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Best Credit Cards With No Annual Fee for December 2020

Best Credit Cards With No Annual Fee for December 2020

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Nov 30, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

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 run upwards of $500.

Some may think annual fee cards are the only way to enjoy generous rewards and exclusive benefits, but cards with no annual fee 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, some no-annual-fee cards have a lot to offer.

Based on a review of cards available through CompareCards, as well as from top issuers, we’ve selected several of the best cards with no annual fee so you can find one that’s right for you.

Best overall card with no annual fee: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Why we like it: This card sets the standard for earning flat-rate cash back on every purchase. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Rewards can be redeemed as checks, statement credits, deposits to an eligible Citi checking or savings account (or a checking account used to pay the card bill) or converted to Citi ThankYou® points.

There’s also a lengthy intro 0% APR balance transfer offer — 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. After the intro period, a 13.99% – 23.99% (variable) APR applies. However, there is a balance transfer fee of 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Other benefits:

  • Free access to your FICO Score.
  • Access to ticket presales for concerts, sporting events and more with Citi Entertainment℠.

What to watch out for: There’s a foreign transaction fee of 3%. If you plan to travel abroad, you’ll want to leave this card at home and take one with no foreign transaction fee.

Read our review of the Citi® Double Cash Card .

Best cashback card with no annual fee: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months

  • 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases*

  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.

Highlights
  • Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back.
  • Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • 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.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

More Info

Why we like it: Consumers who spend a lot on grocery shopping will appreciate the cashback rate offered by the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Earn 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.

Rewards can be redeemed as statement credits, and you may also be able to redeem rewards for gift cards or merchandise from time to time.

There’s a welcome offer as well — Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com on the Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

Other benefits:

  • Free access to your FICO Score.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage).
  • Get exclusive access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events with Entertainment Access®. Check out Broadway shows, concert tours, sporting events and more.

What to watch out for: There’s a $6,000 annual spending limit on the 3% cashback rate at supermarkets. After that, your earning rate will drop to 1%. So, the maximum you can earn annually at the higher rate is $180.

Read our review of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

Best travel card with no annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Why we like it: This card offers generous rewards on a wide range of purchases. 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. Points are typically worth 1 cent each.

Redemption options for points include:

  • Travel
  • Statement credits
  • Checks
  • Deposits to a qualifying account
  • ATM withdrawals
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise
  • Charitable donations
  • Online auctions
  • Paying down a Wells Fargo loan or mortgage
  • Gifting them to other Wells Fargo members

Read our article on Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards.

There is also a welcome offer for new cardholders: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Other benefits:

  • Cellphone protection.
  • Retail protection.
  • Extended warranty.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance.

What to watch out for: While some travel cards allow you to transfer points to airline and hotel loyalty programs, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card does not.

Read our review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card.

Best card for dining with no annual fee: U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

  • Earn 4X points on dining, takeout and food delivery, 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services and gas stations, and 1X points on all other eligible purchases.

  • 0% for 12 billing cycles on purchases*, then 14.99% - 23.99%* (Variable) and 0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days from account opening, then 14.99% - 23.99%* (Variable)

Highlights
  • Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening That's a $250 value redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more
  • Earn 4X points on takeout, food delivery and dining
  • Earn 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, gas stations and on streaming services
  • $15 credit for annual streaming service purchases such as Netflix and Spotify
  • No annual fee*
  • 1X point per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • Low Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Points never expire
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

More Info

Why we like it: The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card offers a lavish rewards rate on dining purchases: Earn 4X points on dining, takeout and food delivery, 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services and gas stations, and 1X points on all other eligible purchases.

While some other cards also earn 4X on dining, such as the American Express® Gold Card and the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, those cards also charge an annual fee. By contrast, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card has an annual fee of $0*.

Points are worth approximately 1 cent each. Redemption options include cash back, travel, merchandise, gift cards and more. There’s also a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Other benefits:

  • $15 streaming service credit after 11 months of streaming service purchases. Eligible streaming services include Amazon Music, Netflix, Pandora, YouTubeTV and more.
  • There is an intro APR of 0% for 12 billing cycles on purchases*. After, a 14.99% - 23.99%* (variable) APR applies.
  • There is also a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days from account opening. After, a 14.99% - 23.99%* (variable) APR applies.

What to watch out for: This card lacks benefits that competing cards may offer, such as cellphone insurance.

Read our review of the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card.

Best airline card with no annual fee: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

  • NEW! No foreign transaction fees.

Highlights
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • NEW! Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • NEW! No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

More Info

Why we like it: Though the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card doesn’t offer some of the benefits that more premium, annual fee co-branded Delta Amex cards do (such as a free checked bag), it still offers value to the occasional Delta flier.

Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Benefits include a 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases and access to the Global Assist Hotline when traveling more than 100 miles from home. And don’t worry about a foreign transaction fee — there is none.

Miles can be redeemed for booking travel, upgrades, covering a variety of fees and more.

For the welcome offer: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Other benefits:

  • Purchase protection.
  • Extended warranty.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage).
  • Enjoy exclusive access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events via Entertainment Access. See Broadway shows, concerts, sporting events and more.
  • Terms Apply

What to watch out for: If you don’t fly Delta often, you’ll be better off with a more flexible travel rewards card.

Read our review of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card.

Best card for intro APR with no annual fee: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Why we like it: Whether you need to make a big purchase and pay it off over time or need to transfer existing debt from a high interest credit card, it’s worth considering the Citi Simplicity® Card .

The intro 0% APR offers are lengthy:

  • 0% for 18 months on purchases. After, a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.
  • 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. After, a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.

There’s a standard 0% for 18 months on balance transfers.

Other benefits:

  • No annual fee, no late fees and no penalty rate.
  • Free FICO Score access.

What to watch out for: This card doesn’t earn rewards, so if you’re looking for a card for everyday spending, it might not be the best option.

Read our review of the Citi Simplicity® Card .

Best student card with no annual fee: Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • 0% intro for 6 Months*

  • 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically

  • 12.99% - 21.99% Variable*

Highlights
  • 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! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Student Cash Back

More Info

Why we like it: This card offers a high cashback rate in a variety of spending categories that change every quarter. Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Rewards can be redeemed as statement credits, deposits into a bank account, gift cards or charitable donations, and you can also use rewards to pay on Amazon.com and PayPal.

And each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher, earn a Good Grades Reward in the form of a $20 statement credit (this can be earned for up to five consecutive years).

There’s also a sign-up bonus 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! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

Other benefits:

  • Free FICO Score access.
  • Freeze and unfreeze your card online.
  • Monitoring of the dark web for your Social Security number (if you sign up).

What to watch out for: You must activate the new 5% category each quarter — if you don’t, you’ll only earn 1% cash back on all purchases. There’s also a $1,500 quarterly spending cap on the 5% earning rate, after which you’ll drop down to 1% until the next quarter, so the max you can earn at the highest cashback rate annually is $600 the first year, and $300 after that.

Read our review of the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

Best low interest card with no annual fee: USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card

  • 6.90% to 23.90% Variable

  • Rental Car Insurance, Price Protection, Extended Warranty & more

  • $0 annual fee, no penalty APR & no foreign transaction fee

Highlights
  • Enjoy USAA's lowest rate card
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card

More Info

Why we like it: We recommend always paying your card off in full each month to avoid incurring interest charges, but sometimes rolling over a balance may be unavoidable. In such situations, the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card is a good card to have on hand, with its very reasonable 6.90% to 23.90% variable APR.

Other benefits:

  • Extended warranties on your purchases.
  • Travel accident and baggage delay insurance.

What to watch out for: You must be a USAA member in order to apply. Those eligible to join USAA include United States military members and veterans, precommissioned officers and spouses and children of USAA members. Also, there is no rewards program associated with this card.

Read our review of the USAA® Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card.

Best business card with no annual fee: Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, then 13.24% - 19.24% Variable

  • Earn $750 bonus cash back

  • Earn 5% cash back in select business categories

Highlights
  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 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
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee

See additional details for Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

More Info

Why we like it: The Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers a competitive cash back rate in typical business spending categories. 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.

Redemption options include cash back, gift cards, travel and more.

There’s also a sign-up bonus: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Other benefits:

  • Free employee cards.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver.
  • Purchase protection.
  • Extended warranty protection.

What to watch out for: If your business spending doesn’t match up with the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card’s rewards categories, you might be better with a different small business card.

Read our review of the Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card.

Best secured card with no annual fee: Discover it® Secured

  • 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*

Highlights
  • 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 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 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

More Info

Why we like it: For consumers with limited/bad/poor credit, the Discover it® Secured allows you to build credit history and earn cash back. It’s a secured card, meaning you must submit a security deposit that will serve as your credit limit. The security deposit can range from $200 to $2,500.

Purchases made with the card 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.

Rewards can be redeemed as statement credits, electronic deposits into other accounts, gift cards and charitable donations, and you can also pay with your cashback bonus at select merchants.

There’s also a sign-up bonus 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.

Finally, after eight months of having your card, Discover begins conducting monthly reviews to see if you qualify to get your deposit refunded and graduate to an unsecured card. Note that your behavior across all your credit products — not just those with Discover — is considered.

Other benefits:

  • Free FICO Score access.
  • Freeze and unfreeze your card online.
  • Monitoring of the dark web for your SSN (if you opt in).

What to watch out for: With a 22.99% variable APR, this card’s interest rate is on the high side. In addition, while cardholders have the opportunity to graduate to an unsecured card, this upgrade isn’t guaranteed.

Read our review of the Discover it® Secured.

FAQs about credit cards and annual fees

What is an annual fee? Some credit cards charge an annual fee — this is a fee you pay to carry the card, whether or not you use it.

Typically, cards that charge an annual fee fall into one of two categories. Cards for people with bad credit may charge an annual fee, because applicants will likely have trouble qualifying for better cards. Cards with valuable benefits, such as travel cards aimed at frequent fliers, may also charge an annual fee.

Are credit cards with annual fees worth it? Many consumers will be fine with a credit card that doesn’t have an annual fee. It’s possible to earn generous rewards and even get useful benefits on a card with no annual fee. However, there are a few cases where an annual fee card is worth it:

Will credit card issuers waive an annual fee? Some cards automatically come with a waived annual fee for the first year. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card charges a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99. In some situations, it may also be possible to call your issuer and ask for your annual fee to be waived — especially if you can show that you aren’t going to get much value from the card during the year, such as carrying a travel card during the coronavirus pandemic.

If your issuer won’t waive your card’s annual fee, another option is to see if you can request a product change to a different card with no annual fee. This way you keep the account open (this is helpful, because the age of accounts contributes to your credit score) and may be able to keep rewards you’ve earned on the card. For example, you could request to downgrade from a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to a Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, or a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to a Chase Freedom Flex℠.

The information related to the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.


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November 7, 2019