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Looking for a credit card, but not willing to fork over the money for an annual fee? We don’t blame you — annual fees can be upwards of $500. Many people may think annual fee cards are the only way to enjoy rewards and exclusive cardholder benefits, but no annual fee cards can be just as beneficial. Whether it’s earning rewards points or cash back, saving on interest payments with intro 0% APR periods, or simply building credit, no annual fee cards have a lot to offer.
We’ll review the best cards with no annual fee in several categories, so you can find the card that’s right for your needs.
- Best overall: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
- Best for cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
- Best for travel: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Best for balance transfers: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
- Best for small businesses: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- Best for building credit: Discover it® Secured
How we chose the best no annual fee cards
We chose no annual fee cards that offer competitive rewards programs as well as increased customer value through additional benefits like sign-up bonuses, welcome offers, no foreign transaction fees and more. Cards that offered 0% intro periods in addition to rewards and other benefits were ranked higher.
Best overall no fee card: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Best for: If you want a versatile $0 annual fee card, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express provides you a wide range of features that are unmatched compared with competing $0 annual fee cards.
Why we like it: You can benefit from an intro 0% for 15 months on purchases and an intro 0% for 15 months on balance transfers (after, 12.99% - 23.99% variable APR on purchases and 12.99%- 23.99% variable APR on balance transfers ). This card also features a $0 balance transfer fee. There is also a rewards program and travel, shopping and entertainment benefits, making this card a comprehensive offering. Earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. And the rewards program allows you to transfer points to participating frequent traveler programs. Enrollment in a participating Frequent Flyer program is required. Terms may apply. Plus, there’s a welcome offer where you can earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Good option for balance transfers or large purchases: This card can be a good choice if you have existing debt on a non-American Express card and are looking to complete a balance transfer or plan on carrying a balance from an upcoming large purchase like a TV or laptop. There’s an intro 0% for 15 months on purchases and intro 0% for 15 months on balance transfers with a $0 balance transfer fee. After the intro periods end, a 12.99% - 23.99% variable APR applies to purchases and a 12.99%- 23.99% variable APR applies to balance transfers. Remember to transfer balances within the first 60 days from account opening to take advantage of the intro balance transfer offer.
Other benefits: Earn 20% extra points on your purchases when you use your card to make 20 or more transactions in a billing period. Additional benefits include free two-day shipping and returns with select merchants via ShopRunner, ticket presales and exclusive seats for concerts and sporting events, and more.
Best for cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Best for: If you’re looking for a solid cashback card, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer can earn you a great flat rate on all your purchases.
Why we like it: This card can earn you a consistent cashback rate on all spending. Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. There are no quarterly categories or activation required. And, you can even earn the 1% cash back from paying for purchases over time as long as you make at least the minimum payment. But we recommend paying as soon as possible so you avoid interest charges and earn the cash back quicker.
Good choice for balance transfers: This card doubles as a good option for balance transfers. There’s a lengthy intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, after which a 13.99% – 23.99% (variable) APR applies. Keep in mind there’s a balance transfer fee — 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. However, it’s often outweighed by the amount you save on interest.
Other benefits: Receive special ticket access to various entertainment events like concerts, sporting and dining events in select cities with Citi Entertainment.
Best for travel: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Best for: Frequent travelers and those who like to dine out can benefit from the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card’s robust rewards program.
Why we like it: Earn 3X points on eating out, ordering in and popular streaming services, 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit, and 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1X points on other purchases. For a card with a $0 annual fee, that’s hard to beat.
This card earns Go Far Rewards. Redemption options include travel, cash back, gift cards, and more.
Other benefits: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.
There’s also an introductory APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases and 0% for 12 months on qualifying balance transfers on balance transfers. After, the regular purchase APR is 14.49% to 24.99% (variable) and the balance transfer APR is 14.49% to 24.99% (variable).
Best for balance transfers: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Best for: If you’re carrying debt on an existing credit card, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever can provide you with a way to save on interest charges.
Why we like it: This card offers intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. After, an APR of 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) applies. With almost two years of no interest on balance transfers, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is an excellent tool to help you get out of debt. There’s a balance transfer fee of Balance transfer fee – either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.. The annual fee is $0.
Keep in mind you won’t be able to transfer a balance from another Citi credit card.
Other benefits: The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever charges no late fees and no penalty APR. If you happen to miss a payment, these benefits can protect you from being charged extra and having your interest rate go through the roof. However, you should still make a point to pay on time — it’s the most important factor to maintaining a good credit score.
Best for small businesses: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Best for: Small business owners who often spend at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services can earn cash back with the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, named “Best Rewards Card for Small Business Owners” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in 2017.
Why we like it: This card offers competitive cash back on typical business spending. Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.
Good option for new purchases: If you need to make new purchases for your business like computers or printers, there’s an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases. When used responsibly, that can be a great way to finance new purchases without accruing interest. Beware once the intro period ends, you’ll be charged a 14.74% - 20.74% variable APR.
Other benefits: There’s a sign-up bonus where you can earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This card also offers employee cards at no additional cost, travel and emergency services, auto rental collision damage waiver and more.
Best for building credit: Discover it® Secured
Best for: If you’re looking to build credit, the Discover it® Secured is our top pick and provides the opportunity to raise your credit score while benefiting from rewards.
2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
Credit line will equal your security deposit of $200 or more*
No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment. No penalty APR*
- No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
- It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
- Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
- Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
- Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
- Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
- 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. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Secured
Why we like it: The Discover it® Secured can help you establish or reestablish your credit with a refundable $200 security deposit. The deposit becomes your line of credit, so if you want a higher credit limit, you will need to deposit more money. Terms apply. As a result, the credit limit you have with a secured card is usually significantly lower than regular, unsecured cards. This is ideal if you’re looking to build credit since you won’t be tempted by high limits. This card also offers a rewards program where you can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Simple transition to an unsecured card: Discover will automatically review your account starting at eight months from account opening to see if you can be transitioned to an unsecured card (i.e. a regular card) and refunded your security deposit.
Other benefits: There’s an added peace of mind with Discover’s fraud monitoring services, plus additional benefits like a foreign transaction fee of none and 100% U.S.-based customer service available 24/7. Also, for new cardmembers, 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. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Learn more: Benefits of a no annual fee card
No annual fee cards can provide you with more benefits than you may think. You can receive generous sign-up bonuses, welcome offers, long 0% intro periods, and the ability to build credit — all while enjoying not having to pay a fee. And, in some cases, these cards can even rival cards with annual fees.
Here are some benefits you may find with no annual fee cards:
- No annual charge to carry the card. The top perk of no annual fee cards is the lack of an annual fee. You don’t have to worry about paying an annual fee each year just to have the card or about spending enough to make the fee worthwhile.
- A wide range of benefits. Many no annual fee cards provide a lot of the same benefits of cards that have annual fees. You often can still receive competitive rewards, no foreign transaction fees, travel insurance and more depending on the card you choose.
- Typically better 0% intro periods. Cards with no annual fee tend to have longer 0% intro periods and better terms than cards with annual fees. For example, there are numerous no annual fee cards that offer 18-month 0% intro periods or intro $0 balance transfer fees — while we couldn’t find any annual fee cards that offer those features.
- Good for building credit. If you’re looking to build or rebuild credit, no annual fee cards may be a better option than annual fee cards since they provide the basis for improving your score without the worry of paying an annual fee.
The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.