The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Monday, January 20, 2020

11 Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards with Rewards

11 Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards with Rewards

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Updated: January 14, 2020

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Today’s credit card marketplace is brimming with options for rewards. And consumers will have no difficulty finding a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee. But finding a no-annual-fee credit card with rewards is an extra special treat.

Many credit card issuers tack on fees or higher interest rates to offset the cost of the rewards they pay to cardholders. By leveraging a card with no fee that still pays rewards, you can earn money for spending money. Who doesn’t want that?

Our list of the best rewards cards that charge no annual fee also features hotel and travel rewards options, as well as business credit cards and options for consumers who have bad credit, so you aren’t just limited to cash back or points.

Overall
Cash Back | Travel | Business | Bad Credit

Best Overall Rewards Card with No Annual Fee

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back that never expires or caps out. And, not only will you never pay an annual fee to use this card, but you can also take advantage of the 0% APR introductory period that Chase often offers with this card.

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
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
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

If the rewards, lack of annual fees, and the 0% introductory APR period weren’t enough, this card also has a cash signup bonus after you meet the minimum spending requirement on purchases during the first three months of activating your card. Most people can hit that mark simply by charging a few of their monthly bills to the card and then paying them off after the charges post to their account.

Best Cash Back Rewards Cards with No Annual Fee

Cash is still king in the financial world, and cash back cards are among the most popular rewards a credit card issuer can offer. These cards allow you to earn a percentage of each purchase back in the form of cash or a statement credit.

When you combine that with a no-fee card, like those below, you’re maximizing your savings and cutting the cost of the items you purchase.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Cash Back card is one of the most popular cash back cards on the market — thanks, in part, to its quarterly bonus categories that pay 5% back on your purchase, up to the quarterly maximum. Bonus categories must be activated each quarter, all other purchases will earn 1% cash back.

You can turn those earnings into 10% cash back during your first year, thanks to Discover’s Cashback Match program. Through this offer, Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year with the card. And you won’t pay an annual fee for the perk.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card pays out an unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, as well as 2% back at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. The card also offers a 15-month, 0% APR introductory period with no annual fee or foreign transaction charges.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
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
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

With the Chase Freedom® card, you can take advantage of a 0% APR introductory period while earning up to 5% cash back in quarterly category spending. Thanks to the Credit Journey℠ program, you’ll also receive a free weekly credit score update.

Best Travel Rewards Cards with No Annual Fee

Just about everyone loves to travel, but few people enjoy the costs associated with taking a trip. Airfare, rental cars, taxis, hotels, and other expenses add up and can take away from your entertainment or souvenir budget.

The list below includes the best travel rewards credit cards with no annual fee. With one or more of these cards in your pocket, you can earn credits that pay for all, or part, of those pesky expenses that keep most people glued to their couch.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Miles card pays an unlimited 1.5X miles for every $1 spent, and Discover will match all of the miles you earn during your first year with the card. This card is great for people who have a big trip planned in the future because it allows you to save your miles over time, double up with the matched miles at the end of the year, and use them all at once to pay for a big portion of your vacation.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card doesn’t limit how you use your earned miles. No blackout dates or restrictions apply because you redeem your unlimited 1.25X miles earned on each $1 spent as a statement credit that reimburses all or part of a travel-related expense.

This allows you to travel any way you want without having to read the fine print to make sure your purchases qualify for reimbursement.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 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 flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
17.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

You can earn an unlimited 1.5X points for every $1 you charge to your Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card. Points act the same as miles and you can redeem them as statement credits to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, and baggage fees.

Best Business Rewards Cards with No Annual Fee

No matter the size of your business, you’re probably accustomed to paying fees for just about everything you need. You can avoid at least one of those fees by signing up for one of the cards below.

These business credit cards offer rewards that match the needs of most entrepreneurs — without tacking on an annual fee for the privilege.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from 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 card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A 12 months
14.74% - 20.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

You can earn as much as 5% cash back with the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and still take advantage of a 0% introductory APR offer. You can also obtain employee cards at no extra charge and earn up to $500 in bonus cash back if you meet the spending requirement within your first three months after card activation.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 14.49% - 22.49% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
14.49% - 22.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

With the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business, you can earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and a one-time cash bonus when you charge enough to the card within three months after opening your account. The free employee cards also earn cash back that you can use to help fund your business operations.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Earn a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles – equal to $200 in travel – once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠ using a Spark Miles Select card
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 14.49% - 22.49% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Transfer your miles to 10+ leading travel loyalty programs like JetBlue™, Air Canada, and Emirates™
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
14.49% - 22.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Business trips cost less with the Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business. Cardholders earn an unlimited 1.5X miles on every purchase and can boost their earnings to 5X miles when they book their hotel or rental car reservations using the card. They can also redeem their miles as statement credits to cover any travel-related expenses they incur.

Best Bad-Credit Rewards Card with No Annual Fee

Secured credit cards often come with high fees and no rewards, but the Discover it® Secured bucks both trends by offering 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. You can also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
3.9

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
24.49% Variable
$0
New/Rebuilding

As with most secured credit cards, Discover requires a refundable cash deposit to open your account. The amount of your deposit will equal your credit limit.

The card issuer reports your payment history to the credit reporting bureaus, which can improve your credit score and help you graduate to one of Discover’s many unsecured credit cards.

Why Would Anyone Pay an Annual Fee for a Credit Card?

Fees aren’t fun — and they certainly aren’t for everyone — but, in some cases, an annual fee can unlock some serious benefits. Many fees can also pay for themselves if you take advantage of the abundant rewards these cards offer.

Take the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as an example. The $550 annual fee on this card likely seems outrageous to most people, but to understand the card’s appeal, you have to look at what you get for the money.

As a cardholder, you’ll receive a $300 annual travel credit that reimburses you for airfare costs, hotel stays, or other travel-related charges. You’ll also receive access to over 1,000 Priority Pass™ airport lounges, a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, and several other money-saving perks.

You’ll also earn 3X points on travel and dining purchases. New cardholders also receive a generous signup bonus.

Screenshot of Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits

Cards that charge annual fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, often come with premium rewards and perks many consumers find valuable.

So, as you can see, these cards aren’t meant for people on a tight budget. But if you travel often and make many charges to your card, the annual fee can pay for itself with the money-saving features and other perks.

Other cards may offer higher-than-average cash back yields, annual perks (such as reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry fees), or access to better rewards redemption rates that make them more beneficial to many consumers.

How Can I Get My Credit Card’s Annual Fee Waived?

In most cases, the only way to avoid an annual fee is to sign up for a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee in the first place.

Very rarely will a credit card issuer simply waive a fee because you request it. That doesn’t mean it will hurt you to contact your card issuer and ask — but don’t expect a positive response.

Credit Card Issuer Customer Service Contact Numbers

Having your annual fee waived may be as simple as calling customer service and asking.

Some people have found success when asking if they threaten (nicely) to cancel their account, if they leverage their long-term loyalty to the card issuer as a reason for waiving the charge, or if they downgrade their account to a new card in the issuer’s portfolio that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Requests may be denied because the annual fees most cards charge cover many of the expenses the bank incurs when it pays out rewards and other perks. That’s why you can often find additional charges associated with many cards that yield higher rewards, such as higher APRs.

But the cards listed above truly offer no annual fees or other hidden charges. Many even offer introductory periods of 0% interest, which provides fee-free financing for a set period.

Some cards will also allow you to use your accrued rewards to cover your annual fee. In some cases, you can simply transfer the rewards over and erase the fee. In other instances, you may have to redeem your cash back and use the funds to pay the fee.

Should I Cancel a Credit Card with an Annual Fee?

In most cases, we advise against canceling a credit card because of the impact it can have on your credit score. It’s understandable, though, that you may want to avoid paying an annual fee on a card you don’t use much.

Credit scoring agencies factor credit utilization into their calculations to determine your credit score. You can find your current utilization by dividing your current total balance by your overall credit limit.

For example, a card with a $2,000 credit limit and a $1,000 current balance has a 50% utilization rate. Lenders want to see low utilization on your credit cards. The more credit you use, the more financial trouble you appear to be in.

Your utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your FICO credit score. Any slight shift to that number can impact your score — for better or worse — pretty quickly.

Chart of Example Utilization Rate

When you cancel a card that has low utilization, you erase that available credit from your credit report. That instantly increases your current utilization and can decrease your credit score.

But you likely don’t want to pay a hefty annual fee just to preserve some points on your credit score. In this case, you can call your credit issuer and inquire about switching your card to an offering that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

By doing so, you may preserve your available credit and avoid the fee. You’ll also maintain the card in case of an emergency.

You Don’t Have to Pay to Earn Great Rewards

People typically earn rewards for a service or a job well done, so you shouldn’t have to pay for rewards if you don’t want to. With one of these no-annual-fee credit cards with rewards, you can earn perks without having to negate the rewards with an annual fee.

And these cards won’t limit you only to cash back — you have your choice of travel rewards, business benefits, or even unheard of rewards from a secured card. So, even with bad credit, you can get rewarded for the money you spend.