If you’re looking for a travel rewards credit card with no annual fee, we know it can be hard to pinpoint the choice that both fits your lifestyle and offers the right kinds of redemption options. Read on for our picks in these categories.
|Discover it® Miles||Earning points at a flat rate|
|Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card||Best for rewards variety|
|U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card||Best for flexible redemption options|
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||Hotel stays|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card||Sign-up bonus|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||Straightforward rewards|
Here’s why: The Discover it® Miles travel rewards credit card could be the right fit for anyone who wants to earn miles at a steady rate no matter what they’re purchasing.
With the Discover it® Miles travel rewards credit card, you’ll earn a flat rate of 1.5 miles per $1 spent on every purchase. For comparison, many travel credit cards with no annual fee will allow heightened rates on one or two categories — like three points on gas — without any accompanying multiplier for other kinds of purchases.
At the end of your first year, Discover will also match all the miles you earned in your first 12 months of card membership.
With the Discover it® Miles card, you don’t have to track how you’re earning rewards or — worse yet — consider changing your spending habits to maximize your earning potential.
The card has no foreign transaction fee.
Learn more in our review of the Discover it® Miles credit card.
Best for rewards variety: Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
Here’s why: The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card offers three points per $1 spent in a number of useful bonus categories, and you can redeem your rewards for travel.
Cardholders earn the bonus rate on restaurants, travel, gas stations, electric vehicle charging stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. All other purchases earn one point per $1.
As a sign-up bonus, you can earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account opens.
For more details, read reviews of the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card.
Best for flexible redemption options: U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
Here’s why: If you want the ability to redeem rewards for either travel or cash back, this card will give you that flexibility with the benefit of several bonus categories.
You’ll earn …
- 4 points per $1 spent on purchases at restaurants (including takeout and delivery)
- 2 points per $1 spent on streaming services, groceries, gas and EV charging stations
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
You can also earn a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points (equivalent to $200 in redemptions) when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days after you open your account.
Points can be redeemed for travel, cash back, merchandise, gift cards and more.
For more info, read reviews of the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card.
Here’s why: The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers a lot to frequent Hilton guests looking to earn rewards without paying an annual fee.
The rewards multipliers for eligible purchases on this card are eye-popping, at least at first glance. The Hilton Honors American Express Card offers …
- 7 Hilton Honors bonus points for each $1 spent at Hilton portfolio properties
- 5 points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
- 3 points on all other eligible purchases
You can also earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account opens.
But it’s worth noting that the value of Hilton Honors points can be quite low, according to Credit Karma’s estimated point valuations. When assessing the welcome bonus, consider that potential value and not just the number of points you’ll earn.
Still, the Hilton Honors American Express Card brings meaningful perks to Hilton guests. The card includes complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status — good for late checkouts, the opportunity to earn a fifth night free on rewards bookings, and other benefits. It also offers the opportunity to achieve Gold status if you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases within a calendar year.
In addition, there are no foreign transaction fees, which could be especially helpful if you use the card during trips outside of the United States.
Get more details in our review of the Hilton Honors American Express Card.
Here’s why: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a nice option for those who want to make their upcoming travel plans go further with a solid sign-up bonus.
Travel cards with no annual fee typically don’t offer the huge sign-up bonuses of pricier rewards cards, but there is still value to be had in this area.
With the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, you earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases within your first 90 days from account opening. That’s both a meaningful boost — a potential $250 value — and an attainable bonus in terms of the required spending level.
The card also earns a flat rate of 1.5 points per $1 spent on purchases. And like other cards on our list — its foreign transaction fee? None.
Learn more with our review of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.
Best for straightforward rewards: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Here’s why: If you’re looking for a card with a no fuss, easy-to-understand rewards program, look no further than the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. With this card, you’ll earn five miles per $1 spent on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel, plus an unlimited 1.25 miles on every other $1 you spend. Then once you’ve earned your miles, Capital One makes it easy to redeem them for travel (though there are other redemption options as well).
Here’s how it works: When you make a travel purchase with the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, you simply redeem your miles as a statement credit. That credit goes toward the cost of the travel purchase, and voilà — all or part of your travel purchase is covered.
Travel purchases include flights, hotels and more. Capital One also offers the chance to transfer your miles to one of its travel loyalty programs.
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. And what’s more, your rewards won’t expire as long as your card is open. Just make sure you redeem for a statement credit within 90 days of the travel purchase posting to your account.
Read more in our review of the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
How to make the most of a travel rewards credit card with no annual fee
Before settling on a travel credit card with no annual fee, it’s important to consider if you’re willing to sacrifice some rewards-earning power just to avoid paying an annual fee.
While the cards mentioned in this article can help you get value for your purchases, most of our favorite travel credit cards charge an annual fee. If you want the most lucrative sign-up bonuses or best perks, you’re likely going to have to pay an annual fee. Otherwise, you might want to consider a cash back card over a travel card.
If you’re set on a travel card, though, then there are several issues to consider to find the right one of you. First, you should figure out how you’ll usually use it and how often. It’s important to break down the benefits each card offers and decide which travel features are most important to you.
For instance, a hotel credit card that offers benefits for a single brand won’t make a lot of sense for you if you’re not particularly loyal to that company. At the same time, an airline-branded card might be the right option if you only fly with that airline.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your travel card’s benefits should suit your regular habits. If you find yourself changing your spending habits or travel plans to fit the card’s offers, then it’s probably best to reassess your options.
How we picked these travel rewards credit cards
Naturally, we started our selection process by pinpointing the travel rewards credit cards with no annual fee. Once we established that list, we focused on the qualities of each card that matter to consumers interested in earning rewards without paying an annual fee.
We settled on the categories in this article because they represent some of the most practical and efficient ways of earning and redeeming travel rewards.
Different people find value in different places. Our goal was to offer a range of options to fit those different needs.