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NerdWallet’s Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards of 2018

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Paying an annual fee on your credit card can be worth it if it gets you substantially higher rewards. But in many cases, credit cards that don’t charge annual fees offer better long-term value than those that do.

No-annual-fee credit cards make it easy to come out ahead, regardless of your spending. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your card open for a long time at no cost, increasing the average age of your accounts, which has a positive effect on your credit score.

NerdWallet’s best no annual fee credit cards

Best for flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now on Citibank's secure application
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • No annual fee
    • 0% APR period on balance transfers

    Cons

    • No sign-up bonus
    • No 0% APR for purchases
    • $25 minimum redemption

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.49%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
    • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
    • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74% based on your creditworthiness*
    • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
    • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

Earn 1% cash back on purchases, then an additional 1% back when you pay them off. Introductory APR of 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer:

  • One of the highest rewards rates available.
  • Simple earning structure. You don’t need to worry about bonus categories or spending caps.

Drawbacks of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer:

  • High ongoing APR. Try not to carry a balance on this card.
  • No sign-up bonus.

Bottom line:

If you want big rewards, but don’t have time to deal with complicated loyalty programs, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is your card. Its 1% + 1% rewards rate blows the competition out of the water.

Best for bonus cash back

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Cash back match at the end of your first year
    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • 0% on purchases for 14 months and 0% on balance transfers for 14 months

    Cons

    • Slightly less merchant acceptance for Discover in US - acceptance outside of US can be an issue
    • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.24% - 24.24% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
    • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
    • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
    • Use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkout.
    • No annual fee.
    • View Rates and Fees

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating bonus categories that you activate, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.. Introductory APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 24.24% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Chase Freedom®:

  • Rotating bonus categories have included common spending areas such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com, making it easy to benefit without changing your spending habits much.
  • A 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.
  • Access to the outstanding Discover Deals online bonus mall.
  • Unique new-cardmember promotion puts you in charge of your bonus.

Drawbacks of the Discover it® - Cashback Match™:

  • You have to remember to activate the bonus categories, or miss out on the extra cash back.

Bottom line:

TheDiscover it® - Cashback Match™ provides versatility and value at no cost. It’s a solid rewards card for people who don’t mind keeping track of rotating bonus categories, and we like those bonus categories for their universal appeal.

Best for long 0% into APR period

Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever:

  • Excellent 0% APR period. If you’re paying down debt or planning a major purchase, this is a good card to have.
  • No late fees or penalty APRs.

Drawbacks of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever:

  • High ongoing interest rate. Aim to pay off your balance before the 0% period ends.
  • Balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever’s greater.
  • No sign-up bonus or rewards.

Bottom line

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever helps you pay down debt while minimizing credit card fees and interest charges. Its long 0% APR period, annual fee of $0 and forgiving late fee policy make it an outstanding choice for those carrying a balance.

Best for travel

Earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on everything. Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24% - 24.24% Variable APR.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Bank of America's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
    • Generous flat rewards rate on all purchases
    • Flexibility to book travel how you want
    • Rewards accelerator if you bank with Bank of America or invest with Merrill Lynch

    Cons

    • More restrictive than a straight cash back card
    • If you're a big spender with excellent credit and willing to pay an annual fee, there are cards with higher rewards

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 16.24% - 24.24% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR
    • Cash Advance APR: See Terms

    Bonus Offers

    20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles
  • Additional Information
    • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
    • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
    • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
    • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
    • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
    • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.24% - 24.24% Variable APR
    • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
    • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%

Benefits of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

  • Competitive rewards rate. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed as a statement credit toward travel purchases. That covers not just airfare and hotels, but also charges at amusement parks and campgroundsYou’ll earn a 10% bonus on your points if you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account. And if you’re a Preferred Rewards customer, you’re eligible for bonuses of 25% to 75%.
  • Decent introductory 0% APR offer.
  • Robust sign-up bonus. You’ll get 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

  • High ongoing APR after the 0% APR period ends. Avoid carrying long-term debt on this card.

Bottom line

If you’re a traveler on a budget, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is your card. Get it for the strong sign-up bonus; keep it for the competitive ongoing rewards.

Not sure which card is right for you? Let's find the one. Tell us what you most want your new card to do.

 

To recap our selections:

NerdWallet’s best no annual fee credit cards

Card Best for … Key feature
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Flat-rate cash back 1% cash back on all purchases + 1% cash back when you pay them off
Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Bonus cash back 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever Long 0% APR period 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Travel 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases; points can be redeemed for any travel expense

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

 

Updated Feb. 21, 2018