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Best travel credit cards with no annual fee

You don't have to shell out every year for helpful travel benefits.

It’s true that the best travel cards typically have annual fees — some running $95, $450 or more each year.

Luckily, you can get a great travel card without the hassle of paying an annual fee. Many card providers want your business, and they’re willing to offer attractive travel benefits to get it.

We took a look at all travel credit cards with no annual fee and features such as rewards rate, signup bonus, intro APR and additional perks. Then, we selected the credit cards with the best combination of benefits for travel.

What are the best travel credit cards with no annual fee?

While comparing these products, consider your spending habits. If a card’s bonus-rewards categories match with your shopping style, you may have found an effective travel card.

Best for a welcome offer and co-branded hotel card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Hilton Honors American Express Card welcome offer and accelerated rewards on Hilton properties and everyday purchases makes it a strong travel credit card.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Best for hotels

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Finder rating 3.5 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on Capital One Bank®'s secure site
Consider this card if you're a frequent traveler. It offers decent rewards on every purchase.

Best airline credit card

United Gateway℠ Card

Read review
Terms apply, see rates & fees
The United Gateway℠ Card is one of the best no-annual-fee airline cards because you get to earn a solid 2% back on your United flights and 1% back on all other purchases. Other perks include a decent signup bonus, 25% discount on United in-flight purchases and you won't pay foreign transaction fees abroad.
The information about United Gateway℠ Card has been collected independently by Finder and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.

Best card with flat rewards

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Finder rating 3.2 / 5 ★★★★★

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is one of the best travel credit cards because you get 1.5x points on all purchases, you get to earn a solid signup bonus, and you won't pay foreign transaction fees abroad.

Best for a guaranteed-value welcome offer and gas rewards

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

This card's biggest strength is its welcome offer, but that's definitely not its only feature. It offers accelerated points in everyday spending categories.

Best for Uber and Uber Eats

Uber Visa Card

You might be surprised to see this card on this list. But it's a legit travel pick, offering accelerated rewards on hotels, airfare and dining. You'll earn even more rewards on Uber, Uber Eats and JUMP spending.

Best signup bonus

Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card

Finder rating 3.7 / 5 ★★★★★

The Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card comes with a non-standard signup bonus where you can double all miles earned during your first year. If you're a large spender, the bonus miles you earn can be bigger than the signup bonus on more premium cards.

How to choose the best travel credit cards with no annual fee

  • How important are rewards to you? This is one of the key factors travelers usually consider when comparing travel cards. If you’re looking at a tiered-rewards card, check if your spending lines up with the card’s bonus categories. You’ll accumulate rewards faster this way. If you want a greater earning rate, you’ll likely need to look at cards with annual fees.
  • Do you want a large signup bonus? A signup bonus is an excellent benefit from a no-annual-fee card, as it’s all upside. Plus, you can find cards with low spend requirements. bonuses between cards and consider how you might use them.
  • Consider what you want to use your rewards on. If you’re sure you want to use your rewards for a certain loyalty program, you might like a cobranded card. For example, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card can be useful, but you must use your points through American Airlines’ rewards portal.
  • Are you making any large purchases soon? Generally, travel cards with intro APRs can be few and far between, which is why you might want to pay special attention to a card that has one. An intro APR on purchases or balance transfers can give you a helpful break from interest.
  • Look at the Travel perks. A card’s travel perks can amount to hundreds of dollars in value if used correctly. Travel cards with no annual fee tend to have fewer travel perks, but you can still find plenty of no annual fee cards with worthwhile travel features.
  • Do you need additional cards?. A travel card that offers free cards for authorized users can often let you double up on a card’s perks and rewards.

Frequent flyer picks

If you’re a frequent flyer on a particular airline, you might like one of these cards.

  • United Gateway℠ Card.
    Earn 2% in TravelBank cash on tickets purchased from United. Earn in TravelBank cash on all other purchases. Earn in TravelBank cash after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months card membership. Get a 25% discount in the form of statement credit on in-flight food, beverage and Wi-Fi purchases.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card.
    Earn 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and at grocery stores. Earn 1x miles on all other purchases. Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles and a statement credit after you make $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. Get a 25% discount in the form of statement credit on in-flight food and beverage purchases.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card.
    Earn 2x miles on Delta purchases and at restaurants worldwide. Earn 1x miles on other eligible purchases. Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you make $500 in purchases within 3 months of your account opening. Get a 20% discount in the form of statement credit on in-flight food, beverage and audio-headset purchases. As of January 30, 2020, the card has no foreign transaction fees. It also qualifies you for Pay with Miles fares, which lets you reduce your dollar-based fare cost with SkyMiles(Terms apply, see rates & fees).

Getting the most out of a no-annual-fee travel card

Here are a few ways to maximize value out of your no-annual-fee travel credit card. For more tips, check out our guide to travel credit cards.

  • Scoop up the signup bonus. No-annual-fee cards typically have lower spend requirements to obtain their signup bonuses. Plan out your spending over the spend window so you get the bonus. This will give you a burst of points or miles you can put toward great travel redemptions.
  • Earn rewards. Your card may offer accelerated rewards in certain categories. If that’s the case, use your card more for those spending areas. For non-bonus categories, a flat-rate cashback card might be useful.
  • Use extra perks. If your card offers benefits like travel credits or elite status in loyalty programs, take advantage of them when you can.

Is a no annual fee travel card right for me?

These cards are for travelers who want to earn travel points with a credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee for the service. They can also be a good starting point when you are new to travel programs or credit cards because they give you a chance to test the waters without paying any upfront costs.

However, if you’re a big spender, a travel card with an annual fee and a higher earn rate could give you more value than the savings you’d get from a $0 annual fee.

Compare travel cards with no annual fee

Want the benefits of a travel card but don’t want to pay a large annual fee?

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
Earn unlimited 1.25x miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Earn up to 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points. Earn 80,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Also, earn another 50,000 points after spending a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months.
7x points on eligible Hilton purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other eligible purchases
$0
With a massive welcome offer for a no-annual-fee card and up to 7x points on eligible Hilton purchases, this is a solid pick for Hilton fans and occasional travelers. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
10,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants and on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on other eligible purchases
$0
Earn 2x miles on Delta purchases and dining with this simple, entry-level Delta card, and pay no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Travel cards are a very competitive space, and there are plenty of no-annual-fee products that offer excellent travel benefits.

Look for a card that offers bonus rewards for your preferred spending categories. Pay attention to signup bonuses, too, as they can give you an attractive burst of initial rewards. If finding a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees is more important to you than travel benefits, no-annual-fee and no-foreign-fee cards.

If you’re not sure about the credit cards we listed above, consider other travel products.

Frequently asked questions

Should I get a travel card with an annual fee or no annual fee?
This depends on what you need. Annual-fee travel cards tend to have stronger signup bonuses, more powerful rewards and superior travel benefits. But it doesn’t always make sense to pay for a travel card, especially if you don’t spend or travel often.

I reached my card’s signup-bonus spend requirement. Why don’t I see my bonus in my online account?
It usually takes several weeks before a signup bonus shows up in your account. With some providers, you should allow six to eight weeks. Other providers ask that you allow eight to 12 weeks.

What credit score do I need to apply for a travel credit card?
You’ll have a better chance of approval with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

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