Best overall rewards card with no annual fee

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 5% 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3% 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and on drugstore purchases.
  • 1.5% Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Intro bonus
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 24.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST FLAT-RATE CASH BACK CARD WITH PERKS

Apply now
On Wells Fargo's secure site
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Intro bonus
$200 cash rewards 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99%-24.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best overall cash back card with no annual fee

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Intro bonus
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for rotating cash back categories

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro bonus
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for automatic bonus category

Apply now
On Citi's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Intro bonus
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for cash back in multiple categories

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 5% 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3% 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and on drugstore purchases
  • 1% 1% on all other purchases.
Intro bonus
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 24.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best cash back card for families

Apply now
On American Express's secure site
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
Intro bonus
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99%-23.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for dining & entertainment

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 8% Earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
  • 3% Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
  • 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases.
Intro bonus
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for free credit monitoring

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro bonus
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Fair to Good (580 - 740)

Best for flat-rate cash back

Apply now
On Citi's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Intro bonus
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Terms Apply
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 1.25X Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Intro bonus
20,000 miles 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Bankrate helps you find the right no annual fee credit card

Choosing the best credit card with no annual fee means identifying the one that suits your lifestyle and spending habits. Depending on how often you use the card, the issuer’s yearly charge may or may not be worth the benefits.

The more you know…
Throughout 2020, many cardholders requested a fee waiver for items such as annual fees or late payment fees. Of those who asked for a waiver, 82% got some form of relief, according to Bankrate’s study.

Bankrate makes your search easier by taking a close look at the top cards available from our partners to see which no annual fee credit cards truly stand out. Our credit card experts also help you understand the ins and outs of getting the most out of your card every day.


Compare the best credit cards with no annual fee

Card Name Our pick for … Bankrate Review Score
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Best overall rewards card with no annual fee 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card Best flat-rate cash back card with perks 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Best overall cash back card with no annual fee 3.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it® Cash Back Rotating cash back categories 4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card Automatic bonus category 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Cash back in multiple categories 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Families 3.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining & entertainment with no annual fee 4.5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Platinum Credit Card Best for free credit monitoring 3.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi® Double Cash Card Flat-rate cash back 3.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Travel expenses 3.6 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at the best no annual fee credit cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Best rewards card with no annual fee

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone who can’t decide between a cash back and a travel credit card.
  • This card is not a great choice for: International travelers. Though you’ll earn a good rewards rate booking travel, this isn’t the best card to take along if you’re leaving the U.S. because of the 3 percent foreign transaction fee.
  • What makes this card unique? Not only can you redeem your rewards for both cash back and travel (purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards), but you can do so for equal value — 1 cent apiece. For that reason, this card is a great way to dip your toe into travel rewards without an exclusive commitment.
  • Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it? The potential value of the Chase Freedom Unlimited is great, especially for a no annual fee card. Every purchase earns at least 1.5 percent cash back, which is a decent rate on its own. But your earning potential climbs even higher with the additional bonus categories. Flexible redemption options solidify the Chase Freedom Unlimited as an ultra-versatile rewards card.

Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited review.
Jump back to offer details.

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

Best flat-rate cash back card with perks

  • This card is best for: Anyone looking for a well-rounded flat-rate cash rewards credit card with no annual fee and plenty of perks.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Rewards seekers looking to earn more than 2 percent back in select categories.
  • What makes this card unique? The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card offers a straightforward 2 percent cash rewards rate on purchases without any strings attached like having to make on-time payments or join a credit union to qualify.
  • Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card worth it? The sign-up bonus and unlimited 2 percent cash rewards alone make this a standout flat-rate credit card. But the Active Cash Card takes it to the next level with a lengthy intro APR offer, cellphone protection and premium benefits like 24/7 concierge service and access to hotel benefits courtesy of the Visa Signature Hotel Collection.

Read our full Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best cash back card with no annual fee

  • This card is a good fit for: Cash back first-timers seeking a simple no annual fee card.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Someone whose spending is concentrated in a few particular categories.
  • What makes this card unique? The Quicksilver offers several travel and shopping protections, including emergency card replacement, auto rental insurance coverage and fraud coverage. For a no annual fee card, this is a noteworthy set of perks.
  • Is the Capital One Quicksilver card worth it? Although credit cards with higher rewards rates and sign-up bonuses exist, the unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases can provide steady value, especially since there is no annual fee.

Read our full Capital One Quicksilver card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Discover it Cash Back

Best no annual fee card for rotating cash back categories

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone who wants to cash in on a variety of seasonal expenses.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Someone who prefers a simple rewards structure.
  • What makes this card unique?: This card offers 5 percent cash back (activation required) on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating bonus categories, then 1 percent.
  • Is the Discover it® Cash Back worth it?: Discover’s cash back categories are usually quite valuable, with previous categories including restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and Amazon.com. To put it in perspective, activating and maxing out each quarter’s bonus category would earn you $300 in cash back over the course of a year ($1,500 x .05 = $75 ; $75 x 4 = $300). And with Discover’s first-year cash back match, your earnings would essentially double to $600 for your first year, which is pretty phenomenal.

Read our full Discover it Cash Back review.
Jump back to offer details.

Citi Custom Cash Card

Best for automatic bonus category

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone who wants to earn a high rate of cash back without being limited to one or two category options.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Earning rewards in multiple categories at the same time. While there are 10 eligible bonus categories, you only earn 5 percent cash back in one category per billing cycle — the one you spend the most within (on up to $500 per billing cycle, then 1 percent). If you want to consistently earn higher cash back on both groceries and gas, for example, you may be better off with a more traditional tiered card.
  • What makes this card unique? The bonus category automatically shifts to match your spending.
  • Is the Citi Custom Cash Card worth it? With 10 eligible bonus categories and a cash back rate of 5 percent (on up to $500 per billing cycle, then 1 percent), it’s pretty remarkable that this card comes with no annual fee.

Read our full Citi Custom Cash Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Chase Freedom Flex

Best no annual fee card for cash back in multiple categories

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone who wants to earn rewards in several purchase categories.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Grocery shoppers looking for a go-to card. The Freedom Flex has featured grocery stores and wholesale clubs as a bonus category in the past, but people with a significant grocery bill each week will benefit more from a card that always rewards those purchases.
  • What makes this card unique? The Freedom Flex features bonus categories that rotate each quarter. If you have commitment issues when it comes to rewards categories, this card could be a great fit.
  • Is the Chase Freedom Flex worth it? The Freedom Flex has plenty of opportunities to earn cash back, which is what makes its potential value so high. If the bonus categories align with your budget, the card is worthwhile. And thanks to the sign-up bonus, new cardholders don’t have to wait long to rack up rewards. Spending just $500 on purchases within the first 3 months will earn you a $200 cash bonus.

Read our full Chase Freedom Flex review.
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Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Best no annual fee card for families

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone seeking a low-maintenance cash back card to use on everyday essentials.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Target, Walmart or Sam’s Club loyalists, since these businesses do not qualify for the U.S. supermarkets cash back category.
  • What makes this card unique? Many cards offer cash back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S.gas stations, but the addition of 2 percent cash back at select U.S. department stores sets this card apart. It’s also another useful category for families.
  • Is the Blue Cash Everyday worth it? The simple, everyday bonus categories makes this card worthwhile, especially since it has no annual fee. Plus, it has a lucrative welcome bonus offer of a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership.

Read our full Blue Cash Everyday Card review.
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Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best no annual fee card for dining and entertainment

  • This card is a good fit for: Foodies and entertainment lovers.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Someone looking to redeem rewards for travel. Your redemption options are limited to statement credits, checks and gift cards.
  • What makes this card unique? If you want a card that rewards fun experiences, you’ll have a hard time finding a better option than the SavorOne. “Entertainment” may sound like a vague bonus category, but plenty of common experiences like concerts, movies, sporting events, theme parks and tourist attractions are included in Capital One’s entertainment bonus category.
  • Is the Capital One SavorOne worth it? With no annual fee, the SavorOne makes it easy to come out ahead. And since it rewards both everyday and entertainment purchases, it’s a well-rounded card for nearly anyone. Additionally, if you spend $500 within three months of opening your account, you’ll secure a $200 cash bonus.

Read our full Capital One SavorOne review.
Jump back to offer details.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Best no annual fee card for free credit monitoring

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone with fair to good credit trying to improve their score.
  • This card is not a great fit for: Rewards seekers, since you won’t earn cash back or points for your purchases.
  • What makes this card unique? This card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, and your account will be automatically reviewed for a higher credit limit after six months. For a card available to consumers with less than ideal credit, this set of features is impressive.
  • Is the Capital One Platinum card worth it? The Capital One Platinum allows you to build credit with responsible use, even when your score isn’t at its best, and free credit monitoring makes it easier to track your journey. If your goal is to achieve a higher credit score while minimizing fees, this card is worth it. Just remember that you shouldn’t expect much else beyond the ability to build credit and a few extra perks.

Read our full Capital One Platinum Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Citi Double Cash Card

Best no annual fee card for flat-rate cash back

  • This card is a good fit for: People who want a flat-rate, cash back card with no annual fee.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Anyone who wants a sign-up bonus.
  • What makes this card unique? The rewards system is both unique and valuable: Earn 1 percent cash back as you buy, 1 percent as you pay. It’s also an incentive to use your card responsibly.
  • Is the Citi Double Cash worth it? With no bonus categories or annual fee to worry about and a high rate of cash back, this card can be a valuable, stress-free addition to most wallets. If you spent and paid off $400 per month on your Citi Double Cash, you’d earn $96 in cash back annually ($400 x 12 = $4,800 ; $4,800 x 0.02 = $96).

Read our full Citi Double Cash Card review.
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Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Best no annual fee card for travel expenses

  • This card is a good fit for: Occasional or beginner travelers.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Frequent travelers who want to maximize their rewards earnings.
  • What makes this card unique? You can use your Capital One miles to book hotels, flights and rental cars through Capital One’s website, or you can use your card to book travel through another service or website and redeem your miles as a statement credit to cover the cost. In the travel rewards world, the freedom to book your rewards based on your preferences is huge.
  • Is the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card worth it? The rewards rate isn’t the most competitive, but it is simple and unlimited. Because it doesn’t have an annual fee, you won’t have to stress about recouping that cost. The ease of earning and redeeming miles is also a huge perk, especially for people just getting started with travel rewards.

Read our full Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.


What is a no annual fee credit card?

Some credit cards charge an annual fee, which is a charge to keep your account open and active. A no annual fee credit card doesn’t charge this type of fee.

You can think of an annual fee as payment for having access to special account benefits, such as:

For example, consider The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. The $595 annual fee (see rates and fees) might be a deal-breaker, but the tradeoff includes a higher rewards rate (5X points on flights and prepaid hotels through amextravel.com) than what most no annual fee cards offer.

At the same time, many credit cards offer rewards programs, travel perks and other items of real value without charging a yearly fee. A significant number of popular credit cards have no annual fee or offer to waive the fee for the first year. With any credit card, whether the benefits justify the expense of an annual fee depends on the individual cardholder.

Bankrate insight
Sometimes issuers offer both a no annual fee and a premium version of a card. One example is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. While they have similar bonus categories, the card that charges an annual fee offers higher cash back rates.

Pros and cons:

Pros

  • A low-cost method to build up your credit — Your credit card activity will be reported to the credit bureaus each month. Responsible use, like paying down your balances and making payments on time, will help you to build up a positive credit history. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about paying the fees associated with many credit cards.
  • Earn rewards, skip the fees — Cards with annual fees are typically associated with premium perks and higher-level rewards. Still, you don’t have to pay a premium to get rewards. Many no annual fee cards give cardholders a chance to earn cash back and offer generous sign-up bonuses.
  • No planning to cover the cost of an annual fee — If your card carries an annual fee, it’s wise to think about how you will afford that fee. Some strategies, such as using rewards points to recoup the cost of an annual fee, can be challenging to master for newbies. The good news is that with a no annual fee card, you don’t have to worry about covering this cost.

Cons

  • Sign-up bonuses — If the card has a sign-up bonus at all, it will typically be smaller than the offers associated with annual fee credit cards.
  • Rewards aren’t usually as valuable as annual fee card counterparts — No annual fee credit cards usually have lower rewards rates and fewer extras than their fee-charging counterparts. You can earn cash rewards and sign-up bonuses, but you’ll likely miss out on premium benefits, like airport lounge access or certain shopping and travel protections.
  • The card may carry other fees — No annual fee cards might always seem like the best choice at first glance, but that’s not necessarily the case and you’ll need to review a card’s full terms and conditions to make sure it fits with your financial goals and spending habits. . For example, if you’re looking for a card that makes an excellent travel companion, a card with a 3% foreign transaction fee may not work best for you, even if it doesn’t carry an annual fee.

Who should get a no annual fee credit card?

Just about anyone can benefit from the right no annual fee credit card. If you want to get one, consider how you might use the card, your typical spending habits and your overall financial priorities. A credit card with no annual fee may be right for you if you fit any of the following consumer types:

Bankrate insight
Travel credit cards usually come with annual fees. But if you’re a frequent traveler, a good travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can easily make up for its annual fee in rewards value.

How to choose the best no annual fee card

There are plenty of cards on the market that do not charge an annual fee but still offer some notable perks. Here are a few key steps to take in order to choose a no annual fee card that’s best for you:

Step 1: Evaluate your spending habits

Understanding your spending habits is key to figuring out which no annual fee card will be most beneficial for you. A lot of cards offer boosted rewards rates for spending in certain categories. Therefore, knowing which of these categories you spend the most in will help you pinpoint the card that gives you the most bang for your buck.

Step 2: Compare benefits and rewards between cards

As you evaluate various no annual fee cards, it’s important to note that some cards may offer higher rewards rates than others, or offer specific kinds of rewards. Some cards may also offer specific kinds of rewards that vary for each card. For example, some cards may only offer rewards in the form of cash back while other cards may offer travel points and miles. Always be sure to know what exactly you’re looking to get out of your card in terms of rewards and benefits.

Step 3: Decide if the rewards compensate for not having an annual fee

Keep in mind that cards with an annual fee usually come with considerably more desirable perks like lounge access at airports, higher rewards rates and cash bonuses that can offset the cost of an annual fee. If you’ve done a thorough evaluation of your budget and spending habits and you think that you could take on an annual fee card, the cost could prove worthwhile. If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea of an annual fee, you’re just getting started on your credit card journey and want to limit extra hassle, or you’ve done your research and the rewards associated with a no annual fee card fit well with your lifestyle, sticking to a card without that extra cost could be your best bet.

Are credit cards with annual fees worth it?

No annual fee might seem like a no-brainer — who would want to pay a yearly fee when you don’t have to? However, there are times where an annual fee is justified.

How we chose our top no annual fee credit cards

All credit cards from our partners are rated with a 5-star scoring system. For cards in this category, we focused on the merits of each selection apart from charging no annual fee. Those specific criteria included:

Rewards rate and value

Some no annual fee cards offer fairly decent flat-rate cash rewards or travel miles (usually between 1.5% to 2% back) while others have rotating spending categories that offer boosted rewards rates directly dependent on how you spend (typically between 2% and 5%, though bonus rewards may be subject to a cap and then revert to a base spending rate after that cap is met).

Redemption options

Rewards often come in the form of cash back that you can get as a direct deposit into a bank account, statement credit, gift cards and more. Some no annual fee travel credit cards earn miles that can be redeemed for statement credits or transferred to a number of airline or hotel partners. The best no annual fee credit cards let you redeem rewards in a useful, flexible way.

Extras and discounts

Some no annual fee credit cards offer retail discounts, insurance coverage and other perks that improve their overall value. These additions make the perk of no annual fee just a little sweeter because you still have access to key assets and benefits.

Variable APR

The best no annual fee credit cards offer reasonable interest rates in case you carry a balance. Having a no annual fee card with a high interest rate could hamper the benefits of having no annual fee, especially if you’re a budget-conscious shopper or you expect to rotate a balance from time to time. (Note: it’s best to pay off balances in full whenever possible to avoid interest).

More information on credit cards with no annual fee

Here are some additional Bankrate resources on no annual fee credit cards:


Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.


The information about the Centurion Card from American Express has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

about the author
Mariah Ackary is a personal finance writer who specializes in credit card rewards and small business credit. Mariah is a lifelong writer, but she began writing about finance in 2018. She joined the Bankrate team in 2019, excited by the opportunity to directly help people make good financial decisions. Send your questions to mackary@bankrate.com ...
about the editor
Former Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.