The Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards of June 2023

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Many people feel that paying an annual fee for a credit card makes no sense. Why should you pay to spend money? That’s not to say that cards with annual fees are never worth it — for example, it’s possible to get over $2,000 in value in your first year with The Platinum Card® from American Express, especially if you travel frequently and take advantage of its benefits.

But if you stay close to home — or if you aren’t willing to make an upfront investment to receive fancy benefits 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.

The best no-annual-fee credit cards can earn rewards, just like cards with fees — and they come with valuable benefits that can save you money.

Here are our picks for the best no-annual-fee credit cards available right now.

Compare No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card – Product Name Only: Best for high cash rewards rateChase Freedom Unlimited® – Product Name Only: Best if you have a Chase Sapphire cardChase Freedom Flex℠ – Product Name Only: Best for earning among the highest cash back — if you work for itCiti® Double Cash Card – Product Name Only: Best for high cash-back rate with long intro APRWells Fargo Autograph℠ Card – Product Name Only: Best for 3x earning in great everyday categoriesCiti Custom Cash℠ Card – Product Name Only: Best if your spending changes month to monthBlue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – Product Name Only: Best for shopping at U.S. supermarketsDiscover it® Cash Back – Product Name Only: Best for getting your first year of cash back matchedCapital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card – Product Name Only: Best for earning 1.5% cash back everywhereInk Business Cash® Credit Card – Product Name Only: Best for small businessAmex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express – Product Name Only: Best for earning Amex pointsAmerican Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Mastercard – Product Name Only: Best for American Airlines loyalistsUnited Gateway℠ Card – Product Name Only: Best for United Airlines loyalistsDelta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card – Product Name Only: Best for Delta Airlines loyalists

Methodology: How We Chose the Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

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.

See the full breakdown of how we rate credit cards »

Why you should trust our recommendations

The Insider credit cards editorial team does not consult with Insider’s business team to push certain credit cards. We honestly examine each credit card and either recommend or discourage readers from opening cards based on their financial situation. Also, if a credit card is subpar, we will tell you plainly.

No-Annual-Fee Credit Card Frequently Asked Questions

Is it ever worth paying an annual fee for a credit card?

It can be worth paying an annual fee for a credit card if the perks you receive are worth more than the annual fee. Many of the best rewards credit cards have annual fees — ranging from $95 to $695 — but the benefits can be well worth it.

In many cases, cards with annual fees have perks that are tied to travel, and if you rarely hit the road, these may not be the perfect fit. Always do an honest assessment of a card’s perks and see how they match up with your lifestyle before applying for a credit card.

Are there no-annual-fee cards that don’t add foreign transaction fees?

Yes, there are no-annual-fee cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, which can tack on 3% to 5% of the purchase amount otherwise. 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, Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card, and IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.

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

Yes, you can get a no-annual-fee credit card with bad credit, though a majority of no-annual-fee cards require at least good credit to qualify (FICO score of at least 670). A select few no-annual-fee cards — including starter and secured cards — are available to folks with limited or bad credit.

Some no-annual-fee credit cards worth considering are the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card. Otherwise, you can apply for secured credit cards, which usually don’t charge an annual fee, but require a security deposit. 

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for High Cash Rewards Rate

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card – Product Name Only

If you want to earn the highest cash rewards possible on every purchase without having to keep track of bonus categories, the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card is a winner. Cardholders earn 2% cash rewards on purchases with no limits, and there’s a solid welcome bonus offer too: Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card.

New cardholders also receive a Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card (then a Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card APR), which is handy if you’ve got upcoming expenses you can’t pay off in full right away.

The card also comes with a decent array of perks, like cell phone protection, travel emergency assistance services, roadside dispatch, and Visa Signature Concierge access. If you’re traveling abroad, it’s best to leave the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card at home, because it adds foreign transaction fees

Wells Fargo Active Cash card review

Best No-Annual-Fee Card if You Have a Chase Sapphire Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited® – Product Name Only

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.

That’s because while Chase markets the card as “cash back,” it actually earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that you can redeem for cash, gift cards, or travel through the Chase Travel Portal at a rate of 1 cent per point. 

If you decide that you want to maximize the value of those points by purchasing travel with a bonus through Chase, or transfer them to airline and hotel partners, you can open a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and pool your points from the two cards.

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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for Earning Among the Highest Cash Back — If You Work for It

Chase Freedom Flex℠ – Product Name Only

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. From April 1 to June 30, 2023, the card’s bonus categories are Amazon and Lowe’s.

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.

Chase Freedom Flex credit card review 

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for High Cash-Back Rate with Long Intro APR

Citi® Double Cash Card – Product Name Only

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 credit card.

This is one of the best 2% cash-back cards and best cash-back cards in general, and it’s simple to use because there are no bonus rewards categories to remember. New cardholders receive a Citi® Double Cash Card, followed by a Citi® Double Cash Card APR. That’s a good deal if you’re looking to consolidate debt to save on interest.

The Citi® Double Cash Card is also an excellent starter credit card if you’re new to credit card rewards. You can’t go wrong with redeeming Double Cash rewards for cash back, but if you later want to delve into travel or other redemptions, you have other options for using Citi ThankYou points.

Citi Double Cash card review

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for 3x Earning in Great Everyday Categories

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card – Product Name Only

The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card is a great choice if you want to earn a high rate of Wells Fargo rewards in a variety of everyday categories without paying an annual fee. You can earn 3x points on travel, dining, gas stations, popular streaming services, transit, and phone plans, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases with no limits.

The card comes with a decent welcome bonus offer, too: Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card. That’s worth Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card when redeemed as cash. New cardholders can also save money on interest with a Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, followed by a Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card.

Wells Fargo Autograph credit card review

Best No-Annual-Fee Card if Your Spending Changes Month to Month

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card – Product Name Only

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.

Although it’s marketed as a cash-back card, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card actually earns rewards in the form of Citi ThankYou points, which are worth 1 cent apiece for cash back, travel booked through Citi, gift cards, merchandise, and more. And if you have the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card (no longer available to new applicants), you can pool your rewards and transfer points to airline and hotel partners, including Citi’s newest partner, Accor Hotels.

Citi Custom Cash card review

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is one-third of the Citi Trifecta, along with the Citi Premier® Card and Citi® Double Cash Card. This trio of Citi cards can supercharge your ThankYou Rewards balance by earning anywhere from 2x to 5x rewards on every single purchase.

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for Shopping at U.S. Supermarkets

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express – Product Name Only

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express updated its earning rates to include U.S. online retail purchases, making it one of the best cards for online shopping. Plus, you can earn 3% cash back at US gas stations (was 2% back) up to spending limits.

It’s currently offering a welcome bonus of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

Cardholders earn: 

3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 each calendar year (then 1% back)3% back at U.S. gas stations on up to $6,000 each calendar year in purchases (then 1% back)3% back on U.S. online retail purchases on up to $6,000 each calendar year (then 1% back)1% cash back on everything else

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars which can later be redeemed as statement credits.

Keep in mind that your cash back rewards are capped at $6,000 per category each year (then 1% back). So if easily spend more than the $6,000 cap in the bonus categories, you might want to consider a different cash-back rewards card with a higher limit. 

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 that can be redeemed as statement credits).

The higher-earning rate on the Preferred makes it worth paying the annual fee — however, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is still a great option if you’re opposed to that.

Blue Cash Everyday Amex card review

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for Getting Your First Year of Cash Back Matched

Discover it® Cash Back – Product Name Only

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.

It doesn’t offer the same bonus categories as the Chase Freedom Flex℠, though, although sometimes they overlap. 

The Discover it® Cash Back is compelling for one other reason: Discover will match all your cash back at the end of your first cardmember year. So if you earned $500 in cash back in your first year, Discover would match that $500 for a total of $1,000 in cash back. This awesome feature is available on all Discover credit cards — and all Discover cards have no annual fee.

Discover it Cash Back card review 

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for Earning 1.5% Cash Back Everywhere

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card – Product Name Only

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has no annual fee and earns 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1.5% cash back on every other purchase you make. In this regard, it’s most similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

There are also no foreign transaction fees, and the card has a solid welcome offer: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

You can even use your cash back earned with the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card to pay for purchases on Amazon or eligible PayPal purchases. You can also redeem it as a statement credit, check, automatic redemption, or gift cards. 

You’ll also get a solid Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (then a Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card APR).

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (along with the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card) currently offers cardholders six months of Uber One monthly membership (through November 14, 2024). 

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card review 

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for Small Business

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card – Product Name Only

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is another solid Chase entry, although this one is a small-business credit card — anyone with just about any kind of small 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.

New cardholders of both the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card and the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card can earn Ink Business Cash® Credit Card.

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 points) on everything else with no cap.

Chase Ink Business Cash credit card review

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for Earning Amex Points

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express – Product Name Only

Amex Membership Rewards is the issuer’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 American Express Membership Rewards 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 American Express 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.

Like most American Express cards, the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express features a few travel and purchase protections, as well as access to the Amex Offers program.

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.

Amex EveryDay credit card review

Best for Delta, American, and United Airlines Loyalists: No-Annual-Fee Airline Cards

Delta: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express CardAmerican Airlines: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ MastercardUnited: United Gateway℠ Card

Most airline credit cards that are worth having come with an annual fee — although many of them will waive it for the first year. Those cards tend to come with useful benefits for people who fly with the airline, like priority boarding or free checked bags. You can learn more in our guide to the best airline credit cards.

However, if you’re interested in earning frequent flyer miles with a particular airline through your spending, but don’t care about those perks and want to avoid the fee, you have a couple of options. 

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. 

United’s United Gateway℠ Card, with an annual fee of United Gateway℠ Card, earns 2x miles on United purchases, gas, public transit, rideshare services, and taxis, and 1x miles on everything else.

Here’s our guide to the best no-annual-fee travel credit cards for more options.

Other No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards We Considered

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 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through November 14, 2024, and 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases. This card also earns 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 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 5x points on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal (offer ends June 30, 2024), 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar) and 1x point on all other purchases. 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. Plus, this card currently offers an increased welcome bonus of Citi Rewards+® Card – Intro Bonus. AT&T Points Plus℠ Card — This card earns 3x ThankYou points at gas stations, 2x at grocery stores (including delivery services), and 1x on everything else.  Plus, you can earn up to $240 in annual statement credits when you use this card to pay for your AT&T wireless bill and meet monthly spending thresholds.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 BoA card 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.

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