Best overall cash back card with no annual fee

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Intro offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for dining & entertainment

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 8% Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and tickets at Vivid Seats
  • 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 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 offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for rotating cash back categories

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
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 offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
12.24% - 23.24% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best rewards card with no annual fee

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
  • 3% 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1.5% 1.5% on all other purchases
Intro offer
Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 23.99% 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
See if you're pre‐approved for this card with CardMatch™
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.
  • 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
Intro offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.74%-24.74% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for automatic bonus category

Apply now
On Citi's secure site
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 offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for cash back in multiple categories

Apply now
On Chase's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 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®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1% Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Intro offer
$200 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 23.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST FLAT-RATE CASH REWARDS CARD WITH PERKS

Apply now
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Intro offer
$200 cash rewards 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% Variable APR
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

BEST FOR CHOICE OF BONUS CATEGORIES

Apply now
On U.S. Bank's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.
  • 5% 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center.
  • 2% 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations/EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants.
  • 1% 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
Intro offer
$200 bonus 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)
Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5X Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • 1.25X Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Intro offer
20,000 miles 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for free credit monitoring

Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
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
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 offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Compare the best credit cards with no annual fee

Card name Our pick for Bankrate review score
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Overall cash back card with no annual fee 3.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining & entertainment with no annual fee 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Cash Back Rotating cash back categories 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Unlimited Rewards card with no annual fee 4.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express Cash back for families 3.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Custom Cash Card Automatic bonus category 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Flex Cash back in multiple categories 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card Flat-rate cash rewards card with perks 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card Choice of bonus categories 3.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card Travel expenses 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Platinum Credit Card Free credit monitoring 5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Double Cash Card Flat-rate cash back 3.5 / 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

  • What we love about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card: For a no-annual-fee card, the Quicksilver has a noteworthy set of perks and a decent rewards rate. It offers several travel and shopping protections, including emergency card replacement, and fraud coverage—and the unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases can provide steady value for cardholders. You can also earn unlimited 5 percent cash back on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply).
  • Who this card is good for: Cash back first-timers seeking a simple no-annual-fee card.
  • Alternatives: For people who’d rather focus their spending on a few particular categories, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card could provide higher cash back earning potential in the long run.

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

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best no annual fee card for dining and entertainment

  • What we love about the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card: If you want a card that rewards fun experiences, you’ll have a hard time finding a better option than the SavorOne. The card is well-rounded and potentially lucrative for almost everyone because of its rewards rate and no annual fee, and it rewards both everyday and entertainment purchases at a decent rate. Entertainment may sound vague, but concerts, movies, sporting events, theme parks and tourist attractions are all included in Capital One’s entertainment bonus category.
  • Who this card is good for: People who enjoy dining out and entertainment lovers would get the most value on purchases.
  • Alternatives: Cardholders seeking a card with more flexibility in cash back earnings and reward redemption should consider the Discover it Cash Back card, which comes with an unlimited Cashback Match™ welcome offer.

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

Discover it Cash Back: Best no annual fee card for rotating cash back categories

  • What we love about the Discover it Cash Back card: Discover’s cash back categories are noteworthy, and you could potentially double your cash back earnings at the end of your first year with the Cashback Match program (Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year). Plus, it offers 5 percent cash back (activation required) on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating bonus categories, then 1 percent. With no annual fee, this card will add plenty of value to any wallet.
  • Who this card is good for: Someone who wants to cash in on a variety of seasonal expenses.
  • Alternatives: Flat-rate cash rewards cards such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card may be better for people who prefer a simple rewards structure.

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

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best rewards card with no annual fee

  • What we love about the Chase Freedom Unlimited card: Its versatility and flexible redemption options prove that there is a ton of potential value packed into this card. It earns a decent cash back rate for a no-annual-fee card at 1.5 percent, and 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.
  • Who this card is good for: For someone who can’t decide between a cash back or a travel credit card, this card is a great way to dip a toe into travel rewards without an exclusive commitment.
  • Alternatives: For international travelers, credit cards without a foreign transaction fee such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit card could earn you better rewards when booking travel outside of the U.S.

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

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: Best no annual fee card for families

  • What we love about the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: The simple, everyday bonus categories make this card worthwhile, especially since it has no annual fee. Cardholders will also receive a welcome offer of $200 in statement credits—given they spend $2,000 within the first six months of account opening—making the card one of the most lucrative options among other no-annual-fee cards.
  • Who this card is good for: Someone seeking a low-maintenance cash back card to use on everyday essentials or for those looking to earn an additional 2 percent cash back at select U.S. department stores.
  • Alternatives: Target, Walmart or Sam’s Club loyalists may find that a retail store card such as the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® or the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® offers more value since these stores don’t qualify for the Blue Cash Everyday Card’s U.S. supermarket cash back category.

Read our full Blue Cash Everyday Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: Best no annual fee card for automatic bonus category

  • What we love about the Citi Custom Cash card: The bonus category automatically shifts to match your spending on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (the card touts 5 percent cash back in 10 bonus categories—one of the highest cash back rates for a card with no annual fee).
  • Who this card is good for: Someone who wants to earn a high cash back rate without being limited to one or two category options.
  • Alternatives: If you want to earn rewards in multiple categories simultaneously or 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 such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

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

  • What we love about the Chase Freedom Flex card: Cardholders can take advantage of its flexibility, as 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.
  • Who this card is good for: Someone who wants to earn rewards in several purchase categories.
  • Alternatives: For grocery shoppers looking to get a go-to card that consistently rewards these purchases exclusively, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express might better align with your spending—especially if you make significant grocery purchases each week.

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

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best no annual fee card for flat-rate cash rewards card with perks

  • What we love about the Wells Fargo Active Cash card: The sign-up bonus and unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases alone make this a standout flat-rate credit card, and the 15-month 0 percent intro APR period on purchases and qualifying balance transfers from account opening (then 15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% variable) adds even more value.
  • Who this card is good for: Anyone looking for a well-rounded flat-rate cash rewards credit card with no annual fee and plenty of perks.
  • Alternatives: For rewards seekers looking to earn more than 2 percent back in select categories, the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature Card could give more overall value in key spending categories.

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

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: Best no annual fee card for bonus categories

  • What we love about the U.S. Bank Cash+: The freedom to customize so much of your earning experience is a strong draw for this card. You have the power to choose all of your top earning spending categories, two in your highest earning tier and one in your second highest.
  • Who this card is good for: Seasoned credit card spenders and rewards strategists who know exactly where their money goes and exactly where they can earn the most.
  • Alternatives: Hitting the quarterly spending cap on this card can dampen your earning potential quickly. If unlimited rewards on all kinds of purchases is something you’re after, the Wells Fargo Active Cash offers one of the highest flat rewards rates on the market.

Read our full U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best no annual fee card for travel expenses

  • What we love about the Capital One VentureOne Rewards card: With this card, the freedom to book your rewards based on your preferences is a huge advantage. 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.
  • Who this card is good for: People who are occasional or beginner travelers.
  • Alternatives: If you are a frequent traveler looking to maximize your rewards earnings, and you wouldn’t mind paying a few hundred dollars for an annual fee, you may prefer the Chase Sapphire Reserve®—as it offers a higher rewards rate than VentureOne Rewards.

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

Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best no annual fee card for free credit monitoring

  • What we love about the Capital One Platinum card: For a card available to consumers with less-than-ideal credit, its set of features is very impressive. The Capital One Platinum has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, and your account will be automatically reviewed for a higher credit limit after six months.
  • Who this card is good for: Someone with fair to good credit trying to improve their score.
  • Alternatives: There are no-annual-fee cards with more valuable perks such as the Citi Custom Cash Card for rewards seekers looking to earn cash back or points on purchases.

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

  • What we love about the Citi Double Cash card: With no bonus categories or annual fee to worry about and a solid cash back rate, this card can be a valuable, stress-free addition to most wallets. Plus, its unique rewards system lets you earn 1 percent cash back when you buy and another 1 percent when you pay.
  • Who this card is good for: People who want a flat-rate cash back card with no annual fee.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card might be a better choice for those looking for a more lucrative sign-up bonus.

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


What is a no-annual-fee credit card?

A no-annual-fee credit card is a type of credit card that gives cardholders an opportunity to have a credit card, earn rewards and use credit card perks without charging the typical annual fee. If you’re on the search for a credit card, you’ve probably noticed that some cards charge a yearly fee for simply having the card, but come with lucrative rewards and perks. In many cases, you’ll still get the same long-term value—including rewards and perks—from a credit card without an annual fee.

How to choose the best no annual fee credit card

There are plenty of cards on the market that don’t charge an annual fee but still offer some notable perks. When trying to decide what no annual fee card is best for you, consider these questions:

What are 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.

What benefits and rewards do I need?

It’s important to note that some cards may offer higher rewards rates than others. Other cards may also offer specific types of rewards that vary for each card. For example, one credit card may only offer rewards in the form of cash back while another card may offer travel points and miles. Always know exactly what you’re looking to get out of your card in terms of rewards and benefits.

Do the rewards compensate for not having an annual fee?

Keep in mind that cards with an annual fee usually come with more desirable perks. If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea of an annual fee, you’re just getting started on your credit card journey 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.

How can you maximize your no annual fee credit card?

A no annual fee credit card can be a great addition to your wallet if used correctly. Keep these tips in mind when using your card:

  • Pay your balance on time and in full each month. Keeping your spending in check so you can pay off your balance in full each month will allow you to take full advantage of your no annual fee card’s low ownership cost and keep your credit utilization low.
  • Pair the no annual fee card with a rewards card. When you’re comfortable managing your no annual fee credit card, it’s worth taking a look at pairing it with a card that charges an annual fee but earns more rewards.
  • Keep the card open when you upgrade. With no annual fee to pay for keeping the card, you can use an old no annual fee card to boost your credit score by keeping the card open to improve your credit utilization ratio and credit history length.

For example, one of the best no annual fee credit cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, earns cardholders cash back on certain categories, but pairing it with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® on travel will earn solid cash back and travel rewards at the same time.

Pros and cons of no-annual-fee credit cards

Pros

  • A low-cost method to build up your credit: Your credit card activity will be reported to the credit bureaus each month and responsible use, like paying down your balances and making payments on time, will help you to build up a positive credit history—all at no extra cost.
  • Earn rewards, skip the fees: You don’t have to pay a premium to get rewards with the best no-annual-fee credit cards. Your card may also come without foreign transaction fees, late fees and more.
  • No planning to cover the cost of an annual fee: If your card carries an annual fee, you have to think about affording that fee. The good news is that with a no-annual-fee card, you don’t have to worry about covering this cost.

Cons

  • Small sign-up bonuses: If the card has a sign-up bonus at all, it’s typically 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.
  • 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.
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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.

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:

Still unsure if a no-annual-fee credit card is right for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

Are credit cards with annual fees ever worth it?

Choosing a no-annual-fee credit card 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.

When it’s worth the fee When it’s not worth the fee
Think of annual fees as paying a yearly subscription for premium benefits. 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 you could earn in rewards and add it to the value of the card’s perks and benefits. Then compare this value to the card’s annual price tag. 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.
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Bankrate insight
Not all credit cards with annual fees have the long-term value you may need. Instead of canceling your card and taking a hit on your credit score, you could always downgrade to a no-annual-fee card.

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 no annual fee credit cards

about the author
Mariah Ackary is a personal finance writer who specializes in small businesses and credit. Mariah is a lifelong writer, but joined the Bankrate team in 2019, excited by the opportunity to help people make good financial decisions. Send your questions to mackary@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.