dcsimg

Best no-annual-fee credit cards of 2019 from our partners

Updated, October 11, 2018

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers from our partners. How we make money.

The best no-annual-fee credit cards out there offer plenty in the way of rewards, features and perks for people who want all those things but aren't ready to pay an annual fee for them. These cards routinely show us that you CAN, after all, get something for nothing. 

Take a look at our picks for top no-annual-fee credit cards.

Still aren't convinced these cards could possibly be as good as those that do charge annual fees? Take a look at the three types of people we recommend consider a no-annual-fee credit card.

Best no-annual-fee cash-back rewards cards

Discover it® Cash Back

Why We Like It: There aren't many ways to get 5 percent cash back on some of your everyday purchases, but that's what this card offers you with it's bonus categories that rotate quarterly. Plus, Discover did us a favor and announced its full 2018 bonus categories calendar at the end of 2017, so you could plan ahead an know whether the bonus categories matched your regular spending habits.

Bonus: Discover will match, dollar-for-dollar, all the cash back new cardholders earn during their first year. That means that if you rack up $200 in cash back during your first year, you will have effectively earned $400 in cash back during that year. Additionally, you can save money with zero interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months (then, 13.99% - 24.99% Variable).

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Rewards: Cardholders earn 5 percent cash back on the first $1,500 you spend in categories that rotate each quarter (you must activate the bonus categories quarterly). After you reach the spending cap, and on all your other purchases, you earn 1 percent cash back. Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.


Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Why We Like It: This card features a simple-to-understand rewards earning structure and offers you the added perk of cell phone protection against covered damage and theft as long as you pay your cellular bill on the card; that could save you $100 or more a year in insurance premiums alone.

Bonus: Receive a $200 cash rewards bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first three months as a cardholder. Plus, you'll earn 1.8 percent cash back (as compared to the standard 1.5 percent) on qualified mobile wallet purchases during your first 12 months as a cardholder. Lastly, you can take advantage of 0 percent interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (then, 15.99%-26.99% Variable).

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

Rewards: Earn a flat 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases without having to worry about categories or spending caps. Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card.


Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Why We Like It: This card rewards your responsible credit card use by offering you rewards both when you make your purchase and then another bit of cash back when you pay off your purchase. Plus, if you're needing a little extra time to pay off an existing credit card balance, this card offers an introductory no interest period balance transfers for 18 months (then, 15.49% - 25.49%* Variable). (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser)

Bonus: There isn't an early spending bonus on this card, but if you need a few extra months to pay off an existing balance from another card, that 18 months of no interest on balance transfers could certainly be considered a bonus for your wallet.

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

Rewards: Earn 1 percent cash back when you make your purchases and another 1 percent cash back when you pay for your purchases by paying your credit card bill. That effectively means you can earn a 2 percent cash back on all your purchases. Not too shabby for a no-annual-fee credit card. Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.


Chase Freedom®

Why We Like It: This is another rotating categories cash-back card, but the categories are different from those of the Discover card mentioned above. That means it may not be a bad idea to carry both in your wallet so you can earn 5 percent cash back on a wider range of purchases each quarter.

Bonus: Earn a $150 cash-back bonus after you spend just $500 in the first three months as a cardholder. Also, take advantage of zero interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (then, 16.74% - 25.49% Variable).

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

The Rewards: Earn 5 percent cash back on the first $1,500 you spend in categories that rotate quarterly (you'll need to activate the bonus categories each quarter to earn the bonus). Earn 1 percent cash back on purchases over the spending cap and on all your other purchases. Check out this quarter's bonus categories. Read our full Chase Freedom® review.

Editor's Note: Chase Freedom® is the rotating categories cash-back card, but there's a flat-rate version as well: Chase Freedom Unlimited®. With Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you earn 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases, which means you could choose to use Chase Freedom Unlimited® for all of the purchases that don't earn 5 percent cash back with Chase Freedom®. Yes, it takes a little thought and planning, but it's worth more cash back to you.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why We Like It: This tiered cash-back rewards card offers solid rewards on everyday purchases, but it's the bonus available to Bank of America account holders that makes it truly special.

Bonus: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus if you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening. Furthermore, you can take advantage of 12 months no interest on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days. (After the intro period the APRs jump to 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on balance transfers).

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3%

The Rewards: Earn 3 percent cash back on gas and 2 percent back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases for the first $2,500 spend in combined gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter. Earn 1 percent cash back on all your other purchases and once you hit the spending cap. If you redeem your cash-back rewards into an eligible Bank of America checking or savings account, you'll receive a 10 percent bonus on your redemption. If you are a Preferred Rewards client with the bank, you can boost your rewards bonus to 25-75 percent depending on your tier. Read our full Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review.


Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Why We Like It: Another tiered rewards card, but with a slightly different rewards structure than the Bank of America card above. Perhaps this one better fits into your regular spending habits (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser).

Welcome Offer: Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership. You can also enjoy zero interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (then, 14.99% - 25.99% Variable). Terms apply. See Rates and Fees.

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

The Rewards: Cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1 percent), 2 percent back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1 percent cash back on all your other purchases. Read our full Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review.


HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Why We Like It: Easy to understand rewards plus an annual bonus on those rewards make this an excellent no-annual-fee credit card option.

Bonus: Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months of card membership. Save money with 0 percent interest on balance transfers for the first 15 months (then, Variable APR of 14.74%, 18.74% or 24.74% will be applied). See Rates and Fees.

Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

The Rewards: Earn a flat 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, every day. Then, receive a 10 percent anniversary bonus each year on all the rewards you've earned during the preceding year. Read our full HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card review.


Best no-annual-fee cards for travel rewards

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: Travel rewards cards often come with annual fees, which is why a card that features no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and healthy rewards opportunities really catches our attention.

Bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus miles – equal to $200 in travel – after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months. You can also take advantage of no interest on purchases for the first 12 months (then, 13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)).

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

The Rewards: Earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent on every purchase. Plus, earn 10 miles per $1 spent on prepaid hotels booked through Hotels.com/Venture. Read our full Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card review.


Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Why We Like It: Travel rewards cards often come with annual fees, which is why a card that features no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and healthy rewards opportunities really catches our attention.

Bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points – that's worth $300 in cash value – after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. There's also a no-interest period of 12 months on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 120 days for the first 12 months (after the intro, the APR jumps to 14.49%-26.99% Variable).

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 spent eating out and ordering in; for gas station, rideshare and transit purchases; and on travel purchases, including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1 point per $1 on your other purchases. Keep in mind that earning that level of points on travel purchases is usually reserved for travel rewards cards with annual fees. This is a special card, indeed. Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card review.


Discover it® Miles

Why We Like It: This card features a simple, flat-rate way to rack up rewards toward your next trip and it comes with that bonus match that Discover is famous for.

Bonus: Discover will match all the miles you earn during your first year as a cardholder. Earn 30,000 miles (worth $300, by the way) and Discover will make that 60,000 miles (worth $600) at the end of your first year. You can also save money with a nice zero interest period on purchases for 14 months (then, 13.99% - 24.99% Variable).

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

The Rewards: Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on every purchase, every day. Remember that Discover will match all you miles earned at the end of your first year, which means you'll basically be earning three miles per $1 spent on all your purchases during year one. Read our full Discover it® Miles review.


Best no-annual-fee credit cards for small business

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Why We Like It: Business owners are always looking to cut expenses, so a no-annual-fee credit card that rewards you for your everyday business purchases is a nice find. And, this one offers you up to 5 percent cash back on some common business purchases.

Bonus: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. If you happen to have a big business expense coming up (or perhaps you're already paying off a big business expense on another credit card), you'll be glad to know this card offers you 12 months no interest on purchases and balance transfers (then, 14.99% - 20.99% Variable).

Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

The Rewards: Earn 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined office supply store and internet, cable and phone services each anniversary year. Also, earn 2 percent cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined gas station and restaurant purchases each anniversary year. You'll earn 1 percent cash back on everything else. Read our full review of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card.

Editor's Note: There is a family of Chase Ink small business credit cards and, in a number of ways, they actually work best in combination thanks to the unique features of each. In particular, the no-annual-fee New! Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card offers 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. That means it's a great card to use in addition to the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card so that you can earn 1.5 percent back on all the purchases that don't earn at a higher rate with the other Ink card. If you want to get really fancy (and venture beyond no-annual-fee cards), the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offers yet again different rewards earning opportunities and, more importantly, offers cardholders 25 percent more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Yes, there is a $95 annual fee, but it just might be worth it for your business.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Why We Like It: No two businesses are exactly alike, which is why it's nice that this card offers cardholders the opportunity to choose a category in which they will earn 3 percent cash back (that's in addition to other cash-back earning).

Bonus: The bonus here is being able to take advantage of no interest on purchases for 15 months (then, 14.24% - 21.24% Variable).

Foreign Transaction Fees: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.. Terms apply. See Rates and Fees

The Rewards: Cardholders earn 5 percent cash back on the first $50,000 spent annually on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. providers and on purchases at U.S. office supply stores. You also earn 3 percent cash back on the first $50,000 spent on purchases from one of the following categories of your choosing: airfare; hotel stays; car rentals from select companies; purchases at U.S. gas stations; purchases at U.S. restaurants; purchases of advertising with select media; U.S. shipping purchases; and U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. You earn 1 percent cash back on all your other purchases as well as on the bonus categories after you reach the spending caps. Read our full SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express review.


Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Why We Like It: Flat-rate cash back means one less thing for busy business owners to think about. Rack up cash-back rewards no matter where your (or your employees) use the card.

Bonus: Earn a $200 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. You'll also save money with 0 percent interest on purchases for the first nine months (then, 14.74% - 22.74% (Variable)).

Foreign Transaction Fees: None

The Rewards: Earn a flat 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases; there are no spending caps or categories to keep up with. Read our full Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business review.

Editor's Note: If yours is a business that requires you to travel frequently, you might consider the no-annual-fee travel version of this card, Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business. With this card, you'll earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on every purchase and you can earn 20,000 bonus miles – worth $200 – if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Who should consider a no-annual-fee credit card?

OK, not to be trite here, but the answer to this question, quite frankly, is everybody. The fact is, there are some excellent perks and features to be had with credit cards that charge annual fees. If your credit is good and you're financially responsible, taking advantage of those perks offered by cards with an annual fee is likely worth it. However, you basically have nothing to lose by also carrying a card that DOESN'T have an annual fee and, in fact, you may find yourself raking in additional rewards or being glad you have that credit available in the case of an emergency. 

Still not convinced? Let's get a bit more specific about who can benefit most from these cards:

1. Someone needing a 0 percent interest period. You may have noticed a trend in the cards above in that all of them feature some kind of zero interest introductory period, whether for purchases or balance transfers or both. That means that not only can these cards save you money when it comes to no annual fee, they may also be able to save you a bundle when it comes to interest. 

Very often, cards with annual fees focus their features and perks in areas besides the interest rate and it can be a bit harder to find a no-interest period on cards with annual fees.

2. Someone who is wants the security of a credit card, but won't use it often enough to offset an annual fee. Let's face it: Credit cards are simply more secure to carry, particularly when you travel, than loads of cash (or a debit card, for that matter, thanks to how the laws are written). If you lose a credit card, your credit card company has you protected against fraud. Lose a wad of cash or your debit card, and you could be out hundreds of dollars. Just having the card available to you so that you can travel and shop securely isn't a bad idea. And, who knows, you just might like the rewards you rake in along the way.

3. New credit card users. Navigating the world of credit cards can be daunting for a newcomer. Sometimes it's hard to determine whether you'll use it enough to offset the annual fee another card might be charging. That's why a no-annual-fee credit card could be an excellent "Guinea pig" of sorts. Use the card for a year, see how much you like earning those rewards (and whether you earn enough to offset an annual fee) and then decide whether you would like the perks and features of a card with an annual fee. 

One last note, if you do decide to venture to another card over time, feel free to keep your no-annual-fee credit card open. In general, it's better for your credit to keep the card open and it isn't costing you anything to keep it around.

0 Comments

Be the first to comment!