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Does it seem like all of the best travel credit cards have an annual fee? Paying an annual fee usually means getting more cardholder perks and having more earning potential to enjoy free luxury travel benefits and get more savings. However, some travel credit cards have exciting benefits and don’t charge a yearly fee.

LAX-YYZ on Air Canada (Dec. 21, 2023). Credit: Johnny Jet

Do All Travel Cards Have Annual Fees? Are There Travel Cards With No Annual Fee?

Yes, a few travel credit cards without an annual fee are available, with enticing rewards for beginner travelers and for those building credit. There is an ample mixture of flexible rewards programs and co-branded products with airline or hotel loyalty programs.

For example, you may get one of these cards to make occasional purchases to prevent your existing points balance from expiring.

They can also be an excellent alternative to paying an annual fee for casual travelers who may not benefit from the additional perks such as lounge passes, free checked bags, or a higher-tier hotel elite status.

Here are some of the best no-annual-fee travel credit cards.

Bilt World Elite Mastercard

Whether you pay rent or own a home, the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® makes it easy to earn some of the most valuable credit card points around. You earn 1x points on rent payments and won’t pay any annual fees.

Enjoy a 25% point redemption bonus for travel bookings through the Bilt App and 1:1 point transfers to Bilt travel partners.

Additionally, dining purchases earn 3x points, and travel purchases earn 2x points. All non-bonus spending earns 1x points. On the first day of each month, non-rent purchases earn double points (up to 6 points per $1).

Read about the Rewards and Benefits to learn more. You will need to make at least five purchases per statement cycle to earn reward points on your purchases.

This card doesn’t offer much in the way of additional travel benefits like airport lounge access, but it excels at earning and redeeming points for travel and non-travel rewards. The Bilt loyalty program is also introducing more features like transfer bonuses, priority access to events, and exclusive elite membership perks.

Go straight to the source: Bilt World Elite Mastercard®

Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card earns 7x points on Hilton purchases. It also earns 5x points at U.S.-based restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations. All non-bonus spending earns 3x. Cardholders also enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status.

This card doesn’t offer free night awards like the other Hilton Honors credit cards with an annual fee (See Rates & Fees). Still, it keeps your Hilton points from expiring.

And yes, the Hilton cards can be worth it if you stay at Hilton properties often.

Learn more: Hilton Honors American Express Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® provides travel and cash back rewards. Purchases earn at least 1.5% back:

  • 5x on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3x on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% on all remaining spending

You can redeem your points for 1 cent in award travel through the Chase booking portal. It’s also possible to request cash statement credits and bank account deposits with a similar redemption value.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp

The information for the American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

All you can see, not all travel cards have annual fees. This includes airline cards. American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® cardholders earn 2x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases and at grocery stores. Further, earn 1 Loyalty Point per eligible mile earned from card purchases.

There is a 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases too.

United Gateway Card

The United Gateway℠ Card earns up to 2x MileagePlus Miles on purchases and provides 25% back on United in-flight and Club premium drink purchases. United miles no longer expire, and each purchase helps you get closer to earning a free flight reward.

In addition to having no annual fee, there is no foreign transaction fee.

Related: Using The Best United Airlines Credit Cards

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card earns 2x SkyMiles on Delta purchases and at U.S. restaurants. All remaining purchases earn 1x mile.

Receive 20% back on in-flight purchases and pay with miles on Delta.com flight bookings to save up to $50 per 5,000 redeemed SkyMiles.

No foreign transaction fee is another benefit (See Rates & Fees).

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is one of the few travel credit cards without an annual fee to offer point transfers to airlines and hotels.

The Capital One airline transfer partners are good for international travel.

You can also redeem Venture miles for statement credits or book upcoming trips through Capital One Travel. The redemption value is one cent for either method.

Card purchases earn 1.25 miles which is relatively low compared to competing rewards credit cards. While you won’t earn transferrable travel miles, you may prefer the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns 1.5% back and lets you redeem your rewards as statement credits or upcoming trips.

U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card earns up to 4x points on purchases and also offers a $15 annual streaming credit on select services, such as Netflix, Apple, and Spotify.

The rewards categories include:

  • 4x on dining, takeout, and restaurant delivery
  • 2x at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services, gas stations, and EV charging
  • 1x on remaining purchases

It’s possible to redeem points for travel, cash back, merchandise, charity, and real-time rewards.

Do All Travel Cards Have Annual Fees?

Many, but not all, travel cards have annual fees. This charge is more common with travel cards than credit cards that give cash back. Consequently, it’s essential to be more selective about which cards you apply for to make sure that the rewards justify the cost.

Most travel credit cards tend to charge an average $95 annual fee and usually include a few benefits to offset flight or hotel costs. In many cases, it’s easy to save more than you may currently spend out of pocket. These cards may also have more robust rewards programs with better redemption options that make it easier to redeem points for desirable travel rewards.

Frequent travelers and luxury travelers stand to gain the most from using one of the premium credit cards with fees of $395 or more. Common benefits include unlimited airport lounge visits, yearly travel credits, and travel elite status.

Summary

In conclusion, you can see that all travel cards don’t have annual fees. There are several no-annual-fee travel credit cards to choose from, although they are more likely to be a co-branded product instead of an entry-level product of a flexible rewards program. Consider them if you travel infrequently or want a fee-free way to keep your loyalty account active and in good standing.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here.

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