Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards of November 2020

The best no-annual-fee cards don't make you pay for your rewards.

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The best no-annual-fee credit cards prove you don’t need to commit to a big annual fee to earn exceptional rewards. Many of today’s no-annual-fee credit cards make it easy to accrue an impressive amount of cash back, miles, or points just by using your card for everyday purchases.

If you’re looking for a solid return on your spending, but don’t want to pay extra for it, here are some of your best options.

Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

Best Overall

,

Best for Travelers

Our Rating Among No-Annual-Fee Cards
4.8
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Travelers looking for solid rewards and all-around favorable terms without an annual fee should explore the Bank of America Travel Rewards card. You’ll earn unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar spent—an average annual earnings of $364.46 per year, based on our research. Those points can then be redeemed as statement credits toward your travel purchases. The welcome bonus is enticing as well, offering 25,000 bonus points (valued at $250) after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening. And, should you need a bit of extra time to pay for purchases early on, you’ll enjoy 0% APR for the first 12 months.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Good rewards for a flat-rate travel card that doesn’t charge an annual fee
    • New cardholder bonus beats many competitor offers
    • Points can be redeemed for travel you buy anywhere

    Cons

    • Points can only be used in certain increments, and must be used on the most recent qualifying purchase first
    • Bank customers can earn more rewards, but you’ll need a lot in an investment or deposit account to qualify
    • Short 0% purchase APR offer compared to other similar cards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 25,000 points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.
    • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points.
    • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend, everywhere, every time.

Discover it® Miles

Best Sign-Up Bonus

,

Best With a Low APR

Our Rating Among No-Annual-Fee Cards
4.7
Discover it® Miles
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 14 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Discover it Miles card stands out for a low-maintenance rewards program that allows you to earn miles on every purchase and book your award travel anywhere you want. It also offers an unconventional sign-up bonus where your rewards in the first year are doubled at the end of the year. This can be quite lucrative—worth about $365 if you spend what the average household spends.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Miles can be redeemed as travel statement credits or cash back
    • Generous, unconventional bonus doubles your first year earnings
    • Competitive 0% purchase APR offer

    Cons

    • Miles can’t be transferred to airline loyalty programs
    • No travel insurance benefits
    • Card acceptance may vary compared to Visa or Mastercard
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn unlimited 1.5 Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases.
    • Only Discover automatically matches all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year.
    • Use your card to pay for airfare, hotels, rideshares, and more with no blackout dates. Then easily redeem miles as a statement credit for travel or get cash.
    • No annual fee.

Business Advantage Travel Rewards credit card

Best for Businesses

Our Rating Among No-Annual-Fee Cards
4.7
Business Advantage Travel Rewards credit card
Current Offer

30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 12.24% - 22.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel booked through the Bank of America Travel center - powered by Expedia.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 9 Billing Cycles
Cash Advance APR (%) 24.24%
Cash Advance Fee Either $10 or 4% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Those who take their business on the road will appreciate the simple, unlimited rewards and no-annual-fee aspects of the Business Advantage Travel Rewards card from Bank of America. Earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel booked through the Bank of America Travel Center (where there are no blackout dates), and 1.5 points on all other purchases. If the welcome bonus (worth $300 after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days) doesn’t snag you, the attractive 9-month 0% purchase APR offer might since it’s not all that common among business cards. The regular purchase APR is competitive, too.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Decent earning rate for a no-annual-fee, flat-rate rewards card
    • Redeeming rewards for travel is easy—just request a statement credit for the expense

    Cons

    • Bank of America customers can earn even more rewards, but you’ll need a lot of money in a deposit account to qualify
    • Rewards can’t be transferred to other hotel or airline loyalty programs
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 30,000 bonus points when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening which can be redeemed for a $300 statement credit towards travel purchases.
    • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases, everywhere, every time – no matter how much you spend.
    • Earn 3 points per every dollar spent when you book your travel (car, hotel, airline) through the Bank of America Travel Center.
    • Get 75% more points on the base earn of every purchase you make when you’re a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you'll earn 2.62 points on all purchases and 4.12 points for every $1 you spend at the Bank of America Travel Center.

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®

Best With Cash-Back Rewards

Our Rating Among No-Annual-Fee Cards
4.7
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®
Current Offer

Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases. 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn an introductory 3% cash back on $10,000 in purchases made during the first 12 months of account opening. 1.5% cash back thereafter.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    If you’ve got big purchases planned, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard offers two appealing introductory offers. While you’re enjoying a 0% purchase APR for the first 12 months, you’ll also earn 3% back on the first $10,000 you spend on the card. That’s worth $300 to you if you spend the full amount, which is a higher value than most other welcome bonuses offered by similar no-annual-fee cards. And, you have a year instead of the typical three months to earn it. Once you reach that threshold, you’ll switch to an unlimited 1.5% cash back earnings rate on all purchases. Not bad for a no-annual-fee card. 

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Superb bonus that doubles the already-solid rewards earning rate on eligible purchases during the first year
    • 0% APR deals give you a full year to pay off purchases and balance transfers
    • Includes cellphone insurance coverage, which is uncommon

    Cons

    • No short-term new cardholder bonus for those seeking a quick stash of cash back
    • Above-average balance transfer fee can chip away at the cost savings of moving large balances to this card
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 1.5% Unlimited Cash Back – on all purchases after the intro period
    • No Annual Fee
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Discover it® Secured

Best Secured Card

Our Rating Among No-Annual-Fee Cards
4.0
Discover it® Secured
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Pay deposit in installments No
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    A secured card with no annual fee is a rare find, but one that also pays rewards, as the Discover it Secured Card does, really stands out. What’s more, Discover will match the cash back you earn in your first year. Plus, if you establish a good track record, you may be able to get your deposit back pretty quickly. Discover will start reviewing your account for an upgrade to an unsecured card just eight months in.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Ability to earn cash-back rewards while building credit
    • Responsible use can lead to automatic unsecured card upgrade
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Cash-back match as a first year bonus

    Cons

    • Low cap on highest rewards earning rate
    • Mediocre maximum credit limit compared to other secured cards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • No annual fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
    • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
    • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
    • Get 100% U.S.-based customer service and get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO Credit Score.
Find Your Credit Card Match When choosing a simple, no-frills credit card, we believe it's most important to focus on the APRs and fees, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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What Is an Annual Fee?

An annual fee is a yearly charge—ranging anywhere from $25 a year to $550 or more—that cardholders have to pay to own a particular credit card. Issuers typically add annual fees to cards that offer generous benefits—such as hefty bonuses or luxurious perks—or when they are lending to consumers who are considered to be high-risk. 

For example, if you’ve never used credit before or have a history of missing payments and are applying for a subprime credit card, you may have to pay an annual fee in order to help offset the lender’s risk that they won’t be paid back. Lenders also charge annual fees on premium rewards cards to help support the cost of providing lucrative perks.   

Who Is a No-Annual-Fee Card Right For?

No-annual-fee cards are ideal for borrowers who want to benefit from a credit card, but don’t want to commit to an annual charge. For example, if you plan to carry a balance or are paying down credit card debt, you’ll want to stick with the least expensive card you can find. 

You may also prefer a no-annual-fee credit card if you’d like to earn rewards, but don’t want to spend time or energy maximizing rewards or taking advantage of a card’s benefits. No-annual-fee cards also make good companion cards. For example, if you’re already paying an annual fee for an airline credit card, you may want to keep a no-annual-fee rewards card on hand for non-travel-related purchases. 

Most no-annual-fee cards are designed for consumers with good to excellent credit. However, you may still qualify for a card without an annual fee, even if your credit is less-than-perfect. For example, a number of secured cards don’t charge annual fees. 

What Are Some Pros & Cons of Cards Without Annual Fees? 

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Essentially give you free credit if you pay your bill in full each month

  • Frequently offer good rewards

Cons
  • May cap your bonus-point earning ability

  • Usually have fewer insurance and purchase protection benefits than cards with annual fees

  • Often harder to qualify for than subprime cards with annual fees

How Do You Choose a Credit Card With No Annual Fee?

When you’re comparing cards without annual fees, ask yourself what you want from a credit card. Are you looking for an easy way to earn extra cash? A cash-back card is best for you. On the other hand, if you want to finance a big purchase, get a card with a sweet 0% introductory APR deal. 

Warning

If you plan to regularly carry a balance, skip high-APR rewards cards and check out cards from your local credit union. Smaller banks and credit unions often charge lower ongoing APRs on basic, low-interest credit cards than larger, nationwide banks.

The type of spender you are and the amount of time or energy you’re willing to put into earning rewards should also influence your decision. For example, if you have a long commute, check out credit cards that let you earn extra rewards for gas purchases. Or if you have a big family and spend a lot on groceries, you may want a card that offers a bonus on supermarket purchases. 

Some no-annual-fee credit cards require more maintenance than others. For example, some cash-back cards with rotating bonus categories require you to opt in to your bonuses every quarter. Similarly, some rewards cards require you to navigate their multi-step points systems in order to redeem a reward. Meanwhile, other no-annual-fee cards offer the same rewards earning rate on every purchase, so you don’t have to worry about anything other than using your credit card. 

Tip

When you’re comparing rewards cards, look at what you’ll need to do to redeem your rewards. For example, can you have your cash back deposited in your bank account, or do you need to wait for a check? Similarly, do you have to go through your card issuer to book rewards-funded travel or can you book travel on your own and get reimbursed?

To get a sense of whether a credit card is the best choice for you, read through credit card reviews from trusted publications. In addition, look at whether a particular card issuer is well regarded by other cardholders. J.D. Power, for example, publishes an annual credit card satisfaction survey. Meanwhile, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau keeps a record of complaints consumers have made about different companies. Here’s another summary of the best credit cards available with no annual fee:

Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards
Credit Card Category Annual Fee
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card Best Overall $0
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard Best With Cash-Back Rewards $0
Discover it Miles Best Sign-Up Bonus $0
Business Advantage Travel Rewards credit card Best for Businesses $0
Discover it Secured Best Secured Card $0
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card Best for Travelers $0
Discover it Miles Best With a Low APR $0

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial. No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We start by filtering our database of more than 300 cards for products that never charge an annual fee. That leaves well over 150 cards, from which we picked these.

What We Score

Rewards, annual fee, and regular APR are the most important things people consider when choosing a credit card, so we weigh those features most heavily. For full details on how we evaluate credit card attributes, check out our full methodology.