Best Cash-Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

No annual fee doesn’t have to mean no rewards. We’ve put together an in-depth guide to all the best cash-back credit cards with no annual fee, some of which are from our partners, so you can earn the most back on your spending without paying a dime for the card.

Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Discover's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

A clear cash-back leader with a laundry list of perks that reads like a novel. You’ll be hard pressed to find a competing card with a matching feature set and no annual fee.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Bonus cash back
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR offer
  • FICO® Score for free
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
5.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 5.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 14 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 14 months
Highlights
  • 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.
  • No annual fee.
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Rates & Fees
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Bank of America's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

The bonus leads the pack in the no-annual fee category, plus you earn premium cash back in a category of your choice and now have access to a long 0% intro APR offer.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Big bonus offer
  • 3% back on gas or a category of your choice
  • No annual fee
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.5 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 billing cycles Balance Transfers: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back on gas or your choice of one of five other popular categories, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Chase's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Packed with a deep bench of perks that is rare in the cash-back category, including an easy-to-pocket bonus, long 0% intro APR offers, and bonus cash back. It's a leading pick no doubt.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Cash sign-up bonus
  • Earn up to 5% cash back
  • 0% intro APR offer for 15 months
  • No annual fee
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 17.24%-25.99%, variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months
Highlights
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it’s automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%.
  • 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
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit JourneySM
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Citi's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Cardholders can secure premium rewards with the innovative program that rounds up every point earned. Plus, there's a well-rounded suite of perks, including no annual fee and a long 0% intro APR offer.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Innovative rewards program
  • Long 0% intro APR offer
Key Scores:
4.5 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
3.5 5 APR
Perks 4.5/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 3.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months
Highlights
  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% - 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Get 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Capital One's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Dining and grocery spending will earn premium, unlimited rewards, but that's not the only showstopper. The sign-up bonus, no annual fee, and 0% APR offer can add a ton of value on top of rewards you earn in bonus categories.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Earn up to 3% cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Big sign-up bonus
Key Scores:
3.5 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 3.5/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, for 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, for 15 months
Highlights
  • 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; 16.24% - 26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24% - 26.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Our Bottom Line

One of the highest rewards-earning gas and supermarkets cards we've come across with no annual fee. The big welcome bonus and 0% intro APR offer round out a diverse feature set that makes the card worth considering for a one-card wallet.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • 0% intro APR
  • $150 welcome bonus
  • No annual fee
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.24%-26.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0.00%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0.00%, 15 months
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
Highlights
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Show More Arrow graphic to expand and collapse content
Rates & Fees
Background image of The Ascent logo

Get our latest tips and uncover more of our top picks to help you conquer your money goals

When it comes to the most customer-friendly credit cards, cash-back cards with no annual fee have to rank near the top. Cash back is as simple and convenient as credit card rewards can be, as you just earn a percentage back every time you use your card, and then redeem it later. No annual fee means all your cash back is pure profit, and you don’t need to go into any complex calculations to see if your credit card is pulling its weight.

These aren’t merely good credit cards compared to other cards without annual fees. With the benefits they offer, many of these cards rank among the best credit cards you can find.

How we picked the winners

To choose the winners, we focused on the cards with the highest cash-back rates, because the most important factor for most consumers will be how much they earn from their card. Since there are cash-back cards with flat rates and cash-back cards with various bonus categories, our list includes a balanced mix of different cards so that anyone can find a card to match their spending habits.

Other factors we considered were:

Since sign-up bonuses only affect the first-year value of a card, they aren’t as crucial as cash-back rates, but they do allow you to earn a big chunk of cash right off the bat.

Many cash-back cards with no annual fee include a 0% intro APR, which can be useful if you have something you need to finance or you want to transfer over high-interest debt. For cards with these offers, we looked at both the length of the intro period and whether it covered purchases and balance transfers or just one of the two.

Why you can trust me

I love finding ways to gain value, in both cash back or travel rewards, from different credit cards. So far, I’ve racked up over $1,000 in cash back and over half-a-million travel points. I’m not spending lots of money to do that, either, as my annual spending is below the consumer average.

How do cash-back credit cards work?

Here’s all you need to know about using cash-back cards -- when you put a purchase on your card, you earn a certain percentage back. You build your cash back on every purchase, and then you can redeem it. The only restriction some card issuers have is a minimum redemption amount, such as $10 or $20.

Redemption options vary by card issuer, but with every cash-back card, you can use your cash back for a statement credit. Some card issuers also let you get your cash back direct deposited to your bank account or mailed to you as a check.

Should you get a cash-back credit card with no annual fee?

It’s important to find the credit card that fits you best. If any of the following apply to you, then a cash-back credit card with no annual fee would be a good choice:

You prefer cash back over rewards points -- Not everyone wants to figure out how to use rewards points to pay for their travel. With cash back, you just cash in what you earn.

You don’t spend much -- To justify paying an annual fee on a credit card, you need to earn more in rewards than what the card costs. If you don’t have many expenses to put on your card, then you should get a card with no annual fee.

You rarely travel -- Cash-back cards work well for consumers who don’t have many travel expenses, because you can get your cash back instead of using your points for travel. But if you like to travel, and especially if you like to travel internationally, then travel rewards cards are the smart pick. They have travel perks and you can use them abroad without paying a foreign transaction fee (note that there are a few cash-back cards with no foreign transaction fee, as well).

Flat-rate cash back and bonus-category cash back

Cash-back cards come in one of two flavors -- those that earn a flat rate and those that have bonus categories.

Flat-rate cash-back cards are the ultimate in simplicity. They earn the same amount of cash back, generally 1.5% for the best cash-back cards, on every purchase. You don’t need to worry about finding a card that matches your spending habits. These cards are ideal for consumers who don’t have any particular areas where they spend the most.

Cash-back cards with bonus categories earn a greater amount back in select spending categories, such as gas, groceries, or dining, and a flat rate of 1% on non-bonus purchases. Most cards like these have spending caps on their bonus categories, meaning you only earn the higher cash-back rate up to a certain dollar amount. If you can find a card that earns more in areas where you spend quite a bit, then this type of card can provide an excellent value.

That’s not all, though, because there are also cash-back cards with rotating bonus categories. With these cards, the bonus categories change every quarter. Examples of this type of card include the Discover it® Cash Back and the Chase Freedom®, both of which earn cash back in different categories every quarter up to the quarterly spending limit after you activate your bonus rate.

Boosting your rewards by combining cards

If you want to have a one-card wallet, you can apply for a flat-rate card or a card with bonus categories that you like and call it a day. That’s what most consumers do, and it’s a good approach to take.

You can also, however, carry multiple cards and use whichever of your cards would earn you the most cash back on each purchase. For example, you could use a credit card for gas and groceries on those purchases, a card with rotating bonus categories on whatever those quarterly categories happen to be, and a flat-rate card for everything else. For those willing to do a little more work, this is a smart way to maximize cash back.

There’s really no downside to this when you use cash-back credit cards with no annual fee, because it won’t cost you money to carry multiple cards. You just need to stay on top of your balances and payment due dates for each card.

Cash-back card rules to live by

There are all kinds of common credit card mistakes out there, but fortunately, it’s easy enough to avoid them. By following a few rules, you can make sure you’re getting the most from your cash-back card.

  1. Pick the right card(s) -- There’s not one single card that’s best for everyone. It all depends on what you need and where you spend the most money. Spend some time finding a card that fits your spending habits so you can earn the most back.
  2. Reach the spending minimum for the sign-up bonus -- After you’ve gotten your cash-back card, don’t miss out on the sign-up bonus. Cash-back credit cards with no annual fee have some of the lower spending minimums for their sign-up bonuses, typically either $500 or $1,000.
  3. Don’t carry a balance -- This is an absolute must, and it’s what trips up so many consumers. The cash back you earn will never outweigh the interest you pay by carrying a balance. Pay your bill in full every month to avoid this problem. If you think you’ll need to carry a balance, then you should look for either cards with 0% intro APRs or low-interest credit cards.

To recap, here are the cash-back credit cards with no annual fee

Card Rating Great For…
Discover it® Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Cash Back
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Bonus cash back

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Gas and groceries

Chase Freedom® Graphic of Chase Freedom®
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Bonus cash rewards program

Citi Rewards+℠ Card Graphic of Citi Rewards+℠ Card
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

One-card wallet

Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Restaurants and groceries

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Graphic of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

U.S. supermarkets and gas