Best Rewards Cards with No Annual Fee for 2023

Travel

Some of the most popular credit cards out there offer big welcome bonuses, generous bonus categories, travel perks…and high annual fees. Sometimes paying $450 per year for a card that offers $300+ worth of travel credits can be worthwhile.

Chase Freedom card

While some may be worth the cost, it’s possible to find cards that provide excellent value without breaking the bank. In this guide, we’ll explore ten of the best rewards credit cards with no annual fees, perfect for savvy consumers who want to maximize their rewards without added expenses.

10 Best Rewards Cards with No Annual Fee

1. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Top Features:

  • Earns 1.5% cashback on all spending
  • Rewards doubled during the first year of card membership
  • Convert cashback rewards to Chase Ultimate Rewards points with another Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a popular choice for those looking for a solid no-annual-fee rewards card. It earns 1.5% cashback on all spending, and these rewards are doubled during the first year of card membership.

If you have another Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can convert your cashback rewards to Ultimate Rewards points. With 13 airline and hotel partners, such as Hyatt, United, and Southwest, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are incredibly valuable.

2. Citi Double Cash

Top Features:

  • 2% cashback on all spending (1% when you charge purchases, 1% when you pay them off)
  • Convert cashback rewards to Citi ThankYou points

The Citi Double Cash card is an excellent option for those seeking a generous cashback card with the flexibility to convert rewards into points. It earns 2% cashback on all spending, with 1% earned when you charge purchases and another 1% when you pay them off.

The ability to convert rewards to Citi ThankYou points effectively means you can earn 2 ThankYou points for every $1 spent, making it a fantastic choice for a no-annual-fee card.

3. Marriott Bonvoy Bold

Top Features:

  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in 3 months
  • Earns 3 points per $1 at Marriott hotels, 2 points on travel purchases, and 1 point everywhere else
  • 15 elite night credits every year, enough for Silver elite status

Chase introduced the Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card earlier this year, offering solid benefits without an annual fee. New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in 3 months. The card earns 3 points per $1 at Marriott hotels, 2 points on travel purchases, and 1 point everywhere else.

While the earning rates aren’t as impressive as other co-branded Marriott cards, they’re still noteworthy for a no-annual-fee option. Additionally, the card comes with 15 elite night credits each year, enough for Silver elite status, which can help you reach your desired elite status tier with Marriott without incurring extra costs.

4. Radisson Rewards Visa Card

Top Features:

  • Annual free night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card (up to three free nights)
  • No annual fee

The Radisson Rewards Visa Card is a great choice for those interested in the Radisson hotel chain, which features high-end properties in places like Paris and Dubai. This card offers an annual free night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card, and you can earn up to three free nights this way. This is an impressive benefit for a card with no annual fee.

5. Navy Federal More Rewards American Express Credit Card

Top Features:

  • Earns 3 points per $1 spent on groceries, gas, transit, and restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Points convert to cashback at a 1:1 ratio

The Navy Federal More Rewards American Express Credit Card is an excellent option for those who qualify. It earns 3 points per $1 spent on groceries, gas, transit, and restaurants, covering most major daily spending categories.

All other spending earns 1 point per $1 spent. Points convert to cashback at a 1:1 ratio, so the 3 points per $1 bonuses are equivalent to 3% cashback. To qualify for this card, you’ll need to become a member of Navy Federal Credit Union. Be sure to research eligibility requirements to determine if you can join.

6. Citi Rewards+

Top Features:

  • Earnings rounded up to the nearest 10 points per $1 spent
  • 10% of redeemed points back on the first 100,000 points every year
  • Earns 2 points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent annually at supermarkets and gas stations

The Citi Rewards+ card is often overlooked in comparison to other Citi ThankYou points earning credit cards, but it offers unique benefits. All earnings are rounded up to the nearest 10 points per $1 spent, so a $2 purchase would earn 10 points instead of just 2 points.

Cardholders also receive 10% of their redeemed points back on the first 100,000 points every year. If you earn and redeem 100,000 Citi ThankYou points, you’ll get 10,000 back.

These points can be transferred to partners like JetBlue, allowing you to potentially score a one-way ticket between the West Coast and New York. Additionally, the card earns 2 points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent annually at supermarkets and gas stations, making it a fantastic no-annual-fee option.

7. Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

Top Features:

  • Earns unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • No foreign transaction fees

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card is an excellent choice for travelers seeking a no-annual-fee card. It earns unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no limits or expiration dates.

New cardholders can also earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. Plus, the card has no foreign transaction fees, making it perfect for international travel.

8. U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

Top Features:

  • Earns 4 points per $1 spent on dining, including takeout and delivery
  • 2 points per $1 spent on groceries, gas stations, and streaming services
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • No foreign transaction fees

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card is a great no-annual-fee rewards card, especially for those who spend a significant amount on dining. Cardholders can earn 4 points per $1 spent on dining, including takeout and delivery, 2 points per $1 spent on groceries, gas stations, and streaming services, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

New cardholders can also earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, which can be redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise. With no foreign transaction fees, this card is a suitable option for international travelers as well.

9. Discover it® Cash Back

Top Features:

  • 5% cashback on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter)
  • 1% cashback on all other purchases
  • Discover matches cashback earned at the end of your first year

The Discover it® Cash Back card is another excellent no-annual-fee rewards card, offering 5% cashback on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter) and 1% cashback on all other purchases. This card provides a great opportunity for savvy spenders to earn high rewards on their spending.

One unique feature of the Discover it® Cash Back card is that Discover matches all the cashback earned at the end of your first year, effectively doubling your rewards. This can make the card especially rewarding for new cardholders.

10. American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Top Features:

  • 2% cashback on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%
  • No annual fee
  • Expanded buying power for your business

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is a fantastic choice for small business owners seeking a no-annual-fee rewards card. It offers 2% cashback on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% cashback on all subsequent purchases.

This card also features expanded buying power, allowing you to spend beyond your credit limit to help your business grow. The amount you can spend above your limit adjusts with your use of the card, payment history, credit record, and other factors.

Introduction to Rewards Credit Cards and the Importance of Choosing a No-Annual-Fee Card

Rewards credit cards have become increasingly popular among consumers, as they offer a way to earn valuable points, miles, or cashback for making everyday purchases. These rewards can be used for a variety of purposes, such as travel, shopping, or even paying down your credit card balance.

Benefits of Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards credit cards offer a range of benefits that make them an attractive option for consumers:

  • Earn rewards for everyday spending: One of the main reasons people choose rewards credit cards is the opportunity to earn points, miles, or cashback on their purchases. These rewards can add up over time and provide significant value, especially for those who use their cards regularly.
  • Flexible redemption options: Rewards can typically be redeemed in various ways, including statement credits, travel bookings, gift cards, or merchandise. This flexibility allows cardholders to choose the redemption option that best suits their needs and preferences.
  • Sign-up bonuses: Many rewards credit cards offer lucrative sign-up bonuses for new cardholders who meet certain spending requirements. These bonuses can provide a significant boost to your rewards balance and help you get a head start on earning valuable rewards.
  • Additional perks and benefits: In addition to rewards, many cards also offer additional perks such as purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, and travel insurance. These benefits can provide added value and peace of mind for cardholders.

Advantages of No-Annual-Fee Rewards Cards

While some rewards credit cards come with high annual fees that can offset the value of the rewards earned, no-annual-fee cards offer several advantages:

  • No ongoing cost: The most obvious advantage of a no-annual-fee rewards card is that it doesn’t cost you anything to keep the card open. This makes it a low-risk option for those just starting out with rewards credit cards or anyone looking to minimize costs.
  • Easier to justify keeping long-term: With no annual fee, you don’t need to worry about whether you’re earning enough rewards to offset the cost of the card. This makes it easier to justify keeping the card open long-term, which can be beneficial for your credit score.
  • Good starter cards: For those who are new to the world of rewards credit cards, no-annual-fee cards can serve as an excellent starting point. They allow you to dip your toes into the rewards pool without committing to a card with a high annual fee.
  • Complementary cards for rewards optimization: No-annual-fee rewards cards can also be combined with other cards in your wallet to maximize your rewards earning potential. By strategically using multiple cards with different rewards structures, you can maximize your earnings in various spending categories.

Different Types of Rewards Credit Cards

There are several types of rewards credit cards available, each with its own unique benefits and earning structures. Understanding the differences between these cards can help you choose the one that best aligns with your spending habits and preferences.

Cashback Credit Cards

Cashback credit cards offer a straightforward rewards structure by providing a percentage of cashback on your purchases. Key features include:

  • Simple rewards structure: Earn a fixed percentage of cashback on all purchases, or earn higher cashback rates in specific spending categories.
  • Easy redemption: Cashback can typically be redeemed as statement credits, direct deposits, or gift cards, making it a straightforward and flexible reward option.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Travel rewards credit cards are designed for those who love to travel and want to earn rewards that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, and other travel-related expenses. Key features include:

  • Earn travel rewards: Earn points or miles that can be redeemed for travel-related expenses such as flights, hotels, car rentals, and more.
  • Travel perks and benefits: Enjoy additional travel benefits such as priority boarding, free checked bags, airport lounge access, and travel insurance.

Points and Miles Credit Cards

Points and miles credit cards allow you to earn rewards in the form of points or miles that can be redeemed for various purposes, such as travel, merchandise, or gift cards. Key features include:

  • Flexible redemption options: Points and miles can be redeemed for a wide range of rewards, offering cardholders flexibility in how they use their rewards.
  • Transfer partners: Some points and miles credit cards allow you to transfer your rewards to partner loyalty programs, potentially increasing the value of your rewards.

Co-branded Credit Cards (Hotel, Airline, etc.)

Co-branded credit cards are partnered with specific brands, such as hotels or airlines, and offer rewards and benefits tailored to that brand. Key features include:

  • Brand-specific rewards: Earn rewards that can be redeemed for brand-specific products and services, such as free nights at hotels or award flights with an airline.
  • Exclusive perks and benefits: Enjoy additional benefits and perks specific to the brand, such as elite status, discounts, or priority services.

Business Rewards Credit Cards

Business rewards credit cards are designed for business owners and offer rewards and benefits tailored to their unique needs. Key features include:

  • Business-specific rewards: Earn rewards on business-related expenses, such as office supplies, advertising, or travel.
  • Business tools and benefits: Gain access to additional business tools and benefits, such as expense tracking, employee cards, and purchase protection.

How to Maximize Rewards with No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Even with no-annual-fee rewards credit cards, you can still maximize the rewards you earn by using your card effectively and employing smart strategies.

Tips on Using Your Card Effectively to Maximize Rewards

To get the most out of your no-annual-fee rewards credit card, consider the following tips:

  • Use your card for everyday purchases: Make your rewards credit card your go-to payment method for everyday expenses, such as groceries, gas, and dining out, to maximize your rewards earning potential.
  • Pay your balance in full each month: To avoid interest charges, always pay your balance in full and on time each month. Interest charges can quickly negate the value of your rewards.
  • Stay organized: Keep track of your card’s rewards structure, including any rotating bonus categories, to ensure you’re using your card optimally.

Strategies for Using Rotating Bonus Categories and Optimizing Spending

If your no-annual-fee credit card offers rotating bonus categories, use these strategies to make the most of them:

  • Stay informed about bonus categories: Keep track of the rotating bonus categories each quarter and adjust your spending accordingly to earn higher rewards rates in those categories.
  • Set reminders: Set calendar reminders or alerts to help you remember when new bonus categories become active, so you don’t miss out on earning extra rewards.
  • Strategically plan purchases: If possible, plan your larger purchases to align with bonus categories to maximize your rewards earnings.

Taking Advantage of Sign-up Bonuses

Sign-up bonuses can provide a significant boost to your rewards balance. To make the most of these offers:

  • Understand the spending requirements: Be aware of the spending requirements to earn the sign-up bonus and ensure you can meet them within the specified time frame.
  • Time your applications strategically: Apply for cards with sign-up bonuses when you have upcoming large expenses or events that will help you meet the spending requirements.

Combining Multiple Rewards Cards to Optimize Earnings

Using multiple rewards cards with complementary earning structures can help you optimize your overall rewards earnings:

  • Choose cards with different bonus categories: Select cards that offer bonus rewards in different spending categories, so you can maximize your rewards across a wide range of expenses.
  • Use the right card for each purchase: Be mindful of which card offers the highest rewards rate for each purchase, and use the appropriate card accordingly.
  • Consider transferable points programs: If you have multiple cards within the same points ecosystem (e.g., Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards), you can pool your points and potentially increase their value when redeeming for travel or transferring to partners.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a No-Annual-Fee Rewards Card

To find the best no annual fee credit cards, it’s important to take several factors into account to ensure the card meets your needs and preferences.

Your Spending Habits and Budget

Understanding your spending habits and budget is crucial when selecting a rewards credit card:

  • Analyze your spending patterns: Review your past expenses to determine your primary spending categories, such as groceries, gas, dining, or travel, and look for a card that offers bonus rewards in those areas.
  • Evaluate your budget: Ensure you can comfortably meet any spending requirements for sign-up bonuses without overspending or carrying a balance, which can lead to interest charges.

The Type of Rewards You Prefer

Consider the type of rewards that best suit your preferences and lifestyle:

  • Cashback rewards: If you prefer straightforward rewards that can be redeemed for cash, statement credits, or gift cards, consider a cashback credit card.
  • Travel rewards: If you love traveling and want to earn rewards that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, or other travel-related expenses, look for a travel rewards credit card.
  • Points and miles rewards: If you enjoy flexibility in how you redeem your rewards, consider a points or miles credit card that offers multiple redemption options.

Additional Card Benefits

Beyond the rewards structure, consider any additional card benefits that may be valuable to you:

  • No foreign transaction fees: If you frequently travel internationally, choose a card with no foreign transaction fees to save on overseas purchases.
  • Purchase protection: Some cards offer purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, or other shopping benefits that can provide added peace of mind.
  • Travel insurance and perks: Look for cards that offer travel insurance, airport lounge access, or other travel-related benefits if you travel frequently.

How Easy It Is to Redeem Rewards

The ease of rewards redemption can greatly impact your overall satisfaction with a rewards credit card:

  • Straightforward redemption process: Choose a card with a simple and easy-to-use rewards redemption process, such as cashback cards that allow for statement credits or direct deposits.
  • Flexible redemption options: If you prefer more choice in how you use your rewards, opt for a card that offers multiple redemption options, including travel, merchandise, or gift cards.

The Card Issuer’s Customer Service and Reputation

Finally, consider the card issuer’s customer service and overall reputation:

  • Responsive customer service: Select a card issuer known for its responsive and helpful customer service, which can be invaluable in resolving any issues or questions that may arise.
  • Reputable card issuer: Opt for a card from a well-established issuer with a solid reputation for reliability, security, and customer satisfaction.
Ariana Arghandewal
Meet the author

Ariana Arghandewal is a travel hacker and travel rewards expert who earns over 1.5 million miles every year. Since 2012 she has covered rewards travel and credit cards for various publications, including her blog, PointChaser.com. She now writes for The Points Guy.