The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, May 30, 2024

9 Best Credit Cards to Pay in Full Monthly (May 2024)

Best Credit Cards To Pay In Full Monthly
Eric Bank

Written by: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Edited by: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Advertiser Disclosure

All credit cards let you spread your payments over multiple months. Even so-called “charge cards” (predominantly from American Express®) allow you to pay over time instead of repaying the total amount monthly. 

Yet, as we’ll explain, you can reap financial benefits if you repay your entire bill each month. You can double down on those benefits by choosing cards that pay rewards on your purchases without charging an annual fee. 

We’ve rounded up the best of the bunch, including cash back, travel, and business credit cards. One of these may be the best credit card to add to your wallet if you prefer rewards to fees and interest.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards to Pay in Full Monthly

These cash back credit cards offer rewards without any annual fees. The trio lets you choose flat-rate, tiered, or quarterly rotating rewards. All offer savings on everyday purchases, and paying in full each month won’t cost you a dime in extra expenses.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card’ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match for all new cardmembers – 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 you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 17.24% to 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms and conditions apply.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
17.24% – 28.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

The Discover it® Cash Back lets you earn bonus cash back up to the set spending limit from a different merchant category you activate each quarter. The revolving categories include common spending places like gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores. Your cash rewards never expire, and you can redeem them anytime.

This card is all about saving you money. With its 0% intro APR promotion, cash back rewards, and first-year Cashback Match for new cardmembers, it’s perfect for shoppers seeking the most value for their money. Additionally, the issuer fights fraud by monitoring risky websites for your Social Security number. Keep in mind, the regular APR will apply at the end of the introductory promotion.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Review

at Chase’ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • 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 Travel, 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 travel purchased through Chase Travel, 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 20.49% – 29.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
20.49% – 29.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is so-named because you earn a flat cash back rate on all purchases, without caps or limits. This no-annual-fee card pays a signup bonus if you meet the stated requirements. Your rewards go further when you redeem them for monthly discounts or earn extra cash back at hundreds of online retailers through Chase’s online shopping portal. You can redeem your rewards in any amount, and they never expire. 

The card offers many consumer protection features, including extended warranties, zero liability for unauthorized charges, and limited purchase protection against damage or theft. Additional perks include travel and emergency assistance services, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and free credit scores.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • 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 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment 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
  • 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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card uses a tiered rewards structure to favor cardmembers who enjoy dining, travel, and entertainment. The rewards quickly add up if you frequently travel or dine out. New cardmembers qualify for a signup bonus and an introductory 0% APR on eligible purchases and balance transfer transactions.

The card pays its highest reward rates on purchases from Capital One Travel and Uber. It is a low-cost card with no annual or foreign transaction fees.

Best Travel Cards to Pay in Full Monthly

Travel cards provide rewards as points or miles that you can use to pay for trips, hotel stays, car rentals, and other purchases. While many travel cards impose moderate to high annual fees, these three provide generous perks without the yearly charge.

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • $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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers miles accepted by many airline loyalty programs, including Qantas, Air France KLM, and Air Canada. The card delivers miles on eligible purchases without any annual limits. It also offers new cardmembers a signup bonus and a 0% intro APR promotion. 

This travel card provides several features to increase security and convenience, including $0 fraud liability protection, credit monitoring via CreditWise, fingerprint security on its mobile app, and virtual card generation for online purchases through the Eno® intelligent assistant. Other benefits include travel accident insurance, collision damage waivers on car rentals, extended warranty protection, and additional value when you redeem your miles through Capital One Travel.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Review

at Bank Of America’ssecure website

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 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 as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% – 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards – The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (Balance Transfer Fee 3% for 60 days from account opening, then 4%)
19.24% – 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
$0
Excellent/Good

Additional Disclosure: Bank of America is a CardRates advertiser.

You earn points for every eligible purchase you charge to your Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. Points are more versatile than frequent flyer miles since you can use them for travel on any airline. You can redeem your points as statement credits to pay for flights, baggage fees, vacation packages, hotel stays, cruises, and rental cars.

The card offers convenience and security features, including account alerts, free FICO scores, $0 liability protection, fraud detection, and optional overdraft protection. This Bank of America card will particularly appeal to consumers who want a long introductory 0% APR promotion on purchases and balance transfer transactions, after which the regular APR applies. It doesn’t charge an annual or foreign transaction fees, and your point rewards never expire while the account remains open.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card’ssecure website

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Unlimited Mile-for-Mile match for all new cardmembers—only from Discover. Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. You could turn 35,000 Miles to 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase
  • No annual fee
  • Turn Miles into cash. Or redeem as a statement credit for your travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 17.24% – 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Terms and conditions apply.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
17.24% – 28.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

The Discover it® Miles card delivers miles rewards for every dollar you spend on purchases. Your miles never expire, even when you close the account, and you can redeem your miles in any amount for statement credits to reimburse travel expenses.

The card’s low APR and lucrative introductory promotions attract consumers seeking robust rewards without high fees or interest rates. You receive fraud liability protection on unauthorized purchases and can freeze your account in seconds. The card provides free access to your FICO score and related information.

Best Business Cards to Pay in Full Monthly

Owners of small businesses and startups have better things to do with their money than paying annual fees on even the best business credit card. These three cards satisfy that requirement and provide membership rewards and business-related perks to help you run your company more efficiently.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★

4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn a $750 bonus when you spend $6,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere — with no limits or category restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Rewards won’t expire for the life of the account
  • Redeem your cash back rewards for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.49% – 24.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent

The Capital One Spark Cash Select for Excellent Credit card pays cash back on all purchases and ranks as the best business credit card in the group. You can earn a one-time cash bonus when you spend the required amount outlined in the terms. The card offers two tiers of unlimited cash back rewards — the higher rate on hotels and rental cars and the lower flat rate on all other purchases.

The free employee cards earn cash back that you can use to help fund your business operations. You can pick your monthly due date, which enables you to coordinate your payments with incoming revenue. Business-related reports include annual activity, recurring transactions, and extended transaction details. The card can integrate with enterprise platforms such as QuickBooks and Abacus.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card Review

at Chase’ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★

4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn rewards faster with employee cards at no additional cost. Set individual spending limits for greater control.
  • Round-the-clock monitoring for unusual credit card purchases
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
18.49% – 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card lets you earn flat-rate cash back on every purchase, so you don’t have to juggle multiple reward tiers. There’s no limit to how much cash back you can collect from this no-annual-fee Visa® credit card. 

The card’s signup bonus and introductory 0% APR on purchases can help startups pay for some initial costs, including furniture, equipment, and supplies. You can redeem your cash back through Chase Ultimate Rewards in several ways, including travel expenses, cash, and gift card options.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card Review

at Chase’ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn $350 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and an additional $400 when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months after account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 10% Business Relationship Bonus If you have the Ink Business Cash card plus a Chase Business Checking account on your first card anniversary
  • With Zero Liability you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
  • No Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A
18.49% – 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers multi-tiered rewards, applying the highest rate to your business-related purchases. New cardowners can take advantage of a signup bonus and an introductory 0% APR promotion. The card provides 24/7 fraud and liability protection, extended warranties, purchase protection, and rental car insurance. You also receive travel and emergency assistance services, including roadside dispatch when you need a jump-start, tow, tire change, or gas delivery.

You can obtain employee cards at no extra charge and accumulate cash back rewards faster. This Visa® credit card lets you easily track expenses and maintain records for tax reporting and other business needs. You can integrate the card with your bookkeeping software to simplify accounting.

Why Should I Pay Off My Credit Card Every Month?

You can benefit in several ways when you pay off your credit card monthly. Here are the key advantages:

  • Avoiding interest charges: Carrying a balance on your credit card incurs interest charges. By paying in full, you avoid these charges, which can be quite high depending on the card’s APR.
  • Improving your credit score: Your credit utilization ratio (i.e., how much credit you’re using compared to how much you have available) and overall debt level are significant factors in your FICO credit score. Reducing your debt by paying off your monthly credit card balances helps raise your score.
  • Maintaining a good credit history: Regularly paying off your balance signals that you are a responsible borrower. A good credit history helps you gain approval when you apply for a loan, mortgage, or another credit card in the future.
  • Maximizing your rewards: Paying the balance in full each month ensures that interest charges will not offset your rewards.
  • Avoiding late fees: Paying off your card each month makes you less likely to miss a payment. Timely payments protect you from late fees, credit score damage, grace period suspension, and a potentially higher interest rate.
  • Managing your budget: Paying in full can simplify budgeting. Paying for your purchases within a single billing cycle helps you match the timing of your payments with your spending, an excellent accounting practice.
  • Reducing stress: Carrying debt can cause stress and anxiety. Knowing that you are debt-free each month may provide you peace of mind.
  • Preparing for emergencies: Without a monthly credit card balance, you can better manage financial crises by making your entire credit line available.
  • Avoiding debt: Making only minimum payments causes debt accumulation. Interest compounds on the outstanding balance, making it increasingly difficult to repay.

While paying your entire monthly balance is ideal, events may intervene that prevent it. If you must pay less than the total amount, try to reduce your use of credit until you catch up on your payments.

Should I Pay Off My Card in Full or Leave a Small Balance?

There is no benefit to leaving a small unpaid balance each month — any advantage is just an urban myth. Your on-time payments and credit utilization ratio are key factors impacting your credit score. Paying in full demonstrates good credit management without incurring interest.

Leaving a small balance causes you to temporarily lose your grace period, the interest-free interval between the end of a billing cycle and the subsequent payment due date (typically 21 or more days). You’ll accumulate interest on the unpaid balance, and new purchases will start accruing interest immediately from the date of each transaction.

card terms and conditions example
Grace period information is included within a card’s disclosures.

You must pay the entire statement balance by the due dates for two consecutive billing cycles to reinstate the grace period. The first full payment covers the outstanding balance, and the second ensures you’ve paid the entire statement balance for the following cycle.

The myth advocating for small balances may have arisen from the mistaken assumption that your credit card issuer will be grateful for the interest income and treat you better. Assigning human emotions such as gratitude to impersonal credit card issuers is magical thinking. The opposite is true — your credit score may drop, making it harder to get a higher credit limit or upgrade to a better credit card.

Which Credit Cards Have to be Paid in Full Every Month?

Charge cards require customers to pay the balance in full at the end of every month. They first appeared with the 1950 introduction of the Diners Club card. American Express® entered the charge card market in 1958. That same year, the Bank of America debuted the first card to offer revolving credit.

Only a handful of charge cards remain. Several American Express® charge cards offer a Pay Over Time option, effectively turning them into credit cards. Here is a summary of the differences between credit and charge cards:

FEATURECREDIT CARDSCHARGE CARDS
Balance CarryoverCarryovers are available, with interest charges on the remaining balance.Carried balances are unavailable — you must pay the balance in full each month.
Credit LimitThese cards have a defined credit limit you cannot exceed without penalties.Charge cards have no preset spending limit, but that doesn’t mean you have unlimited spending. The card approves purchases based on factors including income, spending habits, and payment history.
Interest ChargesYou must pay interest on balances you carry from one month to the next.You incur no interest charges since you must pay the entire balance monthly.
Payment FlexibilityThe card requires you to make a minimum payment by the due date, with the option to pay more or in full.You must pay the entire balance by the due date.
RewardsCredit cards often offer rewards in the form of cash back, points, or miles.Charge cards also offer rewards, with some geared toward travel and business expenses.
FeesThe card may have an annual fee, late fees, and other charges.Charge cards often have an annual fee. Late fees apply if you don’t pay the minimum balance on time.
Impact on Credit ScoreYour credit utilization rate and debt-to-income ratio impact your credit score.Charge cards do not report credit utilization, but late or incomplete payments can harm your credit score.
UsageThese cards are suitable for everyday use and to carry a balance if necessary.Charge cards are best for those who can afford to pay the balance in full each month.
Approval CriteriaIssuers approve card membership based on credit score, income, and other factors.You usually must have a good to excellent credit score, a high income, and a solid financial history.
Typical AudienceThe audience consists of consumers looking for flexibility and those needing to finance purchases over time.Charge cards are for affluent consumers and businesses with stable finances who can pay their expenses in full each month.

Charge cards still have an important role to play for affluent consumers. These cards usually have no preset spending limits (NPSLs), which enables the cardholder to make large purchases without worrying about overdrafts. Most credit card owners would probably balk at the prospect of always having to pay their entire monthly balance.

Is it Good to Do Monthly Payments on a Credit Card?

Whether it’s better to make monthly payments on a credit card instead of paying with cash depends on several factors, including your spending discipline, credit goals, and card membership rewards.

Paying for your purchases with cash means you won’t have any fees or interest charges. You don’t need to concern yourself with monthly statements, due dates, or credit card terms and fees. This option is the cheapest but is only possible if you have enough net income. 

Paying with cash can make it easier to stick to a budget since you can’t spend more money than you have on hand. It eliminates the risk of accruing credit card debt.

Paying with a credit card has several advantages. It helps you build your credit history, which is useful when you apply for a loan, job, or apartment. Many credit cards offer rewards on purchases and benefits such as purchase protection, extended warranties, and travel insurance.

steps to maximize credit card rewards

Merchants accept credit cards worldwide, and they can be a more convenient payment method, especially when traveling or purchasing online. They offer better protection against fraud than cash, and the issuer can easily replace lost or stolen cards.

Paying with credit cards makes sense if you pay your balance in full each month and take advantage of the card’s reward programs. You’ll want to avoid annual fees or ensure the card’s benefits (including signup bonuses and introductory 0% APRs) outweigh the fee. Credit cards are helpful when you make an eligible purchase that benefits from additional protections.

On the other hand, you may want to avoid using credit cards if they encourage you to overspend, cause you to struggle to make payments, or interfere with your ability to reduce your debt.

How Do Credit Card Rewards Work?

Issuers offer rewards as incentives to encourage you to use their credit cards. The rewards can come as points, miles, or cash back:

  • Points: You can typically redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift card options, travel, or a statement credit. Some cards have an online portal and mobile app through which you can use points to shop directly.
  • Miles: Several travel cards provide miles you can redeem for airline tickets, hotel stays, or car rentals. Some cards are co-branded with specific airlines or hotel chains, offering greater rewards when purchasing with those brands.
  • Cash back: The rewards are straightforward — you receive a percentage of your eligible purchase back in cash. Some cards may offer higher cash back rates on specific merchant categories, such as gas stations or grocery stores.

You accrue rewards by making purchases with your credit card. Different cards offer various reward rates for spending. For example, a card may offer one bonus point per dollar on any purchase. In contrast, another may offer three miles per dollar on groceries or dining.

You can redeem rewards through the credit card issuer’s website or app. The process varies by issuer, but generally, you will have options to redeem points, miles, or cash back.

Some credit cards offer a signup bonus if you spend a specified amount within the first few months of the account opening. Additionally, many issuers provide new cardmembers with an introductory 0% APR promotion for the first six to 21 months on purchases and balance transfers.

Rewards may have certain limitations. For example, points or miles may expire after a specified period, or issuers could cap how much cash back you can earn in a specific category.

While earning rewards can be beneficial, it’s essential to consider annual fees and high interest rates on a rewards credit card. These costs can sometimes offset the benefits of rewards.

What Credit Score Do I Need to Get a No-Annual-Fee Rewards Card?

The credit score you need for a no-annual-fee rewards credit card varies by issuer and the type of card you want. You’ll often need at least good credit to qualify for a no-annual-fee rewards credit card, meaning a FICO score of 670 or higher. 

Some card issuers might offer reward cards to those with fair credit (FICO scores between 580 and 669). These cards may provide lower reward rates and fewer benefits.

fico score ranges

Credit scores are not the only factor issuers consider when evaluating a credit card application. They may also examine your income, existing debt, employment status, housing costs, and credit history.

Reviewing a card’s credit requirements is a good practice, as issuers often specify the minimum acceptable score.

What Should I Consider When Choosing a No-Annual-Fee Rewards Card?

You’ll want to consider a no-annual-fee rewards card if you want to get the most value from your card while spending the least. You should compare the costs, rewards, and benefits of competing cards to find the one that best fits your requirements.

You’ll also want to compare signup bonuses and 0% APR promotions, especially if you anticipate a big-ticket purchase. Keep in mind that the best cards are available to consumers with good to excellent credit.

Here are the key factors to consider when choosing a no-annual-fee rewards card:

FACTOR TO CONSIDERWHY IT IS IMPORTANTWHAT TO LOOK FOR
Rewards TypeRewards should align with your spending habits and preferencesPoints, cash back, or travel miles
Earning RateDetermines the value you get back from your spendingHigh rates per dollar spent, including bonus categories
Signup BonusesAdditional value in the first few months of card ownershipLook for a high bonus after a required amount of spending within a set time. The required spending must realistically fit your budget and not encourage you to overspend.
Redemption OptionsFlexibility and value in how you can use your rewardsNo or low redemption thresholds, multiple redemption options
Rewards ExpirationEnsures you don’t lose the rewards you’ve earnedNo expiration or long expiration periods
Interest Rates (APR)It affects the cost of carrying a balance if you choose to do soLower APRs, introductory APR offers
Foreign Transaction FeesEssential for international travel or foreign purchasesNo foreign transaction fees
Additional PerksAdds value beyond rewardsExamples include travel insurance, extended warranties, purchase protection
Credit Score RequirementsDetermines your eligibility for the cardMinimum credit score needed
Issuer’s Customer ServiceImpacts your experience, especially when you need assistance24/7 customer service, high satisfaction ratings
User ReviewsProvides an understanding of cardholder satisfaction and potential issuesPositive overall experiences, fewer complaints
Fine PrintDetails about limitations, fees, and policy specificsClear terms with reasonable fees and conditions

Before you decide, it’s wise to weigh these factors against your financial situation and spending habits to find the card that offers you the best value. Comparing competing rewards cards can pay off handsomely.

Avoid Interest and Earn Rewards By Paying Your Card Off Every Month

The right credit card and a disciplined payment strategy are a win-win for you and the card issuer. Paying your entire balance every month avoids interest charges, late fees, and harm to your credit score. More importantly, it signifies that you can live within your budget, an essential element in successful financial management.

Consistently paying on time and in full will help you build or rebuild credit and encourage issuers to grant your requests for higher credit limits. Getting personal loans or mortgages at a relatively low interest rate becomes easier. Best of all, you may find it easier to sleep at night when you don’t have to worry about debt.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.