The Best Credit Cards with no Annual Fee

Credit card companies often charge annual fees, and these fees typically range from $35 to $550, with the larger amounts charged for the more premium cards. Annual fees can seriously eat into your returns if you’re using a cash back or travel rewards credit card, while increasing your total debt and expenses if you have a rolling balance.

However, there are numerous no annual fee credit cards available, helping to reduce the costs of these cards. In this guide, we’ll look at the best cards with no annual fees, highlighting those that also offer cash back rewards, balance transfers, 0% APR periods, and other standout features.

The Best No Annual Fee Cards

What follows is a list of the very best credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee. Some cards charge a fee after the first year, and many users sign up for these without realizing. However, we have tried to avoid these cards and at the time of writing, all the ones on this list don’t charge annual fees throughout the life of the account.

Discover It Balance Transfer Credit Card

The Discover It credit card comes in many forms, from the Discover It Miles and the Discover It Cash Back, to variations aimed at students, no credit borrowers, and more. The Discover It Balance Transfer card is one of our personal favorites and is a great option for users seeking to move one or more balances onto a new card.

The cash back rewards go as high as 5% for rotating categories, with no blackout dates, and users can redeem as statement credit, gift cards, and more. What’s more, after the first 12 billing cycles, cardholders will receive a cash bonus, as all of their cash back to that point is doubled.

Bonus categories include gas stations and grocery stores, and all users with good credit can apply for this cash rewards credit card.

  • Card Issuer: Discover
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.49% to 24.49% variable APR
  • Account Opening Offer: All rewards are doubled at the end of the first year
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months; 0% on purchases for 6 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% on all balance transfers
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rewards: 1% to 5%; redeem as gift cards, statement credits, and more

American Express BlueCash Everyday

American Express has some of the best travel reward cards around. The better of these charge up to $550 a year in annual fees, but at the other end of the spectrum, you have the BlueCash Everyday card, which doesn’t charge any fees and offers up to 3% for everyday purchases.

  • Issuer: American Express
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.49% to 25.49% variable APR
  • Account Opening Offer: $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 2.7%
  • Introductory APR: 0% APR for first 15 months
  • Rewards Program: 1% to 3% cash back; redeem as gift cards, statement credits, and more

Wells Fargo Platinum

You can get 0% on all purchases and balance transfers for the first 19 months with the Wells Fargo Platinum Card, and there are also some very low-interest rates. One of the biggest downsides to this card is that it’s not tied to any rewards program, but it does offer some additional features, including cell phone protection, roadside dispatch, and more.

  • Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.99% to 26.49% variable APR
  • Account Opening Offer: N/A
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Cash Back Rewards: N/A

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Credit Card

The AAdvantage MileUp is a generous travel card offering travel credit, a low intro balance transfer fee, and extra points on all travel purchases. You can get a bigger sign-up bonus elsewhere and all rewards are tied to American Airlines, which means this isn’t the best choice if you don’t fly with AA. However, there are numerous benefits and if you’re a frequent flyer, it could be worth it.

  • Issuer: Citi
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 17.49% to 26.49% variable APR
  • Account Opening Offer: 10,000 bonus miles and $50 statement credit
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0
  • Rewards Program: 1 to 2 AAdvantage Miles per $1 spend.

Citi Simplicity Card

Simplicity is the name of the game here. The Citi Simplicity card doesn’t have a big rewards program or extra bonuses, but it does have a low-interest rate on average and it also has a 21 month 0% balance transfer period, with 12 months for purchases.

  • Card Issuer: MasterCard
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR
  • Account Opening Offer: N/A
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers and 12 months on purchases
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Cash Back Rewards: N/A

Capital One SavorOne

Get between 1% and 3% on all purchases with the Capital One SavorOne. The best rates are offered for money spent on dining and entertainment, with 2% for money spent at grocery stores and 1% on everything else. There are no rotating categories to worry about and the points will never expire.

  • Card Issuer: Capital One
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.49% to 25.49% variable APR
  • Account Opening Offer: $150 when you spend $500 in 3 months
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rewards: 1% to 3% cash back; redeem points via the Capital One mobile app

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of America’s most popular cards, with some very appealing credit card offers that include a $150 bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months. The balance transfer fee is reasonable and there is an intro rate that lasts for 15 months. 

On top of all this, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is backed by one of the biggest and most trusted banks in the country, offers respectable interest rates and is available for anyone with a respectable credit history.

  • Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.49% to 25.24%
  • Account Opening Offer: $150 when you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
  • Introductory APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Rewards Program: 1% to 5% cash back

Capital One VentureOne

There are many great Capital One credit cards out there, including the SavorOne, which we mentioned above, and the QuickSilver, which didn’t make the cut. The VentureOne is a classic, though, and offers a low very average interest rate, as well as a generous welcome bonus and introductory APR. 

The VentureOne is a travel rewards card, and if you apply now you can get a boost of 20,000 air miles, with additional miles accumulated every time you use your card, regardless of the categories.

  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.49% to 23.49% 
  • Account Opening Offer:  20,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0
  • Introductory APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for first 12 months
  • Rewards Program: Travel rewards program; redeem points via the Capital One mobile app

Secured Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

Many secured credit cards don’t charge annual fees as they don’t have high rewards, low-interest rates and other great features and perks to offset. These cards are great if you want to build credit or avoid the temptation of a high credit limit. 

A secured credit card is simply a card that is “secured” against a deposit. You make a refundable security deposit and this then becomes your credit limit. The card can be used just like any other credit card, with all payments reported to the three main credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax). 

Every time you make a payment, it goes on your payment history and can boost your credit score. The issuer will periodically review your account and if you’ve been using it responsibly, they will upgrade your account to an unsecured card with a higher credit limit. Once that happens, your deposit will be refunded.

Some of the best no fee secured credit cards include:

Discover It Secured

The Discover It is truly one of the best credit cards for all categories. The great thing about the Secured version of this card is that it offers cash back rewards of between 1% and 2%. Cash back secured cards are pretty rare, and to an extent, they’re also a little pointless, as you probably won’t spend much and therefore won’t earn much. 

However, no one’s going to turn their noses up at free money, and it will also give you a feel for how cash back cards work.

Citi Secured Mastercard

A simple but effective secured credit card with limits that go as high as $2,500 and as low as $200. Just make your deposit, use the card for all new purchases, and your credit score will steadily improve. Citi also offers members a free FICO score check, allowing them to monitor their credit report and see the effects that their new card has.

Who are No Fee Cards for?

No fee cards are suitable for everyone, but may be better suited to cardholders spending less than $2,000 a month. At this rate, a good rewards bonus and welcome bonus can give you a few hundred dollars a year and you won’t have to worry about annual fees digging into your profits at the end of the year.

If you spend a lot more than this, travel frequently or find yourself making many big purchases related to travel, we recommend focusing on premium reward cards. You will likely get much more value for money with these cards.

As an example, let’s compare one of the most popular no fee reward cards, the Discover It Miles, with a leading premium card, the American Express Platinum.

If you spend $5,000 a month, that’s $60,000 a year. The Discover It Miles card will give you 90,000 miles and at the end of the first year, they’ll double those miles for a total of 180,000. When converted to a cash value, those miles will give you $1,800 and you won’t need to worry about an annual fee eating into that cash back.

With the Amex Platinum card, assuming $15,000 of that total is spent on hotels, $5,000 on flights, and the remaining $40,000 on all other purchases, you’ll earn $4,000 in your first year, with the annual fee only deducting $550. At the end of your first year, the Amex card is clearly the better option, and those benefits continue, with the Discover It Miles returning $900 for every year thereafter and the Amex giving you $2,800.

And that’s not all. The Amex Platinum card also gives you TSA credits, access to VIP airport lounges, $200 Uber credit, $200 annual hotel credits, a concierge, and a great deal more. It’s definitely worth the extra fee if you’re spending the extra money.

However, if you’re spending “just” $1,000 a month, for a total of $12,000 a year, you’ll earn between $250 and $1,500 a year, depending on bonuses and the ratio of money spent on travel. In fact, while this card does have a generous welcome bonus, you’ll need to spend over $1,500 a month on average to get anywhere near to qualifying for it. 

Simply put, unless you’re a big spender and/or a frequent traveler, a no fee credit card will offer you the best return on your money.

Bottom Line: A Great Option

No annual fee credit cards can save you a lot of money and promote sensible credit card use. Whether you’re using a rewards card, airline card or a basic low-interest credit card, no fee cards are well worth looking into. Just compare, contrast, calculate how much the card will cost and benefit you, and then apply.