MoneyGeek's Take

Best Travel Credit Cards for No Annual Fee in 2022

The best travel credit cards with no annual fees come with welcome offers for new cardholders. The top ones let you earn points or miles faster through bonus categories. Several of these cards do away with foreign transaction fees.

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

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

The top no-annual-fee travel credit cards we’ve selected include co-branded and non-co-branded ones. Co-branded travel cards come with benefits for frequent users of a particular airline or group of hotels. The best cards from this category give you the means to earn bonus miles/points through spend-based welcome offers.

The miles or points per dollar you stand to earn vary from one travel credit card to the next. For instance, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card offers up to 2x miles per dollar on category-based spending. With the Hilton Honors American Express Card, you can earn up to 7x points per dollar on bonus categories.

Other aspects that require your attention when choosing from the best travel credit cards with no annual fees include APRs, foreign transaction fees and added perks.

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

MoneyGeek’s Take: Top 5 Travel Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Quick Summary

Points/miles earn rates depend not just on the card you get but also on applicable bonus categories. While all the cards we've selected come with welcome offers, they're not the same, even with cards from the same issuer. We have accounted for these factors as well as others such as foreign transaction fees, APRs and added benefits in arriving at our list of the best travel credit cards with no annual fees. Scroll further down the page to view other good cards from this category.


  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

    A great miles rewards card with no annual fees


    • Good-ExcellentRecommended Credit
    • $0Annual Fee
    • up to 2 Miles per $1*Rewards Rate
    • 2xRewards Rate on Air Travel
    • 2xRewards Rate on Dining

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card

    A good travel rewards card for people who are casual guests at Hilton hotels and resorts


    • Good-ExcellentRecommended Credit
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 3–7 Points per $1*Rewards Rate
    • 7xRewards Rate at Hotels
    • 5xRewards Rate on Dining

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

    Solid dining rewards card with no annual fee


    • ExcellentRecommended Credit
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1–4 Points per $1Rewards Rate
    • 4xRewards Rate on Dining
    • 2xRewards Rate on Gas

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

    A great travel card with no annual fee for frequent flyers on American Airlines


    • ExcellentRecommended Credit
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1–2 Miles per $1Rewards Rate
    • 2xRewards Rate on Air Travel
    • 2xRewards Rate on Groceries

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

    The best travel rewards card with no annual or foreign transaction fees


    • Good-ExcellentRecommended Credit
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1.25 Miles per $1Rewards Rate
    • 1.25xRewards Rate on Air Travel
    • 1.25xRewards Rate on Entertainment

    Terms, rates and fees apply

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Methodology

Each month, MoneyGeek experts go through our extensive database and select all new and existing no-annual-fee travel credit cards. An in-depth comparison follows, where they pay due attention to parameters such as welcome offers, reward rates, APRs and foreign transaction fees. Only then do they publish their revised list of the top cards from this segment.

Summary of the Best Travel Cards for No Annual Fee

Take a look at this no-annual-fee travel card comparison table to determine who these cards are best suited for and the credit you need to apply. You may also check how they fare against each other when it comes to rewards rates.

  • Credit Card
    Best For
    Avg. Reward Rate
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
    A great miles rewards card with no annual fees
    up to 2 Miles per $1*
    $0
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
    A good travel rewards card for people who are casual guests at Hilton hotels and resorts
    3–7 Points per $1*
    $0
  • U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
    Solid dining rewards card with no annual fee
    1–4 Points per $1
    $0
  • American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
    A great travel card with no annual fee for frequent flyers on American Airlines
    1–2 Miles per $1
    $0
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
    The best travel rewards card with no annual or foreign transaction fees
    1.25 Miles per $1
    $0
  • IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card
    Great card for earning points fast for IHG loyalists
    1–2 Points per $1
    $0
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
    Great no-annual-fee card for earning points at Marriot properties
    1–2 Points per $1
    $0
  • United Gateway Card
    A great no-annual-fee rewards card for people who fly United
    1 Mile per $1
    $0
  • Citi Rewards+® Card
    An excellent no-annual-fee rewards card with a 0% intro APR offer
    1–2 Points per $1*
    $0
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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

No-annual-fee travel credit cards are a great way to earn rewards without paying a fee. While they don't have the same level of benefits as cards with annual fees, you can earn a welcome bonus, receive rewards on your purchases and enjoy other perks. — Lee Huffman, credit card expert at BaldThoughts.com

How to Compare Travel Credit Cards & Intro Offers

There is no single best no-annual-fee travel credit card because just about every card from this segment comes with its share of pros and cons. As a result, you need to pay attention to your spending patterns and a few other aspects before making a selection.

1

Co-branded or not

If you favor using any particular group of hotels or airlines, you may benefit by getting a co-branded card that comes with airline/hotel-specific benefits. Some of the top no-annual-fee travel credit cards that fit this bill include the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.

2

Welcome offer

The best travel cards with no annual fees come with welcome offers, although these vary significantly. For example, the Amex Delta SkyMiles Blue Card comes with a welcome bonus of 10,000 miles that you may earn by spending $500 on purchases in the first three months. The Amex Hilton Honors Card, on the other hand, comes with a welcome offer of 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points that you may earn by spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months. It offers an additional 50,000 points if you spend a total of $5,000 on purchases in the first six months.

3

Rewards rate

Whether you earn points or miles depends on the card you get. In addition, several cards from this segment offer higher points/miles rates on category-based spending. For instance, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card offers up to 14x points at Marriott properties and 2x points on all other purchases. The Citi Rewards+® Card, on the other hand, offers 2x points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations on the first $6,000 you spend each year, and all other purchases come with 1x points.

4

Foreign transaction fees

Pay particular attention to this aspect if you plan to use your card outside of the U.S. The Citi Rewards+® Card and the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card charge a 3% foreign transaction fee on international purchases. The other cards we've selected do away with this fee completely.

5

APR

Travel rewards cards typically come with higher APRs when compared to cards with no rewards. If you plan to maintain a revolving balance in your account from one billing cycle to the next, you might be better off getting a card with a low APR.

6

Other benefits

The IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card offers a reward night when you redeem your points for a stay of four or more nights. With the United Gateway Card, you get 25% back on United in-flight purchases. The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card lets you transfer your miles to any of over 15 partner loyalty programs. Other card-specific features and benefits may come in the form of purchase protection, extended warranty, airport lounge access and varying levels of travel insurance coverage.

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.
Advertiser Disclosure: MoneyGeek has partnered with CardRatings.com and CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyGeek, CardRatings and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. To ensure thorough comparisons and reviews, MoneyGeek features products from both paid partners and unaffiliated card issuers that are not paid partners.