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 cards may also give you a variety of other perks including balance transfers, rewards, Airpoints and other 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.
Compare no annual fee cards for 2020
What is a no annual fee credit card?
A no annual fee credit card doesn’t charge you for yearly account maintenance, which could save you anywhere from $30 to $400 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 is the best* no annual fee credit card?
There isn’t one “best” no annual fee credit card, because everyone has different spending habits and goals that influences the card that works for them. So comparing your options, the conditions of the no annual fee offer and the features of the card will help you find the right one for you.
What types of no annual fee credit cards are available?
While some no annual fee credit cards are very basic, others offer a range of additional features and benefits. If you want to access to other credit card features while paying a $0 annual fee, you can use the sections below to compare credit cards that combine a $0 annual fee with everything from 0% balance transfer offer to bonus rewards points and complimentary extras.
$0 annual fee and 0% balance transfer credit cards
Balance transfer credit cards help you save on existing debt by offering you a low or 0% promotional interest rate when you move your balance onto the new card. If you want to keep your credit costs as low as possible while paying off debt, choosing a 0% balance transfer credit card that also offers no annual fee may give you a cost-free way to consolidate your debts. Just remember to check if the $0 annual fee is for the first year or an ongoing feature of the account so you can factor that into your comparison and budget.
No annual fee Airpoints credit cards
An Airpoints credit card gives you a way to earn more points through your everyday spending but usually come with higher annual fees – especially if there are other travel benefits on offer. However, the American Express Airpoints Card offers no annual fee for the first 6 months. Depending on the card and offers available, you can also get Airpoints cards with a reduced or low annual fee in the first year, which helps you save on costs in the short-term.
No annual fee credit cards with 0% purchase rates offers
Want to save on interest costs as well as annual fees? A card with no annual fee and an introductory 0% purchase rate gives you a way to make interest-free purchases during the promotional period. For example, you could get a $0 annual fee card that offers 0% p.a. on purchases for the first 6 months. After the introductory period, the 0% interest rate reverts to a standard variable rate that applies to any balance remaining from your purchases. This type of offer is usually popular for people who have a lot of spending to do in a short amount of time, such as around the holiday season.
Interest free credit card spending hack
Most credit cards offer a number of interest-free days on purchases when you pay your account balance in full by the due date on your statement. This gives you a way to make interest-free purchases on an ongoing basis.
No annual fee credit cards with rewards
These cards have no annual fees and earn reward points for every $1 spent. Depending on the card, you could also enjoy thousands of introductory bonus points when you meet specific spending requirements. For example, a card may give you 30,000 points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from when your application is approved. This can help you get even more value from the card when you first receive it.
Travel credit cards with no annual fees and no foreign transaction fees
While most credit cards charge between 2% and 3.5% for transactions made in a foreign currency, certain travel credit cards waive this cost and also have no annual fee. Since you are likely to only be using a travel credit card during your holiday, you could save on your costs by choosing one with a low or $0 annual fee.
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.
Benefits and drawbacks of $0 annual fee credit cards
Save money on your credit card. The most obvious perk of these cards is that you don’t pay an annual fee. This could save you tens, hundreds or thousands of dollars over the life of the card.
Practical. Without the extra perks and additional benefits, no annual fee credit cards can be ideal for emergencies and when extra credit is required.
Promotional offers and deals. Some no annual fee credit cards come with promotional offers, Airpoints programmes and other perks that you normally have to pay a yearly fee to access.
Higher interest rates. Credit card companies may charge higher ongoing interest rates on no annual fee credit 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 Airpoints programmes and other benefits, they usually have 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 a promotional period, make sure you know when the standard annual fee will apply and how much it is to avoid surprise costs.
As there are many types of $0 annual fee cards on the market, it is important to consider your financial situation and how you intend to use the card. Make sure you weigh up not only the conditions of the annual fee, but also the other features, benefits and costs of the card before you apply for a credit card with no annual fee.
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 do you normally pay the annual fee on a credit card?
A: The annual fee is usually charged upon account activation, with payment required by the due date on your first statement or first credit card bill. You can repay your annual fee in full or over time by making a payment to your credit card account.
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: Is there any way to extend my annual fee waiver?
A: Some banks package mortgage deals to include fee waivers on your other accounts, including credit cards. For instance, some institutions waive fees for their credit cards when you also take out a home loan package with them. Contact your credit card provider to find out if this option is available, or if there is any other ways you can continue to pay no annual fee.
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: Is a no annual fee credit card free?
A: Technically, there is no such thing as a “free credit card” because there is always the potential cost of interest if you carry a balance, as well as other fees that may apply for certain transactions (such as cash advances or purchases made overseas). However, if you have a no annual fee card and pay off your account balance in full by the due date on each statement, you can get an interest-free period for your purchases that could allow you to use the card without paying any fees or charges.
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 it isn’t restricted by economic sanctions.
Q: Is there a business credit card with no annual fee?
A: Business credit cards can offer no annual fee promotions, but most charge high annual fees as they come with a lot of extra features. Compare business credit cards here.
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.