2021's Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards [Comparison, Buyer's Guide]

Are you ready to enjoy the perks of a no annual fee credit card? Then we have some good news! We did our best to fill this list with the best no annual fee credit cards, so you can find the perfect one for yourself. In order to do that, we’ve featured things like:

  • Methodology
  • Reviews
  • Buyer’s guide
  • Benefits
  • FAQ

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Top Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

1. American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card

Intro APR 0%

Prequalifying

Up to 20% cashback

Best For Big Families

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If your family often goes grocery shopping, this credit card can get you plenty of your money back. Between supermarkets, grocery stores, and gas stations, you’ll be saving a lot of money at 0% intro APR.

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2. Citi® Double Cash Card

Stopping fraudulent transactions is simple

No rotating categories or caps

Intro APR 0%

Best No Categories Credit Card

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A no annual fee credit cards comparison will show you that not many cards come without categories. If you spend your money in different places, knowing you’ll always get 2% back is a great thing.

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3. Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Card

Many ways to redeem cash

Up to 5% cashback

$0 fraud liability

Best For Walmart Customers

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For those who often shop at Walmart, this is likely the best cashback credit card with no annual fee. You can also earn money back on travels, and there are a lot of different ways to redeem it, including gift cards.

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4. Chase Freedom Flex

Plenty of benefits

A lot of bonuses

Intro 0% APR

Best For Millennials

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If you’re a millennial, you will prosper with this credit card. Use bonus categories to get your money back, and earn bonuses when catching a ride or watching a movie.

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5. United Airlines United Gateway Card

No foreign transaction fees

Good signup bonus

No blackout dates

Best For United Flyers

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For frequent travelers, this credit card is a dream come true. A signup bonus of 20,000 miles, miles per every purchase, and no foreign transaction fee are everything you could wish for.

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6. Discover it® Cash Back

Overnight card replacement

Cashback match

Low interest

Best Apr/Cashback Balance

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If you’re looking for the best credit cards with no annual fee and low APR, go with Discover it® Cash Back. The 0% intro APR, low variable APR, and up to 5% cashback rewards combo is hard to find.

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7. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Points don’t have a limit or an expiration date

Three miles per dollar in various places

Plenty of protection-based benefits

Best For Traveling

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Frequent flyers who don’t care about cashback options, but deem security very important, will find this credit card perfect. 0% intro APR and exclusive presale tickets are a welcome bonus.

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8. Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Personalized dining, travel, and entertainment assistance

Rewards don’t expire

Signup bonus

Best For Earning On Food And Entertainment

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This credit card gives you money back as you eat, drink, and have fun. Expect VIP tickets, personalized assistance, and even benefits like warranty extension or automatic coupon application.

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9. Citi Rewards+ Card

10% points back for the first 100,000 redeemed

Rounds up to 10 nearest points

0% intro APR

Best For Casual Credit Card Users

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If you’re a casual credit card user with a very good or excellent credit score, give this card a chance. Your points will be rounded up, and there’s even a signup bonus to get you started.

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10. Hilton Honors American Express Card

Up to seven points per dollar

No foreign transaction fee

Prequalifying available

Best For Hotel Stays

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If you often stay at hotels, using a Hilton Honors American Express Card can give you plenty of rewards and benefits. Earn points by shopping and make every stay at a Hilton hotel/reserve worth your while.

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How we created this list - Our Methodology

If you’ve tried searching for the right no annual fee credit card, you likely know how hard it is to find the right one. But difficult as it may be, we knew exactly what we were looking for. Starting with certain requirements and wrapping it up with consumer reviews, we ensured that only the very best free credit cards are featured. Here’s everything we looked at:

  • Requirements. Every card issuer has certain rules when it comes to approving a credit card. While we included those with various requirements (some fit for fair, others for excellent credit), we made sure they are all reasonable.
  • Application process. You can expect a quick and intuitive application process from all of these credit card issuers.
  • Notable card features. One of the main things we looked for when researching no annual fee credit cards are the special features they offer. Specifically, we looked for no annual fee credit cards with rewards, special benefits, and bonuses.
  • Redemption rules. While some credit card issuers require you to have a minimum cash amount before being able to redeem your reward, plenty of those from our list don’t. Our picks also offer various ways of redeeming your money.
  • APR & fees. To ensure you’re presented with the best credit card options, we searched for those offering intro annual percentage rate (APR), reasonable APR, and relatively low fees.
  • Customer reviews. Finally, looking at users’ experiences is an important step toward finding the best credit cards with no annual fee.

At a Glance

  • Up to 20% cashback
  • Intro APR 0%
  • Prequalifying
  • Not accepted with every merchant
  • Cashback in supermarkets has a limit

With this unsecured credit card, you can enjoy up to 20% of your money back. Plenty of cashback options on everyday purchases make it a great choice for big families.

Your intro APR will be 0% for 15 months, after which the variable APR is 13.99% to 23.99%. Like many good credit cards with no annual fee, it has these fees:

  • Cash advance – The greater of $10 or 5% of each advance
  • Foreign transaction2.7% of every transaction
  • Late/Returned payment – up to $40

American Express’s payment card provides you with car rental damage and loss insurance, 24/7 Global Assist Hotline, and $0 fraud liability. Additional cards for family members let you get rewards when someone else is making purchases on your behalf. Finally, the Pay It Plan It option is great for financial management: it lets you repay the transaction all at once or easily separate it into several monthly payments.

Many think this is the best credit card with no annual fee, and they have a point. Throughout the first six months, you’ll get 20% back on Amazon purchases, and $150 back if you spend $1,000. Other cashback rewards include:

  • 3% at US supermarkets (up to $6,000, then 1%)
  • 2% at US gas stations
  • 2% at certain US department stores
  • 1% on other eligible purchases
APR 0% intro APR for the first 15 months
Variable APR – 13.99% to 23.99%
Cashback Rewards Up to 20% back
Minimum Credit Score  690

At a Glance

  • No rotating categories or caps
  • Stopping fraudulent transactions is simple
  • Intro APR 0%
  • No special benefits
  • Some users get too many fraud warnings

The cashback rewards and fraud protection are the main reasons we featured this product on our best free credit cards list.

The intro APR lasts for an astounding 18 months, while the variable APR of 13.99% – 23.99% is pretty standard.

One huge benefit of this unsecured credit card is the lack of categories. Anything you purchase gets you 2% of your money back, meaning you don’t have to think about what you need to be buying. As long as you pay the minimum due on time and don’t acquire debt, you can spend your revolving credit and enjoy getting cash back on all expenses.

Like most of the best no annual fee credit cards, Citi® Double Cash Card has these fees:

  • Balance transfer – the greater of $5 and 3% of the transfer
  • Cash advance – the greater of $10 and 5% of the advance
  • Foreign transaction fee – 3% of the transaction
  • Late/returned payment – up to $40

One thing customers love about this card is that stopping fraudulent transactions is quick and simple. However, some customers also receive fraudulent activity warnings even when they themselves are using the card.

APR 0% intro APR for the first 18 months
Variable APR – 13.99% – 23.99%
Cashback Rewards Up to 2% Cashback
Minimum Credit Score  Excellent (recommended)

At a Glance

  • Many ways to redeem cash
  • $0 fraud liability
  • Up to 5% cashback
  • Low credit limit for some
  • No intro APR

This is the best Mastercard credit card with no annual fee for all those who often make purchases in Walmart, and want to have plenty of ways to redeem their money.

While there’s no intro APR for this unsecured card, and the variable APR is a bit high at 17.99% – 26.99%, there aren’t many fees. Forget about the foreign transaction fee as you will be paying for these fees only:

  • Transfer fee – 3% of each transaction (at a promotional APR)
  • Cash Advance – $10 or 3% of every transaction (depending on which is higher)
  • Late Payment – $39

One of the best credit cards with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee has $0 fraud liability. Besides the 5% you get back with every Walmart.com purchase, you also receive 2% back at Walmart stores, restaurants, and on travel, as well as 1% with every other merchant. Once you’ve earned some money, you can redeem it for travel, cash, gift cards, or use it to cover a purchase.

Your points don’t disappear, so if you have at least a fair credit score, you may want to give this credit card a shot. One downside is the credit limits – some customers claim they’re low and can’t be easily raised.

APR Variable APR – 17.99% – 26.99%
Cashback Rewards Up to 5% back
Minimum Credit Score  Fair (recommended)

At a Glance

  • A lot of bonuses
  • Intro 0% APR
  • Plenty of benefits
  • Have to activate bonus categories
  • Some cashback is limited

Anything you do – travel, take a ride, watch a movie – chances are Chase has found a way to give you a bonus or a reward. This is the perfect unsecured credit card for millennials.

You’ll start with 0% APR for the first 15 months, and continue with a variable APR of 14.99%23.74%. Other than that, you’ll be paying these fees:

  • Foreign transaction – 3% of the transaction
  • Cash advance – 5% of the advance, or $10 (depending on which is higher)
  • Balance transfers – the greater of 5% of the transfer and $5

When it comes to credit cards for good credit and with no annual fee, Chase Freedom Flex is among the best. Some of the numerous benefits are:

  • Purchase, trip cancellation, and cell phone protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Free credit score
  • Real-time fraud monitoring

Each quarter, you can activate specific bonus categories to get 5% back (up to $1,500). Other cashback rewards include:

  • 5% for grocery shopping (Target and Walmart excluded, on up to $12,000 spent)
  • 5% on eligible travels
  • 3% in drugstores
  • 1% for everything else

You can redeem this money for gift cards and shopping certificates. Besides the $200 bonus, if you spend $500 during the first quarter, other bonuses come via partnerships with Lyft, DashPass, FANDANGO, SHOPRUNNER, and BOXED. It’s not one of the top no annual fee credit cards for nothing!

APR 0% intro APR for the first 15 months
Variable APR – 14.99%–23.74%
Cashback Rewards Up to 5% back
Minimum Credit Score  700

At a Glance

  • No blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Good signup bonus
  • No intro APR
  • Cashback options only for United flights

Looking for the best travel credit card with no annual fee? With this unsecured credit card, you’ll be earning miles left and right and enjoying extra benefits with no blackout dates.

While there’s no intro APR, there’s no foreign transaction fee, either. The variable APR of 16.49% – 23.49% is pretty standard, and the remaining fees are:

  • Balance transfers – 5% of the amount or $5 (whichever is greater)
  • Cash advances – the greater of $10 and 5% of the advance
  • Late/return payment – up to $39

Travelers can enjoy the best credit card signup bonus with no annual fee. If you spend $1,000 during the first three months, you get 20,000 miles! To get two miles per dollar spent, use your credit card at gas stations, for commuting, and for United purchases. Grocery store purchases get you three miles per dollar spent (the limit is $1,500 through 9/30/2021). Every other purchase gets you a mile per dollar.

Other benefits include extended trip cancellation/interruption insurance, warranty protection, auto rental collision damage waiver, purchase protection, and even The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection perks. No wonder many see it as one of the best travel reward credit cards with no annual fee.

Additionally, all food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases made on United and United Express flights give the cardholder 25% of their cash back.

APR Variable APR – 16.49% – 23.49%
Cashback Rewards Up to 25% back
Minimum Credit Score  Good (recommended)

At a Glance

  • Overnight card replacement
  • Low interest
  • Cashback match
  • Bonus categories need activation
  • There is a quarterly maximum

Low-interest credit cards with no annual fee are hard to find, so be sure to check out this unsecured credit card. After 14 months of 0% APR, your variable APR could be as low as 11.99%. Other fees to watch out for include:

  • Balance transfers – 3% of the transfer (until 02/10/21, 5% after that)
  • Cash advance – The greater of 5% of the advance and $10
  • Late/returned payment – up to $40 (the first late payment has no fee)

If your credit card is stolen or lost, freezing it is simple, and you can get an overnight replacement as well. Not many top credit cards with no annual fee send you identity alerts, provide daily monitoring of your Experian credit report, and allow free access to your FICO score (TransUnion data). Discover also performs daily Dark Web scans in search of your SSN.

Each quarter different categories get you 5% back if you activate them. There is a quarterly maximum, and some of the places you can earn at are Amazon, grocery stores, and gas stations. Once you’ve made at least $5, redeem them as gift cards or e-certificates. At the end of your first year, Discover will match your earnings.

And don’t worry about the credit limit, either. According to customers, Discover is very open to raising it when you find yourself in a pickle.

APR 0% intro APR for 14 months

Variable APR – 11.99% to 22.99%

Cashback Rewards Up to 5% back
Minimum Credit Score  700

At a Glance

  • Three miles per dollar in various places
  • Plenty of protection-based benefits
  • Points don’t have a limit or an expiration date
  • No cashback rewards
  • Several fees

If you need the best credit card for airline miles with no annual fee, Wells Fargo has something to offer. Get three points per dollar spent with a variety of merchants, and know they won’t expire.

After the 0% introductory APR, the variable APR of 14.49% to 24.99% is fairly standard as far as interest rates go. However, this unsecured credit card does carry a couple of fees:

  • Balance transfers – the greater of $5 or 3% of the transfer (first 120 days); later, the greater of $5 or 5%
  • Cash advance – $10 or 5% of the advance (whichever is greater)
  • Overdraft protection advance
    • If the total for the day is $50 or less, $12.50
    • If it’s more, $20
  • Late/returned payment – up to $37

Many call this the best airline credit card with no annual fee, and it’s not for nothing. For one, you get 20,000 miles as a sign-up bonus (and can redeem them for $200), if you spend $1,000 during the first three months. Some of the purchases that get you three miles per dollar are:

  • Ordering in/eating out
  • Transit
  • Hotels
  • Flights
  • Streaming services

Every other purchase also gives you a mile per dollar. Besides $0 liability protection, there’s 24/7 fraud monitoring to rely on. This travel credit card with no annual fee sends alerts to help you monitor purchases and pay on time and keeps you safe via:

  • Cell phone, purchase, and travel protections
  • Chip and PIN technology
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Car rental loss/damage insurance
  • Roadside, travel, and emergency assistance

Meanwhile, exclusive presale tickets help sweeten the deal.

APR 0% intro APR for 12 months

Variable APR – 14.49% to 24.99%

Cashback Rewards Up to $200
Minimum Credit Score  670

At a Glance

  • Personalized dining, travel, and entertainment assistance
  • Signup bonus
  • Rewards don’t expire
  • Excellent credit needed
  • Only redeemable via PayPal or Amazon

Treat yourself to fancy meals or enjoy a cozy night in with Uber Eats, and the best no-fee credit card for dining and entertainment will get you a portion of your money back.

When you first start using this unsecured card, your APR will be 0% for 15 months. Afterwards, expect an APR of 15.49% – 25.49%. There are no foreign transaction fees, but there are:

  • Transfer fees – 3% of the amount
  • Cash advance fees – The greater of $10 or 3% of the advance
  • Late payment fee – up to $40

As one of the best no annual fee credit cards, it provides personalized assistance in dining, entertainment, and even travel. With Capital One, VIP tickets and five-star meals are no issue. Other benefits include travel accident insurance, extended warranty, and even Capital One Shopping. With it, you’ll have coupons automatically applied to your order. Plus, spend $500 on purchases within the first three months and receive a $200 bonus.

When you use Uber Eats, you get a whopping 5% back. Use the credit card for the Dining & Entertainment category to get 3% back, or buy at grocery stores (minus Walmart and Target) for another 2% back. Every other purchase also gets you 1% of your money back.

When it comes to the best credit cards for excellent credit with no annual fee, this one is at the very top. Customers love getting rewards while enjoying their meals. If you opt for it, know your rewards don’t expire, and you can redeem them via PayPal or on Amazon.

APR 0% intro APR for 15 months

Variable APR – 15.49%-25.49%

Cashback Rewards Up to 5% back
Minimum Credit Score  Excellent

At a Glance

  • 10% points back for the first 100,000 redeemed
  • Rounds up to 10 nearest points
  • 0% intro APR
  • No money back, only points
  • High credit score needed

If you’re not planning on using your credit card a lot, but still want to get decent rewards, Citi Rewards+ Card is the solution. Unlike many other best free credit cards, it automatically rounds up to the nearest ten so you can get points even for a $2 cup of coffee.

Enjoy a 0% APR for the first 15 months, then, depending on your creditworthiness, continue with variable APR as low as 13.49%. Other fees to be on the lookout for include:

  • Balance transfers – the greater of $5 or 3% of the transfer
  • Cash advance – the greater of $10 or 5% of the advance
  • Foreign purchase fee – 3% of the transaction
  • Late/returned payment – up to $40

Get two points per dollar when shopping at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000). Afterwards, you’ll get one point per dollar spent on any purchase. Unlike many other best no annual fee credit cards, this one gets you 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 redeemed. Starting off your point-chase is easy with 15,000 points you get by spending $1,000 in the first three months. Once you have a few of them, redeem them for travel rewards, gift cards, flights, hotels, etc. Finally, Citi Entertainment gives you access to presale tickets and special experiences.

Besides enjoying rewards and benefits, customers love the friendly and helpful customer support.

APR 0% intro APR for 15 months

Variable APR – 13.49% – 23.49%

Cashback Rewards Up to 2 points per dollar
Minimum Credit Score  750

At a Glance

  • Up to seven points per dollar
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Prequalifying available
  • No intro APR
  • No cashback rewards

If your work often takes you traveling, you’re likely looking for the best hotel credit card with no annual fee. With the option to prequalify, Hilton Honors American Express Card is a great choice.

You can expect a variable APR of 15.74% to 24.74%. Though there’s no intro APR, there are hardly any fees, either:

  • Cash advance – the greater of $10 or 5% of the advance
  • Late/returned payment – up to $40

Besides helping you feel safe with car rental loss/damage insurance and the global assist hotline, American Express also helps you with financial management. While Pay it Plan It lets you pay either right away or in installments, the year-end summary gives you insight into your spending habits. One of the best credit cards with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee also provides you with exclusive access to tickets and events near you.

If you spend $1,000 during the first three months, you’ll be awarded 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points. You’ll get the most points (seven per dollar spent!) by using your unsecured credit card in Hilton hotels or resorts. You’ll also get:

  • Five points per dollar in US supermarkets and restaurants, or on gas
  • Three points per dollar on any other purchase

And with additional cards, you can get points even if someone is shopping on your behalf. Finally, if you spend a lot of time in hotels, you could upgrade to Hilton Gold Status for additional benefits. The best hotel credit card with no annual fee already gives you Silver status. Spending $20,000 on eligible purchases in a single calendar year gives you Gold Status in the next one.

APR Variable APR – 15.74% to 24.74%
Cashback Rewards Up to seven points per dollar
Minimum Credit Score  Good

How To Choose A No Annual Fee Credit Card - Guide

While some will prosper from the best travel reward credit cards with no annual fee, for others, it might be useless. Your purpose is just one of the many things essential to choosing the best credit card, next to income and requirements.

Who Needs a No Annual Fee Credit Card?

The lack of an annual fee means that the card issuer doesn’t have to mitigate the risk of you not paying it off. For this reason, these kinds of cards are right for those with some credit history and a good or excellent credit score.

Occasional credit card users who don’t use it often enough to make the annual fee worth it will benefit from a no annual fee card. Those who like to travel from time to time will enjoy the best mileage credit cards with no annual fee.

When Should You Downgrade to a No Annual Fee Credit Card?

If you already have a credit card you’re paying an annual fee for, you may want to cancel it. The main reason is likely that your spending habits have changed, and you’re not spending enough to make the annual fee worth it. However, canceling an existing credit card could hurt your credit score. It’s a good idea to downgrade instead, keep enjoying certain rewards and benefits, but stop paying an annual fee. Just be warned: even the top no annual fee credit cards will make it hard for you to get a bonus if you’ve gotten them via downgrading. Therefore, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of downgrading and canceling before opting for one or the other.

Application Process 

The application process for no annual fee credit cards is fairly simple. However, before applying for any credit card, make sure you have the credit score they ask for. Otherwise, the hard check affecting your credit score will have been for nothing, as you likely won’t be approved. Whether you choose the market’s leading secured credit cards, or the best secured credit card with no annual fee or an unsecured one, the process will likely look like this:

  • Provide some basic information. You’ll be asked to provide your legal name, Social Security Number, birth date, and address. Expect to also be asked about your annual income.
  • Prequalify. Some card issuers allow you to prequalify, meaning you can see whether you qualify before the card-issuing bank performs a hard credit check. This prevents your credit score from being affected in vain in case you don’t qualify.

What You Should Pay Attention To?

  • Purpose. If you’re looking to make money when you purchase goods and services, look for a no annual fee credit card with good rewards schemes. For those who want travel benefits, such credit cards won’t do the trick. Simply looking for the best credit cards for excellent credit with no annual fee isn’t enough if you’re not clear on why you need one.
  • Income threshold. No annual fee credit cards generally require a certain annual income in order to determine whether you qualify and how high your credit limit should be. If you don’t have an income high enough for a certain credit card, don’t risk it. Look for one with more lenient requirements.
  • Card-issuing bank requirements. No annual fee credit cards usually require you to have at least a good credit score. So if you’ve had a bankruptcy or some charge offs recently, it’s unlikely you’ll qualify for one. Compare no annual fee credit cards to credit cards for people with fair credit score and apply for those whose requirements you fulfill.
  • Rewards/Bonuses on offer. Most credit cards have cashback programs, but they often offer additional bonuses as well. If getting a dollar-for-dollar match or a signup bonus matters to you, choose a credit card that offers this option.
  • Additional perks and advantages. Various protection services – travel cancellation protection, cell phone protection, car insurance protection – are common perks of no annual fee credit cards. Security can also be seen as an advantage, so if you value it, choose cards with a magnetic stripe, chip and PIN technology, and $0 fraud liability. Many prestigious credit cards with no annual fee put an emphasis on security, so you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect one.
  • APR and fees. Interest expenses are often the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a credit card, so make sure to factor them in before making the final decision. Look for the best credit cards with no annual fee and low APR, but don’t sacrifice other benefits, either.

Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards in 2021 At A Glance

  • American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card – Best for big families
  • Citi® Double Cash Card – Best no categories credit card
  • Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Card – Best for Walmart customers
  • Chase Freedom Flex℠ – Best for millennials
  • United Airlines United GatewaySM Card – Best for United flyers
  • Discover it® Cash Back – Best APR/cashback balance
  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card – Best for traveling
  • Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card – Best for earning on food and entertainment
  • Citi Rewards+℠ Card – Best for casual credit card users
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card – Best for hotel stays

Key Takeouts and FAQs

No annual fee credit cards are great for anyone with a good or excellent credit score. They can help you enormously no matter what your main purpose for getting one is. Get some of your money back as you’re making everyday purchases and create a good earning scheme; earn miles and fly first class without spending virtually any money; or just stay safe from fraud and remain insured as you rent cars or travel far away. Be sure to respect the grace period, pay on time, and enjoy all the perks no annual fee credit cards have to offer.

FAQs

Is a no annual fee credit card the same as a free credit card?

While a “no annual fee credit card” can have other fees, a completely free credit card would mean there are no fees or interest expenses whatsoever. And though such a card doesn’t exist, no annual fee credit cards are commonly called free credit cards, too.

Can you get a no annual fee credit card with bad credit?

The lack of an annual fee means card issuers aren’t worried about you not paying on time. If your credit score is fair, some companies will take a chance on you. A poor credit score, however, makes that unlikely.

Do you have to pay an annual fee when you don’t use the credit card?

Yes, which is why a no annual fee credit card is such a good option! Finding the best no annual fee credit cards means you can use your credit card as you wish, without worrying that the annual fee may not be worth it.