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November 6, 2017

Best Travel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

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Looking to earn rewards for travel, but want to skip the annual fee carried by most travel rewards cards? Read this list of top credit cards.

Not all travel rewards cards come with hefty annual fees, and signing up for a no-fee card doesn't necessarily mean giving up on valuable travel perks.

We've put together a list of our top 3 annual-fee-free travel rewards credit cards: the Discover It Miles, Bank of America Travel Rewards, and the Capital One VentureOne.

Read on for a breakdown of each card's rewards structure to determine which offers the best value for you.

What to Look for in a Travel Rewards Card

No matter what card you go with, you'll want to make sure that it has a few key features:

  • A valuable sign-up bonus: Most travel rewards cards will offer a sign-up bonus if you meet their spending minimum. Depending on the card, that bonus can easily match the rewards you'll earn through your everyday spending.

  • Bonus points in spending categories: Some of these cards offer 2x points or miles on all purchases. Even if you go with a card that earns 1x rewards on most purchases, make sure that you'll get extra points or miles in the categories you spend most in, like travel, dining, gas stations, or grocery stores.

  • No foreign transaction fees: If you plan to take your card abroad, you'll want one that won't charge you for using it overseas. At the very least, aim for a card that charges less than the standard 3% fee.

  • Valuable redemption options: Some cards will let you redeem your rewards to book travel, for statement credit toward recent travel purchases, or simply for cash back. Whatever your preferred redemption method, it's always good to have options.

Each of the cards in this article meets those requirements, but their individual rewards structures will probably determine which is the best match for your spending and travel habits.

Best for High Rewards in the First Year: the Discover It Miles

Discover it Miles will match all the miles you've earned at the end of your first year. This offer is limited to new cardmembers only. This card earns 1.5x miles on all purchases and has no annual fee.

Plus, Discover will pay you back for your in-flight WiFi fees, up to $30 a year, through an automatic statement credit.

Best for Long-Term Rewards: Bank of America Travel Rewards

Bank of America Travel Rewards offers 20,000 online bonus points if you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. 20,000 points is worth a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases. This card earns 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. You can redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, car rentals, or baggage fees. There are no foreign transaction fees. There is no annual fee.

Best for Low Interest: The Capital One VentureOne

Capital One VentureOne offers a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles if you spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. 20,000 miles is equal to $200 in travel. This card earns 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases. You can redeem miles toward travel purchases on any airline, hotel, or car rental. There is a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. After that, a variable APR, currently 12.99% to 22.99%. There are no foreign transaction fees. There is no annual fee.

Is a Travel Rewards Card Right for You?

With so many rewards credit cards offering different reward structures and perks, it can be difficult to choose the best option for you. Here are some reasons to go for a travel rewards card:

  • You want to want to take advantage of a sign-up bonus
  • You want to save on travel with award flights or hotel stays
  • You want to enjoy travel perks and benefits

Other Options

Even if you know that you want to earn points or miles to pay for travel, there are plenty of other rewards cards to choose from.

Common Questions

  • Do these cards come with any special perks?
    If you opt for the Discover It Miles or Bank of America Travel Rewards card, you'll have free access to your FICO score every month. The Discover It Miles also comes with statement credit toward in-flight Wi-Fi purchases of up to $30 each anniversary year.

  • Will my rewards expire?
    With the Discover It Miles, your miles won't expire even if your account is closed or inactive for up to 18 months. With the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, your points won't expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. The VentureOne will let you hold onto your miles as long as your account is open.

  • Which travel purchases are eligible for statement credit?
    Discover It Miles: Purchases made in the last 180 days, including commercial airline tickets; hotel rooms; car rentals; cruises; tour operators; vacation packages purchased through airlines, travel agents, online travel sites; local and suburban commuter transportation, including ferries; passenger railways; taxicabs and limousines; and charter/tour bus lines.

    Bank of America Travel Rewards: Purchases made with airlines (excluding in-flight goods and services), hotels, motels, timeshares, trailer parks, motor home and recreational vehicle rentals, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, tour operators and real estate agents, operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, boat rentals, tourist attractions and exhibits like art galleries, amusement parks, carnivals, circuses, aquariums, zoos and the like.

    Capital One VentureOne: Travel booked in the last 90 days, including purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and time shares.

Bottom Line

These no-fee travel rewards cards can be great for casual travelers and younger travelers looking to fund a trip on rewards without shelling out for an annual fee. Best of all, they won't cost you a dime - as long as you pay your balance in full each month.

These cards aren't for everyone, though. If you're interested in trying out a rewards card with travel perks, you might want to consider a midrange travel rewards card that either waives its annual fee for the first year or has a $0 introductory annual fee.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, Discover it® Miles, and Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.