If you’re an avid traveller, you may want to consider a travel rewards credit card. These types of credit cards can earn you points per dollar spent which can usually be used toward flights, upgrades, travel experiences and more. While most travel rewards credit cards come with an annual fee, there are some cards that offer a $0 annual fee for the first year or no annual fee for the life of the card.
Read our guide and learn how to find and compare travel rewards credit cards with no annual fee. We also go through some of the key factors to consider when comparing cards, so that you can find the best travel rewards credit card to suit your spending habits and travel goals.
Compare no annual fee travel rewards credits cards
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What’s the deal with no annual fee travel rewards credit cards?
These credit cards allow you to earn travel rewards points that you can use toward flights, hotels, upgrades and travel experiences. With no annual fee, these credit cards allow you to save between $50 to $700 a year on annual credit card fees.
$0 annual fee in the first year
Some travel rewards credit cards will offer to waive the standard annual fee in the first year you have the card as part of an introductory offer. After the first 12 months, you’ll be charged a standard annual fee for the account each year.
This means you have time to test out the card (and enjoy perks such as bonus point offers or complimentary lounge access) without paying an annual fee. If you decide the card is worth it, you can then keep it and pay the fee once it’s applied. If not, you can cancel it before the first year and avoid being charged an annual fee.
No annual fee for life
You may also find a travel rewards credit card that offers no annual fee for the life of the card. With these cards, you won’t pay an annual fee at all.
The catch with these cards is that you may not have as many extra features, such as complimentary travel insurance, lounge access or introductory bonus point offers. However, if you get one of these cards and pay your balance off each month, you can earn points per $1 spent without having to pay any account fees.
Is a no annual fee travel rewards credit card right for me?
These credit cards are for people who want to earn travel rewards points using a credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee for the service. These people are also willing to forgo some of the usual perks that are offered by travel rewards credit cards that have an annual fee, like complimentary insurances and access to airport lounges.
No annual fee travel rewards credit cards can also be a good starting point if you’re new to the world of travel rewards programs and credit cards because they give you a chance to test the waters without paying any upfront costs. However, if you’re a big spender and an avid traveller, a credit card with an annual fee and a higher points earn rate could give you more value than the savings you’d get from a $0 annual fee credit card.
How can I compare travel rewards credit cards with no annual fee?
Compare the following features when you’re looking for a credit card that earns travel rewards points and has no annual fee:
Annual fee details. Before choosing a travel rewards credit card, check whether the $0 annual fee is for the first year only or for the life of the card, so that you know exactly what you’ll be required to pay now and in the future.
Bonus points. Many travel rewards credit cards offer thousands of introductory bonus points when you meet the spending requirements as a new cardholder, however this offer rarely comes with no annual fee cards. If you stumble across this offer, it could provide you with a huge amount of value in the first year – especially without an annual fee, even just for the first year.
Points per $1 spent. The amount of points you’ll earn per $1 spent can help you figure out how much value you’ll get from the card based on your typical spending habits. Keep in mind that although you’ll earn points for most everyday purchases, you usually won’t get any for transactions such as cash advances.
Interest rates. Travel rewards credit cards usually come with average or high interest rates, which could potentially offset the value of the no annual fee if you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month.
Additional cardholders. If you want to boost your travel rewards point balance by sharing the account with a partner or a family member, check whether they’ll also get the option to have a card with no annual fee.
Complimentary extras. Weigh up the value of any additional perks, such as complimentary insurances, lounge passes or annual travel credits. If the card offers a $0 annual fee in the first year, also consider whether these benefits will outweigh the cost of the standard annual fee once the first year is up.
FAQs about no annual fee travel rewards credit cards
Here are answers to a couple of the most commonly asked questions about no annual fee travel rewards credit cards.
This depends on the specific credit card you choose. Carefully read the benefits and perks offered by each credit card before you apply for one.
Yes, it’s possible to do this. Just make sure you pay your balance off in full and cancel it before 12 months has passed. You may even want to call the provider and check what date the annual fee will be charged so that you can be sure you close the account before then.
Amy Bradney-George is the acting editor for Finder X and a senior writer for credit cards and Finder Green. She has more than 13 years' experience as a journalist and writer, with bylines in publications including The Equity Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News and produce industry website FreshPlaza. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Drama from Griffith University, and when she’s not putting (virtual) pen to paper, she spends her time as an actress.
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