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.
Great for: Bonus cash back Discover it® Cash Back
- 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.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No annual fee.
Great for: Gas and groceries Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
- No annual fee
- $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- NEW OFFER: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
- Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 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
- You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile banking app or Online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.
- No expiration on rewards
- 0% Introductory APR for 12 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
- If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can get a 25% - 75% rewards bonus on every purchase
Great for: Big cash sign-up bonus Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
- Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
- No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
- Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 16.24%-28.24% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
- $0 Annual Fee
- Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Great for: Bonus cash rewards program Chase Freedom®
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- 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
- 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 Journey℠
- No annual fee
Great for: Restaurants and groceries Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
- Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
- 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
- No foreign transaction fees
- Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Great for: U.S. supermarkets and gas Blue from American Express®
Credit Rating Requirement:
- Earn 1X Membership Rewards® point for every eligible dollar you spend.
- No annual fee
- Free ShopRunner Membership
- Online Year-End Summary of Purchases
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.
- Jump to
- How we picked the winners
- How do cash-back credit cards work?
- Should you get a cash-back credit card with no annual fee?
- Flat-rate cash back and bonus-category cash back
- Boosting your rewards by combining cards
- Rules to live by with cash-back cards
- To recap, here are the cash-back credit cards with no annual fee
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 5% 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.
Rules to live by with cash-back cards
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.
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To recap, here are the cash-back credit cards with no annual fee
|Discover it® Cash Back||
Bonus cash back
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||
Gas and groceries
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||
Big cash sign-up bonus
Bonus cash rewards program
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||
Restaurants and groceries
|Blue from American Express®||
U.S. supermarkets and gas