Best overall cash back card with no annual fee

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Welcome Offer: One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for automatic bonus category

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Apply Now On Citi's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: 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. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • Regular APR: 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best cash back card for families

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Apply Now On American Express's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: 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% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
  • Regular APR: 13.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Best for flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card

Apply Now On Citi's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: N/A
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best overall rewards card with no annual fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Apply Now On Chase's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase. Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Regular APR: 14.99 - 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for travel expenses

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for rotating cash back categories

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now On Discover's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: 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. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Welcome Offer: Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Regular APR: 11.99% - 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Best for cash back in multiple categories

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Apply Now On Chase's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: 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! Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase. Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores. Earn 1% on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Regular APR: 14.99 - 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for free credit monitoring

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: N/A
  • Welcome Offer: N/A
  • Regular APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Fair to Good  (580 - 740)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for dining & entertainment

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®). Earn 1% on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Some of the offers on this page may have expired.

The information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card and 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.


Bankrate helps you find the right no annual fee credit card

Choosing the best credit card with no annual fee means choosing the one suits your lifestyle and spending habits. Depending on your card usage, the issuer’s yearly charge to own a card might not outweigh the extra benefits compared to an option with no annual fee.

The more you know…
Due to impacts of the pandemic, 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
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Best overall cash back card with no annual fee 4.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card Automatic bonus category 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Families 4.5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi® Double Cash Card Flat-rate cash back 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Best overall rewards card with no annual fee 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Travel expenses 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it® Cash Back Rotating cash back categories 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Cash back in multiple categories 4.5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Platinum Credit Card Best for free credit monitoring 3.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining & entertainment with no annual fee 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at the best no annual fee credit cards

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 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? Sure, you can find higher rewards rates and sign-up bonuses, but the Quicksilver has a lot to offer considering the lack of an annual fee. Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases can provide steady value to anyone.

Read our full Capital One Quicksilver card review.

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: Someone looking to earn rewards in multiple categories at the same time. While there are ten eligible bonus categories, you’ll 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 boosted 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, a feature that’s both unique and valuable.
  • Is the Citi Custom Cash Card worth it?
  • With ten 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.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Best no annual fee card for families

  • This card is a good fit for: Those seeking a low-maintenance cash back card to use on the everyday essentials.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Target, Walmart or Sam’s Club loyalists. Superstores and wholesale clubs are not for the U.S. supermarkets cash back category.
  • What makes this card unique? Lots of 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? If you’re like most people, gas and groceries are built into your budget. With simple, everyday bonus categories, this card is worth having — especially since it has no annual fee. Plus, the welcome offer can really boost your first-year earnings: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

Read our full Blue Cash Everyday Card review.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Best no annual fee card for flat-rate cash back

  • This card is a good fit for: Those looking for a flat-rate, no annual fee cash back card.
  • This card is not a great choice for: Someone seeking 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 .02 = $96).

Read our full Citi Double Cash Card review.

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.

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 travel however you like 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. Plus, the lack of an annual fee means you won’t have to stress about recouping that cost. The ease of earning and redeeming miles is also a huge plus, especially for those just getting started with travel rewards.

Read our full Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.

Discover it® Cash Back

Best no annual fee card for rotating cash back categories

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone looking 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 pretty 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.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Best no annual fee card for cash back in multiple categories

  • This card is a good fit for: Someone looking 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 those 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 gives you 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 worth your time. 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.

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 looking to improve their score.
  • This card is not a great fit for: Rewards seekers. 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 pretty remarkable.
  • 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.

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’re looking for 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. Plus, 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.

What does ‘no-annual-fee’ credit card mean?

Some credit cards charge an annual fee, meaning that you have to pay a fee every year to keep your account open. 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 benefits provided by a card, which may include:

For example, consider The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. The $595 annual fee (see rates and fees) might be eye-popping, 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. Many of the most 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.

Who should get a no annual fee card?

Just about anyone could benefit from the right no-annual-fee credit card. If you’re trying to decide whether to get one, consider your experience as a cardholder, typical spending habits and financial priorities to determine whether you fit any of the following consumer types:

New credit card users

If you’re new to the world of credit cards, a card with no annual fee might be the right choice until you become more experienced. You won’t have to worry about developing a strategy to maximize the card’s benefits to compensate for an annual fee. Being diligent about monthly payments should make it easier to upgrade to a higher-level card later on.

Credit builders and rebuilders

Not having an annual credit card fee added to the mix makes it easier to keep your budget simplified, which can be a welcome relief for anyone building or rebuilding their credit. A number of cards designed for people with no credit history or bad credit don’t charge annual fees (although secured credit cards typically require a one-time security deposit).

Debt managers

Some no annual fee cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases, balance transfers or both. These cards can provide a temporary interest-free window to pay for a large purchase or a balance transferred from a different credit account.

Experienced cardholders looking to diversify

Those who already own top-tier cards might find the addition of a carefully chosen no-annual-fee card worth their time. Credit card combinations, like pairing a premier travel card with an everyday cash back card, could round out your plastic portfolio.

Occasional credit card users

A card with no annual fee doesn’t require big spending to offset that yearly expense, making it a simple and economical way to build credit and earn rewards.

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.

Are credit cards with annual fees worth it?

When it comes to credit cards, no annual fee might seem like a no-brainer. However, while certain situations might be ideal for a no annual fee card, there are times where an annual fee is justified.

When it’s worth the fee

With an annual fee card, you can think of the price as paying a yearly subscription for premium benefits. If it fits your budget, an annual fee card often features better rewards rates, comprehensive travel perks or more generous sign-up bonuses.

Plenty of annual fee credit cards can pay for themselves — just be sure it’s affordable for you. To see if an annual fee card is truly worth it, estimate how much your typical yearly spending would earn you in rewards and consider the value of the card’s perks and benefits. Then compare this value to the card’s annual price tag. Big spenders, frequent travelers and small business owners in particular should do the math on whether an annual fee is worth the value.

When it’s not worth the fee

Credit card beginners might have an easier time learning the basics with a no annual fee card. They’re also more likely to be in the early stages of their careers, with less room in their budgets to absorb the cost of an annual credit card fee.

For some cardholders, the true value of credit cards lies in their convenience instead of their potential for rewards. Not everyone has the same interest in cash back or travel miles, or the willingness to balance them against an annual credit card fee. If stockpiling rewards doesn’t interest you, a no annual fee card is likely the better choice.

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

To help you get the best returns on your spending, from cash back to travel rewards

Redemption options

To highlight cards that let you redeem your rewards in a useful, flexible way

Extras and discounts

To identify cards that offer retail discounts, insurance coverage and other perks that improve their overall value

Variable APR

To include cards that offer reasonable interest rates in case you carry a balance

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.

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
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. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com. ...

* 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.