The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, December 12, 2019

18 Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards (2019)

18 Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards (2019)

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: November 12, 2019

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No annual fee credit cards are among the most appealing to many consumers these days. Having to pay an annual fee can be a disincentive for applying for an otherwise appealing card. Below, we’ve compiled a list containing our picks for some of the best no annual fee credit cards out there today.

Looking at the cardholder agreements that come with new credit cards can be a bit intimidating, full as they are with descriptions of the copious fees for using the cards’ features. On the plus side, many of the fees that come with a credit card can be avoided through responsible credit card use. Simply paying off your balance every month, for instance, can eliminate the need to pay interest fees, and skipping the cash advance will also let you skip the fee.

Unfortunately, some credit cards come with one particular fee that often can’t be avoided: the annual fee. A fixture of many premium credit cards, the annual fee pays for the various perks and rewards enjoyed by cardholders. That said, a wide variety of issuers offer credit cards — many with valuable rewards like cash back on every purchase — that don’t charge annual fees. Regardless of where you fall on the credit score range, you can likely find the annual-fee-free card for you.

Good Credit | Fair Credit | Poor Credit | No/Limited Credit

Best No Annual Fee Offers for Good Credit (FICO 700+)

Although building — or rebuilding — credit can be a slow process, it’s definitely worth the time it takes to develop a strong credit history. Those with good credit enjoy many of the best perks in credit, including the best interest rates and the lowest fees — even annual fees.

Since those with good credit represent a low credit risk, they’ll have access to a greater number of premium credit cards than their lower-credit counterparts. This includes a variety of cards that have no annual fee but still offer solid perks and rewards.

Cash Back Cards

Cash back rewards programs give you back a portion of what you spend on qualifying purchases. Most programs reward you with a flat-rate percentage of your purchases as a statement credit, while others also offer bonus cash back on purchases in certain categories.

As an added perk, these cards also have good signup bonuses with attainable minimum spending requirements, giving you even more bang for your — well, no buck, because these cards don’t have any annual fees.

  • 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
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
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; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% 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
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Of course, if you carry a balance on your cards, you’ll be expected to pay interest fees, which can really eat into any rewards. Pay your card off, in full, every month to avoid paying interest fees on your purchases.

Travel/Airline Miles Cards

For those who travel frequently, either for business or for pleasure, credit cards offering travel rewards can really pay off. Cardholders can earn miles for every dollar spent, then redeem those miles for travel purchases like airline tickets and hotel stays.

To make the most of your travel card, look for programs that allow you to redeem your miles without blackout dates or travel restrictions. Those with good credit can also find travel cards with signup bonuses for extra savings.

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
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
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
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

0.0

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

If you’re likely to travel out of the country, look for credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. These are additional fees tacked onto any purchase made in a foreign country or foreign currency.

Foreign transaction fees are a combination of issuer and bank fees, and can be charged before or after your purchase is converted to US currency. If your card charges foreign transaction fees, be prepared to pay an average of 3% more for purchases made abroad.

Best No Annual Fee Offers for Fair Credit (FICO 650+)

Although those with good credit will have the best options, if your credit falls in the “fair” range you may still qualify for a good everyday card or valuable rewards card that charges no annual fee.

Everyday Card

Whether you’re establishing your fledgling credit or working on smoothing a bumpy credit history, responsible use of a credit card can be a great way to build a healthy credit profile.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★
3.8
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

A good everyday card for those with fair credit will report to the credit bureaus each month and has no annual fee. Choosing a card with no annual fee and paying off the balance each month will allow you to show good credit behavior without adding another expense to the budget.

Rewards Cards (Fee Dependent on Credit)

Fair credit applicants whose hearts are set on a rewards card may still have some options. As with many things in life, however, those options come with a caveat: only qualified applicants will actually qualify for a $0 annual fee.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★
3.8
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Qualified applicants will receive a card with a competitive APR and no annual fee along with 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, terms apply
  • View updates to your Experian credit score with free online access, terms apply
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Access your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.74%-25.74% Variable
$0 - $99
Fair

If you apply for a fair-credit rewards card but don’t qualify for the no annual fee offer, you’ll need to determine if the perks and rewards offered by the card are worth the annual fee. This will largely depend on how much you are likely to purchase over the course of the year.

Graph Showing Credit Card Rewards

As the graph shows, if you earn 1% cash back on your purchases, it would take $5,000 worth of purchase rewards to earn enough cash back to pay for a $50 annual fee. So, if you are unlikely to spend — and pay off — $5,000 in a year, the card’s rewards are unlikely to cover the annual fee.

Best No Annual Fee Offers for Poor Credit (FICO <650)

As all those with poor credit eventually find, a low credit score equates to a high credit risk to lenders and credit card issuers. High credit risk means higher fees and interest rates, and often includes annual fees.

Even if your credit score plants you firmly in the “bad credit” category, you don’t necessarily need to resign yourself to paying an annual fee. Several options exist for obtaining credit cards without annual fees, including both unsecured and secured cards.

The main difference between unsecured and secured credit cards is, as the name implies, the “secured” part. Secured credit cards require cardholders to put down a deposit as security against defaulting on their credit card bill. Unsecured cards require no deposit but may have higher credit requirements.

Unsecured Cards

If you have poor credit and don’t want to pay an annual fee, but would rather not put down a deposit, your options are a bit limited. In fact, some of the options may require you to meet certain credit qualifications to actually avoid paying an annual fee.

Your credit score may be too low to qualify you for a no annual fee offer. In some cases, your best bet may be to pay the fee, then use the card — responsibly — for six months or so, until your credit improves and you can qualify for a better offer.

Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit
Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.4
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Pre-qualify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$0 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

In addition to paying your balance in full every month to avoid interest fees, be sure to pay your credit card bill on time every month, as well. Not only is this good credit behavior, but you’ll also avoid paying late fees on your card payments.

Secured Cards

Secured credit cards represent less risk to an issuer than unsecured cards because the deposit ensures you won’t default on your card. This means you may have more options for obtaining a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

With secured cards, the credit limit of your card will be equal to your initial deposit. Since larger credit limits are better for your utilization rate and, thus, your credit score, it may behoove you to make a significant deposit. Your initial deposit is completely refundable.

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.5
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

13. Citi® Secured Mastercard®

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® offers both a low minimum security deposit and no annual fee, making it an attainable card for many consumers.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • Check your balance, view transactions, and make payments using free online and mobile banking tools
  • Provide a security deposit between $200-$2,500
  • Pay no annual fee

The deposit you make when opening your secured credit card is kept in a special savings account, which is inaccessible to you while your account is open. Most secured card issuers will reevaluate your credit after 12 to 18 months, and may refund your deposit and upgrade your secured card to an unsecured card automatically if your credit has improved.

Best No Annual Fee Offers for No/Limited Credit

Considered by some issuers to be almost as significant as having poor credit, having no credit, or very limited credit, can make it difficult to find a good credit card, let alone one without an annual fee. That said, options do exist for cards you can use to build your blossoming credit that won’t put an annual dent in your budget.

Business & Consumer Cards

When it comes to building your credit, whether personal or business, the most important ingredient is time. Using a credit card is a good way to help the process, but it certainly won’t happen overnight. Finding a good credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee can help make the credit-building process a bit more affordable, especially over several years.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.2
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Build and strengthen credit for your business by using this credit card responsibly
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1% 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
N/A
N/A
24.74% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

While your business and personal credit histories exist separately, your personal credit can influence your business credit. Be sure to use both consumer and business credit cards wisely and responsibly to build healthy credit for you and your company.

Student Cards

As notoriously ill-funded as the proverbial starving artist, the average college student likely has about as much of a credit history as they have spare cash to pay an annual fee. Thankfully, a number of issuers offer cards that don’t require a credit history or an annual fee.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
19.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit
STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.2/5.0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited
Discover it® Student chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

STUDENT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • 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 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
19.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

While having no credit history makes you a credit risk to card issuers, having no history is still better than having a bad history, so use your credit card responsibly to avoid damaging your credit history. And remember, no annual fee doesn’t mean no fees at all, so pay your balance in full every month to avoid paying interest fees on your purchases.

Don’t Pay For What You Can Get For Free

When comparing the nearly endless stream of credit card offers out there, it can often seem as though paying fees simply goes hand-in-hand with using a credit card. Whether you’re paying annual fees, interest fees, or transfer fees, the costs of using a credit card really can add up quickly.

Fortunately, that’s not the case for all credit cards. With a little research — and a lot of responsible credit card behavior — you can enjoy the perks and rewards of a credit card without paying an arm and a leg in fees, annual or otherwise.