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Best no-annual-fee travel credit cards of 2023

Choose the best credit card for travel and start reaping rewards today


A good travel card doesn’t have to come with an exorbitant annual fee. There are plenty of great no-annual fee travel cards you can explore to help you earn and redeem rewards for travel.

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If you aren’t quite ready to splurge for a premium card for travel — which typically has an annual fee in exchange for premium features — your next best option would be a travel card with no annual fee. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know which card is right for you?

Here we’ll review some of our top-rated travel card options that don’t charge a pesky annual fee. Use this guide to help choose the best credit card that works for your spending habits and specific travel lifestyle.

Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card: Best for flexible spending

Why we picked it: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is ideal for anyone who wants simple, hassle-free cash back options in a travel rewards card. There’s no need to activate spending categories or watch for special bonus categories every quarter. The rewards simply accrue to your account at the same flat rate of 1.5X points on every purchase.

Another plus is that if you are a Bank of America or Merrill account holder, you can boost your rewards rate 25 percent to 75 percent with Preferred Rewards. You’ll also get 25,000 online bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.


  • You can earn unlimited points.
  • Your points won’t expire if your account remains open.
  • You don’t have to worry about blackout dates.
  • You don’t have to pay foreign transaction fees.


  • The rewards rate is relatively low.

Who should apply: The Bank of America Travel Rewards card could be a good fit if you’re looking for a no-annual-fee card with a good sign-up bonus. If you tend to spend across a wide array of categories — online shopping, dining, streaming sites and gas — the card’s flat rate will earn you reliable rewards.

Who should skip: This card might not be a good match for those who are looking to maximize their spending. Cardholders who don’t mind paying an annual fee should also keep shopping.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best for simplicity

Why we picked it: This entry-level travel card is so simple to use that any beginner in travel rewards could use it. Though Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card rewards rate isn’t especially high, it’s slightly higher than cards that offer unlimited cash back at the industry-standard 1 percent. The flat 1.25X miles rate applies to all spending, no matter the time or category.

Redeeming points is pretty straightforward, too. You can redeem miles for a travel statement credit that allows you to book travel yourself or through a travel agent. On top of that, the Capital One VentureOne will give you a 20,000-mile bonus (equal to $200 in travel) once you spend $500 on purchases within three months.


  • You won’t have to deal with any blackout dates.
  • There is no mileage minimum to redeem for travel.
  • You can transfer miles to more than 15 of Capital One’s transfer partners.
  • You can earn unlimited rewards.


  • Large U.S. airlines are excluded from the list of airline partners.

Who should apply: This could be a good match for frequent fliers who spend $396 or more each month, and you can earn a pretty decent bonus with a relatively low spending requirement within the first three months from account opening. The card can also be beneficial if you’re looking for a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 19.99 percent to 29.99 percent variable APR).

Who should skip: This might not be a good fit for infrequent flyers who don’t spend a lot each month.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for pairing with a premium travel card

Why we picked it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited* is a great card because it offers one of the highest cash back rates. The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 5 percent cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 percent cash back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5 percent cash back on everything else.

The Freedom Unlimited’s cash back is also fulfilled as Ultimate Rewards points. This makes it a great card to pair with another Ultimate Rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to multiply the rewards you earn across different categories and redeem your points at 25 percent boosted value for Chase travel, thanks to the Sapphire Preferred’s card perk.


  • The card offers flexibility for redeeming rewards.
  • The card provides a sign-up bonus of an additional 1.5 percent cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • You can earn 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025.
  • Points won’t expire if your account remains open.


  • There is a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent.

Who should apply: Frequent travelers looking for flexibility should consider this card. Also, frequent Lyft riders can earn a solid cash back when they use the card for every ride.

Who should skip: Cardholders who want to transfer miles to a frequent-flier program of an American airline should probably skip this one.

Discover it Miles: Best first-year bonus

Why we picked it: The Discover it® Miles card has a great first-year offer that has the potential to boost your miles’ earnings substantially. The Discover it Miles matches all the miles you earn at the end of your first year as an account holder — essentially turning your 1.5 miles per dollar into 3 miles per dollar — with no annual fee.

You can choose to redeem miles for cash, travel purchases, Amazon.com purchases, gift cards and more.


  • You can earn unlimited 1.5 miles on every dollar you spend.
  • You can redeem any number of miles.
  • There are no blackout dates or expiration on miles earned.
  • Discover matches all miles earned after your first year.


  • You can’t transfer your miles to airline frequent-flier programs.
  • Partners and perks have limited international acceptance.

Who should apply: Occasional travelers looking for fewer restrictions can take advantage of the Discover it Miles. This flat-rate card enables customers to choose cash back or redeem miles to pay your bill.

Who should skip: Since 1.5 miles per dollar is not the best reward rate for a frequent flier, you might want to consider another option.

Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best for frequent Hilton stays

Why we picked it: The Hilton Honors American Express Card is a good choice for those who stay at Hilton properties frequently. You’ll earn 70,000 points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. You can also get 7X points at Hilton hotel properties. Eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations will get you 5X points, and everything else gets you 3X points. Plus, there are no blackout dates or expiration dates on points.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card also provides complimentary Hilton Honors silver status, which includes an annual fifth-night free reward (when you book at least four consecutive nights with points) and a 20 percent bonus on each Hilton Honors base point you earn.


  • You can earn an unlimited number of points.
  • You can transfer points to over 20 travel partners.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.
  • Points are redeemable for hotel stays, airfare, car rentals, cruises, shopping, dining or charitable giving.


  • You can redeem points only for travel booked through Amex Travel.
  • You can use the free night’s stay certificate only if a standard room is available.

Who should apply: Travelers who frequent Hilton stays will get the most out of this card because they can earn points on their everyday purchases, then redeem them for stays.

Who should skip: Although this card offers some of the best hotel benefits, it might not be a great fit for travelers looking for high-value points (according to Bankrate, Hilton Honors points are worth an average of 0.6 cents per point). It could take a while to accumulate the points to redeem for your next stay.

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card: Best card for Delta Air Lines passengers

Why we picked it: If you live near a Delta hub, taking advantage of their co-branded Amex card could be a great choice. With the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, you can earn 2X miles at restaurants worldwide and on eligible Delta purchases. Other purchases get you 1X point.

As a co-branded American Express card, the Delta SkyMiles Blue Card provides card benefits other Amex cardholders receive, such as car rental insurance, event presales, lowest hotel rate guarantee, purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. New cardholders will be rewarded 10,000 miles if they spend $1,000 within six months.


  • Your Delta miles won’t expire.
  • You can book trips without blackout dates.
  • You can earn unlimited miles.
  • Miles are redeemable for flights, flight upgrades, car rentals, merchandise and more.


  • Stopovers are not allowed.
  • You’ll likely pay fuel surcharges on some partners and on Delta one-way flights from Europe.

Who should apply: This card is suitable for casual travelers who are loyal to Delta Air Lines but don’t require the luxury of free checked bags or priority seating.

Who should skip: Frequent fliers looking for free checked bags or priority boarding should consider another credit card. People who fly a variety of airlines, not just Delta, have no need to tie themselves to a co-branded Delta card, and they could opt for a flexible rewards card instead.

Compare the best no-annual-fee travel cards

CardBest forRewards rate
Bank of America Travel Rewards credit cardBest for flexible spending1.5X points on every purchase
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit CardBest for simplicity
  • 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
Chase Freedom UnlimitedBest for pairing with a premium travel card
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2025)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5 % cash back on all other purchases
Discover it MilesBest for first-year bonus1.5X miles on general purchases
Hilton Honors American Express CardBest for frequent Hilton stays
  • 7X Hilton Honors points on Hilton purchases
  • 5X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
  • 3X points on all other purchases
  • Terms apply
Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express CardBest for Delta fliers
  • 2X miles on Delta purchases
  • 2X miles on restaurants worldwide
  • 1X mile on other purchases
  • Terms apply

How to choose a no-annual-fee travel credit card

When narrowing down the choices among the best travel credit cards with no annual fee, you should keep in mind what features you want. Because these cards don’t have an annual fee, like elite or luxury travel cards, it might be difficult to find all the best features in just one card. Try to focus on the card benefits that matter most to you, such as extended warranty coverage, to help you eliminate the cards that don’t have them and decide on the ones that do.

Here are a few features to look for in a no-annual-fee travel card:

  • You may earn a welcome bonus.
  • The card offers an intro APR period for balance transfers or purchases (or both).
  • There is a high earning potential for travel-related spending.
  • You may combine rewards with other cards to boost rewards value.
  • The rewards program has minimal restrictions like blackout dates or expiration on rewards.
  • The redemption options are flexible, offering redemptions, such as cash, gift cards, statement credits, Amazon.com purchases or travel booked through the issuer’s portal.
  • The card benefits include trip protection, luggage insurance, hotel discounts, airline discounts, roadside assistance and more.

Bottom line

If you match your spending and travel habits to the available options, finding the best travel credit card with no annual fee shouldn’t be difficult. The best card will ultimately be the one that enables you to earn decent rewards on everyday expenses. Then you can use those rewards to cover your travel expenses.

*Information about the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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