Best Travel Credit Card No Annual Fee 2023 (Top Picks Of The Year)

When thinking of some of the best credit card offers available travel cards usually are at the top of the list. And they usually come with an annual fee. But it is possible to have the best of both worlds, especially if you are a frequent traveler. When looking for the best travel credit card no annual fee you will find that there are actually a lot of great options. Some of the best travel rewards credit cards with no annual fee come with just that, rewards. And you can take advantage of those rewards just as you would with a travel rewards credit card that does have an annual fee. But everyone is unique and many people like to travel their own particular way. So what we may think is the best travel credit card with no annual fee might not be the one that is best for you. And what you think the best credit card for travel with no annual fee might not work for someone else. So that is why we give you all of the best options available in one place. So that you find the best option that is best for you when it comes to the best travel credit card with no annual fee.

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By Matthew Coan

What Is An Annual Fee For Anyways

Many credit cards, especially travel credit cards, charge an annual fee to help offset the additional benefits that they come with. Some of these benefits that come an annual-fee card may include a larger welcome bonus, extra rewards for purchases in a certain category, lounge access, upgraded status at certain hotels and airlines, and more. You need to weigh the extra travel benefits that you get with a card that has an annual fee and see if they offset the cost. If these extra benefits are not that important to you, then you will get much more value by looking solely at a list that will have the best credit card for travel rewards with no annual fee.


What Benefits Still Come With A No Annual Fee Travel Credit Card

As we said before, just because you are getting a travel credit card that doesn’t have an annual fee does not mean you are missing out. You still get some great features and benefits. First of all you will still earn travel rewards for the purchases that you make that can then be used to offset the cost of any future travel plans that you have. You can use these rewards to offset any travel charges that you make, to book travel through your credit cards travel portal, or to transfer them to a partner airline or hotels loyalty program. You will also, most likely, be able to take advantage of a sign-up bonus as well. Some cards may also come with travel insurance as well, which will give you a little bit more peace of mind while you are away.


Travel Credit Cards Signup Bonus

This is one of the main things to consider when choosing a no annual fee travel credit card. Does the card you are getting outweigh the signup bonus that would would get from that of the card the next tier up? While most rewards on credit card are valued at $0.01 (there are cases where they are worth more and some where they are worth less, but this is a good baseline when you are doing your comparisons) you need to consider the value of the signup bonus you are getting with the no annual fee card compared to that of an annual-fee credit card. Signup bonus offers change all of the time and sometimes they will have an offer that is too good to be true and you should take advantage of it. On the other hand, if the bonus for the annual fee card is on the low end, the you might find that the added cost of the annual fee is not worth it and you will get much more value out of the no annual fee cards signup bonus.

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Travel Credit Card Rewards

When it comes to earning rewards with the best travel credit cards with no annual fee you won’t be disappointed. You can find cards that earn basic rewards, or bonus miles for all purchases that you make along with bonus rewards for travel purchases or at certain brands of travel establishments. You can also find offers that have bonuses for hotel stays, rental cars, purchases you make at grocery stores, gas stations, and more. It is also possible that you can earn bonus rewards in other categories as well. You just want to weigh the rewards earning power of the no annual fee travel card to that of the one that has an annual fee. Most of the elite travel credit cards have a lower option that comes with no annual fee, so there are plenty of options to choose from and plenty of cards to compare. Remember the key is finding out if the rewards you earn will ever outweigh the cost of an annual fee. Most people who go with the no annual fee travel card find exactly what they need with that option and know that is where they will get the most value and redemption options


Branded VS Co-Branded

This is where a lot of people get stuck when trying to find the best travel rewards credit card with no annual fee. Every major credit card issuer will have their own travel credit card option. And those options usually include a card that has an annual fee and one that does not. The same goes for co-branded cards as well. Many credit card issuers have partnered with certain hotel or airline brands to offer an airline credit card with no annual fee specific to them. So if you know that you usually fly a certain airline or stay at a particular hotel brand then their branded credit card is def worth taking a look at. You will usually see a huge jump in the rewards earning power when you spend at a certain brand utilizing their branded travel credit card. Other things such as upgrades and elite status may come with branded credit cards as well. If you are not bias towards a certain airline or hotel brand then the general branded travel credit card is the best card to get. You can take advantage of the bonus categories they offer and know that you are getting the most out of your card no matter where you stay or what airline you fly.



Best Travel Credit Card With No Annual Fee Benefits


No Foreign Transaction Fees

If you ever plan to travel internationally then you want to make sure the travel card you choose includes the benefit of no foreign transaction fees. This way you eliminate the headache of exchanging currency when you arrive and having to exchange anything that is left over when you leave. All you do is use your card as you would anywhere else and they will do all of the work of the exchange rate for you. Many travel credit cards with no annual fee offer this benefits and its def worth getting it if you plan to travel overseas.

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Transfer Partners

Here is where a little extra homework can do a lot to boost the value of the rewards you earn. Many travel credit cards come with the ability to convert your rewards to certain brands loyalty programs. So you could convert your rewards to miles for a certain airlines frequent flyer mile program, or you could trade your rewards in for points at a certain hotel brands loyalty program. If you ever find that you need less miles or points for a loyalty program than you would if you just used your credit card rewards to cover the cash cost, then you come out ahead and greatly increase the value of the rewards you have earned. This can greatly reduce the cost you pay or may even earn you free flights.


Travel Insurance

Insurance is probably the last thing on your mind when getting to take a much needed vacation. That is why if you can find a no annual fee travel credit card that comes with it then you can be at peace if something were to happen. Be sure to always do your research on the travel insurance options that come with your card so you know what is covered and what is not. This way, in the rare case something bad does happen, you will know what to do and who to contact to help take care of everything.


Who Should Consider A No Annual Fee Travel Credit Card?


  • Someone who likes to travel but doesn’t travel that much

If you really enjoy traveling but don’t get to do it as much as you would like then taking a look at the best travel credit card with no annual fee is worth it. Because you don’t travel that much it would be hard to justify the extra benefits that come with the annual fee price of the higher tier travel cards. Also many travel credit cards offer most of their bonus rewards on travel expenses so you won’t be able to take advantage of that either. With the no annual fee option you will save from not having an annual fee and earn travel rewards on everything you spend as well. Making those not all too often trips that you take that much better when you exchange your rewards to help offset the cost.

  • This is your first credit card

If you are someone looking at getting your very first credit card, and you want it to be a travel credit card, then a no annual fee card would be a great choice. It will allow you to earn some travel rewards while also learning how to make the most out of the rewards you earn. And all without having to worry about an annual fee. Then after you feel like you have a grasp of how a travel credit card works, and the benefits that come with it, you can see if upgrading to a travel credit card with an annual fee will be worth it.

  • You want to take advantage of 0 APR or a balance transfer

Something that a travel credit card with no annual fee can offer that their upgraded annual fee cards sometimes do not is a 0 APR period for new purchases and a 0 APR period for balance transfer. Now, credit card offers change all the time so do your research first, but this is usually the case. If you know you have a big purchase coming up and you want to take advantage of a credit card that offers 0 APR, and earn some travel rewards in the process, then the list containing the best travel credit card no annual fee is a great place to start. Same with balance transfers, if you are looking to pay off your current credit card balance and earn some travel rewards along the way then these cards are a great option to start compare to to other options.

Check Out The Best Travel Credit Card Offers Available Today

Compare The Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards


Credit Score Needed

Travel credit cards in general require a good to excellent credit score to get approved for. This is not true for every card that fits into the “travel rewards” category, but when looking at all of the cards available in this category, a good to excellent credit score will be needed in order to qualify. If you are not sure about whether or not you will be approved there is an option that you can check out to see if you and your credit profile are being targeted for any travel rewards credit cards with no annual fee. The CardMatch Tool allows you to enter some simple information and it gives you results from the issuers that it works with regarding which cards you are most likely to qualify for based on your credit profile. This doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to get approved but it is better than just applying and hoping for the best. The CardMatch Tool sometimes has offers that are only available to people who check their results using the tool as well. So it’s good to check every once in a while to see what cards you are being targeted for. And the best part is it does a soft credit pull, so you can check your results as many times as you want without having any effect on your credit score.

Access The CardMatch Tool Here


Travel Credit Card Alternatives

Sometimes if you are too focused on what is the best travel credit card no annual fee then you might miss out on some other great options that actually work better for you. After all the whole point of a rewards credit card is to use it to spend money you were going to spend anyways and get something back in return. Here at Casavvy we want to give you all of the best credit card options in one place so that you can find the perfect card for you based on whats available. So hopefully by now you have already taken a look at what is the best travel rewards credit card no annual fee for you, but just to be through you can take a look at some other options as well.


Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash back credit cards can be a great option to consider if you are looking for an alternatives to the options you found for best no annual fee travel credit cards. Instead of travel rewards you will earn cash back on the things you buy. Your cash back rewards can be used as a statement credit, a check, or they even can be redeemed for things like gift cards. Just like the best credit cards for travel rewards with no annual fee there are different tiers of cash back credit cards. Some come with an annual fee that have added benefits and you need to determine if those benefits outweigh the cost of the annual fee.


Rewards Credit Cards

There are general rewards cards that usually offer points for the things you buy. These cards also sometimes have bonus categories where you can earn bonus points for spending in certain categories. You can then redeem your points for statement credits or you can use them within your credit cards rewards center to buy merchandise or even tickets for sporting events, shows, or other experiences. Just as the other cards categories mentioned, rewards credit cards usually have an annual fee card option and a non annual fee card that each come with their own unique set of rewards and benefits.


Recap: Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards

Now that you now all of the things you should consider in order to find the best travel rewards credit card with no annual fee lets do a quick recap.

  • Signup Bonus Or Welcome Offer

This is what can give your travel rewards a huge head start as long as you take advantage of it. A credit card signup bonus usually requires you to spend a certain amount within a certain number of months of account opening. With the best travel credit cards the signup bonus can also be quite lucrative as well. So way how much the signup bonus is for the annual fee travel card vs the non annual fee card and choose the one that will give you the best value.

  • Rewards

After the signup bonus you need to consider what your rewards earning potential will be based on where you do most of your spending. Annual fee cards usually offer a higher bonus rate in certain categories than the non annual fee cards, but with a little bit of math you should be able to determine which one will provide you the most value.

  • Branded vs Co Branded

Will getting the best credit card for travel with no annual fee be a card that is tied to a certain brand? If so then all you have to consider is what is the reward earning potential f that card vs the annual fee credit card for the same brand.

  • Added Benefits

What is going to be included with the best credit card for travel rewards no annual fee for you? If things like travel insurance and no foreign transaction fees are important to you then find a card that has them. Also check out the annual fee credit card as well and see what extra benefits come with it and if they justify the cost of the annual fee.


Our Takeaway

When it comes to finding the best travel credit card no annual fee it is all about weighing your options and maximizing what you will get out of it. It is the best way save money by not having to pay a fee every year to have a credit card, especially when you are earning travel rewards in the process. If you are someone who doesn’t need all the fancy bells and whistles then this is the card for you. You have the ability to earn travel rewards ( aka free travel) that can be used in the future to help offset the cost of a trip and you are getting these rewards at a cost of $0. If you do want any of the extra benefits that come with the travel credit card with an annual fee then you need to decide if those benefits offset the price of that fee. If so then you still come out ahead and are getting what you want out of the card. Everyone is different, especially when it comes to how we like to travel. Think of a travel credit card as a tool to help you travel better. This is why we want to give you all of the best travel credit card options in one place. So that your decision on which one is best for you can be made that much easier. After that the decision is up to you. The only thing that will be left is to decide where you want to take your next trip.


About the author: Matthew Coan is the founder of Casavvy and a credit card expert. He has appeared in various media outlets including Yahoo Finance, Credit Karma, Market Watch, Mens Journal, and more. Continue reading