The best credit cards with no annual fee in 2024

The best credit cards with no annual fees include the Chase Freedom Unlimited, American Express Blue Cash Preferred, and Capital One SavorOne Credit Card.

Author
By Holly D. Johnson

Written by

Holly D. Johnson

Writer

Johnson has been a personal finance contributor for more than 10 years. She focuses on investing, banking products, credit cards and scoring and insurance.

Edited by Hanna Horvath
Hanna Horvath

Written by

Hanna Horvath

Editor

Hanna Horvath is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Bankrate's senior editor of content partnerships.

Updated May 31, 2024, 11:14 AM EDT

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Credit cards with annual fees can offer great perks, but you often end up paying for them (and then some) with the yearly cost.

Many credit cards don’t charge an annual fee. You can often find a fee-free card offering valuable travel or cash back rewards. Or one with a 0% APR offer, allowing you to consolidate your debt and build your credit.

The best credit cards with no annual fees often offer a solid rewards program, sign-up bonus, and added perks. The best card for you should align with your spending habits and how you want to use your rewards. Here are four of the best credit cards with no annual fee.

Best no-annual fee credit cards 

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for earning cash back on travel

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the more popular cards boasting no annual fee. The card's flexible earning structure makes earning cash back on your purchases simple.

Rewards

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • 5% cash back on Lyft and on travel booked through Chase Travel 
  • 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases 

You can redeem cash back for statement credits or direct deposit to a bank account. You can even use cash back on travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform. This versatility allows cardholders to use their rewards as they see fit, whether reducing their card balance or applying them toward future travel expenses.

If you also have a premium Chase credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can combine their cash back rewards with the points earned from those cards. This makes it possible to transfer points to airline and hotel loyalty programs or use them for enhanced travel experiences.

Pros
Cons
  • Solid rewards earning structure
  • Integration with other Chase cards
  • Redemption flexibility
  • 0% APR intro offer
  • Purchase protection
  • Welcome offer
  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Penalty APR for late payments
  • Good or excellent credit required

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best for earning cash back on basics 

Get cash back rewards in the areas you spend the most with the Blue Cash Preferred card. This card provides exceptional cash back rates in key categories: groceries, streaming services, and gas.

Rewards:

  • Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%)
  • 6% cash back on U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases 

These high cash back rates allow cardholders to accumulate rewards quickly and offset their expenses.

As a cardholder, you can access Amex Offers, which offers discounts and deals at select stores. You can also take advantage of Amex's Pay It Plan It feature, which allows you to split large purchases into fixed monthly payments for a nominal fee.

You may earn a welcome bonus if you meet a specific spending limit within a set period, instantly boosting your cash back earnings. The card also often includes a low-interest introductory APR offer for purchases and balance transfers.

The Blue Cash Preferred offers added perks such as extended warranty and purchase protection.* Although the card has a $0 introductory fee for the first year, you’ll have to pay a $95 annual fee after. See rates and fees.

Pros
Cons
  • Substantial cash back earnings
  • Welcome offer
  • Redemption flexibility
  • 0% APR intro offer
  • Access to Amex Offers
  • Additional benefits like travel protection and roadside assistance
  • $95 annual fee after the first year
  • Limited bonus categories
  • Foreign transaction fee. See rates and fees.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card: Best for earning points on travel

If you're looking to earn points without paying an annual fee, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a great choice.

Rewards:

  • Earn unlimited 1.5X points on all purchases.

You can use points toward various travel expenses such as flights, hotels, vacation packages, and rental cars.

Cardholders can benefit from a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for a certain period, followed by a variable APR. This feature allows you to manage your debt while earning travel rewards on new purchases.

Bank of America customers can also earn additional rewards through the Preferred Rewards program. Depending on the tier of the program, cardholders can earn bonus points on their everyday purchases, further maximizing their reward potential.

Pros
Cons
  • Redemption flexibility
  • Welcome offer
  • Generous flat-rate points
  • 0% APR intro offer
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Generous flat-rate points
  • Access to Preferred Rewards program
  • Requires good to excellent credit
  • Inability to transfer points to partner programs
  • Limited travel perks like airport lounge access
  • Higher variable APR after the introductory period

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card: Best for earning cash back on dining out and entertainment

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card is a great choice for those who enjoy spending on dining out and entertainment. 

Rewards:

  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, 
  • 3% cash back on entertainment purchases and at grocery stores,
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 10% cash back on Uber and UberEats for a limited time

This card also provides a welcome bonus for new cardholders. By meeting a minimum spending limit within the specific time period, cardholders can earn a cash back bonus. Cardholders can also get added benefits like extended warranty coverage and purchase protection.

The SavorOne card allows users to redeem their cash back rewards as a statement credit, direct deposit, or gift card. This flexibility ensures cardholders can use their rewards to best suit their needs.

Pros
Cons
  • Elevated benefits for dining out and entertainment
  • Welcome offer
  • Purchase protection
  • 0% APR intro offer
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Requires good to excellent credit
  • Restricted travel benefits
  • Higher variable APR after the introductory period

Should you get a credit card with no annual fee?

Opting for a credit card with no annual fee is generally a good idea if you want to lower your costs and don't anticipate using premium benefits:

If you have modest spending habits, rarely use credit cards, or prefer a straightforward rewards program, a card with no fee can provide value without incurring added expenses. It is especially advantageous if you're building credit or have a limited credit history. Many no-fee cards still have benefits like purchase protection, extended warranties, and travel insurance.

Having no annual fee removes the pressure of feeling like you have to use your card to maximize your rewards or make paying the fee worthwhile, says Jason Gaughan, head of consumer credit card products at Bank of America.

"While a fee-based card can be great for those looking for additional perks, you may have to use the card more throughout the year to feel like you’re making the most out of the annual fee," he says.

Cards without annual fees will often have lower reward rates and fewer perks. If you’re looking to maximize your rewards or use your card for travel benefits, a card with an annual fee might be a better fit for your needs. You may find that the perks of the card outweigh the annual cost.

What to consider when looking for a card with no annual fee

When looking for a credit card with no annual fee, Gaughan says the first thing to consider is how you plan to use it.

"It’s important to select a card that matches your current lifestyle, spending habits, and financial priorities," he says. He recommends thinking about which perks you want and deciding if you'll use the card for everyday spending or certain purchases only.

That way, you can “find a credit card that will help you reach your financial goals while also rewarding you where you spend the most," he says.

Factors to consider include:

  • Type of rewards: Consider if you prefer cash back, travel rewards, points, or other types of rewards. It can help to have a general idea of how much different types of points are worth.
  • Earning rate: Some credit cards offer the same amount of rewards, while others offer bonus points in spending categories like groceries or dining out. You'll want to pick a credit card with maximum reward potential based on how you spend.
  • Introductory offers: Review welcome offers, such as bonus rewards or a 0% APR period for purchases or balance transfers.
  • Added perks: Some cards with no annual fee have benefits like purchase protection and extended warranties.
  • Interest rate and fees: Review the interest rates, late payment fees, foreign transaction fees, and other potential charges associated with the card.
  • Credit score requirement: The best credit cards on the market today require good to excellent credit. But there are also solid credit cards for fair credit and bad credit. Knowing your credit score can help you figure out which credit cards you can qualify for.

How we rated the best no annual fee credit cards

To determine the best credit cards with no annual fee, we carefully evaluated a wide range of factors, including the card's sign-up bonus, rewards earning rates on purchases, added perks and benefits, annual fees, and overall value for consumers.

Our team analyzed numerous credit card offers and selected the top contenders based on these key criteria. The options on this list represent the best value, rewards, and benefits available.

Here are some of the key factors we considered:

  • Rewards: Rewards are the primary reason many people use credit cards, as they allow you to earn valuable points, miles, or cash back on your everyday spending.
  • Redemption flexibility: What good are rewards if they're a hassle to redeem? Flexible redemption options allow you to use your rewards in the way that best suits you, whether that's offsetting your bill with statement credits or booking a dream vacation.
  • Benefits: Credit card benefits can provide significant value and make your life easier, from saving you money on checked bags to providing peace of mind with travel insurance.
  • Welcome bonus: A lucrative welcome bonus can give your rewards a massive head start, especially in the first year, making it a great way to kickstart your earnings.
  • Rates & other fees: High interest rates and fees can quickly negate the value of any rewards you earn, so it's important to understand these costs and how to avoid them.

Frequently asked questions about no annual fee credit cards 

Choosing a card that meets your needs without paying an annual fee saves money. But having questions is common when evaluating the best options. Here we answer some of the top queries consumers have.

Do no annual fee cards offer rewards and cash back?

Yes, many no annual fee cards provide cash back, points, or miles through their rewards programs. For example, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card offers unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases. Cards also often have signup bonuses for meeting minimum spend requirements.

What are the best cash back cards without an annual fee? 

The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, the Chase Freedom Flex, and the Citi Double Cash Card are among the top cash back cards with no annual fee. Each offers generous ongoing bonus category rewards ranging from 2%-5% back in addition to flat-rate unlimited earnings.

What credit score do you need for a no annual fee card? 

You can generally qualify for no annual fee cards with fair credit or scores around 640 and above. There are some options specifically designed for those with bad credit or no prior credit history but may charge fees and have less attractive terms. 

The bottom line

If you don't want to pay an annual fee for a credit card, you definitely don't have to. Without having to pay an annual fee, you can enjoy the benefits of the card without any additional cost.

This can be particularly beneficial if you don't plan on utilizing the card's perks and benefits extensively or if you prefer to avoid the commitment of an annual fee.

It’s always important to the features, rewards, and benefits of the card to ensure they align with your financial goals and spending habits.


*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included in the post.

Meet the contributor:
Holly D. Johnson
Holly D. Johnson

Johnson has been a personal finance contributor for more than 10 years. She focuses on investing, banking products, credit cards and scoring and insurance.

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Fox Money is a property of Credible Operations, Inc., which is majority-owned indirectly by Fox Corporation. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. All rights reserved. Use of this website (including any and all parts and components) constitutes your acceptance of Fox's Terms of Use and Updated Privacy Policy | Your Privacy Choices.