MoneyGeek's Take

Best Airline Credit Cards for No Annual Fee in 2022

Using an airline credit card can bring down the cost of your air travel, and you stand to benefit in other ways as well. These credit card benefits are even better if you can avoid paying an annual fee.

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This article is part of our larger series on Best Airline Credit Cards

Most of the top no-annual-fee airline credit cards are co-branded. This means they are associated with the loyalty programs of specific airlines. For example, the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card is linked to the SkyMiles Loyalty Program run by Delta Air Lines.

If you don’t favor using any one particular airline, you may want to consider getting a non-co-branded airline card such as the VentureOne Rewards Card from Capital One.

The leading no-annual-fee airline credit cards tend to do away with foreign transaction fees, which is appealing if you want to travel internationally. Some even offer purchase and travel coverage.

This article is part of our larger series on
Best Airline Credit Cards

MoneyGeek’s Take: Top 2 Airline Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Quick Summary

When you run a no-annual-fee airline card comparison, one of the first things you notice is that not all offer the same number of miles per dollar spent. Plus, they come with varied introductory bonus offers. We’ve selected the best cards from this category after accounting for these factors as well as APRs, foreign transaction fees and added benefits.


  • American Express Delta SkyMiles Blue Card

    A great miles rewards card with no annual fees


    • ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 2 Miles per $1*Rewards Rate
    • 2xRewards Rate on Air Travel
    • 2xRewards Rate on Dining

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Chase United Gateway

    A great no-annual-fee rewards card for people who fly United


    • Good-ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1 Mile per $1Rewards Rate
    • 2xRewards Rate on Air Travel
    • 2xRewards Rate on Gas

    Terms, rates and fees apply

Summary of the Best Airline Cards for No Annual Fee

Use the corresponding table to take a quick look at reward rates, foreign transaction fees and welcome offers of other good no-annual-fee airline credit cards.

  • Credit Card
    Best For
    Avg. Reward Rate
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
  • American Express Delta SkyMiles Blue Card
    A great miles rewards card with no annual fees
    2 Miles per $1*
    $0
    Excellent
  • Chase United Gateway
    A great no-annual-fee rewards card for people who fly United
    1 Mile per $1
    $0
    Good-Excellent
  • Citi American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard
    A great travel card with no annual fee for frequent flyers on American Airlines
    1–2 Miles per $1
    $0
    Excellent
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards
    The best travel rewards card with no annual or foreign transaction fees
    1.25 Miles per $1
    $0
    Good-Excellent
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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

If you're not traveling much, but still want to earn airline miles on your purchases, a no-fee airline card is a great idea. Once you start flying more, you can decide if upgrading to another card to get other benefits makes sense. -- Lee Huffman, credit card expert at BaldThoughts.com.

About Our Rankings

Experts at MoneyGeek take a close look at all the existing no-annual-fee airline credit cards each month. They pick the best of the lot after taking into account aspects such as miles earned per dollar, foreign transaction fees and introductory bonus offers.

If you’re a business owner who’s looking for a card that offers rewards and travel-related perks, you may benefit by checking our selection of the best business cards for travel.

Top Rating Criteria for Airline Cards

rewards
Rewards Rate on Air Travel
signupBonus
Welcome Offer
noForeignTransactionFee
Foreign Transaction Fee

How to Compare Airline Credit Cards & Intro Offers

There is no single best airline credit card with no annual fee because these cards come with different features and benefits that serve distinct purposes. As a result, various aspects require your consideration.

1

The airline

Narrowing down on a suitable card becomes fairly easy if you favor using any one airline over others. If not, you may consider getting a travel rewards card that does not limit your reward-earning potential to any particular airline.

2

Rewards rate

The number of miles you stand to earn may vary based on the card you get as well as on category-based spending. For instance, the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card offers 2x miles on purchases made directly with Delta and on dining at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, whereas all other purchases earn 1x miles. The VentureOne Rewards Card from Capital One offers 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1.25x miles on all other purchases.

3

Ways to redeem

If you get a co-branded airline card, chances are that you’ll need to redeem the miles you earn through its linked airline loyalty program. This is the case with the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card and the Chase United Gateway Credit Card. If you want more freedom surrounding how you may redeem your miles, consider getting a non-co-branded travel card.

4

Foreign transaction fees

Using your card outside of the U.S. might require that you pay foreign transaction fees. While the Delta SkyMiles Blue Card and the United Gateway Credit Card do not charge this fee, the AAdvantage MileUp Card by Citi comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee.

5

Welcome offer

The best airline credit cards with no annual fee give cardholders the ability to earn bonus miles through time- and spend-based welcome offers. For example, the Amex Delta SkyMiles Blue Card has a welcome offer through which you can earn 10,000 bonus miles by spending $500 on purchases in the first three months.

6

APR

Airline cards usually come with higher APRs when compared to cards with no rewards. If you intend to carry your balances over from month to month, you might be better off getting a credit card that comes with a low APR.

7

Added perks

Some of the best airline cards without annual fees offer statement credit or discounts when you use them to make in-flight purchases onboard specific carriers. Other card-specific features might include purchase protection, extended warranty, car/auto rental loss and damage insurance, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, and access to a concierge service. If you get a non-co-branded airline card, transferring your miles to popular frequent flyer programs might be an option.

Further Reading

About the Author


expert-profile

Rajiv Baniwal has been writing about different financial topics for over 15 years. Meticulous in his research, he makes sure he provides accurate and up-to-date information. His areas of expertise include mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, insurance and international money transfers.


*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
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.
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