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Premium credit cards with the best rewards often come with a hefty annual fee. While these fees can be worth paying in some cases, not everyone is willing to shell out for one of these cards. Maybe you wouldn’t use it enough to justify the annual fee, or perhaps your budget is tight. Whatever the reason, many people prefer a credit card that doesn’t charge them a fee every year.
Fortunately, there are still numerous options if you prefer a no-annual-fee credit card with great benefits. While even the best cards in this group may have lower rewards rates than annual-fee cards, they all provide sizable rewards in a fee-free package.
Best no annual fee credit cards compared 2023
|Card Name||Best for||Intro offer||Regular APR||Minimum Credit|
Flexible cash back
Flat rate rewards
Cash back on every purchase
Our recommendations for the best credit cards with no annual fee
Best for flexible cash back: card_name
After activation, the card_name earns 5% cash back in quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. Bonus categories typically include grocery stores (not including Walmart and Target), gas stations, and select online merchants. It also earns 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery services), 3% at drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, you can bonus_miles_full.
Best for hotel rewards: card_name
The card_name is a strong choice with its 7x points on eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio. It also earns 5x points on dining at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery. It also earns 5x points on gas and groceries. In addition, you get complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status. There are foreign_transaction_fee foreign transaction fees with the card_name. Plus, you get car rental loss and damage insurance and help from the Global Assist® Hotline if you have any problems while traveling.
Best for entertainment: card_name
The card_name has an incredible selection of rewards, especially for a card with annual_fees annual fee. These include 10% cash back on Uber and Uber Eats through 11/14/24; 8% cash back on purchases made through Capital One Entertainment; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; and 3% on dining, groceries, streaming services, and entertainment. There is also a 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months.
Best for dining: card_name
The card_name is perfect for dining out, as it earns 4% cash back on dining, takeout, and delivery. It also earns 2% cash back on gas, groceries, and EV charging. You also get a $15 annual streaming credit, which you can use toward popular streaming services. You can also bonus_miles_full. Lastly, there is a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months on balance transfers and purchases.
Best for Business spending: card_name
If you have a small business operating on a shoestring budget, the card_name might be the perfect match. It earns 5% back on the first $25,000 in purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services every year. It also earns 2% back on the first $25,000 in purchases at gas stations and restaurants every year. This card also has the most valuable welcome bonus on this list at $750. (However, the bonus has a high spending requirement of $6,000 in the first three months of account opening.) Lastly, there is a intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration from account opening on purchases.
Best for credit builders: card_name
The card_name is ideal for those just starting to build credit. For one, it doesn’t require a credit check. The only requirement is having received at least $200 in direct deposits from your employer or benefits payer within the past 365 days of your application. No minimum security deposit is required, though you must deposit money to increase your credit line. Chime also reports to all three major credit reporting bureaus. Lastly, there are no interest charges with this card.
Best for fair credit: card_name
The card_name was designed for those with fair credit. This card will automatically consider you for a credit line increase in as little as six months. In addition, Capital One will let you pre-qualify for this card, which won’t impact your credit score. However, this card doesn’t offer rewards, and the ongoing APR is high.
Best for airline miles: card_name
Miles credit cards often carry an annual fee, but the card_name is a notable exception. With this card, you can earn a 10,000-mile bonus, plus a $50 statement credit after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening. You can also earn 2x miles for every dollar you spend on groceries and American Airlines purchases. Lastly, you can get 25% off in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card when flying American Airlines.
Best for flat rate rewards: card_name
The card_name is one of the best credit cards available, and it doesn’t require an annual fee. Its flagship perk is its unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. However, it also earns 5% cashback on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. To top it off, you can bonus_miles_full.
Best for travel: card_name
If you’re looking for a general-purpose travel card with no annual fee, the card_name is tough to beat. It earns unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, plus unlimited 5 miles per dollar on travel booked through Capital One Travel. It also has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases. Finally, you can bonus_miles_full.
Best for cash back on every purchase: card_name
The card_name earns an unlimited 1% cash back when you spend and an additional 1% cash back when you make a payment. This makes it a solid choice for those who don’t want to have to remember different rates for different categories or opt in to quarterly categories. Generally, credit cards with those reward schemes have less than 2% cash back on non-bonus categories. But with the card_name, you get 2% back on every single purchase. You also get a balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration from other cards.
Our credit cards team has spent hours analyzing hundreds of credit cards. We took a deep dive into the details of each product and that analysis, combined with our years of experience covering credit cards, informed us as we chose the best credit cards across a wide variety of categories. This list culled the top picks in each category.
How to choose your $0 annual fee credit card
Choosing your $0 annual fee credit card depends on how you will use the card and what benefits you value. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Rewards: Look for a no-annual-fee card with a rewards structure that most closely aligns with your spending habits. For example, if you spend the most on groceries, a card earning a high rate on groceries is your best bet. Or, if you frequently travel, look for a card that prioritizes travel rewards.
- Introductory offers: Some $0 annual fee credit cards have excellent introductory offers. While their welcome bonuses aren’t as lucrative as the bonuses for premium cards, some still offer bonuses worth $200 or more. In addition, some have long periods with 0% APRs on purchases and balance transfers.
- Other benefits: Some $0 annual fee credit cards offer additional benefits such as rental car insurance, extended warranties, or cellphone insurance. These might be important to you, depending on your need.
- APR: In most cases, the credit cards on this list have a variable APR, so selecting one with the lowest APR may be difficult. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to the APR for purchases and balance transfers; these can have a significant impact on your finances.
- Credit score requirements: Each credit card issuer has its own approval requirements, which may affect your approval odds. However, most credit cards on this list generally require at least good credit, so you may have to consider other cards if you have poor or no credit.
Also, remember that applying for a credit card can temporarily lower your credit score. Therefore, it’s best to carefully consider each credit card and whether it meets your needs before you apply.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Is a no-annual-fee credit card worth it?
Deciding if a no-annual-fee credit card is worth it depends on your spending habits and personal finances. For instance, if you frequently spend a lot in areas where credit cards have high bonuses, a no-annual-fee credit card might be worth it. However, if you frequently carry a balance, the interest charges you will accrue may be more than the rewards you earn.
Can you—and how do you—get the annual fee waived in the first year for a regular credit card?
You might be able to get the annual fee waived for the first year for a credit card by simply asking the card issuer. You can pick up the phone and ask whether they would be willing to waive the fee. However, you might have more success if you have been a loyal customer for years and have been actively using their credit cards. Of course, that may not be something you can show if this is a new credit card company for you.
Fortunately, several great credit cards automatically waive the fee in the first year. Here are some of the top choices:
Who should get a no-annual-fee credit card?
There are many scenarios in which you may want to get a no-annual-fee credit card. For example:
- Balance transfers: You have balances on other cards you want to consolidate and pay off with a 0% APR.
- Rewards: You frequently spend money in ways that align with the card’s best bonuses.
- Welcome bonuses: You have a big purchase coming up that will allow you to earn the welcome bonus.
- Other benefits: You want to take advantage of other card benefits, such as cell phone protection and roadside assistance.
These are just a few of the most common scenarios in which getting a no-annual-fee credit card could make sense. Remember that you ideally should use a credit card only if you can pay off the charges every month, allowing you to avoid interest charges.
No annual fee vs. annual fee credit card—what is the trade-off?
While no-annual-fee credit cards have the obvious benefit of not having a fee to pay every year, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best choice for everyone. Consider the following comparison:
|No-annual-fee credit cards||Premium credit cards|
$250 to $695
Typical welcome bonus value
$100 to $250
$500 to $1,500
Typical rewards rate
1% to 4%
1% to 5%
While this shows some of the value of premium credit cards, it isn’t always easy to make a direct comparison. Some premium credit cards have welcome bonuses that can offset the annual fee on their own. However, cards in the premium category are often designed for travelers and provide annual travel credits of $200 to $300, further increasing their value.
Plus, premium credit cards often have a host of other benefits you don’t get with no-annual-fee cards. These include airport lounge access, Global Entry/TSA Pre✓® credits, travel insurance, and hotel status. If you take full advantage of a premium credit card’s benefits, they can easily offset the annual fee. You must decide whether you will use the card enough to justify paying for it.
On the other hand, if you're not looking for premium rewards but are instead limited to paying annual fees under $100 for your credit card, there are still plenty of options available that provide valuable perks and rewards.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.
The secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Card is issued by Stride Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.
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