Credit cards with $0 annual fee for the first year

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

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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 which allows you to continually enjoy 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: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

This entry-level Delta travel card can help ease you into the SkyMiles program and experience some travel perks – including 30,000 bonus miles. And even when you do start paying the annual fee, you’ll be on the hook for much less than the Platinum Delta SkyMiles and Delta Reserve.
Perks:
  • Welcome offer. Earn 60,000 miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months your account is open. You’ll also get $50 in statement credit after you make your first Delta purchase within the same period.
  • Earn Delta SkyMiles. Earn 2 miles for each dollar you spend on such Delta purchases as flights, tickets, seat upgrades and food. Earn 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. Redeem your miles toward travel rewards, gift cards, shopping and more.
  • Travel perks. Save up to $60 round trip with Delta for all passengers traveling on the same reservation. Even if you don’t travel often, it takes only two round-trip tickets to offset the card’s annual fee. The card also entitles you to Main Cabin 1 priority boarding on Delta and Delta Connection flights for up to nine passengers in the same reservation. For everyone else, the price of priority boarding is $15.

Waived annual fee card for general travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

If you want a flexible rewards card that can earn solid rewards regardless of your purchases, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card card has you covered. You won’t be locked into a single airline for redemption purposes and Capital One even throws in a great welcome offer to boot!
Perks:
  • Earn miles. Earn an unlimited 2x miles on all of your purchases and 10x miles on bookings through the Hotels.com Venture website. The 10x miles offer ends on January 31, 2020.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases during your first months of card membership. These miles are worth $200 when redeemed for travel rewards.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit. Get a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you pay with your card. You’ll get this credit once every four years.

Waived annual fee card for everyday purchases: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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.
Perks:
  • Signup bonus. Earn $300 cash back after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn cash back. Get unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2% at grocery stores and 1% back on everything else you buy.
  • No foreign transaction fees. When you pay abroad with this card, you won’t pay any fees. Other cards have up to 3% fee for each transaction.

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
$0
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
$0
17.49% to 26.49% variable
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
$0
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
$0
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
Earn a $150 signup bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening.
$0
0% intro for the first 12 billing cycles (then 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable)
14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% variable
Earn $200 cash back when you spend $500 within 90 days after account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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