The Best No-Fee Travel Credit Cards: Travel hacking is among the simplest ways to reduce your travel expenses. By wisely using credit cards to earn points and miles, you may effectively convert your regular spending into free travel benefits like hotels stays and flights.
This not only increases the amount of money you spend on travel but also elevates the experience by offering complimentary upgrades, access to lounges, and a whole lot more.
The majority of the top travel credit cards do, however, include annual fees—sometimes very high ones.
Even though frequent travelers typically find annual fees to be worthwhile (you can get considerably more use out of a card than its annual charge), if you’re new to travel hacking or don’t travel that frequently, you might want to start with a no-fee card.
List of Best No-Fee Travel Credit Cards
Additionally, there are numerous no-fee cards available. Which do you choose?
The top no-fee travel credit cards are on my list below, so you can start accumulating miles for free travel right away.
1. The Bilt Rewards Mastercard
Without a doubt my favorite no-fee travel card, the Bilt Mastercard enables you to earn points when you pay your rent (as well as on everyday purchases). The card is primarily geared toward travelers and restaurant-goers since it offers 2x points spent on travel and 3x points on dining out.
You can transfer points 1:1 to travel partners, including American Airlines, United, Emirates, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, Air France/KLM, Hyatt, and IHG. The fact that you can transfer Bilt points to American Airlines really sets this card apart; no other card’s points are transferable to American, so amassing Bilt points is the only way to get AA points without having an AA card.
Bilt also integrates with point.me, a handy search and booking engine for award flights.
With the Bilt card, you get:
- 1x points on rental payments
- 2x points on travel
- 3x points on dining
- American Airlines as a transfer partner (it’s the only card that does)
- Rent Day benefits: monthly giveaways and challenges as well as 6x points on dining, 4x points on travel, and 2x on all other spending on the 1st of the month
- Travel protection including trip cancellation and delay
- No foreign transaction fees
The Bilt card is absolutely a no-brainer for renters who love to travel. To learn more, read my full Bilt Review. It is the card I use the most right now (especially on rent days).
2. Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
The cards in Capital One’s Venture lineup are all fantastic. While the Venture and Venture X are more well-known, they come with annual fees. If you’re looking for a no-fee card, VentureOne is an excellent option. You’ll earn 1.25x points on all purchases as well as 5x points on travel booked through the Capital One travel portal. Just like the other Venture cards, the points you earn with the VentureOne card can then be transferred to Capital One’s 15+ transfer partners to redeem for flights and hotels.
With this card, you’ll get:
- Earn 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
- 1.25x points on all purchases
- 5x points on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- Travel accident and car rental insurance
- No foreign transaction fees
3. Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great no-fee card that offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, 3% back on restaurants and drugstores, and 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The card also offers travel protections like rental car insurance and trip cancellation/delay. However, it does charge foreign transaction fees, so you don’t want to use it while traveling abroad, only to book travel in advance.
When you sign up for this card, you’ll get:
- Earn an additional 1.5% on all purchases in the first year (up to $20,000)
- 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% cash back on restaurants and drugstores
CARDS WITH LOW FEES
If the cards above are a little too basic for your travel hacking needs and you want something more intermediate, here’s a quick list of travel credit cards with affordable fees:
($95 annual fee) – 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, 2x points on travel (5x when booked through the Chase travel portal), travel protections, and a $50 annual hotel credit when you book and prepay through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
($95 annual fee) – 2x points on all purchases, 5x points on hotels/rental cars booked on Capital One travel, $100 Global Entry/TSA pre-check credit, 2 airport lounge visits per year.
($95 annual fee) – If you’re a business owner, this card offers 3x points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent each year on shipping, internet, phone, travel, and online advertising. It also offers free cards for employees.
While fee-based cards have better earning structures and travel benefits, if you’re new to the points and miles game, the idea of forking out for an annual fee might put you off from travel cards entirely. But if you love to travel (or want to travel more), not collecting points and miles is the biggest mistake you could make.
No-fee cards are a great place to start so that you can begin to work towards free flights and hotel stays today, without having to think about whether you’re getting enough value out of the card to justify the annual fee.
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