000 in total for the year).

You must apply using this current offer to be eligible for the 5X points on supermarket spend. 

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.

0% Interest APR Intro Offer:

Get a 0% Intro APR for 15 months (Terms Apply)

Note: Our rewards optimization calculator will count all travel on this card at 5X, but please note the limitations around that above. 

Offer: Get $200 (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months + 5X on Groceries for one year.
Credit card

Chase Freedom Flex Review

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$350

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$350

Offer: Get $200 (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months + 5X on Groceries for one year.

The Chase Freedom Flex is the evolution of the Chase Freedom card, long a staple of the Chase card portfolio.

The Freedom Flex takes the best part of the Chase Freedom (rotating quarterly 5X bonus categories) and adds a ton of new features:

Chase Freedom Flex Earn Rate:

  • 5X on travel when purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal*
  • 5X on rotating quarterly bonus categories (max of $1,500 per quarter in spend; activation required – same as existing Freedom card)
  • 3X on dining (including takeout and delivery)
  • 3X at drugstores
  • 1X on everything else

(* Keep in mind, booking via the portal for hotels means that you won’t, in most cases, earn any hotel points / stay credits nor have any hotel elite status honored. For airlines, the fares are generally the same or similar, however, it does mean that you have to deal with Chase for changes instead of the airline directly – and that can be a big hassle.)

Note: Our rewards optimization calculator will count all travel on this card at 5X, but please note the limitations around that above. 

Offer: Get $200 (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months + 5X on Groceries for one year.
Credit card

Blue Cash Everyday Card

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$300

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$300

Offer: Up to $300 Value: Get a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in your first 6 months + 20% back at Amazon for 6 months, up to $200

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.)

0% Intro APR

Enjoy a 0% APR on new purchases for 15 months starting when you are approved for the Blue Cash Everyday card.

Offer: Up to $300 Value: Get a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,000 in your first 6 months + 20% back at Amazon for 6 months, up to $200
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$250

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$250

Offer: Get $250 (in the form of 25,000 points) when you spend $1,000 in your first 90 days

With 4% cash back on dining, including takeout and delivery, 2% back on groceries, streaming, and gas, and no annual fee, our review is that the Altitude GO is a surprisingly strong card.

Card Features:

  • 4% cash back on dining, including takeout and delivery
  • 2% cash back on grocery stores and grocery delivery, streaming services and purchases at gas stations
  • 1% cash back on everything else
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • A one-time $15 streaming service credit after 11 months of streaming service purchases.

0% Intro APR for 12 Months on the Altitude GO card

New cardmembers will get a 0% APR on new purchases and on balance transfers for 12 months. A 3% fee applies to balance transfers.

US Bank Altitude GO Credit Card Review

The bottom line is that 4% cash back on dining, including takeout, dine-in, and delivery, is extremely strong for a credit card without an annual fee. It compares to the Capital One Savor card, though that card carries an annual fee.

Beyond the 4% cash back on dining, the 2% and 1% categories aren't special, especially considering the Citi Double Cash earns 2% back on everything, all of the time. But we can't think of another card earning 4% back on dining without an annual fee.

This card is for people with a very strong credit profile. You should have a 720 or better FICO to apply for this card.

Offer: Get $250 (in the form of 25,000 points) when you spend $1,000 in your first 90 days
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$240

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
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

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$240

Offer: 20,000 miles when you spend $500 within 3 months

This no-fee card offers 1.25x on all purchases and 5X on hotels and car rentals booked via Capital One Travel.

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.

1) The bonus value for the early spend bonus on this card assumes you will transfer the points to miles. If you use as a purchase eraser, the early spend bonus value will be $200, exactly.

2) 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.

Click below to see details on the airline partners.

Offer: 20,000 miles when you spend $500 within 3 months
Credit card

Citi Rewards+

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$225

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$225

Offer: Get 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 within your first 3 months.

o% APR Offers - Intro and Balance Transfers

Get a 0% Intro APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 months

Earning ThankYou Points

Earn 2x at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 combined per year, and 1x everywhere else, before rounding up. Excellent for small purchases. Round up to the nearest 10 points on all purchases.

Note: Your earnings will be larger than those shown in our calculations because we cannot factor in the "round up" feature of this card as it correlates to each exact transaction you will make.

Offer: Get 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 within your first 3 months.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Calculator

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

Capital One Quicksilver

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Offer: Get a $200 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 $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first 3 months.
Credit card

Capital One SavorOne

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Offer: Get a $200 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 $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within your first 3 months (ELEVATED OFFER)
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$200

Offer: Get 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 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 20,000 bonus points 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 $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.

It's simple, sure, but we aren't quite sure why you would use this card when you could get 1/3 more - 2% Cash back - with the Citi Double Cash credit card.

Offer: Get $150 (as a 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 $150 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.

0% APR Intro Offer

Get 6 months of 0% Interest on new purchases your new card account (Terms apply).

Offer: Get $150 cash back when you spend $500 in 90 days
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$120

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$120

Offer: Get 10,000 Delta SkyMiles when you spend $500 in 3 months.

This no-fee card gives you the option to earn 2 bonus Delta points on restaurants, as well as on Delta. You'll earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

NOTE: This rewards calculator is assuming all of your airline spend is with Delta for the purposes of valuing your rewards for this card. If you spend across multiple airlines, your rewards will be lower as this card earns 2x on Delta purchases only.

Offer: Get 10,000 Delta SkyMiles when you spend $500 in 3 months.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: None at this time

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.

Intro 0% APR - 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months  (Terms apply)

Offer: None at this time
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: This card does not have a bonus offer at this time.

Review: For Costco members seeking pure cash back, this credit card is hard to beat!

Costco Business credit card earn rate and benefits:

  • This Costco Business credit card earns 4% cash back at gas stations, both Costco and otherwise, for the first $7,000 per year.
  • Earn 3% cash back at restaurants and on travel.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Costco.
  • Get 1% cash back on everything else.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

The cashback will be awarded as an annual credit card reward certificate, redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses, (including Puerto Rico). The certificate will be included in your February billing statement and expires on December 31st of the year issued.

** Requires a Costco membership **"

Offer: This card does not have a bonus offer at this time.
Credit card

Citi Double Cash Card

Annual Fee: $0

Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: None at this time.

The Citi Double Cash credit card is one of the "gold standards" in cash back cards.

This card earns a flat 2% cash back - or earn / transfer them to ThankYou Points for 2X points on all spend.

Balance Transfer Offer

Get a 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Offer: None at this time.
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: None at this time

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 at this time
Credit card
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Calculator

Annual Fee: $0

Calculator
Estimated Bonus Value :

$0

Offer: No bonus offer is available at this time.

The Citi Diamond Preferred credit card isn't about travel rewards. It's designed for those that want to take advantage of its 18 month long 0% intro APR and 18 month Balance Transfer offers.

Citi Diamond Preferred 0% APR Balance Transfer Offer:

Within the first four months after approval, you will get a 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (this is from the date of your first transfer). The APR following the intro period is variable. This is currently the longest 0% APR balance transfer period on the market.

You must complete all Balance Transfers within the first four months following approval.

A $5 or 3% balance transfer fee applies, whichever is greater.

Citi Diamond Preferred 0% Intro APR Offer

You'll also get a 0% Intro Apr on all new purchases for the first 18 months.

Offer: No bonus offer is available at this time.

Don’t Miss Out On Limited time Offers

Credit card companies regularly offer limited time increased signup bonus offers on their credit cards. They also sometimes change card benefits or otherwise change up their card lineups.
Sign up for the YourBestCreditCards.com newsletter and you’ll never miss out again.

Meet Dave

MilesTalk - Dave GrossmanMilesTalk - book