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Best credit cards with no annual fee in December 2022

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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

Though credit cards with annual fees can be worth it, you don’t have to pay more to get valuable credit card rewards and benefits. If you're uncomfortable with a yearly fee or use your credit card only occasionally, a no-annual-fee card is a smart choice. Check out our picks for the best no-annual-fee credit cards of 2022 from our partners.

Best for dining & entertainment

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 4.9 stars out of 5
4.9 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

$200
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best for flexible spenders

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

15.74% - 26.74% Variable

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

BEST FLAT-RATE CASH REWARDS CARD

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Apply Now Lock
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
4.3 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

$200 cash rewards
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best overall cash back card with no annual fee

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
3.8 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

$200
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best overall rewards card with no annual fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Apply Now Lock
On Chase's secure site
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
5.0 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.74% - 27.49% Variable

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best for bonus category options

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

Apply Now Lock
On U.S. Bank's secure site
Rating: 3.2 stars out of 5
3.2 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

$200 bonus
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

BEST FOR RENTERS

Bilt Mastercard®

Apply Now Lock
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

N/A

Annual fee

None

Regular APR

19.99%, 22.99% or 27.99% Variable.

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best for everyday travel

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Apply Now Lock
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

30,000 Points
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Apply Now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
4.5 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

20,000 miles
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best for customized rewards

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Apply Now Lock
On Citi's secure site
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

$200
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best for multifaceted spenders

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Apply Now Lock
On Chase's secure site
Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
4.8 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

$200
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

18.74% - 27.49% Variable

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best for high cash back potential

Citi® Double Cash Card

Apply Now Lock
On Citi's secure site
Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

N/A

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best for credit builders

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Apply Now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
4.3 Bankrate review
Info

Intro offer

N/A

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

28.49% (Variable)

Recommended credit

Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info

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 SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining & entertainment with no annual fee 4.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Cash Back Flexible spenders 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card Flat-rate cash rewards card 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Overall cash back card with no annual fee 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Unlimited Overall rewards card with no annual fee 5 / 5
(Read full card review)
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card Bonus category options 3.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Bilt Mastercard Renters 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Autograph Card Everyday Travel 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card New Travelers 4.5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Custom Cash Card Customized rewards 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Chase Freedom Flex Multi-faceted spender 4.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Double Cash Card High cash back potential 4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Platinum Credit Card Credit builders 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at the best no-annual-fee credit cards

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best 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 card for flexible spenders

  • 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.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best card for flat-rate cash rewards

  • 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 18.74 percent, 23.74 percent, or 28.74 percent 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.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best overall cash back card

  • 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 overall.

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

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best overall rewards card

  • 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. During your first year, you earn an extra 1.5 percent on all rewards, which means 6.5 percent on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 4.5 percent on drugstores, and 3 percent on all other purchases.You can also 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: 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.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: Best card for bonus category options

  • 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 your top 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 you’re after unlimited rewards on all kinds of purchases, 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.

Bilt Mastercard: Best for renters

  • What we love about the Bilt Mastercard: Along with its savings on rent payments, this card offers incredibly valuable and flexible travel rewards for a no-annual-fee card. You’ll typically need to pay an annual fee of at least $95 to get access to such a long list of high-value airline and hotel transfer partners.
  • Who this card is good for: Renters who plan to redeem their rewards for travel, especially those who already have a card that earns rewards on everyday purchases like groceries and gas.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t see yourself renting long term, but still want to earn rewards on travel and dining, a flexible no-annual-fee travel card like the Wells Fargo Autograph card could be a better fit. Though its rewards aren’t as valuable as the Bilt card’s, the Autograph card offers a wider range of everyday bonus categories, including travel, transit, restaurants, gas and more. You can also redeem for both cash back and travel at a flat value of 1 cent per point.

Read our full Bilt Mastercard review.
Jump back to offer details.

Wells Fargo Autograph Card: Best for everyday travel

  • What we love about the Wells Fargo Autograph card: This rewards card gives you plenty of places to earn points due to its array of spending categories.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit card newbies and minimalists alike who want a straightforward rewards plan without the hassle of tracking rotating categories or who value affordability for an expansive rewards payoff.
  • Alternatives: The one key spending category missing from the Wells Fargo Autograph is groceries or supermarket purchases. To cover this category, alongside plenty of others, you may consider the Bank of America Customized Cash, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express or one of our other best cards for groceries.

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

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best card for new travelers

  • 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.

Citi Custom Cash Card: Best card for customized rewards

  • 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, you may be better off with the variety of rotating categories offered by the Chase Freedom Flex℠.

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

Chase Freedom Flex: Best no annual fee card for multifaceted spenders

  • 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 those looking for cards with unique rewards categories, the Bilt Mastercard may be just what you need. With this card, you can earn 1X points on rent (up to 50,000 points per year) with no processing or transaction fees. (Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period.)

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

Citi Double Cash Card: Best card for high reward potential

  • 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.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Best card for credit builders

  • 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.


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.

Pros and cons of no-annual-fee credit cards

Pros

  • Checkmark

    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.

  • Checkmark

    Affordability with rewards opportunity: You don’t have to pay a premium to get rewards with the best no-annual-fee credit cards.

  • Checkmark

    No planning to cover the cost of an annual fee: If your card carries an annual fee, you have to think about spending enough to justify the cost. A no-annual-fee card takes away this worry.

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. Other fees to note could be foreign transaction and balance transfer fees, so you’ll need to review a card’s full terms and conditions to make sure it fits with your financial habits.

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.

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Bankrate Insight

Not only will pairing a no-annual-fee card with other premier cards earn you more rewards and can fill gaps in your credit portfolio, issuers like Chase even let you pool your points from different cards together to maximize earnings.

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.

When to downgrade to a no-annual-fee card

Not all credit cards with annual fees have the long-term value you may need. This can be from many factors like a recent card update, certain perks expiring or realizing that you don’t use enough of the card’s benefits to justify the cost. This is the best time to consider a new card. However, instead of canceling your card and taking a hit on your credit score, you can downgrade to a no-annual-fee card.

When you downgrade, your credit score is unaffected as it keeps your utilization the same as well as keeps the age of your account and doesn’t need a hard pull. However, there are a few cons to this choice, such as opting out of potential bonuses on the new card. Still, if you think the pros outweigh the cons, then you should move forward with the decision.

Just keep in mind a few things before you do, such as how long your account has been open. The issuer may reject your request if your account has been open for less than a year. You also want to make sure to use all your rewards on your current card as there is a chance that you may not be able to take them with you when you downgrade.

Are credit cards with annual fees ever worth it?

Choosing a no-annual-fee credit card might seem like an easy decision — who would want to pay a yearly fee when you don’t have to? However, there are times when an annual fee is justified. Oftentimes, cards with annual fees include perks that match the price such as higher welcome bonuses, higher rewards rates, and travel perks. However, these perks are only great if you use them. If you’re less involved with your card or the perks don’t fit your lifestyle, it becomes an extra bill.

For example, if you are a frequent traveler, upgrading from the Capital One VentureOne to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card  may be worth it when considering the additional benefits like TSA Precheck or Global Entry credits and lost luggage reimbursement. If you travel throughout the year, these perks can be enough to justify the cost.

However, if you’re looking strictly at miles earned on travel, there’s a gap in value. If you spend $1,500 on flights and hotels booked through Capital One Travel, you earn 7,500 miles on both cards, which equals to $150 according to Bankrate’s evaluation of 2 miles per dollar. When you subtract the annual fee, you have $150 with the VentureOne and only $55 with the Venture card.

Card Annual fee Miles earned when you spend $1,500 on travel booked through Capital One Travel Value minus annual fee Miles earned when you spend $3,000 on travel booked through Capital One Travel Value minus annual fee
Capital One VentureOne* $0 7,500 $150 15,000 $300
Capital One Venture $95 7,500 $55 15,000 $205

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 pairing it with a card that charges an annual fee but earns more rewards. 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® for travel rewards, can round out your earnings.
  • 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.

How we chose the best 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:
  • Checkmark
    Rewards rate and value
    Some no-annual-fee cards offer fairly decent flat-rate cash rewards or travel miles (usually between 1.5 percent to 2 percent back) while others have rotating spending categories that offer boosted rewards rates directly dependent on how you spend (typically between 2 percent and 5 percent, though bonus rewards may be subject to a cap and then revert to a base spending rate after that cap is met).
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    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.
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    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 cards just a little sweeter because you still have access to key assets and benefits.
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    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 its 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).

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 no-annual-fee credit cards