Best Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

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Cash back credit cards are a great tool for saving money on everyday purchases. Not only are these cards simple to use and a great way to earn rewards, but many of the best cash back credit cards charge no annual fee. That means the rewards you earn are all direct savings on your spending, as long as you don’t carry a balance and avoid the high interest these cards often charge.

There are plenty of no annual fee cash back cards to choose from, but you’ll get the best value from a cash back card that aligns with your most frequent spending and how much you’re willing to strategize how you spend.

Here are a few things to consider before you apply for a new cash back card with no annual fee, and our top picks available today:

Before You Start

At NextAdvisor, we believe eliminating high-interest debt balances and building healthy credit habits are essential prerequisites to enjoying the perks of a rewards credit card.

Even the best cash back rewards won’t outweigh the cost of revolving debt on a card earning double-digit interest. What’s more, you may risk rejection from issuers, who often reserve approval for applicants with the best credit scores, especially in today’s economic environment. Before seeking the best cash back rewards for your wallet, make sure you’re prepared to use your new card responsibly. Establish a great credit score alongside healthy credit habits like timely payments, paying balances in full, and low credit utilization.

Best Cash Back Cards With No Annual Fee

NextAdvisor’s Pick
Best for Overall Value Chase Freedom Unlimited® Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Best for Overall Value Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®. 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and on drugstores. Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Flexible, hybrid rewards structure made up of tiered categories and flat cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Easily obtainable cash bonus
  • Competitive intro APR period can be useful for paying off large purchases over time
Cons
  • No balance transfer introductory offer
  • Not a great choice for international travelers — you’ll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee
The Bottom Line
Chase Freedom Unlimited is NextAdvisor’s pick for the best cash back credit card for its impressive rewards and flexibility for everyday spenders. But the card’s value goes beyond its primary rewards structure. A standout first-year bonus, introductory interest offer, and boosted redemption options make this card one of the best available on the market today.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory interest offer on purchases for the first 15 months after account opening, variable 14.99% – 24.74% interest thereafter
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • Complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass, followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months (activate by 12/31/21)
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
Best for Revolving Rewards Chase Freedom Flex℠ Chase Freedom Flex℠
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Best for Revolving Rewards Chase Freedom Flex℠
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99 – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter! 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®. 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and on drugstore purchases. 1% on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Extensive tiered rewards structure
  • Rotating bonus rewards categories every quarter
  • Valuable welcome bonus offer
  • 0% introductory APR for purchases
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • High ongoing APR after intro period
  • Rotating quarterly bonus categories capped after $1,500 in spending
  • Keeping track of rewards categories may be more complex than some other cash back cards
The Bottom Line
The Chase Freedom Flex card offers cash back rewards in rotating rewards categories that will let you save where you spend the most. Plus, you’ll earn rewards in ongoing bonus categories year-round.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases (14.99%-24.74% variable APR thereafter)
  • 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in your top spending category (among eligible categories) through Dec. 2021
  • Complimentary 3 months DashPass from DoorDash, after that, a 50% discount on DashPass for the next 9 months (activate by 12/31/21)
  • Cell phone protection
  • Free credit score and monitoring
  • Access to Chase Offers savings
Best for Dining and Entertainment Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Best for Dining and Entertainment Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 24.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023. Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®). Earn 1% on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Tiered cash back structure
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory 0% purchase APR for 15 months
Cons
  • High APR
  • Limited redemption options
  • Can earn higher rewards rate on same categories with Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*
The Bottom Line
With great cash back rewards for dining, entertainment, and groceries — all for no annual fee — the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card* is a solid option for anyone who enjoys a night out. But its broad rewards categories can help you save on nights at home and travel experiences, too.

Additional Card Details

  • Introductory 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, variable APR between 14.99% and 24.99% thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
  • Access to the Capital One Shopping portal for online shopping discounts
  • Access to Capital One culinary, music, and sports experiences
Best for Simplicity Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card
Editor’s Score: (4.6/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Best for Simplicity Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card
Editor’s Score: (4.6/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200 cash rewards
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99%-24.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • 2% unlimited cash rewards on purchases
  • Valuable welcome bonus
  • Introductory 0% APR from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers
  • Cellphone and travel protections
Cons
  • High variable APR after introductory offer ends
  • No bonus categories to maximize
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
The Bottom Line
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card comes with an enticing 2% cash rewards on purchases, along with a valuable welcome bonus. You won’t pay an annual fee, and can also benefit from 0% intro APR from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months (followed by a variable APR of 14.99% – 24.99%).

Additional Card Details

  • 0% intro APR from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% – 24.99%
  • Cellphone protection protection worth up to $600 (subject to a $25 deductible)
  • Visa Concierge Service
  • Emergency cash disbursement and card replacement
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Roadside dispatch
Best for Building Credit Discover it® Secured Credit Card Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
Best for Building Credit Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (3.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Build credit, even with limited credit history
  • Automatic monthly account reviews after 7 months to determine if you qualify for a refunded deposit
  • Earn rewards on your spending
Cons
  • Requires security deposit (minimum $200)
  • High APR
The Bottom Line
With a valuable cash back rewards program, the Discover it Secured credit card stands apart from many other credit-building secured cards. Along with the standard features of a secured credit card — a refundable cash security deposit and payment reporting to the three credit bureaus to help you build credit — the Discover it Secured credit card gives users a way to build their credit and earn cash back rates typically only available with rewards cards that require higher credit scores.

Additional Card Details

  • Cashback Match first-year bonus: Discover will automatically match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first year
  • Refundable security deposit between $200 and $2,500 required, which will act as your credit limit
  • Automatic review your account after seven months to determine if you’re eligible to get your deposit back and upgraded to an unsecured card

Why Choose a Cash Back Card With No Annual Fee? 

Cash back cards are great for everyday spending, since you’ll typically earn the highest rewards rates in common categories like groceries, gas, and other day-to-day expenses. Most cash back cards don’t charge an annual fee, though there are some exceptions (like the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express, which we think is one of the only cash back cards worth paying a fee for). But the lack of fee on most cash back cards make them a great way to save money on the items already in your budget. 

You may choose a cash back card because you’re looking for straightforward rewards you can cash in easily. These cards don’t require you to use complex reward programs or navigate an overwhelming number of redemption options.

Another reason you might choose a cash back card with no annual fee is if you’re looking to pair multiple rewards cards for maximum savings. If you already have a travel rewards card with an annual fee that earns rewards on travel and dining, for instance, a cash back card with no annual fee that earns a flat 2% rate can earn you more on purchases outside of those bonus categories — without any added cost. You can even combine multiple cash back cards with no annual fee, if you prefer cash rewards.

What Types of Cash Back Cards With No Annual Fee are Available?

When you shop with a cash back card, you can maximize your spending and get money back on the items already in your budget. Some cards offer a flat rate on every purchase, while other cards have bonus categories that can give you extra rewards on categories that match your spending habits. Each of these types of cash back cards have great options for no annual fee.

Flat cash back cards: A flat rate cash back card gives you the same percentage of cash back each time you shop, regardless of the category. Most flat rate options offer a maximum of 2% cash back.

Tiered bonus category cash back cards: Tiered bonus categories are common among cash back cards. With this type, you’ll earn more rewards from bonus categories that offer varying percentages back, such as 3% on dining or 4% on streaming services. 

Rotating bonus category cash back cards: Rotating category cash back cards take a bit more strategy to maximize. You’ll earn 5% cash back (up to limits) in bonus categories that change each quarter — as long as you activate your rewards.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Best for: Overall Value

Chase Freedom Unlimited® makes a great choice for perks on both travel and everyday purchases. You’ll get 5% cash back when you book travel using Chase Unlimited Rewards, 3% on drugstore purchases and dining, and an unlimited 1.5% back on all other purchases. 

You can earn a $200 welcome bonus when you spend $500 within the first three months and get up to 5% cash back on groceries (up to $12,000 in spending) the first year. A 0% APR on new purchases applies for the first 15 months, then you’ll take on a variable APR 14.99% and 24.74% after the introductory period. 

The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card comes with some additional benefits, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, car rental insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, and more. You’ll also be eligible for 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022 and a complimentary DashPass for three months, followed by 50% off DashPass for nine more months (activate by 12/31/21).

Chase Freedom Flex

Best for: Revolving Rewards

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in rotating bonus categories that you must activate every quarter. You’ll also get 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase and Lyft rides through March 2022, 3% cash back on drug store purchases and dining —  including takeout — and 1% back on all other purchases. 

It comes with 0% APR on new purchases for the first 15 months, and a variable APR between 14.99% and 24.74% after the intro period ends. Even though the card doesn’t have an annual fee, you will pay a fee for foreign transactions and balance transfers, and may incur a penalty APR after any late payments.

The Freedom Flex Card comes with a $200 welcome bonus after you spend $500 within the first three months of account opening. For the first year, you’ll also earn an additional 5% cash back on grocery spending (up to $12,000 spent in the first 12 months). Other benefits include complimentary DashPass by DoorDash for three months (as long as you activate by 12/31/21) and added travel and purchase protections. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your cash back rewards expiring or reaching a minimum amount to use them.

Through the end of 2021, this card is offering 5% cash back (up to $1,500 spent) in your top spending category for Q4, among the following: travel, dining, home improvement stores, grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations, select live entertainment, select streaming services, and fitness centers. That means you could earn up to 9% cash back in certain categories this quarter, if your top spend category is one you already earn bonus rewards on with this card.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Dining and Entertainment

If you spend a large portion of your monthly budget on concerts, games, and other events, the right no annual fee credit card can help you save on nights out, too. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card gives you unlimited 3% cash back on dining, streaming services, grocery stores, and entertainment, and 1% back on all other purchases. You’ll qualify for a $200 bonus if you spend at least $500 within the first three months of opening your card.

There’s a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, and a variable APR between 14.99% and 24.99% after that. You can also expect a 3% fee on balance transfers made within the intro period, but there are no foreign transaction fees on purchases you make abroad.

With the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card, you can get a few extra entertainment perks on top of your cash rewards —  like discounts on tickets, early entry, and exclusive merchandise. And you can get unlimited 8% cash back on Vivid Seats tickets through Jan. 2023. Your rewards don’t expire, and can be redeemed in any amount for a statement credit, check, or for purchases on Amazon.com and PayPal.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Best for: Simplicity

The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card offers  unlimited cash back on all purchases. You’ll get a flat 2% back without any category restrictions or the need to activate your rewards. You can also score a $200 cash bonus when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months, which sets this card apart from many other 2% flat cash back options without a welcome bonus. 

After opening your account, you’ll get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then take on a variable APR between 14.99%, 19.99% and 24.99%. If you do choose to transfer a balance, there’s a 3% ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee, and the balance transfers must be made within the first 120 days from when you open your account to qualify for the intro APR and fee. 

You’ll be able to redeem your rewards for statement credits toward your credit card account, at an ATM, or for gift cards (available in $25 increments). And your cash back doesn’t expire as long as your account is open. 

Plus, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card comes with cell phone protection benefits to cover up to $600 if your phone is damaged or stolen, but you have to pay your phone bill with the card.

Discover it Secured Credit Card

Best for: Building Credit

The best cash back cards with no annual fee generally require good-to-excellent credit for the best chances of approval, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn cash rewards if you have a limited credit history. If you’re looking for a card you can qualify for with poor credit or no credit history, but you also want to earn cash back, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a good choice. You’ll get 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 spent each quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. 

As a secured card, you will be required to submit a security deposit of at least $200 upon approval, which will act as your credit line. But after eight months, Discover will automatically review your qualifications to determine if you’re eligible for a standard credit card and refund your deposit. This card also charges a high APR of 22.99% — but the best way to improve your credit is by paying your bill in full and on time each month, which will also help you avoid any interest on your charges.

In addition to ongoing cash rewards, Discover will also match all of the cash rewards you earn at the end of your first year through its Cashback Match program.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99 – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

Editor’s Score: (4.6/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200 cash rewards
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99%-24.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

Best Cash Back Cards With No Annual Fee Summary

Intro bonus Regular APRRecommended credit
Chase Freedom Unlimited$200 after spending $500 within the first three months14.99% – 24.74%670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Chase Freedom Flex$200 after spending $500 within the first three months14.99% – 24.74%670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card$200 after spending $500 within the first three months14.99% – 24.99%670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card$200 after spending $1,000 within the first three months14.99% – 24.99%670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Discover It Secured Credit CardCashback Match 22.99%No credit history 

Bottom Line

The best cash back card for you is the one that best fits your spending habits and can help you maximize your most frequent purchases. A cash back card with high grocery cash back rewards may not be ideal if you dine out more than you cook for example. 

Also consider the amount of time you want to put into your cash back strategy. You may choose a rotating or tiered cash back card to help you earn more money on categories that you spend often if you don’t mind tracking your spending. On the other hand, you might prefer a flat rate card so you’re getting cash back on every purchase — or maybe you want to pair one of each for an even greater value. 

Start by looking at your budget and spending over the past months, then consider which cash back card with no annual fee might offer you the best savings.

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