Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 29, 2023

When you travel a lot, whether that’s jetting across the country, sleeping in hotels or enjoying a relaxing weekend at a resort, travel credit cards can help you save money. Some cards offer points that allow you to reduce your travel expenses when buying at certain places while others give you the option of statement credits so you can pay for your travels anywhere you choose. What makes a travel card even better? When you don’t have to pay an annual fee.


The Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards:

Benzinga researched the best no annual fee travel credit cards and found the offers listed below.

1.   Best Overall: Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card

If you’re looking for the best overall travel card with no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card may be it. You also get a generous intro APR. Plus, this card allows you to earn generous points on almost everything you do, including travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, dining, drugstores and everything else you purchase using the card.

You can use all of your rewards to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal where you will gain even more reward points on the money you spend there. Rewards include unlimited 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, unlimited 3% on U.S. restaurants, takeout and delivery, unlimited 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.


  • Flexible rewards options will make it far easier for you to adjust to the spending you must do, especially if you’re a business owner or manager
  • The high bar of the rewards is higher than most competitors


  • Booking through Chase is not effective for every cardholder or business

2. Best for Hotels and Resorts: Chase IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card

You will earn points when you make purchases using the Chase IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card and can use those points for any of the 16 hotel or resort brands that are a part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group, earning 17X points on all purchases when you stay at IHG Hotels and Resorts. If you are also an IHG Rewards member, you will get two times the points. In addition to no annual fees, you also won’t pay for foreign transactions when using this card.

Plus, a limited time offer! You can earn a 100,000 point bonus when you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $50 in statement credits on purchases at IHG Hotels and Resorts during the first 12 months from account opening.


  • IHG is the largest hotel group in the world
  • The portfolio points multiplier could be the only thing you need to save for future trips or effectively repay your business for travel


  • Even though there’s no annual fee, you may find that there’s not a hotel where you can stay in every destination

3.  Best for Free Stays:® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

If the idea of collecting stamps every time you stay at a participating hotel excites you, this card could be for you. The program is simple: Spend $500 or more to collect a stamp, or stay at one of the eligible properties booked at to get a stamp. You can choose from 500,000 properties in more than 200 countries around the world. Once you have collected 10 stamps, you can use them to book a property via (a $110 value). Plus, you can get 2 reward nights worth $250 ($125 per night) when you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months. You can get another reward night worth $125 when you spend $4,000 in your first 6 months.


  • gives you even more places where you might want to stay
  • The free nights and easy point accrual can actually surprise you, even if you don’t travel or use the card all that much


  • The stamp system might be confusing to some cardholders

4.  Best for Points: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

You can earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on this card, and those points can be applied to many areas of travel. For instance, you can use the points for airlines, hotels, vacation rentals, baggage fees and dining, including takeout meals. There are no restrictions on the points you can earn, and they never expire. Unlike some other travel cards, this issuer does not have blackout periods or certain dates when you cannot book travel. You can use the card to redeem points on any travel website you choose, or if it’s easier, you can redeem them using a statement credit and pay for your travel that way.


  • In spite of blackout dates, you can easily invest these rewards in the travel you prefer or need to take
  • Because the card has unlimited points, you don’t need to worry about what you’re buying with this card


  • Excluding the blackout dates, you may find that Bank of America doesn’t redeem with the partners that you prefer

5.  Best for Business Miles: Capital One Spark Miles for Business

If you travel for business, the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card offers no annual fee, up to a $100 travel statement credit for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry and the option to redeem your rewards through Capital One’s travel site. With low fees and a powerful welcome bonus, you can prepare for any trip or save for one in the future.


  • This card helps business owners or managers who travel often, especially if your business feels like it’s losing money on travel
  • The welcome bonus and credit can help you get off on the right foot if you’re a small business owner


  • It might not be helpful to need to redeem through Capital One’s site
  • You might feel as though the welcome bonus isn’t large enough

6. Best for Hilton Bonus Points: Hilton Honors American Express Card

If Hilton Hotels are your choice when it comes to overnight stays, this credit card could help you earn enough points for some free hotel rooms. You will earn 7X Hilton Bonus Points when you stay at Hilton hotels or resorts, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations, or 3X points when you purchase anything else. Each area of spending has varying points associated with it, but the bottom line is that if you love Hilton, you can spend your way to free nights in the hotel.


  • You can save for trips using this card and could even pair it with an airline card
  • Because the points vary, it’s easy to decide what to buy with this card
  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months you hold the card


  • There may not be Hilton locations near where you prefer to stay, making this card ineffectual

7. Best for Delta Miles: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

If Delta is your preferred airline, you can earn Delta SkyMiles® by making purchases at Delta, in restaurants or for other purchases—2X miles on Delta purchases, 2X miles at restaurants worldwide, in the U.S. for takeout and delivery along with 1X miles on all other purchases. The purchases you make at Delta or in restaurants will earn double the amount of rewards as other purchases do. When you purchase food on a Delta flight, you will earn a 20% statement credit. Also, when you purchase your airline ticket at and use the Pay With Miles option, you will get a discount on your ticket.


  • Works well for someone who is already a frequent flyer with Delta
  • Delta has hubs across America and flies routinely into some of the busiest airports in the world


  • As with any airline card, Delta may not have the flights and time you’re looking for

How Do No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards Work?

Compared to a business credit card or travel cards that do charge an annual fee, no annual fee travel cards don’t offer as many perks. But if your intention is to get travel rewards on a budget and skip the annual fee, these cards may be right for you. For example, most no annual fee cards do not charge foreign transaction fees. That alone can save you a lot of money when you travel. This, however, does not take the interest rate into account.

And these cards offer points and miles that can really add up, depending on how much you spend. Every time you make a qualified purchase, whether that’s a flight, hotel stay, groceries, or gas (each card has different requirements), you will earn a point or a mile depending on the type of rewards card you have.

The points or miles will continue to accumulate as you make purchases with the card. Once you’ve earned enough to purchase a flight or a hotel, you use the card and make the purchase using the points or miles instead of cash. Some of the best cards give you the option of getting a statement credit and using that to purchase your travel-related items.

Who Can Get a Travel Credit Card With No Annual Fee?

Because these types of cards are reward based, you will need a higher credit score than you do with some other cards. To get a basic no annual fee travel credit card, you should have a minimum credit score of 670. If you want to get a business card, your business needs good credit, and a travel rewards card could take the place of a traditional business account. And if you want a travel card that offers premium perks and rewards, your credit score should be a minimum of 740.

That’s just one of the reasons why it’s important to understand your credit score before applying for a credit card.

Pros and Cons of Travel Credit Cards

When thinking about getting a travel card, there are some pros and cons that you should consider before applying for one. A credit card offer is nice, and cash back rewards can help pay down your balance, but there’s more to it than that.

Here are the pros of travel credit cards:

  • Depending on the card you have, you may be able to rack up miles or points on purchases other than travel. Some card issuers allow you to earn points while purchasing everyday items such as gas and groceries.
  • Some cards allow users to sign up for related rewards programs and earn double or triple rewards that go toward travel. For instance, a credit card issuer may give a certain amount of points for spending related to hotels, and if the user has a reward card with the hotel, they can earn even more points for the same purchase.
  • Some card issuers give users the option of redeeming their points or miles as a statement credit. And if the rules require that travel purchases are made from certain partners, using a statement credit instead would allow you to purchase your tickets from any place you desire.
  • Some travel cards come with perks that will enhance your travels. For example, you may get access to luxury airport lounges, discounts on flights or hotels or free travel insurance when you book your trip.
  •  Many travel cards offer new customers sign-up bonuses that consist of miles or points. Depending on the card, you can rack up a good amount of them on day one.
  • You may be able to use your points or miles for merchandise or gifts instead of travel. This can come in handy if you can’t travel but still want to use your rewards.
  • Many travel rewards issuers partner with other travel-related businesses and allow card users to transfer their miles or points to them. For instance, if you want to use an airline outside of the card’s network, you may be able to transfer your miles to that airline.

Here are some of the cons of travel credit cards:

  • Some cards require that you pay an annual fee. Typically, the cards that offer luxury perks such as airport lounge access charge these fees. On the other hand, you can get a no-annual fee travel card and still earn points and miles toward your travels.
  • No annual fee travel cards don’t typically charge foreign transaction fees, but if you get a card that charges an annual fee, you’re likely to pay these fees. They can add up, making your trip more expensive.
  • Many times, you will have to spend a certain amount of money in the first few months of owning your card to receive the sign-up bonus. Make sure you can spend that amount to make signing up for the card worth your while.
  • Many issuers reserve certain dates where you cannot redeem your rewards, usually during peak travel seasons. Also, some issuers impose restrictions on how you can use your rewards. It’s important to understand any restrictions before applying for a travel credit card.
  •  While many travel cards allow you to pay for things with your points other than travel expenses, doing so may reduce the value of your rewards. Be sure to check the value ratio before spending your points on something else.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What credit score do I need to get a no-annual-fee travel credit card?


To get a no-annual-fee travel card, your credit score should range from 670 to 739 if you want a basic card. If you want to apply for a premium card with more rewards, your score should be higher — at least 740.


Are there airline cards with no annual fee?


Yes, there are airline cards with no annual fee. For instance, in the list provided above, Delta Airlines partnered with American Express to provide a card that gives its users Delta airline miles. And there is no annual fee associated with that card.


How do I get free flights with a credit card?


To get free flights with a credit card, you will first need to apply for a credit card that offers miles as points. Then, as you make purchases on the card, the miles will add up. Once you reach the required number of miles for the flight you want to book, you can use the miles on your card to pay for the trip.


How much do I have to spend to get a free flight?


To get a free domestic flight, you would typically have to earn about 25,000 miles. How much you have to spend depends on your card’s rewards program. For instance, if you received two times rewards, you would have to spend $12,500. But if you earned seven times rewards, you would have to spend about $3,500. That’s why it’s important to understand the points system offered by each travel credit card before applying.

About Suzanne Kearns

Suzanne is an expert in the insurance, personal finance, real estate and retirement planning space.