There's no need to pay an annual fee for a credit card. Many cards still offer great rewards and perks. Here are our favorite no annual fee cards.

Many of us prefer credit cards with no annual fee, since it can often be substantial and greatly diminish the rewards offered by credit cards. I can personally attest to saying that it can be annoying to watch your hard-earned rewards get dramatically reduced by high annual fees.

If you’re not extra cautious, the annual fee can easily exceed the rewards you earn during the year with your credit card. This represents a net loss, and it’s not acceptable to an average customer. With annual fees, there is pressure on you to spend a lot of cash.

Thus, many consumers are interested in no-fee credit cards.

These are the best no annual fee credit cards of 2019:

Overview of the best no annual fee credit cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

In A Nutshell

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® opens up with a terrific intro offer; earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! Tack on a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (standard 17.99% – 26.74% Variable APR) add to that a strong everyday rewards program and it’s a terrific option for anyone looking to save a ton of money on everyday purchases.

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In A Nutshell

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® opens up with a terrific intro offer; earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! Tack on a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (standard 17.99% – 26.74% Variable APR) add to that a strong everyday rewards program and it’s a terrific option for anyone looking to save a ton of money on everyday purchases.

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Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit. ?
  • Good/
  • Excellent
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; then a variable APR of 17.99% – 26.74%.

  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.99% - 26.74%.
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
Intro APR Purchases
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Intro Term Purchases
15 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Intro Term Balance Transfers
15 months
Regular APR
17.99% - 26.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0

Apply Now >>

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® you get the perks of having no annual fee which is huge if you’re interested in getting another credit card without paying any outright cost. Plus you’ll actually earn some stellar straightforward rewards.

The sign-up bonus is a perky $200 after spending just $500 in the first three months. But the cash back keeps on coming. You’ll earn 5% cash back on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases you make.

If you’re looking for another credit card without annual fees to add to your basket, note that you’re going to need a higher credit score to qualify for the card; the recommended minimum credit score is 690.

Apply now or read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

In A Nutshell

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is one of the best intro APR cards on the market today. New cardholders will receive a 0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers (from date of first transfer), and 12 months on purchases. And ongoing APR of 16.74% – 27.49% Variable applies after and there is no annual fee.

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Apply Now On the Citi Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is one of the best intro APR cards on the market today. New cardholders will receive a 0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers (from date of first transfer), and 12 months on purchases. And ongoing APR of 16.74% – 27.49% Variable applies after and there is no annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit. ?
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months after date of first transfer and 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases (regular APR of 16.74% – 27.49% Variable)

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

  • No annual fee

  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 16.74% - 27.49% (Variable), based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • For a limited time earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
Intro APR Purchases
0% for 12 months on Purchases
Intro Term Purchases
12 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers
0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
Intro Term Balance Transfers
21 months
Regular APR
16.74% - 27.49% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0

Apply Now >>

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card also has no annual fee as well as a few other perks we love including being awesome for balance transfers. With an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on Purchases and 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers after date of first transfer (the ongoing rate of 16.74% - 27.49% (Variable) applies after). The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has one of the longest promotions out there right now.

These benefits along with no annual fee definitely make this an attractive choice for cards – especially for someone who is looking to finance a large purchase or pay down existing debt. A promotional offer like this is definitely one that is hard to not stop and consider carefully.

Apply now or read our full Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card review

Discover it® Cash Back

As far as no annual fee cards go, the Discover it® Cash Back credit card is hands down one of our favorites. Because of the cash incentives, the match Discover gives, and the rotating bonus categories to earn up to 5% ($1,500 max spend per quarter, activation required), this is a no annual fee card that goes unmatched when it comes to cash back rewards.

Note also their great introductory offer is 0% for 14 months. Also, the fact that the Discover it® Cash Back credit card does not charge foreign transaction fees makes it a card you’ll want to take while traveling abroad. Couple all of this with Discover’s awesome service, and it’s one you should definitely have in your wallet.

Apply now or read our full Discover it® Cash Back credit card review

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

In A Nutshell

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card earns a strong $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.  This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back and this card also includes an excellent 0% intro APR opportunity.

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Apply Now On the Citi Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card earns a strong $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.  This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back and this card also includes an excellent 0% intro APR opportunity.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit. ?
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 0% into APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (regular APR is 17.74% – 27.74% variable)

  • Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.  This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back

  • No annual fee

  • Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 17.74% - 27.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account per person.
Intro APR Purchases
0% for 15 months on purchases
Intro Term Purchases
15 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers
0% for 15 months on balance transfers
Intro Term Balance Transfers
15 months
Regular APR
17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0

Apply Now >>

In terms of intro APR and overall rewards, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers everything but the kitchen sink. To start, you’ll get no annual fee, a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (the ongoing rate of 17.74% - 27.74% (Variable) applies after) for a whopping 15 months, plus a generous $200 welcome bonus after spending $1,500 within six months of account opening. 

The card’s most compelling and clever feature, however, is its unique approach to 5% rewards. Rather than shoehorn you into rotating categories you may or may be spending in, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card simply gives you 5% cash back in whichever category you spent the most in last billing cycle. But the buck doesn’t stop there. You’ll also get a $200 bonus when you spend $1,500 within the first six months of account opening. 

If you’re seeking a card that helps you eliminate and avoid credit card debt while also heavily rewarding you for everyday purchases, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is a top choice. Note that you’ll need a credit score of at least 670 for a solid chance of approval.

Apply now or read our full Citi Custom Cash℠ Card review

⁺Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

In A Nutshell

Finding an unsecured credit card with average credit can be difficult, but the Capital One Platinum Credit Card is happy to have your business. You won’t find many perks to owning this credit card, but it’s a great first card for young people looking to build a strong credit history and there’s no annual fee.

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Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

Finding an unsecured credit card with average credit can be difficult, but the Capital One Platinum Credit Card is happy to have your business. You won’t find many perks to owning this credit card, but it’s a great first card for young people looking to build a strong credit history and there’s no annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit. ?
  • Fair
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Only average / fair / limited credit is required for approval

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months

  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees

Apply Now >>

In addition to having no annual fee, we like the Capital One Platinum Credit Card for starters or those with average credit because it doesn’t require a stellar credit history to get and it still reports to all three major credit reporting agencies. Having no annual fee makes it a great way to build your credit on the cheap without getting a secured card. Plus, after six months of timely payments, you might be eligible for a credit line increase.

You won’t find promotional rates or rewards with this card, but it’s not a secured card (meaning, you don’t need a deposit to open it) and it’s designed for those who are building or rebuilding their credit. Plus, it has no foreign transaction fees, travel accident coverage, 24-hour travel assistance, and auto rental collision insurance; lots of incentives here. 

Learn more or read our full Capital One Platinum Credit Card review

Discover it® Student Cash Back

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is our favorite no annual fee card for students. Aside from not having an annual fee, there are no foreign transaction fees, which makes it a perfect card to study abroad with.

And Discover will reward you for getting good grades, too. You’ll receive a $20 statement credit each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for up to the next five years. It’s not a lot, but when you’re in school every dollar counts. Plus there are great cash rewards and if you are a new card member, Discover matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year with the card. That’s definitely attractive in our book.

Finally, Discover has an excellent reputation on the customer satisfaction end of things. So in our mind, there are lots of benefits here.

Apply now or read our full Discover it® Student Cash Back review

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

In A Nutshell

The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card opens up with a $900 cash back bonus after spending $6,000 in the first three months from account opening; includes 1.5% cash back on all purchases and charges no annual fee.

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Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card opens up with a $900 cash back bonus after spending $6,000 in the first three months from account opening; includes 1.5% cash back on all purchases and charges no annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit. ?
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Earn $900 in bonus cash back after spending $6,000 in the first three months of account opening

  • Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases

  • No annual fee

  • Best Offer Ever: Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn rewards faster with employee cards at no additional cost. Set individual spending limits for greater control
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
Intro APR Purchases
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 Months
Intro Term Purchases
12 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers
N/A
Intro Term Balance Transfers
0 months
Regular APR
16.24% - 22.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0

Apply Now >>

The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card is a great card if you’re self-employed or a small business owner, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a business card that has no annual fee AND a robust rewards structure like this one does.

To start, you’ll earn a hefty $900 cash back bonus when you spend $6,000 in the first three months. That’s a lot of value for a $0 annual fee, making this card a no-brainer if you have a variety of business expenses. 

The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card also earns an impressive 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no spending categories or earning limits – for cardholders that don’t like the headache of keeping track of rotating categories, the straightforward cash back is a huge plus. 

Other business-friendly features include a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 Months, additional cards for employees at no extra cost, fraud protection, and purchase protection. 

Apply now.

Best no annual fee credit cards summary

Credit CardCredit Needed⁺Unique Features
Chase Freedom Unlimited®700$200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card 700Intro APR of 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 0% for 12 months on Purchases. The ongoing rate of 16.74% - 27.49% (Variable) applies after.
Discover it® Cash Back700Discover will match the cash back you earn at the end of the first year
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card700+5% cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle
Capital One Platinum Credit Card500Unsecured credit card, low credit scores welcome to apply
Discover it® Student Cash Back640$20 statement credit each school year that your GPA is 3.0
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card700$900 cash back bonus after you spend $6,000 in the first three months

⁺Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for.

How we came up with this list

Typically, you get the best rewards credit cards when you pay an annual fee. This is so the issuing company doesn’t lose money when you pay your balance in full (i.e., you’re not paying any interest) and you rake in the rewards for using it.

Therefore, cards without an annual fee tend to have lower rewards. We selected this list based on cost-to-value, and in this case, no cost. As we scoured the offers out there, we came up with the above list as the best cards you can get – from a rewards and benefits perspective – without having to pay an annual fee.

Please note that we have compiled recommendations for other credit cards if you are able to pay an annual fee.

Important things to know about no annual fee credit cards

The single most important feature of a no annual fee credit card is having no fee whatsoever. But since this entire list doesn’t, the next most important thing is rewards. As I said above, many cards without an annual fee offer little to no rewards – making them somewhat useless to a person who pays their balance in full.

Here are some other things we think are important with no annual fee cards:

  • Signup bonus. If they don’t have rewards, they almost never have a worthwhile signup bonus. Look for balance transfer offers, bonus points, or cash back.
  • No foreign transaction fee. One of the best uses I can see for a no annual fee credit card with not-so-great rewards is to use it when traveling. Look for cards without a foreign transaction fee.
  • Non-monetary perks. Aside from rewards, look for cards that have additional travel insurance, return protection, or warranty extension bonuses. Some cards will throw you Visa gift cards, too. Anything outside of what a standard credit card would offer is always great to have.

Who are no annual fee credit cards good for?

Credit cards with no annual fees are definitely a good option for all users of credit cards. Paying an annual fee doesn’t mean you get a better card. As you can see above, we outlined no annual fee cards for just about every situation you can have, so I’m confident that these types of cards are great for anyone. 

The only thing to be aware of, and that you probably give up by not paying an annual fee, is that the rewards program is usually lesser. 

My advice is to still go for the no annual fee card first, use it and see how you spend, then call your card company to see if you can upgrade later if you so choose.

FAQs on no annual fee cards

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

Yes, but your options will be more limited. One of the ways card issuers mitigate risk is by charging a fee to those with poor credit. If you can’t find anything without an annual fee that you like, look into a secured card.

Do most no annual fee cards have a signup bonus?

No, that’s why if you find a no annual fee card with good rewards AND a signup bonus, you should probably take it.

Is there anything specific I should look for with a no annual fee travel card?

Any extra insurance for traveling and no foreign transaction fees are the first features I would look for. I would even forego points in some cases if the card was stellar for travel otherwise. If you’re willing to shell out a little extra money though, you can find an awesome travel card here.

Summary

So here’s what’s pretty clear about no annual fee credit cards: you can get some pretty awesome credit cards without having to pay even a penny to get the card. And most of these cards offer some type of major perks such as rewards, an intro offer, or something else that is likely to entice you.

Yes, you’ll tend to earn higher rewards with cards that have fees, but for those of you who are more casual spenders, any of these cards will work well for you.

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About the author

Chris Muller picture
Total Articles: 231
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.