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Credit cards with $0 annual fee for the first year

Take advantage of an annual fee waiver to save money on a new card.

There is a wide range of credit cards that include a promotional annual fee waiver for new customers. This means that you pay a $0 annual fee for the first year, which can help reduce the initial costs of getting a new card. But since the annual fee usually kicks in again after the first year, it’s important to factor in the card’s other features when deciding if it will offer any value.

How do credit cards with $0 annual fee for the first year work?

This is an introductory offer where at the end of the first year, the card’s standard annual fee will be charged. This is typically applied on the anniversary of your account opening, and every 12 months thereafter. This is why you may see an offer that reads something like “$89 annual fee (waived first year)”.

Can I get my credit card annual fee waived beyond the promotional first-year offer?

Unfortunately, most credit card owners won’t be able to get an extension of the annual fee waiver. However, service members on active duty can get Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) benefits, which include an annual fee waiver among the other perks.

Credit card issuers that offer SCRA benefits are:

  • American Express
  • Capital One
  • Barclays
  • Chase
  • Citi

Most of these issuers may only waive the annual fee to those who were cardmembers prior to going on active duty. For additional information, contact your card issuer.

Credit cards with no annual fee for life

Another category of cards that allows you to continually enjoy an annual fee waiver is the no-annual-fee credit card. These cards often charge higher interest rates as a result and are more suitable for card users who regularly repay their card balances.

Our picks for cards that waive annual fee for the first year

There are a few great credit card options that waive their annual fee for the first year, letting you enjoy the perks without an immediate hit to your wallet. Here are a few of our favorites:

Waived annual fee card for Delta travelers

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Finder rating 4 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on American Express's secure website
Terms apply, see rates & fees
This entry-level Delta travel card can help ease you into the SkyMiles program and experience some travel perks, including 70,000 Bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. This offer expires 11/10/2021.Plus, earn up to back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.And even when you do start paying the annual fee, you'll be on the hook for much less than the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.

Waived annual fee card for everyday purchases

Savor Rewards from Capital One

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

If you prefer a simple cash back structure over juggling points, the Capital One Savor offers strong cash back rates on everyday purchases, including a 4% cash back on dining and entertainment.

Waived annual fee card for United travelers

United℠ Explorer Card

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure website
Terms apply, see rates & fees
The United℠ Explorer Card is a card with terrific perks and a solid signup bonus, without the large annual fee you'd expect from a premium travel card. In fact, the Explorer sports an intro $0 annual fee for the first year. This along with perks such as annual United Passes and travel credits toward your is a generous offer.

How we selected our top cards

When choosing this year’s top 0% annual fee for the first year cards, we compared a number of factors among eligible cards, including the revert annual fee, welcome offers, rewards rates and travel perks of bonuses a consumer might consider when choosing such a card. We highlighted cards that stood out in one or more of these categories.

How to compare credit cards with $0 annual fee for the first year

In order to make the most of your annual fee waiver and the credit card, it’s important to consider the following factors when comparing credit cards:
  • Other promotional features. Credit cards often include additional introductory offers, such as a 0% balance transfer rate, 0% purchase interest rate or bonus sign-up points. Consider how these deals add value to your card.
  • Standard annual fee. You must factor in the standard annual fee since it will apply after the introductory period. Make sure the card you choose has a standard annual fee you can afford so that you don’t have to deal with excessive credit card costs in the future.
  • Purchase rate. This is the interest rate for eligible purchases, which is important to consider if you tend to carry a balance on the card.
  • Balance transfer rate. This is the interest rate applied to balance transfers and is particularly relevant if you plan to consolidate existing debt onto your new credit card.
  • Rewards. Rewards credit cards let you earn points per dollar spent that you can redeem for travel, merchandise and other rewards. This can add to the value of your credit card, particularly if you’re a high spender or frequent flyer and regularly pay your balance in full.
  • Complimentary extras. Depending on the card, you may be able to enjoy perks such as complimentary travel and purchase insurances, concierge services and free checked bags.
  • Cash advances. Cash advances, which include but are not limited to ATM withdrawals and cash equivalent purchases, attract cash advance fees and high cash advance interest rates. You should avoid making cash advances on your credit card if possible since these incur high fees.
  • Foreign transaction fees. This is usually around 3% of the transaction value for overseas transactions, but note that internet purchases made in foreign currencies may also attract these fees. Travel credit cards, however, often don’t have foreign transaction fees.
  • Other fees. You need to identify and compare any other fees that may be applied to your account, such as ATM fees or late payment fees.

Compare credit cards with no annual fee

You’ll find many great no-annual-fee credit card options in a variety of categories.

Name Product Annual fee Balance transfer APR Purchase APR Filter values
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
$0
N/A
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
$0
0% intro for the first 21 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)

Best of Finder 2021

An impressive 21 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
$39
26.99% variable
26.99% variable
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
$0
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
A new cashback card that automatically awards 5% to your highest eligible spending category each billing cycle, on up to $500 (then 1%).
Citi Simplicity® Card
$0
0% intro for the first 21 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
With an intro APR of 21 months, this card has one of the longest balance transfer offers on the market. Plus, no late fees and no annual fee.
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Bottom line

When comparing credit cards with annual fee waivers, make sure you research all the available credit card options. Since these annual fee savings may be only temporary, remember to weigh in the card’s ongoing features and check for any ongoing fee waivers before choosing the one that will work for you now and in the foreseeable future.

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