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It’s a new year, and there are more options than ever to help you maximize rewards for little to no cost. Lucrative no annual fee credit cards are making a name for themselves in 2019, and there are plenty to choose from. Whether your focus is on travel dining, hotels, everyday spending, or all of the above, there is a credit for you, with no annual fee.
If you like flexibility in a credit card, such as the ability to rotate bonus categories, the Chase Freedom® card is a no-brainer. You can earn 5% cash back for every purchase or 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter, as well as unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
As a new cardholder, you will also benefit from a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Additionally, if you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can combine your points and use them with Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, or, toward free travel booked through the Chase portal.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Similarly, with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, you will earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no restrictions. There is no minimum to redeem for cash back, and there is no caveat of earning more for bonus categories—you will earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, every day. Where this card really shines is the return on spending.
When you combine your Freedom Unlimited card points with your points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can earn 2.25% on all spending. Additionally, if you combine your card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred card, you can redeem the cash back as points for 1.5x Ultimate Rewards on all purchases. The new cardholder offer is the same as the Chase Freedom — a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Discover it Cash Back
Like the Chase Freedom card, the Discover it Cash Back card offers 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in eligible spending on rotating categories such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Amazon.com, plus an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Where this card surpasses the Chase Freedom is the “CashBack Match” incentive. After the first 12 consecutive billing periods (your first year as a new cardholder), Discover will match all of the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account.
This means that your cash back earning potential will double from 5 to 10% cash back on bonus categories, and 2% on all other purchases. Just be sure to enroll every quarter to earn your cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in bonus categories throughout the year.
Citi Double Cash
For a simple, no fee card that requires no extra effort on top of swiping it through a credit card machine, the Citi Double Cash card is at straightforward as it gets. This card will earn you 2% cash back on every purchase, every day. You will receive 1% cash back upon making the purchase, and another 1% upon paying off your statement. However, even if you carry a balance, you will still earn 1% on payments towards purchases. You just need to pay the minimum balance.
In a world of having to keep track of bonus categories and points, this card is refreshing in its simplistic nature. There is no earning cap or confusion around points redemptions, just cash back earning. The only restriction you will find on the Citi Double Cash card is a minimum of $25 in cash back before you can redeem your rewards.
The Bottom Line on No Annual Fee Credit Cards
As with any new card, make sure to view the security benefits before opening an account. Chase, for example, offers quality protection and extended benefits for cardholders. However, foreign transaction fees can be quite high when it comes to no annual fee credit cards.
The Discover it Cash Back is the only card on this list with no foreign transaction fee. If you are planning to do some serious spending overseas, the Discover it would be the best fit. However, if you plan to make all purchases stateside and want to make some money back, you can’t go wrong with Chase or Citi.The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.