The top no-annual-fee cash back credit cards give you an easy way to capitalize on your spending by offering high earn rates on category-based spending. Some also come with sizable welcome offers.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards for No Annual Fee in 2023
The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.
The best cash back credit cards with no annual fee include ones that offer high cash back rates on category-based spending as well as ones that offer higher-than-usual flat rates on all purchases. Depending on the card you get, you may benefit through a spend-based bonus cash back offer for new cardholders.
Some of the top no-annual-fee cash back credit cards come without foreign transaction fees, which makes them ideal for use outside of the U.S. Examples include the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi.
Other aspects that need your attention when making a selection include intro APR offers, regular APRs and additional perks.
MoneyGeek's Take: Top 5 Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee
You’ll notice that not all no-annual-fee cash back cards offer the same cash back rates, and some come with higher earn rates on specific categories. We have accounted for this as well as other factors such as APRs, welcome offers and foreign transaction fees to arrive at the top five. For more options, scroll further down the page.
- Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
A great no-annual-fee card that comes with rewards
- Good–ExcellentRecommended Credit
- $0Annual Fee
- 3% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
- 3xRewards Rate on Entertainment
- 2xRewards Rate on Groceries
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
One of the best cards available for Costco members who spend a lot on gas
- ExcellentRecommended Credit
- $0Annual Fee
- 1–4% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
- 3xRewards Rate on Dining
- 3xRewards Rate on Air Travel
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
A simple cash back card that’s best for everyday purchases.
- Good–ExcellentRecommended Credit
- $0Annual Fee
- 1–3% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
- 1xRewards Rate on Gas
- 1xRewards Rate on Groceries
Summary of the Best Cash Back Cards for No Annual Fee
Take a look at how all the top options fare against each other across parameters such as APRs, welcome offers and cash back rates by using this no-annual-fee cash back card comparison table.
- Credit CardBest ForAvg. Reward RateAnnual FeeCredit Needed
- An excellent no-annual-fee card that lets you earn unlimited cash back1.5–5% Cash Back$0
- An easy-to-use cash back card with quarterly rotating bonus categories1–5% Cash Back*$0
- A great no-annual-fee card that comes with rewards3% Cash Back*$0
- One of the best cards available for Costco members who spend a lot on gas1–4% Cash Back*$0
- A simple cash back card that’s best for everyday purchases.1–3% Cash Back*$0
Adding a no-annual-fee cash back credit card to your wallet offers the ability to earn attractive rewards on everyday purchases. While miles and points are appealing, the flexibility of cash is better for many consumers. -- Lee Huffman, credit card expert at BaldThoughts.com.
How to Compare Cash Back Credit Cards & Intro Offers
There is no single best cash back card with no annual fee because just about every card comes with its distinct features or benefits. This requires comparing your options based on different factors.
Cash back rate
Determine if you might benefit by earning a standard high cash back rate on all purchases or through even higher earn rates on category-based spending. For instance, the Citi® Double Cash Card lets you earn 1% cash back when you make purchases and 1% when you make your payments on time. On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card offers 5% cash back on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, as well as on drugstore purchases; and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Some of the top no-annual-fee cash back credit cards come with spend-based welcome offers. For example, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a one-time $200 early spend bonus if you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first three months. Similarly, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has a welcome offer through which you may earn $200 back as a statement credit if you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first six months.
Bear in mind that the top cards from this segment come with varied APRs. Pay particular attention to your card's interest rate if you plan to maintain revolving balances on your card from one billing cycle to the next. Some of these cards come with time-based 0% APR offers on purchases and/or balance transfers as well.
Foreign transaction fees
If you get a cash back card that charges foreign transaction fees, expect to pay up to 3% extra every time you use your card outside of the U.S. Some of the cards from this segment that eliminate this fee include the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Despite the fact that these cash back cards come with no annual fees, you can still expect basic card-specific benefits such as $0 fraud liability, purchase protection, extended warranty and basic travel insurance coverage.
Expert Advice For Finding the Right Card
Financial experts from across the U.S. have vetted our no-annual-fee cash back credit card reviews and provided answers to a few important questions with the aim of further simplifying your decision-making process.
- What are the common bonus categories that come with cash back cards?
- How does the expiration of cash back work with different cards?
Professor of Finance at San Diego State University
About Rajiv Baniwal
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. Learn more about our editorial policies and expert editorial team.
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