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NerdWallet’s Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards of 2017

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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 … Card
Bonus cash back Chase Freedom®
Flat-rate cash back Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Long 0% APR period Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Travel BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card

Best for bonus cash back

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=Chase-Freedom-100-Cash-Back&uv=JR9Su1PURpEMAXkh%2BGAX%2B1CPL5aED3MFqu7WgN7oXEe76BR%2F%2FoBzv9NHRJslGbqhoB6vsESfW1IcGoc3Su8W&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=3200

Chase Freedom®

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

    • No annual fee
    • 5% rewards on rotating categories
    • Access to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site to earn more cash back

    Cons

    • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better
    • A foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 15.49% - 24.24% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
    • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
    • No annual fee

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in quarterly rotating bonus categories, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Introductory APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 24.24% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Chase Freedom®:

  • Rotating bonus categories have included common spending areas such as grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants, making it easy to benefit without changing your spending habits much.
  • An 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.

Drawbacks of the Chase Freedom®:

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

Bottom line:

The Chase Freedom® 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 the card’s bonus categories for their universal appeal.

Best for flat-rate cash back

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=Citibank-Double-Cash-Card&uv=JR9Su1PURpEMAXkh%2BGAX%2B1CPL5aED3MFqu7WgN7oXEe76BR%2F%2FoBzv9NHRJslGbqhoB6vsESfW1IcGoc3Su8W&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=4220

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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

    • High rewards rate
    • No annual fee
    • 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

    Cons

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn cash back twice on every purchase

    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 13.99% - 23.99% 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 13.99% - 23.99% 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 0% APR period

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=Citibank-Simplicity&uv=JR9Su1PURpEMAXkh%2BGAX%2B1CPL5aED3MFqu7WgN7oXEe76BR%2F%2FoBzv9NHRJslGbqhoB6vsESfW1IcGoc3Su8W&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=4210

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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

    • No late fee
    • No annual fee
    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 21 months

    Cons

    • No rewards

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

    Bonus Offers

    0% on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 21 months
  • Additional Information
    • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER.
    • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.
    • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
    • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
    • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 21 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

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

  • Industry-leading 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 super-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

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=BankAmericard-Travel-Rewards&uv=JR9Su1PURpEMAXkh%2BGAX%2B1CPL5aED3MFqu7WgN7oXEe76BR%2F%2FoBzv9NHRJslGbqhoB6vsESfW1IcGoc3Su8W&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=2615

BankAmericard 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 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: 15.49% - 23.49% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR
    • Cash Advance APR: <a href="https://consumer.bankofamerica.com/USCCapp/Ctl/entry?sc=BAAAVU" rel="nofollow">See Terms</a>

    Bonus Offers

    20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - 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 - 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 15.49% - 23.49% 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%

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 15.49% - 23.49% Variable APR.

Benefits of the BankAmericard 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 - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks of the BankAmericard 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 BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card is your card. Get it for the strong sign-up bonus; keep it for the competitive ongoing rewards.

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.

Last updated Jan. 12, 2017.

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