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Earning credit cards rewards is great. Earning them on a card that doesn't come with an annual fee is even better. Smart rewards earners will find the right no-fee rewards credit card to earn travel rewards or cash back—and then be sure to pay off balances in full every month so they're not paying for those rewards in interest charges. Read on for the best no-fee rewards cards around.
1. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Annual fee: None
APR: 15.49% to 27.49% variable, depending on creditworthiness
This offer is no longer available through Experian.
This new card from Wells Fargo is designed to compete with its fee-charging counterparts. Cardholders earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining purchases; 3 points per $1 spent on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; 3 points per $1 spent on transit, rideshares, and gas; and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
That's an impressive earning rate that rivals the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Points are worth one cent each and can be redeemed for cash back, travel purchases, gift cards and more. If you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account you'll also earn an extra 30,000 bonus points, worth $300 in cash redemption value.
2. Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
You'll earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent on every single purchase. You can also earn a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of owning the card. That's worth $200 in travel. Redeeming rewards is easy—you can apply them to any travel purchase you make on the card. Miles don't expire for the lifetime of the account, and there's no limit to what you can earn.
3. Chase Freedom®
While you earn 1% cash back on all purchases, you have the chance to amp up those earnings with Chase Freedom®'s quarterly rotating bonus categories that allow you to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in eligible spending. In the first quarter of 2018, you could earn bonus rewards for spending at gas stations; internet, cable and phone bills; and even by using mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay or Chase Pay. In the second quarter of 2018, the bonus category was spending at grocery stores. In the third quarter, you earned bonus points on purchases at gas stations, Walgreens and Lyft.
You also earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in purchases in the first 3 months of opening the account. Points are worth 1 cent each in cash or for travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Portal. But if you do have a pricey rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can combine your Freedom points and redeem them at a higher rate.
4. Discover it® Cash Back
Like Chase Freedom®, this card also offers 1% cash back on all purchases, along with quarterly bonus categories that allow you to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in eligible purchases when activated. Quarterly categories in 2018 included gas stations and wholesale clubs in the first quarter; grocery stores in the second quarter; restaurants in the third quarter; and Amazon.com and wholesale clubs in the fourth quarter.
Each point is worth 1 cent and can be redeemed for cash back or spending at Amazon.com. But the most intriguing thing about this card is that Discover will match all your cash back earnings in the first year, meaning you will get 2% total back on regular purchases and 10% total back on your rotating category purchases. And there's no limit to how much is matched.
5. Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Simplicity is the name of the game with this card. You don't have to worry about keeping track of rotating categories or figuring out which purchases maximize your rewards. With this card, you earn 1% back for every $1 spent, and then another 1% back once you pay your statement balance, for a total of 2% back. That's one of the best flat cashback rates around. There's no limit to what you can earn.
If you're interested in a balance transfer, this is also a good card to consider: It's currently offering 0% interest for 18 months on balance transfers (you will pay a 3% or a $5 transfer fee, whichever is greater). Balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening in order to qualify for the 0% promotion.
6. Uber Visa Card
Annual fee: None
APR: 16.74% to 25.49% variable, depending on creditworthiness
This card is the millennials' dream: You earn 4% back on dining purchases, 3% back on hotels and airfare, 2% back on online purchases (including Uber, online shopping and streaming services) and 1% back on everything else. If you pay for mobile phone bill with the card, you will get up to $600 worth of protection in the case of mobile phone damage or theft. Spend $5,000 or more on the card in one year and you will also receive a $50 subscription credit that can be used on online subscription services like Netflix or Spotify.
7. PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card
Annual fee: None
APR: 12.49% to 17.99% variable, depending on creditworthiness
This is an impressive new no-fee card that offers many of the advantages of a premium rewards card. Cardholders earn 3 points per $1 spent on all travel purchases (if you're a PenFed Honors Advantage member, you earn 4 points) and 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. If you spend $2,500 within the first three months of opening the account, you will get an extra 25,000 bonus points.
Each year, cardholders will receive a $100 annual airline fee credit that can be used on airline incidentals like checked bags, lounge access on in-flight purchases on any US airline (and you can use it across multiple airlines). Every five years, you also receive a $100 credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
You must be a PenFed member to apply for the card, but becoming one is easy—if you're not eligible through military service, you can always join the National Military Family Association for $17.