No annual fee credit cards can earn lots of rewards, just like cards with fees — and the best come with valuable benefits that can save you money.
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The best no annual fee credit cards of April 2022
Many people feel that paying an annual fee for a credit card makes no sense. Why should you pay to spend money?
But if you stay close to home, or don't fancy perks like annual statement credits, airport lounge access, or elite status, you can do quite well 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.
Here are our picks for the best no-annual-fee credit cards available right now.
The best no-annual-fee credit cards in 2022
Best for cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card effectively earns 2% cash back — 1 point per dollar when you make a purchase, and 1 point per dollar when you pay it off. If you're focused on earning credit card rewards, you should be paying your balance off in full each month, so in that case, you can consider this a 2% cash back card.
There's one downside, though: The card doesn't currently offer a welcome bonus. That said, it's one of the best cash-back cards, and it's simple to use because there are no bonus rewards categories to remember.
As of March 28, 2022, the Double Cash card earns Citi ThankYou points instead of cash back directly. But you can still redeem your points for cash back (as well as travel, gift cards, and more) and get the same rate of return.
Best if you have a Chase Sapphire card: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is another top pick for a no-annual-fee card — especially if there's a chance that you'll want to earn more valuable credit card rewards with a premium credit card later on.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase, 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2025, 3% cash back on dining and at drugstores, and 1.5% back on all other purchases (or 1.5 points per dollar spent). Paired with a Sapphire Reserve, it's a great card to use for purchases that aren't made on travel expenses or dining.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a fantastic all-around card. However, to get the most value when it's time to spend your points, you need the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, too, so you can pool your points. Otherwise, points are only worth 1 cent each no matter how you use them, and they can't be transferred to airline or hotel partners.
Earns among the highest cash back, if you work for it: Chase Freedom Flex℠
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ works virtually the same way as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, earning cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points that you can either combine with another card, or redeem for cash or merchandise.
The key difference is how it earns those rewards. Unlike the Chase Freedom Unlimited® — which earns 1.5% cash back (or 1.5 points per dollar spent) on most purchases, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% (or 5x) in rotating categories each quarter (once activated) on up to $1,500 spent in that category. You'll also earn 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase, 5% on Lyft rides through March 2025, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1% back on everything else.
Best if your spending changes month to month: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is a great choice if your spending habits tend to change from month to month. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $500 in purchases in the eligible category they spend the most in each billing cycle (then 1%), and 1% on all other purchases.
The qualifying categories include everyday expenses that should appeal to most folks: restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment.
Best for shopping at U.S. supermarkets: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a cash-back card, earning 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 each calendar year — and 1% after that — 2% back at U.S. gas stations, and 1% cash back on everything else (cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars).
There's also a "Preferred" version of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express — the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns a bigger 6% back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets per calendar year (and 1% after), 6% back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit including taxis, rideshares, parking, and tolls, and 1% cash back on everything else (cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars).
Get your first year of cash back matched: Discover it® Cash Back
The Discover it® Cash Back works similarly to the Chase Freedom Flex℠: It offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter in rotating bonus categories (then 1% back) and 1% cash back on everything else Discover It Cashback rotation.
Best for small businesses: Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is another solid Chase entry, although this one is a small-business credit card — however, anyone with just about any kind of business can qualify, whether you have a brick-and-mortar space with employees, or you're a freelancer, or even someone with a small side gig.
Just like with the Chase Freedom cards, you can pool the "cash" you earn with points from a Chase travel card, effectively converting your cash into (potentially) more valuable points. Alternatively, you can reap the rewards in the form of cash instead.
The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card earns 5% cash back (or 5x points) on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each cardholder year. It earns 5% back (or 5x points) on Lyft rides through March 2025, 2% back (or 2x points) on the first $25,000 in purchases at gas stations and restaurants each year, and 1% (or 1x point) on everything else with no cap.
American Express Membership Rewards is Amex's in-house rewards program, and the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is the best no-fee card that earns them. You can redeem Amex points for travel, merchandise, statement credits, gift cards, and more. However, the best option is to transfer them to an Amex airline or hotel partner.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express earns 2x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of purchases per year, then 1x after that) and at Amex Travel, 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.
While most people will be better off with a version of the card that has an annual fee, the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, the regular Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is still a strong option — especially since there's no annual fee.
Best for American, Delta, or United loyalists: A no-annual-fee airline credit card
Delta: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
American Airlines: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
If you're a Delta flyer, you can go for the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, which offers 2 Delta SkyMiles on every eligible 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 inflight 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.
No-annual-fee 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, entertainment, streaming services, and grocery stores, and 1% back on all other purchases.
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 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.
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card — This new card from Bank of America offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and also offers up to 75% more rewards if you're a Preferred Rewards member.
Credit cards with no annual fee — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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 focus 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 Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back), and other fine print.
Is it ever worth paying an annual fee for a credit card?
Are there no annual fee cards that don't add foreign transaction fees?
Many no-annual-fee cards tack on foreign transaction fees of anywhere from 3% to 5%, so they're not a good choice if you're traveling abroad. However, you still have options. For example, Discover and Capital One don't add foreign transaction fees on any of their cards.
There are also a handful of other cards in this category — including hotel credit cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Card(See Rates), Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card, and IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.