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The best no annual fee credit cards of 2020:
- Best for cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card
- Best if you have a Chase Sapphire card: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Earns among the highest cash back, if you work for it: Chase Freedom®
- Best for shopping at US supermarkets: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Get your first year of cash back matched: Discover it® Cash Back
- 3x points on travel, dining, and streaming: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- 1.5% cash back on every purchase: Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for small businesses: Ink Business Cash℠ credit card
- Best for earning Amex points: Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
- Best for American, Delta, or United loyalists: Airline cobranded cards
- Please note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.
Many people feel that paying an annual fee for a credit card makes no sense. Why should you pay to spend money?
That's not to say that credit cards with annual fees are never worth it — it's possible to get $2,000 in value in your first year with the The Platinum Card® from American Express, for example, but that requires traveling enough to take advantage of its many travel benefits.
But if you don't travel much or don't need bells and whistles like annual statement credits, you can probably do just fine with a card that doesn't charge an annual fee. Plenty of cards without an annual fee offer strong rewards, too, so you're not missing out on points and miles.
We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.
- The best no-annual-fee credit cards
- Credit cards that just missed the cut
- Frequently asked questions
The best no-annual-fee credit cards
Citi® Double Cash Card
12.99% to 23.99%
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from the date of account opening
- 2X points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6K in purchases
- 1X points on your other purchases
- Membership Rewards® Pay with Points
- 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR, 12.99% to 23.99%
- 20% points bonus when you make at least 20 purchases in a billing period
- No annual fee
- Access to Amex Offers
- Limited bonus categories
9. Amex EveryDay Card
American Express Membership Rewards is Amex's in-house rewards program, and the Amex EveryDay is the best no-fee card that earns them. These points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, or more. However, the best option is to transfer them to a frequent flyer partner.
The EveryDay earns 2x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of purchases per year, then 1x after that) and at AmexTravel.com, and 1x on everything else. It also offers a 20% bonus on points earned in a billing period when you make 20 or more purchases during that period.
Like most Amex cards, features a few travel and purchase protections, as well as access to the Amex Offers program.
While most people will be better off with a version of the card that has an annual fee, the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, the regular EveryDay is still a strong option — especially since there's no annual fee.
10. A no-annual-fee airline credit card
- Delta: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
- American Airlines: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
- United: United TravelBank Card
Most airline credit cards worth having have an annual fee — although many of them will waive it for the first year. Those cards tend to come with useful benefits for people who fly with the airline, like priority boarding or free checked bags. You can learn more about the best overall airline credit cards here.
However, if you're interested in earning frequent flyer miles with a particular airline through your spending, but don't care about those perks and want to avoid the fee, you have a couple of options.
If you're a Delta flyer, you can go for the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, which offers 2 Delta SkyMiles on every dollar spent with Delta and at restaurants worldwide, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. It also gets you a 20% discount — in the form of a statement credit — on Delta in-flight purchases like food or drinks.
American loyalists can consider the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card. This card offers 2x AAdvantage miles on every dollar spent at grocery stores and with American Airlines, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.
United's no-annual-fee card doesn't earn miles, but instead offers cash back, called "TravelBank" cash, that can only be redeemed towards flights. You'll earn 2% TravelBank cash for every dollar spent with United, and 1.5% on other purchases. You'll also get 25% back on in-flight food and drink purchases.
Credit cards that just missed the cut
There are many other no-annual-fee credit cards that don't appear on this list. Here's an overview of the cards we considered that didn't make the final cut.
- Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card — This card earns 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores, and 1% back on all other purchases. Those are some solid bonus categories, but the Wells Fargo Propel beat it out for a place on our list.
- Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card — You'll earn 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, which is better than the standard rate of 1 point/mile per dollar on credit cards, but not by much.
- Citi Rewards+℠ Card — This card is unique in that it rounds up to the nearest 10 points on all your purchases. It also earns 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar). Cards like the Wells Fargo Propel and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express have the potential to earn you more rewards, but if you already have a Citi credit card and want to boost your Citi points balance, this card is worth a look.
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card — With this card, you'll earn 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase. That's not a bad return on spending, but this card — and other Bank of America cards — are most rewarding if you're already a Bank of America customer and have enough money in qualifying counts to qualify for the Preferred Rewards program, which gets you bonus credit card rewards.
Frequently asked questions
Why trust our recommendations?
At Personal Finance Insider, our goal is to help readers make the best decisions with their money. To that end, we spend hours comparing and contrasting the features and benefits of top credit cards so you don't have to.
We understand that "best" can be subjective, so we also include information on where each credit card excels, and where it may fall short.
How did we choose the best no-annual-fee credit cards?
We reviewed dozens of no-annual fee credit cards across all categories — cash-back, travel, airline, hotel, and more — and narrowed our focused to cards that offer more than 1 point or mile per dollar on at least one category of purchase. We also looked at welcome bonuses, rewards caps (such as the $1,500 quarterly limit on the Chase Freedom and Discover it® Cash Back), and other fine print.
Is it ever worth paying an annual fee for a credit card?
Many of the top rewards credit cards have annual fees — ranging from $95 to $550 — and it can be worth paying for one if you'll use all of its benefits. In many cases, cards with annual fees have perks that are tied to travel, and if you rarely hit the road, these may not be the perfect fit. Always do an honest assessment of a card's perks and see how they match up with your lifestyle before applying for a credit card.
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