People have all kinds of different strategies when it comes to picking credit cards. While I think there’s a lot of value in getting a card with an annual fee, I know many people are simply opposed to cards with annual fees.
In this post I wanted to take a look at what I consider to be the most rewarding no annual fee credit cards, including both personal and business options. If you are willing to pay an annual fee, take a look at my post about the best cards with low annual fees (under $100).
The best no annual fee personal credit cards
Just because you’re not paying an annual fee doesn’t mean you can’t get an awesome credit card. It’s quite easy to maximize your return on spending by getting a no annual fee card, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that you generally won’t get all that many valuable perks or travel and rental car protection on these types of cards.
That being said, there are some awesome no annual fee credit cards, so let’s take a look at them. Below are my favorite personal no annual fee cards, in no particular order.
Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card (review) has no annual fee, and offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase. That comes in the form of ThankYou points, but those can be redeemed as cash toward a statement credit with no minimum redemption amount.
In general I recommend earning at least two cents back on the dollar for your credit card spending (after paying your bill), so I view this as the gold standard.
Capital One VentureOne Card
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (review) has no annual fee and offers unlimited 1.25x Venture miles per dollar spent. There are a few things that make this card special — it has no foreign transaction fees (which is rare for no annual fee cards), it earns more than one mile per dollar spent, and it earns miles that can be transferred to over a dozen airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. The card also has a generous welcome bonus.
Now, I think there’s a good argument to be made for picking up one of the more premium Capital One Venture products, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (review), but this post is about no annual fee cards.
Amex EveryDay Card
The Amex EveryDay Credit Card (review) has no annual fee, and it’s the only no annual fee personal card that earns Amex Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to airline and hotel partners. The card offers 2x Amex points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spending annually, and then 1x points). On top of that you get a 20% points bonus on all purchases when you make 20 more transactions per billing cycle, so points really add up.
If you want a no annual fee personal card earning Amex points, this can’t be beat.
Chase Freedom Flex Card
The Chase Freedom FlexSM Credit Card (review) has no annual fee, and offers 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus categories (up to $1,500 in spending per quarter), 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal, 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3x points on dining, and 3x points on drugstores.
If you spend a lot in categories that often have quarterly bonuses and/or on dining, this could be a great card.
Citi Custom Cash Card
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card (review) has no annual fee and offers 5% cash back in your top spending category each billing cycle, on up to $500 of spending per billing cycle. Eligible categories include drugstores, fitness clubs, gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, live entertainment, restaurants, select streaming services, select transit, and select travel.
If you have a category you consistently spend a good amount in each billing cycle, then this is an extremely rewarding card.
American AAdvantage MileUp Card
The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card (review) has no annual fee, and I’d argue it’s the most lucrative no annual fee co-branded airline card. The card has a welcome bonus, offers 2x AAdvantage miles on grocery store purchases (making it one of the best cards for supermarket spending), and spending on the card even counts toward elite status.
If you spend a decent amount at grocery stores and want to earn AAdvantage miles, this is the card for you.
The best no annual fee business credit cards
There are also some great business credit cards with no annual fees, though they’re not quite as numerous as the personal card options. Below are the no annual fee business cards that I consider to be most lucrative.
Amex Blue Business Plus Card
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (review) has no annual fee (Rates & Fees) and is pretty hard to beat for those looking to earn travel rewards. The card offers 2x Amex points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year (and then 1x points). That makes this one of the all around best cards for everyday spending, and it doesn’t even have an annual fee.
Amex Blue Business Cash Card
The Blue Business Cash™ Card from American Express (review) also has no annual fee (Rates & Fees), and it’s the cash back version of the above card. The card offers 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year (and then 1% cash back). For a business that spends up to $50,000 per year on domestic purchases, you can’t beat this.
Ink Business Cash Card
The card also has some great bonus categories — you can earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on office supply stores, internet, cable TV, mobile phones, and landlines, and 2% cash back on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on restaurants and gas stations.
Capital One Spark Cash Select Card
The Capital One Spark Cash Select (review) has no annual fee and offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases, in addition to a huge welcome bonus. While 1.5% cash back isn’t as good as 2% cash back, the major benefit here is that the card has no foreign transaction fees. Since some other cards charge foreign transaction fees of 3%+, this is a solid option for any business that has a lot of foreign purchases.
While I think there’s plenty of value in getting cards with annual fees, I know that lots of people like to avoid credit card annual fees, especially if they don’t spend that much on cards. As you can see above, fortunately there are many great cards to choose from, no matter what you prioritize. From cards offering travel rewards to cash back, some of the most generous return on spending is available on no annual fee cards.
What’s your favorite no annual fee credit card?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Blue Business Cash Card (Rates & Fees).