Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards

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Citi® Platinum Select® Visa®I abhor annual fees for a credit card. I abhor fees of all types but I especially hate annual fees on credit cards because the card issuers and the banks are making money off each transaction you make. Buy a cup of coffee? They take their few cents plus a small percentage. Buy a magazine? Cha-ching. Buy anything – ring that register. Make a return? Yep, they charge a transaction fee on the return flight too. It’s pretty ridiculous, just ask any merchant. So when they want to charge me an annual fee to use their card and help them make money… well, that just strikes me as a little greedy. (this doesn’t even factor in late fees, interest payments, and other ways credit cards make money)

That’s why I usually stick with reward cards, which is essentially when the credit card company pays me to use their card. There are, however, cases where you might want a credit card simply because it has no fee (we have a Capital One card we use for international travel because they don’t charge an international transaction fee) and we’ve collected a list of the best of the bunch.

Citi Platinum Select Visa

Citi® Platinum Select® Visa®This card is a popular one because it offers a pretty long 0% balance transfer offer. The only knock against it is that it doesn’t have a reward program but the balance transfer offer more than makes up for it. A solid choice if you need some breathing room and they won’t make you pay an annual fee to get it.

  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the APR will be 11.99%-20.99% based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Extra Cash from Citi: enjoy discounts on gift cards, travel, merchandise and more
  • Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
  • Secure, free online account management
  • No annual fee*

Chase Freedom Visa

Chase Freedom Visa - $200 Bonus Cash BackThe Chase Freedom card takes the number two spot on the list because it has an absolutely bananas promotional offer right now. New cardholders will get a $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months. Not only that, and this almost makes it better than the Citi Platinum Select card, but the card comes with a cash back rewards program that you’ll find difficult to beat.

  • This offer is for people with a good to excellent credit history which means, among other things, that your credit history is clear of bankruptcy and seriously delinquent accounts
  • Earn $200 Bonus Cash Back after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 spent on dining, department stores, movie theaters and charitable organizations from 10/1/11 – 12/31/11
  • You\’ll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like supermarkets, gas, drugstores and even home improvement stores. It’s free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases without limits on what you can earn
  • Up to an additional 10% Cash Back when you shop online at select merchants through Chase
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire

Blue Cash Everyday from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday from American ExpressThe Blue Cash Everyday from American Express is one of the few American Express cards that doesn’t come with an annual fee. It also boasts a nice rewards program with 3% cash back on grocery store purchases, 2% at most gas stations and department stores, plus 1% everywhere else. This was one of the first credit cards my wife had and she carries it to this day because of the many purchase protections American Express offers.

  • No annual fee, flexibility to pay over time
  • Get 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • NO spend minimum, NO enrollment, and NO rotating rewards categories

PenFed Platinum Visa Card

PenFed VISA Platinum Gas/Cash Rewards CardIf you want 5% cash back from gas purchases, the PenFed card is the one you’ll want to look at. It not only gives you one of the best cash back rates in gasoline, but it backs it up with 1% on everything else. No annual fee and the rewards are credit to your account each month – no games requesting checks or waiting until you hit a certain amount. The only downside is that you need to be a Pentagon Federal Credit Union member to apply, but you can get in fairly easily.

  • 13.99% APR — lower than most rewards cards!
  • Earn 5.00% cash back from gas purchases paid at the pump*
  • Earn 1.00% cash back from all purchases** you make with the card during each billing cycle
  • Up to $50,000 limit
  • No Annual Fee
  • Cash Rewards credited each month
  • No special restrictions to earn your cash rewards
  • Limited Time Only – Low Balance Transfer Rates†
  • You must be a Pentagon Federal Credit Union member to apply. Not a member? It’s easy to join. Click here to learn more.

This is not an exhaustive list of the best no annual fee credit cards but I think I’ve highlighted some of the best from each of the card issues. I recommend taking a deeper look at each of the cards to help you find the best one for you.

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards”

  1. Ryan says:

    Why not mention one of the most important fees on balance transfer cards? The balance transfer fee.

  2. cubiclegeoff says:

    Although I’ve generally avoided credit cards with an annual fee (unless it was waived and I had a good reason to get the card), I did recently get the AmEx Blue Cash preferred. It has an annual fee, but with the generous cash back (6% groceries, 3% gas an department stores, 1% everything else) and knowing how best to use it, the card is well worth the price.

  3. Dave says:

    The only card that I have with an annual fee is a Continental Airlines Chase card. The fee is something like $75/year but you get free checked luggage with Continental. I take many trips a year and it pays for itself after the first one. One might say, don’t check my luggage and carry on. I agree, and when I fly by myself for work or quick trips, that’s exactly what I do. When I travel with my wife and 2 year old, a $75 annual is well worth it just to avoid having to drag all our luggage through the airport along with the stroller, car seat, diaper bag and the 2 backpacks full of stuff we already carry on…

  4. Darren says:

    Jim, FYI your description of the Blue Cash card says 2% for gas stations and restaurants, but it’s gas stations and dept. stores.

    Also, depending on your spending amount at grocery stores, the Blue Cash Preferred can be a better deal, even with the $75 annual fee… The break-even point is $2500/year in groceries when the Preferred card starts to be a better deal (including the annual fee and difference between the Preferred and Everyday cards).

  5. jsbrendog says:

    i’ve had the chase freedom for 3 or 4 years now and love it. I’m actually considering getting the blue cash because it offers better grocery and gas station rewards than the freedom (except when it is one of the 5% deals.) that way i can switch between the two and maximize returns

    • cubiclegeoff says:

      This is what I’ve done, except I’m doing the Blue Cash Preferred for the 6% back for groceries.

  6. Bush says:

    Why doesn’t anybody talk about the Best International Credit Cards. I’m tired of extra charges for use of my card overseas.

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