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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.

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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 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

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$99 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 2x
Miles
35,000
Miles welcome offer
This entry-level Delta travel card can help ease you into the SkyMiles program and experience some travel perks, including 35,000 bonus miles after you meet spending requirements. 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.
  • Welcome offer. Earn 35,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Earn Delta SkyMiles. Earn 2 miles for each dollar you spend on Delta purchases, as well as restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. Redeem your miles toward travel rewards, gift cards, shopping and more.
  • Travel perks. Get your first checked bag free on Delta flights. 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 everyone else, the price of priority boarding is $15.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Purchase APR 15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases

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

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 8%
Cash back
$300
Welcome offer
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.
  • 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.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 15.99% or 24.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% or 24.99% variable
Welcome offer $300 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 8% cash back with Vivid Seats, 5% on Uber Eats, 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

Waived annual fee card for United travelers
United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 2x
Miles
60,000
Miles welcome offer
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.
  • United miles. Earn 2x miles on United purchases, restaurants and hotel stays booked directly with the hotel. Earn 1.5x miles on all other purchases.
  • Signup bonus. Get 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months of account opening, plus an additional 10,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months.
  • First checked bag free. You and one partner will enjoy your first checked bag free. This is a $140 value.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 16.49% to 23.49% variable
Balance transfer APR 16.49% to 23.49% variable
Welcome offer 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus an additional 10,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months
Rewards 2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases

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)
This everyday cashback card is ideal for Black Friday and holiday shopping with 20% back at Amazon.com up to $200 back in the first 6 months. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Flex℠
$0
14.99% to 23.74% variable
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
$0
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
An impressive 18 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$0
14.99% to 23.74% variable
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
This solid 1.5% cashback card gets even better with the addition of up to 5% back in categories like travel, drug stores and dining.
Petal® 2
$0
N/A
12.99% to 26.99% variable
Build your credit with rewards and no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score of 600 or higher. See if you prequalify with no impact to your score.
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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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