Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards 2018
- September 26, 2016
- Posted by: Andrew Rombach
- Category: Credit Cards
While a significant number of people do not understand the general basics of credit cards (especially college students), there is one common feature that most people try to avoid despite their knowledge of interest rates or credit utilization. This common feature is known as the annual fee. It is probably the simplest credit card principle to understand, and it is often one of the first things anyone bothers to check on.
This fact is not lost on just about every credit card provider in the market because there are tons of credit cards that offer no annual fee. While that sounds great in principle, it must be noted that these cards usually come with less benefits and rewards as a result. With that being said, a credit card with no annual fee is essentially a must-have for new credit card holders.
When looking for a no annual fee credit card, the secret is to find the card that offers the most benefits and lowest annual percentage rates (APR). In some cases, it will be a clear cut decision between wanting greater rewards or lower costs, but some cards offer a refreshing middle ground between those two extreme ends of the spectrum. Here is a list of the top ten credit cards on the market that have no annual fee.
*All APRs listed below are current as of the date of this posting and are subject to change at any time depending on the card issuer and market fluctuation.
The Top 10 No Annual Fee Credit Cards for 2018
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
APR: 13.24% - 23.24% (0% for first 12 months)
Rewards: 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% cash back at department stores & gas stations, 1% cash back on all other purchases
Bonus Rewards: $100 credit for spending $1,000 in first 3 months, 5% cash back on $4,000 of purchases during first 6 months
Fees: No annual fee, $5 or 3% on balance transfers, $37 late payment fee, 2.7% foreign transaction fee
American Express wastes no effort in providing a credit card, or charge card, that fits anyone’s needs perfectly. If you are looking for a cash back card with solid rewards that has no annual fee, then look no further than the exalted Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. This Amex card offers quite a bit to cardholders who have good credit.
American Express offers an introductory bonus reward that can total up to $300 back on initial expenses. The offer is split into two different parts. The first part involves a $100 credit for spending at least $1,000 in the first three months with the Blue Cash Card. The remaining $200 is earned through a special 5% cash back rate on the first $4,000 of purchases during the initial six months with the card. Maxing out this bonus offer earns the cardholder that $200 back which in turn can be combined with the other initial offer to total $300 back.
Aside from introductory bonuses, there are several different standard cash back rates for this no annual fee card. First, 3% cash back is offered on purchases made at supermarkets, but this rate is only eligible for the first $6,000 of purchases in a year. Second, 2% cash back is earned on gas station and department store purchases. Finally, 1% cash back is applied to all other purchases.
Since this card appears on this list, there is no annual fee to worry about. Despite this luxury, there are still plenty of other fees to keep in mind. $5 or 3% is applied to balance transfer and cash back transactions, and there is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee when spending abroad. $37 fees are charged on late and returned payments.
The Blue Cash Everyday Card comes with a few annual percentage rates (APR) since cardholders are not required to pay each month’s balance in full. After a twelve month 0% introductory APR, there is an APR range of 13.24% to 23.24% for balance transfers and regular purchases. The cash advance APR is 25.49% while the penalty APR is a solid 29.49%.
Overall, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is a solid cash back card that happens to have the added benefit of no annual fee. This is an excellent choice for anyone who wants good benefits at a low cost.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
APR: 12.23% - 22.24% (0% on regular purchases for first 12 months)
Rewards: 1.25 miles/$ spent on regular purchases
Bonus Rewards: 20,000 miles for spending $1,000 in first 3 months
Fees: No annual fee, $10 or 3% on cash advances, $35 late payment fee, no foreign transaction fee
Potential cardholders in need of a travel rewards card with no annual fee are in luck with this credit card. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers solid travel benefits to its holders which makes it a shining example of a no annual fee travel credit card. It also happens to be one of the most popular credit cards from Capital One, which is no coincidence.
To kick things off, VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card users who spend $1,000 in the first three months receive 20,000 miles. This bonus offer is worth $200 which is applicable to travel purchases. This is effectively an introductory cash back rate of 20% towards travel purchases.
When making day to day purchases, cardholders earn 1.25 miles for each dollar spent. This is effectively a 1.25% cash back rate since every 100 miles is worth $1 in travel redemptions. These miles do not expire, and there are no limits to how many miles can be saved.
Cardholders can expect to fork over $0 every year if they are maintaining a Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, but the same cannot be said about some of the other fees. Cash advances are subject to a fee that is either $10 or 3%. Additionally, up to $35 is charged on payments that are late.
After an introductory APR of 0% in the first year, regular purchases are paired with an APR that falls between a range of 12.24% and 22.24%. The same exact range is used for balance transfers, but there is no introductory offer. Cash advances involve an APR of 23.24%.
With no annual fee, the VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is a fairly good deal for people who intend to redeem their rewards for travel benefits. The benefits are fairly basic, but their value is maximized when being put towards traveling. Any other purposes however, and the worth of the benefits package is significantly decreased.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
APR: 14.24% - 23.24% (0% for first 15 months)
Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Bonus Rewards: $150 for spending $500 in first 3 months
Fees: No annual fee, $5 or 5% on balance transfers, 3% foreign transaction fee, $37 late payment fee
Chase Bank offers its own products that sport the lack of an annual fee. One of the first and foremost examples is the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card. Chase beneficiaries in need of a low cost card with cash back benefits would do well to look into this credit card.
Cardholders who spend at least $500 within the initial three months of receiving the credit card earn a $150 credit. This introductory bonus is equivalent to a 30% cash back rate. In addition to this benefit, those who add an additional authorized user to their account are eligible for a $25 bonus credit, but this addition needs to be made during the three-month introductory period. All in all, this is a total credit of $175.
A general cash back rate of 1.5% is offered on day-to-day purchases that are made with the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card. These rewards cannot expire so long as the cardholder has the account open, and there is no limit on rewards, hence the term “Unlimited.”
There is no annual fee with this card, but it deserves mentioning some of the other low cost fees. The transaction fees are standard. Balance transfers are charged $5 or 5% depending on which value is greater. Cash advances are subject to a fee of either $10 or 5%. On top of these transaction fees, there is an additional foreign transaction fee of 3%. The maximum late payment and returned payment fee is $37.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card makes its name as a low cost credit card with low a APR. Both balance transfer and regular purchase APRs are set at 0% for the first fifteen months with the card. When this introductory period ends, the APR ranges from 14.24% to 23.24%. Both of the APRs for cash advances and overdraft advances are 25.24%.
Overall, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card has some good benefits that are not all that special, but it makes its name with extremely low APR offers and no annual fee. At the end of the day, it is definitely a good choice for anyone in need of a low-cost, cash back credit card.
Discover it® Card
APR: 11.24% - 23.24% (0% for first 12 months)
Rewards: 5% back on niche categories, 1% back on regular purchases
Bonus Rewards: Cash Back Match: double cash back for the first year
Fees: No annual fee, 3% on balance transfers, no foreign transaction fee, $37 late payment fee
Discover offers its own competitive product in the field of no annual fee credit cards. While this is a competitive market, Discover found a way to offer a unique product through the Discover it® Card. This card brings low cost and attractive cash benefits to the table as it appeals to a wide array of customers.
The headlining offer of the Discover it® Card is the cash back match offer. As cardholders spend money throughout the first year with the card, they accrue cash back points to their account. At the end of this initial year, every point earned is doubled by Discover through the cash back match offer. In other words, cardholders get double cash back for the first year with the card.
There are several different cash back rates to consider. The standard rate for regular purchases is 1%, which can be seen as one point for every dollar spent. There is a special rate of 5% cash back for niche purchases that change every quarter; these niches can include purchases made at grocery stores or gas stations.
Of course, there is no annual fee for the Discover it® Card, but the same cannot be said for other transactions. Balance transfers are charged a simple flat rate of 3%, but cash advances get charged either $10 or 5% depending on which fee is greater. Luckily, there is no foreign transaction fee, but there is a fee of $37 for late payments.
Discover offers a nice introductory annual percentage rate of 0% on balance transfers and regular purchases during the first twelve months of holding the Discover it® Card. After this period is over, cardholders can expect an APR starting at 11.24% that maxes out at 23.24%. A slightly higher APR of 25.24% is applicable to cash advances.
While most no annual fee credit cards offer similar benefits, the Discover it® Card spices things up a little bit with the cash back match offer. In addition to a low cost membership, cardholders can enjoy a bit of leeway with 0% APR for the first year, which combines well with the cash back benefits package from Discover.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card
APR: 13.24% - 23.24% (0% APR for first 12 months)
Rewards: 3% back at gas stations, 2% back at grocery stores, 1% back on regular purchases
Bonus Rewards: $100 credit for spending $500 in first 90 days, 10% cash back redemption bonus
Fees: No annual fee, $10 or 3% on balance transfers, 3% foreign transaction fee, $37 late payment fee
Bank of America also offers its own no annual fee credit card, and it happens to have some fairly similar benefits to the competition. In this case, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card is tailored for individuals who want cash back redemptions.
The introductory bonus reward offer is essentially a 20% cash back rate on initial purchases. If the cardholder spends $500 during the first ninety days with the credit card, then he or she receives a $100 credit. When cardholders decide to redeem their cash back, they receive a 10% bonus which is deposited into a linked checking or savings account.
Luckily, cardholders of the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card can look forward to several different cash back rates. The best rate is 3% back on purchases made at gas stations, the next best rate is 2% back at grocery stores. Keep in mind that these rates are only applicable to the first $2,500 of combined purchases made at gas stations and grocery stores, but the cap limit resets every quarter. All other purchases earn 1% back.
Once again, there is no annual fee associated with this credit card, but there are a few transaction fees to keep in mind. Balance transfers have a fee of $10 or 3% tacked onto them while cash advances have a fee of either $10/3% or $10/5% depending on the transaction type. Foreign transfers are charged a flat rate of 3%. The max late fee happens to be $37, while the max returned payment fee is up to $27.
The Bank Americard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card starts out with a twelve-month introductory APR of 0% for both balance transfers and regular purchases. Afterwards, the APR can increase to a value starting at 13.24% and ending at 23.24%. An APR range of 16.24% to 25.24% is applicable to direct deposit and check cash advances. Bank cash advances are subject to a 25.24% APR while the penalty APR is 29.99%.
Bank of America’s Cash Rewards™ Credit Card offers solid cash back rates, but nothing else really makes the card stand out aside from the 10% cash back redemption bonus. With that being said, the card still competes well in the no annual fee credit card marketplace.
Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express
APR: 15.49% - 19.49%
Rewards: 7 points/$ spent at Hilton locations, 5 points/$ spent at grocery stores, gas stations, & restaurants, 3 points/$ on regular purchases
Bonus Rewards: 50,000 points for spending $750 in first three months, complimentary Silver Status
Fees: No annual fee, $5 or 3% on balance transfers, 2.7% foreign transaction fee, $37 late payment fee
Despite being the only hotel credit card to make this list, the Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express offers some of the best benefits on this list; in fact, the HHonors™ Card provides some of the best benefits in the hotel credit card market as well. All of these perks come with no annual fee, but keep in mind that these benefits are best suited for hotel stay redemptions.
When cardholders spend a minimum of $750 in the first three months with the credit card, they receive a hefty 50,000 Hilton HHonors™ bonus points. On top of this, new cardholders get complimentary Silver Status as a Hilton HHonors™ account member; this makes them eligible for a 15% bonus on all Hilton HHonors™ base points earned.
With Silver Status in the bag, Gold status is next. Cardholders qualify for Gold membership if they spend at least $20,000 with the Hilton Card in a calendar year. Gold cardmembers are eligible for a 25% bonus on Hilton HHonors™ base points. Additionally, Gold Status members benefit from room upgrades and high-speed Wi-Fi access when available.
The rate of accrual for Hilton HHonors™ points are generally greater than the other cards on this list. A whopping seven points per dollar are received for purchases made at a Hilton or affiliate location. Five points are earned for each dollar spent at a grocery store, supermarket, restaurant, or gas station. All other purchases earn three points per dollar. The points are all subject to the Silver and Gold Status point bonus of 15% and 25%, respectively.
All of these benefits come with the expense of $0 annually. A balance transfer warrants a fee of either $5 or 3%, while cash advances are subject to a fee of $5 or 3%. Foreign transactions garner a fee of 2.7%. Returned and late payments are taxed by a fee of $37.
This card has multiple different annual percentage rates for different transactions. The balance transfer and regular purchase APR is set from 15.49% to 19.49%. The cash advance APR is up to 25.49%, while the penalty APR maxes out at 29.49%.
While the Hilton HHonors™ Card from Amex offers good looking benefits, the true value of these rewards is in hotel redemptions. In other words, these benefits do not convert well for cash back. With that being said, this card is clearly one of the best no annual fee hotel credit card offers.
SunTrust Cash Rewards MasterCard
APR: 10.49% - 21.49% (0% for first 15 months)
Rewards: 2% cash back at grocery stores & gas stations, 1% cash back on regular purchases
Bonus Rewards: 5% cash back at grocery stores & gas stations for first 12 months
Fees: No annual fee, $10 or 3% on balance transfers, no foreign transaction fee, $37 late payment fee
SunTrust Bank works its way onto this list with a promising cash rewards credit card, the SunTrust Cash Rewards MasterCard. It offers good competitive cash back rates (though no introductory bonus offers) with solid low interest rates, and it all comes with no annual fee.
As mentioned earlier, the SunTrust Cash Rewards MasterCard does not offer a huge, attractive bonus points offer for spending some amount during the initial months with the card, but it does come with a special introductory cash back rate.
Cardholders can take advantage of a 5% cash back rate for purchases made at a gas station or a grocery store during the first twelve months with the card. This rate is eligible for up to $6,000 of purchases, which puts the value of this offer at $300. If the cardholder has a savings or checking account with SunTrust, then this offer gets even better with the Client Exclusive offer. This offer adds a bonus 10% or 25% depending on the cardholder’s deposit relationship with SunTrust.
In addition to this introductory rate, there are two standard cash back rates to consider. The first, a 2% cash back rate, is offered on purchases made at gas stations and grocery stores after the introductory rate is over. All other purchases generate a 1% cash back return.
A fee of either $10 or 3% is charged for balance transfers. Cash advances are charged a bit more with a fee of either $10 or 4%. Luckily, there is no foreign transaction fee to worry about. As always, there is a late payment or returned payment fee that maxes out at $37.
Since this is a low-cost credit card, there are two attractive intro APR offers for balance transfers and regular purchases. This offer is 0% for the first fifteen months with the MasterCard from SunTrust. When the introductory period is over, cardholders can expect an APR from 10.49% to 21.49% for regular purchases and balance transfers. To finish things off, there is a cash advance APR of 25.24%.
While the SunTrust Cash Rewards MasterCard lacks one of those huge introductory bonus point offers, it still comes with a way to earn extra benefits during the first few months with the card. Aside from this, the card has low fees across the board which makes it a solid option for anyone who needs a cheap credit card with cash back.
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card
APR: 13.24% - 23.24% (0% on balance transfers for first 12 months)
Rewards: 5% cash back on select niche categories, 2% cash back at gas stations & grocery stores, 1% cash back on regular purchases
Bonus Rewards: N/A
Fees: No annual fee, 3% or $5 on balance transfers, 2% foreign transaction fee, $37 late payment fee
U.S. Bank offers plenty of credit cards, so it definitely has the no annual fee category covered. The U.S. Bank Perks+ Visa® Card offers benefits and low costs, but there is a little more emphasis on the low cost aspect.
Unfortunately, there is no introductory bonus offer with the Perks+ Visa® Card. Despite this missing benefit, there are cash back benefits that salvage this credit card. A special rate of 5% cash back is offered on certain niche categories, and the cardholder must choose these niches each quarter. Keep in mind that this rate is only applicable towards $2,000 of purchases.
This may sound typical, but cardholders receive two points for every dollar spent at a gas station or grocery store. To add to the lack of originality, one point is awarded for each dollar spent on regular purchases. These points have no limit, but they do expire after five years.
The main headline on the U.S. bank Perks+ Visa® Card is its $0 annual fee along with other low cost charges. With that being said, balance transfers are charged a fee of 3% or $5. Those looking to perform a cash advance can look forward to a fee of 4% or $10 on normal cash advances as well as ATM cash advances. Foreign transactions come with two possible fees: 2% is charged on foreign transaction using U.S. dollars while 3% is charged on foreign currency transactions. The maximum late payment penalty is $37 while the maximum returned payment penalty is $35.
The Cash+ Credit Card comes with an introductory balance transfer APR flat rate of 0%, but after twelve months, this rate increases to some value between 13.24% and 23.24%. The previously mentioned range is applicable to regular purchases, but there is no introductory rate. The cash advance APR is 24.24% with no promotional offer of any sort.
U.S. Bank provides a decent card that is a combination of good cash back and low cost rates. The lack of an annual fee makes this credit card eligible for this list, but the benefits package is what helped this card make the cut.
Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®
APR: 14.99% - 24.99% (0% on balance transfers for first 15 months)
Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Bonus Rewards: $100 credit for spending $500 in first 90 days
Fees: No annual fee, $5 or 3% on balance transfers, 3% foreign transaction fee, $37 late payment fee
Barclays makes this list with its no annual fee credit card: the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®. This credit card combines cash back oriented benefits with cheap fees (or nonexistent fees). Overall, it is a decent cash back credit card, but the interest rates somewhat contradict the low cost aspect.
The Barclay CashForward™ MasterCard® offers a $100 credit to cardholders who manage to spend at least $500. This credit is only available if the cardholder can accomplish this feat within the first 90 days of activating the credit card.
There is only one flat cash back rate when making purchases with the CashForward™ MasterCard®. This rate is set at 1.5% cash back on all transactions. Cardholders will be happy to know that there is no limit or expiration to these rewards, so they can be redeemed whenever necessary, so long as the account is in good order.
Similar to every other card on this list, the CashForward™ World MasterCard® from Barclays does not come with an annual fee. The minimum fee for a balance transfer is $5, but the maximum is 3% of the transfer amount. For cash advances, the minimum is $10 while the maximum is up to 5% of the advance amount. When making a purchase abroad, cardholders can expect to be charged 3% of the transaction. Late payments do not deviate from any trends by charging a maximum of $37.
The only interesting aspect of the APRs for this credit card is the introductory rate on balance transfers. The first fifteen billing cycles with the card comes with 0% APR on balance transfers; once this is finished, the APR may fall between two high values of 14.99% and 24.99%. The same rates are used for regular purchases, but there is no introductory rate. To cap things off, there is a 25.49% rate on cash advances.
The Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard offers suitable benefits for cardholders who want to avoid unnecessary fees. Despite offering low fees, it actually offers some fairly high APRs, so it is a bit conflicted in the low cost department.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
APR: 13.24% - 23.24% (0% APR for first 9 months)
Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Bonus Rewards: $100 credit for spending $500 within first 3 months
Fees: No annual fee, 3% on balance transfers, no foreign transaction fee, $35 late payment fee
Capital One offers another credit card with no annual fee that makes the cut. This time the product is designed specifically for cash back rewards. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Rewards Credit Card offers good cash back rates with moderately low rates and costs.
After spending at least $500 during the first three months with the Quicksilver® Rewards Card, a special one-time credit of $100 is awarded to the cardholder’s account. This is basically an introductory cash back offer of 20% on three months of purchases, but consumers need to reach the $500 minimum.
After this introductory cash back rate expires, cardholders are left with a much lower, but fairly standard and rewarding, cash back rate of 1.5% on all purchases. Cash back does not expire as long as the account is open and in good standing; additionally, there is no limit on these cash back rewards.
There are no annual fee requirements with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, but there are a couple of other fees to point out. 3% of a balance transfer amount is charged when such a transaction takes place. For the cash advances fee, either $10 or 3% is applied to the transaction amount. There is no foreign transaction fee, and late payments are charged up to $35.
A 0% introductory APR on regular purchases and balance transfers is offered for the first nine months with the credit card. Despite this intro rate, balance transfers are still charged a 3% fee. Once the introductory period ends, cardholders can expect an APR ranging from 13.24% to 23.24%. The cash advance APR is simply a flat rate of 23.24% instead of some value within a range.
Overall, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card comes with good benefits, but it lacks a bit in terms of cheap introductory APRs. Despite this, the cash back rewards are competitive when compared to other cards on this list.