The Best No-Fee Travel Credit Cards

a person reaching for a credit card in their wallet
Last Updated: 5/10/24 | April 4th, 2024
Nomadic Matt has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Some or all of the card offers on this page are from advertisers and compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. Nomadic Matt and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. This page does not include all card companies or all available card offers.

One of the easiest ways to save money traveling is by using credit cards (responsibly) to collect points and miles. This essentially transforms your everyday spending into free flights, free hotel stays, and other awesome travel perks.

Not only does this stretch your travel budget but it levels up your travel experience, providing free upgrades, lounge access, and much, much more.

Whether you want to be on the road for longer, take more trips, or simply save money on your next vacation, points and miles can get you there.

However, most of the best travel credit cards have annual fees (sometimes huge ones).

While annual fees are usually worth it for frequent travelers (you can get much more value out of a card than its annual fee), if you’re new to all of this or don’t travel that much, you may want to get a no-fee card first.

And there are a lot of no-fee cards out there. Which one do you pick?

Here is my list of the best no-fee travel credit cards so you can start earning points toward free travel today:


 

1. The Bilt Rewards Mastercard

Bilt credit card
Without a doubt my favorite no-annual-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, Alaska 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 and Alaska Airlines really sets this card apart as no other card’s points transfer to these airlines. Amassing Bilt points is the only way to get these points without having an American or Alaska card.

Bilt also integrates with point.me, a handy search and booking engine for award flights.

This card offers:

  • 1x points on rental payments
  • 2x points on travel
  • 3x points on dining
  • American Airlines and Alaska Airlines as transfer partners (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 spending on the 1st of the month
  • Access to the Bilt Milestone Rewards program (where you get more perks and earning power the more points you accumulate)
  • Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection and Trip Delay Reimbursement
  • 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).

—> LEARN MORE <—


 

 

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 transfer partners to redeem for flights and hotels.

This card offers:

  • 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

—> LEARN MORE <—


 

3. Chase Freedom Unlimited®


card_name 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 when redeeming for travel through Chase Travel(SM). 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.

This card offers:

  • bonus_miles_full
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel(SM)
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and drugstores

—> LEARN MORE <—


 

CARDS WITH LOW FEES

If the cards above are a little too basic for your needs and you want something more intermediate, here’s a quick list of travel credit cards with affordable fees:

card_name ($95 annual fee) – 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, 2x points on travel (5x when booked through Chase Travel(SM), travel protections, and a $50 annual hotel credit when you book and prepay through Chase Travel(SM).

card_name ($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.

card_name ($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.
 

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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.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip?
Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

Advertiser Disclosure: “Nomadic Matt has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Some or all of the card offers on this page are from advertisers and compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. Nomadic Matt and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.”

Editorial Disclosure: “Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. This page does not include all card companies or all available card offers.”