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Best Travel Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Nov. 28, 2018
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Flights and accommodations for your next vacation have a price tag. But your travel credit card doesn’t have to come with one.

Plenty of travel-focused cards offer generous sign-up bonuses and ongoing rewards, and some even let you skip the annual fee on top of it.

If you don’t travel often enough to justify an annual fee, or if annual fees are simply a non-starter for you, here are some cards to consider.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card offers high ongoing rewards rates across a broad range of spending categories: 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations, rideshare services, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals and eligible streaming services. For purchases that don’t fall under the bonus categories, you’ll earn 1 point per $1 spent.

It has a $0 annual fee along with a welcome offer that can slice a chunk off your next vacation budget: New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months that's a $300 cash redemption value. The introductory APR can offer breathing room on any amount left over. It offers 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 26.99% Variable APR.

This card spares you from foreign transaction fees, too — although, since it’s an American Express card, you might encounter limited merchant acceptance outside the U.S.

›› MORE: Full review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

The $0-annual-fee Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers 1.5 points on every dollar spent and a sign-up bonus: 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

This card has one of the broadest definitions of travel. Points redeem for statement credit when you use the card for flights, hotels, rental cars, taxis and tourist attractions, to name a few. You can also earn a 10% points bonus if you’re a Bank of America® checking or savings account holder, and up to 75% more points if you’re a Preferred Rewards client.

As a Visa card, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card makes an excellent travel companion, with broad international acceptance and no foreign transaction fees. The introductory APR can also offer extra time to pay your hotel bill or plane ticket without interest. It offers 0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

›› MORE: Full review of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Discover it® Miles

The Discover it® Miles credit card earns 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases. It offers a lengthy introductory APR: 0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

The card’s sign-up bonus can also help you travel farther. The issuer phrases it this way: “Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!” Miles redeem as a statement credit for airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, transportation, travel agent services and travel websites.

The card travels light with no foreign transaction fees, although Discover’s acceptance is limited abroad. The annual fee is $0.

›› MORE: Full review of the Discover it® Miles

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers an unlimited 1.25 miles on every dollar spent and a sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel. It has a $0 annual fee.

Plus, you can earn 10 miles per dollar spent when using the card to book stays through Hotels.com/venture.

Miles can be used to reimburse travel expenses such as airfare, hotel stays and car rentals. You can also use rewards for cash back or gift cards.

This Visa card also travels well, with broad merchant acceptance and no foreign transaction fees.

This card’s big brother, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, offers a higher rewards rate, but it has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95.

›› MORE: Full review of the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

The $0-annual-fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card earns 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 AAdvantage mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

The issuer describes the card’s sign-up bonus this way: NEW: Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*. Miles redeem for flights, upgrades, car rentals, hotel stays or vacation packages. You can save 25% on in-flight food and beverage purchases made with the card.

If you often travel abroad with American Airlines, it may be worth considering the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. It has an annual fee — $0 for the first year, then $99 — but it offers ways to offset that cost, including a generous sign-up bonus, free checked bags and other perks.

›› MORE: Full review of the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express earns 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on purchases made directly with Delta, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get 20% off of in-flight purchases in the form of statement credit when you use your card to buy food, beverages or audio headsets. Terms apply.

New cardholders are eligible for a welcome offer: Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

If Delta is your top choice and you mostly travel domestically, this card could work for you. If you use the card abroad, though, you’ll be on the hook for foreign transaction fees of 2.7%.

For international travel, consider the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. It has an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95, but it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, and your first checked bag will be free. Terms apply.

›› MORE: NerdWallet’s best overall travel credit cards

Other travel options

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card is available to PenFed credit union members only. But if you qualify for membership, this $0-annual-fee card offers rich ongoing rewards and a generous sign-up bonus. It also offers an annual travel credit and a statement credit for airport security screening programs — perks mostly found on premium travel credit cards with high annual fees.

Hotel credit cards can also offer value when you travel. The Hilton Honors American Express Card, for example, has a $0 annual fee, and it offers a welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. You’ll also get rich ongoing rewards and valuable perks.

›› MORE: NerdWallet’s best hotel credit cards of 2018

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