Updated: 05/14/2017

Credit Cards with No Annual Fee - is it a Good Option for the Budget?

It is good practice to have at least one credit card with no annual fee in your pocket. If you keep those cards for a long time, they increase your credit line available and help with your total account age, thus growing your credit score over time.

You can keep a credit card totally free if you pay your balance in full every month, do not withdraw cash, and pay no foreign transaction fees. 

Many outstanding cards today do not charge you an annual fee, so you can choose between rewards, cash back or balance transfer cards, excluding only top-tier cards with luxury benefits.

Let’s have a look at different options so you could choose the card to fill your needs.

intro purchase APR 0% APR offerregular APR*see offers
intro BT APR 0% BT APR offer *see offers
rewards earn miles for your spending 
excellent / good credit required

no annual fee

no foreign transaction fee

read review

Cash back credit cards with no annual fee

Best cash back cards with 2% flat cash back on all purchases are Fidelity AmEx and Citi Double Cash.

Fidelity AmEx card can be opened together with a free Fidelity cash management account. This card is a rare 2% no limit cash back card with no annual fee.

intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR13.99% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 12 months 3% BT fee min $10
rewards 2% per dollar 
  • get 2% on all purchases 
  • need to have Fidelity account - free, no minimum, no maintenance fee
excellent required

no annual fee

2% flat rate cash back

need to open Fidelity account (free)

read review

CityDouble Cash offers 1% cash back on all purchases, plus additional 1% cash back when you pay your balance in full. It also has an introductory 15 months 0% APR.

intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR13.49 - 23.49% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 18 months 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1% +1% for paying off balance
  • earn 1% cash back on all purchases
  • get 1% more when you pay of your purchases in full on time
good credit required

no annual fee

1% cash back with no limitations

plus 1% more when you pay off balance in full

read review

Chase Freedom is the most attractive cash back card with 1% regular cash back and 5% back on quarterly changing spending categories. This card is available for people with fair credit, offers $100 intro bonus and 0% APR for the first 15 months.

intro purchase APR 0% for 15 monthsregular APR15.49 - 24.24% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 15 months 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1% or 5% on every $1 +$100
  • 5% cashback on quarterly categories ($1,500 quarterly limit, then 1%)
  • get $100 bonus after spending $500 on the card in the first 3 months
  • get $25 on first added authorized card user

 

fair credit required

no annual fee

0% intro APR

5% cash back on quarterly categories

$100 intro bonus

read review

Another good offer with cash back from 2% to 5% on selected categories is the US Bank Cash+ card. No annual fee, no interest for the first 6 months, $25 intro bonus. The card is available for excellent credit customers only.

intro purchase APR 0% for 12 monthsregular APR14.49 - 23.49% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 12 months 3% min $5 BT fee
rewards 1% 2% 5% +$55 bonus
  • earn 5% back on two categories that you can choose by yourself 
  • earn 2% on restaurants
  • 1% on all other purchases
  • plus you get $25 bonus each time you redeem $100 and more cashback in a single transaction
excellent required

no annual fee

5% on 2 categories you choose quarterly

2% on 1 category you choose quarterly

read review

Secured cards for bad credit with no annual fee

If you have no credit or bad credit, secured DCU Platinum card with no annual fee is a good choice. This card charges no annual fee but requires $500 minimum deposit.

intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR12.00% (V)
intro BT APR n/a no BT fee
bad credit / no credit required

no annual fee

read review

Another option is Capital One Secured card. Capital One bank updated terms on that card and charges no annual fee currently. Minimum security deposit is $200, with the maximum credit line up to $3000.

intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR24.99 - 24.99% (V)
intro BT APR 24.99% no BT fee
bad credit / no credit required

no annual fee

bad credit or no credit 

25 days grace period

$49-$200 security deposit

read review

Cards for fair credit or no credit

If you have a fair credit or no credit you still can find no annual fee cards for your needs.

One of the best cash back cards for fair credit  - Chase Freedom was discussed earlier in the article. Other two good options are Chase Slate and US Bank Visa Platinum

US Bank Visa Platinum card charges relatively low APR and offers no interest for the first 12 months. 

intro purchase APR 0% for 12 monthsregular APR10.49 - 22.49% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 12 months 3% min $5
fair credit required

no annual fee

low APR

12 months intro APR and balance transfer

read review

Chase Slate card is also a decent balance transfer option with its 15 months intro 0% APR.

intro purchase APR 0% for 15 monthsregular APR15.49 - 24.24% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 15 months, 0% BT fee 60 days 5% BT fee $5 min
fair credit required

no annual fee

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers

0% BT fee for 60 days

free FICO score

read review

Balance transfer cards with no annual fee

There are several cards in this review that offer 6 to15 months free of interest, but the obvious winner is a Citi Simplicity card, which offers 21 months free of interest on both balance transfers and new purchases.

intro purchase APR 0% for 21 monthsregular APR13.99 - 23.99% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 21 months 3% BT fee $5 min
excellent required

no annual fee

0% APR for 21 months for BT and purchases

read review

Low APR cards with no annual fee

Low APR cards with a regular APR starting below 8% are Simmons VISA Platinum and Barclaycard Ring card

intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR8.00% (V)
intro BT APR 8% no BT fee
excellent required

Excellent Credit Required - Applicants that do not have excellent credit will not be approved

Low 8% variable standard purchase APR and platinum benefits

No balance transfer fee for balances transferred in response to this online offer

No Annual Fee

read review

intro purchase APR 0% for 15 monthsregular APR13.99% Variable
intro BT APR 0% for 15 months no BT fee
excellent required

0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.99%

No annual fee

No balance transfer fees

No foreign transaction fees

Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad

Free online access to FICO® Credit Score

read review

Cards for College Students with no annual fee

Discover it for students card has two versions with no annual fee. Discover it chrome for students offers 2% cash back on gas and dining, Discover it for students earns you 5% cash back on quarterly changing categories. Regular cash back rate for both cards is 1%.

intro purchase APR 0% for 6 monthsregular APR13.49 - 22.49% (V)
intro BT APR 10.99% for 6 months 3% BT fee
rewards 1%-2% 
  • 2% cash back on restaurants and gas up to $1000 in combined purchases per quarter
  • 1% regular cash back

 

 

fair credit / no credit required

no annual fee

student card - no credit needed

2% cash back on gas and dining

read review
intro purchase APR 0% for 6 monthsregular APR13.49 - 22.49% (V)
intro BT APR 10.99% for 6 months 3% BT fee
rewards 1 or 5% 
  • earn 5% cashback on rotating quarterly categories 
  • 1% cashback on all purchases
  • double cashback for first year
  • $20 cashback annual  bonus if your GPA is 3.0 or greater

 

no credit required

no annual fee

no credit needed

5% cashback on changing categories

double first year cashback

read review

Business cards with no annual fee

Chase Ink Cash is a no annual fee credit card for business. This card has 0% APR for 12 months, 2% cash back on office supplies and telecom, 2% on gas and restaurants. $200 bonus after spending $3000 on the card in the first three months is a plus.

intro purchase APR 0% for 12 monthsregular APR13.74 - 19.74% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 12 months 5% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1% 2% 5% per dollar +$200 bonus
  • 5% cash back on office supplies and telecom purchases with a $25,000 annual limit
  • 2% cash back on gas and dining out with a $25,000 annual limit
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $300 bonus after spending $3000 in the first 3 months
 
good credit required

no annual fee

up to 5% cash back

read review

Best For Gas and Groceries

Amex BlueCash Every Day is a good card for everyday grocery shopping and filling your tank. With no annual fee, this card earns you 3% in supermarkets, 2% at gas stations, 2% in selected department stores. $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months is a plus.

 

intro purchase APR 0% for 12 monthsregular APR13.49 - 23.49% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 12 months 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1% 2% 3% on $1 +$100 bonus
  • earn 3% back at US supermarkets (limited by $6000 spending annually, then 1%)
  • 2% on gas and in selected department stores
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • $100 sign up bonus after spending $1000 in purchases in the first 3 months
good credit required

no annual fee

up to 2-3% cash back

Amazon Prime membership free

read review

First-year-free credit cards

A great majority of cards also waives the first-year annual fee. It is a good way to get customers on a hook, but the next year you start paying a fee.

There is an option to call the bank and tell them that you are about to close the account because of the annual fee. There is a probability hat the bank will waive you a second-year annual fee in order not to lose your business

If you didn’t have any luck with this trick, think twice before closing an unwanted account – it can hit your credit score if that account was one of your oldest or with the biggest credit line. If it becomes your habit to jump from one card to another every year, you will have difficulties in building a solid credit history.

 

 



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