The Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards of 2019

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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.

Editors' Picks

Best Overall

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our Rating Among No Annual Fee Cards
4.8
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Full Review
Next Steps
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 (%) 16.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day.
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 15
Foreign transaction fee 0%

Why We Chose This Card

This unassuming workhorse pairs a generous cash-back rate with a simple rewards structure and solid sign-up bonus. A great pick for cardholders who want to finance a big purchase and earn extra cash, the Quicksilver card also won top honors among no-annual-fee cards for best purchase APR and best cash-back card.

Best With Travel Rewards

Discover it® Miles

Our Rating Among No Annual Fee Cards
4.7
Discover it® Miles
Full Review
Next Steps
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% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 14
Foreign transaction fee 0%

Why We Chose This Card

The Discover it Miles card stands out for its low-maintenance rewards program, which allows you to earn a bonus on every purchase and book your rewards travel yourself. It also offers an unconventional sign-up bonus that could potentially net you hundreds of dollars’ worth of miles in your first year.

Best for Businesses

Ink Business Unlimited

Our Rating Among No Annual Fee Cards
3.5
Ink Business Unlimited
Full Review
Next Steps
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 (%) 15.24% - 21.24% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 12
Cash Advance APR (%) 26.99%
Cash Advance Fee Either $15 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Why We Chose This Card

Ideal for business owners who are too busy to mess with a complicated rewards scheme, this hassle-free cash-back card offers a strong return on every purchase and an unusually lucrative sign-up bonus. Its introductory promotion is also better than what you’ll typically find on a business card.

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Our Rating Among No Annual Fee Cards
4.2
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Full Review
Next Steps
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 (%) 16.99% - 25.74% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 15
Foreign transaction fee 3%

Why We Chose This Card

If you’re hoping to earn a lot of cash in your first year, this card delivers, offering significantly more value in the first year than most no-annual fee cash back cards. (You get 3% cash back on up to $20,000 of purchases your first year.) It also makes earning cash back easy: You can count on earning a bonus no matter what you buy in your first year.

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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    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
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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. 

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 to 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 a 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. 

Methodology

At Jacara, we're committed to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.

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 200 cards for products that never charge an annual fee. That leaves well over 100 cards, from which we picked our top four.

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.