No annual fee credit cards let you enjoy a range of benefits without having to pay a yearly account fee. Depending on the type of card you choose, you will enjoy no annual fee for the life of the card or a $0 annual fee for a promotional period (such as the first year you have the card). There are also some credit cards that waived the annual fee on an ongoing basis if you meet specific spending criteria.
No annual fee credit card comparison
What is a no annual fee credit card?
No annual fee credit cards may also give you a variety of other perks including balance transfers, rewards, Airpoints and travel benefits. Use this guide to learn how no annual fee credit cards work and compare the features, benefits, and costs so you can find a no annual fee credit card to suit your needs.
A no annual fee credit card doesn’t charge you for yearly account maintenance, which could save you anywhere from $30 to $1,000 or more per year. These cards can be ideal if you want to keep your costs low or if you don’t use your card regularly and can’t justify paying high fees.
On the other hand, credit cards with no annual fee for life can come with higher standard purchase rates than other options. So if you regularly carry a balance from month to month, a card with a low interest rate may help you save more money than a no annual fee credit card. Some no annual fee credit cards also offer fewer additional features, so you may miss out on rewards or complimentary extras.
What should I consider before applying for a no annual fee credit card?
If you are interested in a no annual fee credit card, ask yourself these questions to help compare your options:
- How often do you use your credit card? If you rarely use a credit card but still want one for unplanned expenses or emergencies, a no annual fee option gives you the features you need without burning a hole in your pocket while you are not using it.
- Do you carry a balance? The higher interest rates typical of no annual fee credit cards can make them expensive if you carry a balance. If that is the case, you might want to consider a low interest credit card instead.
- Do you have existing debt? If you have existing debt, a no annual fee credit card could tempt you to spend more money than you can afford. Aim to pay off your current debts, or consider a balance transfer credit card to save money on interest charges.
- What credit card benefits do you want? No annual fee credit cards sometimes have fewer perks than other options. If you are interested in features such as rewards programmes and complimentary insurance, make sure you look at a range of cards and consider these factors as well as the annual fee so you can find an option that suits all of your needs.
- Will you use the credit card after the $0 annual fee promotion ends? If the card comes with no annual fee for a promotional period, consider whether you want to use the card once the introductory period ends. If the card doesn’t have a competitive interest rate or extra features to outweigh the annual cost of the fee, you might want to cancel the card before the annual fee applies. If you’d prefer to skip that hassle altogether, compare cards with a low or $0 annual fee for life.
- What other fees and charges will you pay? While a $0 annual fee can help you save on costs, it doesn’t mean you are getting a free credit card. As well as interest rates, make sure you check for other costs that could apply, such as foreign transaction fees, late payment fees and cash advance costs. This will help you find a card that’s is affordable based on how and when you plan to use it.
Pros and cons of $0 annual fee credit cards
As there are different types of $0 annual fee credit cards on the market, it’s important to consider your financial situation and how you plan to use the card. Then you can weigh up the other benefits, costs and features to help you find a card that suits your needs.
- Save money on credit card fees. The most obvious perk of these cards is that you won’t pay an annual fee. This could save you tens, hundreds or thousands of dollars over the life of the card.
- Practical and cost-effective. A no annual fee credit card can be ideal for emergencies and when extra credit is required. This means you can leave it in your wallet without worrying about it costing you when you’re not using it.
- Promotional offers and deals. Some no annual fee credit cards offer limited-time promotions, frequent flyer programs and other perks you’d regularly have to pay a yearly fee to access.
- Higher interest rates. These cards typically charge higher ongoing interest rates on purchases than some other cards. This could add to your costs if you regularly carry a balance from month to month.
- Fewer extra features. While some no annual fee cards do come with rewards and other benefits, they typically boast fewer features than cards with a higher annual fee.
- Temporary $0 annual fee. Unfortunately, not all of these cards offer no annual fee for the life of the card. If your card only has a $0 annual fee for the first year, make sure you know the standard annual fee and when it will apply.
Answers to the most popular questions about no annual fee credit cards
- Q: If I have a credit card with a promotional annual fee offer, can I cancel the card before having to pay the annual fee?
A: This is possible as long as you don’t have a balance on the card and cancel it before the annual fee is applied. Contact your provider to confirm exactly when the annual fee is charged so you don’t accidentally pay it before cancelling the card.
- Q: When is the annual fee on a credit card usually charged
A: When the annual fee on your credit card is charged will depend on your credit card provider. Some providers charge the annual fee in one go when the card is activated, and again 1 year later. However, some will charge half the annual fee when the card is activated, and the other half of the fee charged after 6 months.
- Q: When will the annual fee be charged if I get a credit card that offers no annual fee in the first year?
A: If you have a card with a promotional no annual fee offer, the fee usually applies 12 months after you are approved for the card. If you don’t want to pay this fee when the offer ends, confirm with your bank when the annual fee will be charged and cancel your card before that time.
- Q: What is the best no annual fee credit card?*
A: Because everyone has different preferences and needs, there is no such thing as the one “best” no annual fee credit card. Instead, you should consider whether or not the $0 annual fee is a promotional offer or an ongoing feature, along with the other costs and features that come with the card. Make sure the card is an affordable and functional way to manage your finances before you apply.
- Q: I want a no annual fee credit card for travel. What other features should I consider?
A: To keep your travel costs down, you may want to consider a credit card with no annual fee and no overseas transaction fees or a card that offers complimentary travel insurance. Also, make sure the card you are using is accepted wherever you are travelling and that it isn’t restricted by economic sanctions.
- Q: Can I get a no annual fee credit card if I have a lot of debt or bad credit?
A: Having a bad credit rating can limit your chances of being approved and getting a credit card. You can use our bad credit rating credit card guide to see what type of credit alternatives are available for applicants with a negative credit history.