Travel will be more fun with a travel credit card due to the added bonuses and incentives. If you’re on a budget or simply don’t travel frequently, you may prefer a no-annual-fee credit card to avoid the yearly membership fee. The finest no-fee travel cards offer the best of both worlds.
These credit cards, when used properly, can help you save money on travel without costing you a thing. Consider testing out one of the top no-annual-fee travel cards the next time you plan a vacation.
A straightforward, no-annual-fee travel rewards card designed for occasional travelers. The unlimited Miles and sign-up bonus are noteworthy benefits.
- UNLIMITED BONUS: At the end of your first year, only Discover will automatically equal all Miles earned. For instance, if you accumulate 35,000 Miles, you will receive 70,000 Miles. There is no sign-up required, no minimum spending requirement, and no cap on rewards. Simply a Miles-for-Miles exchange.
- Earn limitless 1.5x Miles on every dollar spent – with no annual charge.
- Miles can be used to cover any portion of your monthly bill, including the minimum payment.
- Convert Miles to cash in any denomination and at any moment. Or, with no blackout periods, redeem as a statement credit for travel expenditures like airline, hotels, rideshares, petrol stations, and restaurants. Miles retain their value regardless of how they are redeemed. Additionally, Miles never expires.
- There are no blackout dates. Simply use your Discover it® Miles card to pay for travel purchases such as airlines, hotels, and rental vehicles.
- Discover is accepted in 99 percent of establishments that accept credit cards nationally.
- Instantly freeze your account using an on/off button on the mobile app or online to restrict new transactions, cash advances, and balance transfers.
- Receive your complimentary Credit Scorecard, which includes your FICO® Credit Score, the number of recent queries, and other information.
- Receive an alert if we discover your Social Security number on any of the Dark Web’s thousands of websites. Activate for no cost.
- To view rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® data, and other information, click “APPLY NOW.”
Citi® Double Cash Card — 18-month interest-free period
Earn up to 2% on all purchases – 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay the monthly minimum. When you combine that with no annual fee and an 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers, this card is a winner.
- Earn 2% on purchases, with an additional 1% as you pay for those transactions.
- Pay at least the minimum due on time to earn cashback.
- Offer on Balance Transfers: For the first 18 months, balance transfers are subject to a 0% intro APR. Following that, the variable APR will range between 13.99 and 23.99 percent, depending on your creditworthiness.
- Cashback is not earned on balance transfers.
- If you transfer a balance, interest will be levied on your purchases unless you settle your entire balance each month (including balance transfers).
- Balance transfers are subject to a cost of $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater.
- Citi Flex Plan’s regular variable APR ranges from 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent, depending on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are offered at the discretion of Citi.
Typically, no-annual-fee travel cards scrimp on the sign-up incentive, but this card outshines the competition with its welcome bonus, limitless points on purchases, and other wallet-friendly advantages.
- Earn an unlimited amount of money 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all transactions, no yearly charge, no international transaction fees, and your points never expire.
- 25,000 bonus points after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening – this can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Book your vacation however and anywhere you choose with your card – you are not restricted to specific websites with ban periods or restrictions.
- Redeem points for a statement credit that can be used to pay for travel or dining expenses such as flights, hotel stays car and vacation rentals, and baggage fees, as well as at restaurants including takeout.
- 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles. After the introductory APR period expires, a variable APR of 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent will apply.
- If you’re a member of Preferred Rewards, you can earn an additional 25% – 75% of points on every purchase. This means that for every dollar spent, you might earn up to 2.62 points.
- Cards with Contactless Technology – The security of a chip card combined with the ease of a tap
- If you leave this page or visit a Bank of America financial center, this online-only offer may be unavailable. You can take advantage of this offer by applying immediately.
While no-annual-fee travel cards typically reduce cardholder privileges, this offer maintains those benefits, making it an attractive option for cardholders who do not spend enough on credit to warrant paying an annual fee.
- There is no yearly charge and there are no international transaction fees.
- Earn 20,000 extra miles after spending $500 on purchases within three months of account opening, the equivalent of $200 in travel.
- Every day, earn an unlimited number of 1.25X miles on all purchases.
- Travel whenever you choose with no blackout dates and on any airline or hotel.
- Miles will not expire during the life of the account, and there is no limit on the number of miles you can earn.
- Transfer your miles to one of the more than 15 travel loyalty programs available.
- For the first 12 months, enjoy a 0% initial APR on purchases; thereafter, the APR will range from 15.49% to 25.49%.
The finest no-fee travel cards allow you to earn points or miles without fear of the cost of canceling out your rewards. If you decide to travel less in a given year, no-annual-fee credit cards prevent you from paying fees for a card that is now not beneficial to you. Most significantly, no-annual-fee cards allow you to accumulate rewards that you may use whenever you choose, as there are no blackout dates, and the awards you earn never expire.
What to look for in a no-annual-fee travel card
If you’re looking for the best travel cards with no annual charge, you should consider the following crucial aspects.
- Sign Up Bonus: Numerous rewards credit cards give a one-time bonus of points or miles to new cardmembers who spend a specified amount of money within the first few months. This is less prevalent with no-annual-fee credit cards, but you can still find a couple with large welcome bonuses.
- Rewards Rate: Certain cards offer bonus points on travel purchases, while others may offer bonus points on eating, shopping, and petrol purchases. Choose a card that rewards the types of purchases you are most likely to make.
- Options for redemption: Earning large prizes is only half the battle; you must also be able to use them. Examine the card’s redemption possibilities to ensure they are appropriate for you. Some cards reward you with cash back, while others reward you with airline miles or hotel points. The top no-annual-fee travel credit cards offer flexible rewards that can be used for a range of different items.
- Interest rate: If you intend to carry a balance, you should get a credit card with the lowest feasible interest rate. To prevent interest costs, it’s prudent to pay off your bill in full each month.
- Introductory APR: Several of the finest no-annual-fee travel credit cards also offer introductory APR on new purchases or balance transfers. The former is ideal if you’re looking to finance a large buy, while the latter is beneficial for fast repaying debt. Simply ensure that you pay off the balance prior to the end of the introductory period.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: Certain credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee on all transactions made in another country. It is calculated as a percentage of each transaction and is typically approximately 3%. If you intend to travel internationally, get a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
- Credit rating requirement: It’s critical to determine whether you qualify for any given credit card before applying, as each credit application records as a new inquiry on your credit history. The greatest no-fee travel cards demand good or exceptional credit, which is defined as a FICO® Score of at least 670.
- Free credit score: Several of the finest no-annual-fee travel cards also include free credit scores or credit monitoring. This can be a very beneficial tool for both enhancing and maintaining your credit score.
What do I need to know about annual-fee-free travel cards?
The primary distinction between travel credit cards and other reward credit cards is the method by which points can be redeemed. The finest no-annual-fee travel cards often offer two sorts of redemptions:
- Statement Credit Redemptions. Redeem points or miles to “delete” travel purchases from your statement.
- Travel Portal Redemptions. The issuer’s gateway is used to redeem points or miles.
Depending on your preferred manner of booking travel, you may have a preference for one over the other.
For a variety of reasons, many customers prefer statement credit redemptions over portal-based travel cards. They’re the most versatile option because you may use your rewards on any transaction that qualifies as travel, from Expedia bookings to local bed and breakfasts and auto rentals. This also means that travel statement credits are more advantageous for saving money on regular expenses such as subway rides, Uber, or Lyft. You do not have to arrange a large trip in order to make use of them.
Finally, if you are a savvy bargain hunter, you can book a trip with your credit card and then double-dip by using your statement credits to cancel the transaction.
On the other hand, travel portal cards frequently generate more lucrative rewards when used properly. Travel portal cards offer several distinct advantages:
- Pay for your purchase using points or miles. By utilizing a bank’s travel portal, you can bypass a step and quickly redeem your points or miles for a travel purchase. A statement credit travel card requires you to use the card to plan a trip and then request a credit.
- Valuation of points and miles is subject to change. While statement credits assign a fixed value to each point or mile earned, travel portal redemptions may assign a varying value to points. This can be advantageous and disadvantageous, as some redemptions may value your points higher than the advertised rate, while others may value rewards lower. For instance, a hotel room booked through a card travel site may cost $200 per night, although the same room can be booked directly for $150 per night. In this situation, booking directly and requesting a statement credit for the purchase will maximize your points or miles.
If receiving a sizable sign-up bonus and earning significant recurring returns on every dollar spent sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. However, there are a few things to avoid in order to maximize the value of your card
- Carry no balance forward from month to month. Carrying a balance on a credit card can generate interest at a rate of 18 percent or more per year, which means that interest costs will accumulate faster than the benefits you earn. When your bill arrives, make a timely and complete payment of your “statement balance” to avoid incurring fees or interest charges. As a general rule, the points you receive on your purchases are equal to one to two months’ worth of interest payments.
- Avoid cashing in on points or miles. When points or miles earned with travel cards are redeemed for cash, they are often worthless. If you are uncertain about your ability to redeem your points for travel due to a hectic work schedule or a lack of travel expenses, a cashback credit card will provide more value than a travel credit card. As a general rule, points or miles redeemable for $0.01 per point for travel may be worth as little as $0.005 to $0.007 per point when converted to cash.
If you avoid these two key mistakes, you can earn significant rewards with a travel credit card and redeem them for the maximum value feasible, all without paying a dollar in fees or interest.
Is a no-fee travel card good for me?
A travel card with no yearly charge is ideal if you meet the following criteria:
- You enjoy traveling but do not travel frequently enough to warrant an annual cost.
- Also, You desire increased travel and would like to ease into the world of credit card rewards.
- You are not a frequent user of credit cards.
Whether you should pay an annual fee for a travel card is a personal choice based on your spending habits. High-spending individuals may benefit from paying an annual fee for the best travel credit cards, as they may earn more points per dollar spent, but low-spending individuals may benefit from a no-annual-fee travel card.
When miles or points are redeemed for travel, travel cards without annual fees typically offer a yield of 1.5 percent. In comparison, yearly fee-based credit cards often give a yield of 2.0 percent or more.