Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

Our mission is to make the world smarter, happier, & richer. We do so by helping you find money tools to level up your finances. Our commitment is complete honesty, which is why you should know we may receive compensation from advertisers - it's how we make money. That transparency guides us and explains why our ratings aren't influenced by compensation.

No one enjoys paying fees, whether they’re tacked on to a monthly subscription or popping up on a credit card bill. And with credit card issuers fighting hard for your business, a number of high-quality cards are available, even ones packed with perks and no annual fee. Here are our picks for the best no-annual-fee credit cards, some of which are from our partners.

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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.

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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: 13.74% - 24.74% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0.00%, 14 months Balance Transfers: 0.00%, 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.
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Rates & Fees
Apply Now
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On Discover's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Few can top this offer. The balance transfer offer and cash rewards program, alone, are best in class, but you get both in one card without having to pay an annual fee.

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What we Like:
  • Balance transfer offer
  • Rotating bonus cash back
  • No annual fee
  • FICO® Score for free
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: 13.74% - 24.74% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0.00%, 6 months Balance Transfers: 0.00%, 18 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.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
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Rates & Fees
Apply Now
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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.

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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: 15.74% - 25.74% 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 in the category of your choice, 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, 15.74% - 25.74% 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 points on every purchase
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Apply Now
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On Citi's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

No late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty rate make this an unmatched pick, even better that it somehow packs in a market-leading 0% intro APR offer.

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What we Like:
  • 0% intro APR for balance transfers and purchases
  • No late-payment fees
  • No annual fee
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
2.5 5 Fees
4.5 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 2.5/5
APR 4.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0*
  • Regular APR: 16.49% - 26.49%* (Variable)
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 12 months* Balance Transfers: 0%, 21 months*
Highlights
  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 16.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness
  • If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say "representative"
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month
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Apply Now
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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.

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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: 16.74 - 25.49% 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 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 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 Journey℠
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Apply Now
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On Capital One's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

This may be the most versatile and flexible cash-back card on the market. The long 0% intro APR makes the offer hard to pass up, especially if you're wanting to keep a one-card wallet that packs in a rich rewards program.

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What we Like:
  • $150 sign-up bonus
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% intro APR
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.74% - 25.74% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, for 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, for 15 months
Highlights
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 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; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
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Apply Now
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On Bank of America's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

No-annual-fee travel cards typically skimp on the sign-up bonus, but this card delivers with its market-leading intro bonus offer, unlimited rewards on spending, and other wallet-friendly perks.

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What we Like:
  • Unlimited 1.5 points per $1
  • Big intro bonus offer
  • No foreign transaction fees
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: 16.74% - 24.74% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 12 billing cycles Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR will apply
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
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Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Citi's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

One of the top cards on the market with up to 2% cash back on all purchases, no annual fee, and an 18-month 0% APR on balance transfers

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What we Like:
  • Up to 2% cash back
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for balance transfers
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
3.5 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 3.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.74%– 25.74% (Variable)
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months
Highlights
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74% based on your creditworthiness.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.74% - 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
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American Express Cash Magnet® Card
Our Bottom Line

This card is unavailable on site and card details may be out of date -- Brings one-card wallet versatility with a big welcome bonus, long 0% intro APR offer, and unlimited cash back

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What we Like:
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back
  • 0% intro APR offer
  • Welcome bonus
Key Scores:
3.5 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 3.5/5
Fees 5.0/5
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: 2.70% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
Highlights
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • $0 plan fees for plans set up during your first 15 months of Card Membership with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Rates & Fees

As credit card perks have gotten better and better, banks have added or raised annual fees for their cards accordingly. With many of the best credit cards, you’ll need to pay an annual fee of $95, $225, or even upwards of $400 per year.

You’re not out of luck if you’re against paying for a credit card, though. There’s plenty of no annual fee credit cards out there, and as our list of the best cards proves, no annual fee doesn’t mean no benefits. You can still earn plenty of cash back or travel rewards, or score a low interest offer to save yourself some money, without paying a dime for your card.

How we picked the winners

To determine which no annual fee cards deserve to rank among the best of the best, we used three criteria:

1. Rewards rate -- We only chose cards that earned competitive rewards rates either in cash back or travel rewards points.

2. Sign-up bonus -- Even with no annual fee cards, many banks sweeten the deal by offering impressive sign-up bonuses. This could be a set dollar amount after you meet a spending minimum or, in the case of Discover cards, a match of the cash back you earn in your first year.

3. Intro APR offer -- 0% APR offers are commonplace among no annual fee cards. We looked at how long each card’s intro period was and whether it covered purchases, balance transfers, or both.

Why you can trust me

For several years, I’ve been using credit cards not just to build and maintain a high credit score, but to earn money back and build travel rewards I could use for free trips. I’ve tried over a dozen credit cards, and by getting several different no annual fee cards, I was able to earn over $800 in bonus cash back within three months.

Which types of no annual fee cards are available?

You can find both cash-back credit cards and travel rewards credit cards that have no annual fee.

No annual fee cash-back cards are much more common, and in fact, most cash-back cards don’t charge an annual fee. With cash-back cards, you earn a certain amount back on every purchase. You can then redeem that cash back in the form of a statement credit, deposit to a bank account, or a check sent to you in the mail, depending on the card.

Even though travel rewards cards usually have annual fees, this isn’t always the case. There are a select few no annual fee travel cards, and these cards earn points that you can redeem for travel. The redemption process may involve using your points to book the travel you want or applying your points as a statement credit towards a previous travel purchase.

Is a no annual fee credit card right for you?

A no annual fee card is never a bad idea, since you don’t need to pay anything to have one. Still, these credit cards fit some consumers much better than others. You should think about getting a no annual fee card if any of the following are true:

  • You’re trying to keep costs down -- When you’re on a strict budget, it’s important to avoid unnecessary expenses. No annual fee credit cards are a great way to earn cash or points back on your spending without adding another bill in the process.
  • You don’t travel much -- The majority of the no annual fee cards are cash-back cards. Although you can get a no annual fee travel card, frequent travelers would normally be better off with one of the higher-end travel rewards cards. These cards will have more travel perks, and those can easily outweigh the annual fee.
  • You want to carry more than one credit card -- It’s not for everyone, but carrying multiple credit cards can help you earn more back on your everyday spending. For example, instead of only having a card that earns you 1.5% back, you could also carry one that earns you more on gas and groceries. No annual fee cards are perfect for this, because you can combine them without paying extra.

How to choose a no annual fee card

You can narrow down your options with no annual fee cards by asking yourself a few questions:

  1. Do you need a 0% intro APR for purchases or balance transfers?
  2. Would you rather earn cash back or travel rewards?
  3. Which cards will earn you the most back?

Not everyone will need a 0% intro APR, but if you do, that should be your priority. These offers can save you a considerable amount of money on large purchases or on credit card debt that you transfer to your new card.

Depending on your lifestyle, you may be more interested in getting a card that earns cash back or travel points. Deciding between the two is a quick way to trim the number of cards you have to compare.

Once you know whether you want a cash-back card or a travel rewards card, you can check rewards rates and sign-up bonuses on those cards. If you want to be thorough, you can compare your standard monthly expenses to each card’s rewards rate to figure out which will earn you the most back. That may sound like a lot of math, but it’s actually easier than you’d think once you have your budget in front of you.

Avoiding credit card fees

A no annual fee card helps you avoid one type of credit card fee, but there are plenty of others out there that can cost you money. To keep yourself free of fees, make sure you’re aware of the situations when your card issuer could charge you one.

  • Late fees -- If you don’t pay your credit card bill on time, your card issuer can charge you a fee of up to $28 the first time around and $39 for each late payment thereafter. You can usually contact your card issuer and get them to waive one late fee, but you’ll only get one mulligan.
  • Cash advance fees -- Getting a cash advance can be one of the costliest credit card mistakes. Not only is there a fee of either $5 or 10% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater, but card issuers also often charge a higher interest rate on these advances.
  • Foreign transaction fees -- When you use your credit card for international purchases, there may be a foreign transaction fee, with the most common fee amount being 3% of the transaction. If you think you’ll be traveling internationally, you should look for no annual fee cards with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Returned payment fees -- If your payment gets returned due to insufficient funds in your bank account, your card issuer can charge you a returned payment fee of up to $38. Returned payments are especially costly because they can also result in a late payment fee from your card issuer and an insufficient funds fee from your bank.

To recap, here are the best no-annual-fee cards

Here Are The Ascent's Picks for Top No Annual Fee Credit Cards:
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 rewards

Discover it® Balance Transfer Graphic of Discover it® Balance Transfer
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0 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:

Balance transfers and cash rewards

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

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever Graphic of Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
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:

Balance transfers

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

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® Quicksilver® 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:

Flat-rate cash rewards

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® 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:

Intro travel bonus offer

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Graphic of Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
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:

Cash rewards and balance transfers

American Express Cash Magnet® Card Graphic of American Express Cash Magnet® 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:

Unlimited flat-rate cash rewards

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