Points, Miles & Credit Cards

Best No-Annual-Fee Travel Credit Cards

Kurt Adams

Kurt Adams

June 20, 2024

0 min read

Going has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Going and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Some of all of the card offers that appear on this page are from advertisers; compensation may affect how and where the cards appear on the site; and Going does not include all card companies are all available card offers.

Paying an annual fee can be a drag, but with these no annual fee options, you can still earn travel rewards.

Just be aware that the benefits are usually trimmed down and welcome offers are usually smaller.

No annual fee travel credit cards

Here are some travel cards that charge no annual fee:

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

  • Unlimited 1.25x miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.
  • 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Flat-rate earning structure makes it easy to use
  • Capital One Miles can transfer to airline and hotel partners

Cons:

  • Lower earning rate than other comparable cards
  • No bonus categories
Our take

The rate at which this card earns miles is lower than its annual-fee-bearing Venture siblings, but it is a great way to earn Capital One Miles at no annual fee. 

Read our review of the Capital One VentureOne Rewards card.

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees(See Rates and Fees)


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Terms apply.

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Card earns Membership Rewards points and gives you access to Amex transfer partners
  • Earns points at a flat rate makes it useful for everyday business expenses
  • Earning rate quite is competitive

Cons:

  • The 2X points earning rate is capped at $50,000 in purchases per calendar year. If you spend more than $50K per year on business expenses, this card may not be the best fit.
Our take

With the ability to earn 2X Membership Rewards per dollar spent (up to the first $50K spent annually), plus no annual fee, holding this card for businesses is almost a no-brainer.

Read our review of the Amex Business Blue Plus Card

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees(See Rates and Fees)


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

  • 2X Miles on dining (at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the US)
  • 2X Miles on Delta purchases (made directly with Delta)
  • 1X Miles on other purchases
  • Terms apply.

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Earns bonus miles (2X miles per dollar spent) on restaurants worldwide.
  • Offers an easy-to-earn welcome offer.

Cons:

  • The redemption value of Delta SkyMiles® varies widely based on the flight and time of booking.
  • Lighter on perks than the Delta SkyMiles® cards that charge annual fees.
  • Redemption options are more limited than transferrable credit card points.
Our take

This Delta card doesn't have all the perks of the higher-tier cards, but it does offer 20% back on in-flight purchases.

Read our review of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card.

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

  • 2 miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 on gas stations
  • 2 miles per $1 on local transit and commuting (including ride share services, taxicabs, train tickets, tolls, and mass transit)
  • 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Offers the ability to earn bonus miles on several common everyday spending categories.

Cons:

  • Limited redemption options
  • Lacks premium travel perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding, or airport lounge access, which are available with higher-tier United credit cards.
Our take

This card is light on benefits: You're likely better off to go with the United Explorer Card (see below).

No-annual-fee cash-back cards that can be paired with other travel cards

These cards are not traditionally travel credit cards. That said, if you hold a travel credit card from one of these issuers, you can combine the points you earn and use them for travel. 

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year):

  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel(SM)
  • 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

After that:

  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel(SM)
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


 


Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Offers bonus earning rates on common spending categories.
  • Rewards are earned as Ultimate Rewards® points, which can become even more valuable if you hold a Sapphire card. 
  • Comes with a generous welcome offer.

Cons:

  • Charges a foreign transaction fee.
Our take

Although this is a cash-back rewards card, it earns Ultimate Rewards® points. If you pair it with a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card or Ink Business Preferred card, you can use the points for travel.

Read our review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card.

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on purchases at office supply stores and on cable, internet, and phone services
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Earns a higher rate on internet, cable, and phone services (5% cash back on the first $25k spent each account anniversary).
  • Easy-to-earn welcome offer.

Cons:

  • The bonus categories have spending limits, so it may not be the most rewarding if you business spends more than $25k annually in these categories.
  • Charges a foreign transaction fee. 
Our take

The two-tiered welcome offer makes this card more rewarding and accessible to earn. Plus, its ongoing rewards rate makes it a valuable card to keep. 

Read our review of the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card.

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees


Earning rate:

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash-back rewards on every purchase
  • 5% cash-back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • The flat-rate cash-back structure makes this card easy to use.
  • Pairs well with Venture cards.

Cons:

  • Some flat cash-back cards on the market offer higher rewards rates.
  • No premium travel benefits like travel insurance, airport lounge access, or annual travel credits.
Our take

This is a great option if you hold a Venture card. 

Read our review of the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Cards that waive the annual fee in the first year 

Finally, there's a class of travel credit cards that annual fee waived in the first year. The card charges a modest annual fee in the following years.

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS Application Fee Statement Credit: Receive one statement credit (up to $100) every four years after the first program (either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS) application fee is charged to your UnitedSM Explorer Card, by you or an authorized user.
  • Free checked bag: One for you, the cardholder, and your travel companion on the same reservation.
  • Two (2) United ClubSM one-time passes: Deposited upon opening the card and each card anniversary.

Cons:

  • Limited redemption options
  • More premium United cards offer more perks
Our take

This card packs in a lot of benefits, especially when you consider its annual fee is: annual_fees.

Read our review of the United Explorer(SM) Card.

card_name

card_name

Annual fee: annual_fees(See Rates and Fees)


Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee


Earning rate:

  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at US Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the US
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply.


 


Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full


Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Earns bonus SkyMiles® on several everyday expenses.
  • Save 15% when booking Award Travel on Delta flights booked on delta.com and the Fly Delta App. This means that redemptions cost 15% less SkyMiles® than otherwise.
  • Other travel perks include Priority Boarding (Zone 5) and your first checked bag flies free.

Cons:

  • No access to Delta SkyClubs or other airport lounges included.
  • Limited redemption options. 
Our take

This card offers a lot of great benefits if you fly Delta frequently.

Read our review of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card.

Going has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Going and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Some of all of the card offers that appear on this page are from advertisers; compensation may affect how and where the cards appear on the site; and Going does not include all card companies are all available card offers.

Kurt Adams

Kurt Adams

Marketing


Published June 20, 2024

Last updated June 27, 2024

hand pointing
mobile app screen
circled text
Explore the Going app
Discover your next trip by downloading the Going app on iOS and Android.
apple app store
google play store