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Top Credit Cards With No First Year Annual Fee

by on April 28, 2014 · 11 comments

in Credit Cards

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Update: The offers mentioned below for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards from American Express has expired. View the current offers here – personal, businessThe offer mentioned below for the Capital One Venture Card has expired. View the current offer here

There are some great travel credit card offers out there at the moment, and to entice new customers, many issuers are offering their top products with the first year’s annual fee waived. That’s great news for consumers since you can score some high points and miles sign-up bonuses and take these card’s for a year-long test drive to see if you’re maximizing their earning and benefits potential before having to pay an annual fee and committing to them – though many of the top credit cards out there offer ongoing and anniversary benefits that often far outweigh the annual fee.

Here is a list of the current top credit card sign-up offers with the first year’s annual fee waived.

AMERICAN EXPRESS

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 bonus points - 10,000 after first purchase and another 15,000 with $5,000 spend in the first 6 months.
Annual Fee: $65 waived the first year.
Other Benefits: Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays annually toward the next level of SPG Elite Status, earn up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at hotels in the SPG portfolio that can be transferred to more than 30 airlines, and get purchase protection for up to 90 days after the date of purchase.

The Starwood Amex is a popular card because it has over 30 airline partners.

The Starwood Amex waives its $65 annual fee the first year.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN
Current Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 bonus points - 10,000 after first purchase and another 15,000 with $5,000 spend in the first 6 months.
Annual Fee: $65 waived the first year.
Other Benefits: Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays annually toward the next level of SPG Elite Status, earn up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at hotels in the SPG portfolio that can be transferred to more than 30 airlines, and get purchase protection for up to 90 days after the date of purchase.

For more information on these cards and the Starwood Preferred Guest program, check out these posts:
Maximizing Starwood Cash & Points Awards
Starwood “Enhances” Cash & Points Awards
Major Starwood Preferred Guest Elite Enhancements
Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfers
The Ultimate Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfer Partners

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 points after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $175 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 15,000 points after you spend $30,000 in purchases annually. Earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines, 2 points per dollar on US supermarkets, and one point per dollar on other transactions. Receive a $75 Hotel Credit and room upgrade at check-in when you book a minimum 2-night consecutive stay with the Gold Hotel Collection.
For more information on these cards and Amex Membership Rewards, check out these posts:
Ranking the Top American Express Travel Credit Cards
The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners
Analyzing Amex Membership Rewards Star Alliance Transfer Partners
Top 10 Lesser Known Amex Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners

Business Gold feat

Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Current Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 points
with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $175 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 3 points per dollar on airfare, 2 points per dollar on US purchases for advertising in select media, shipping and at gas stations, and one point per dollar on all other transactions. Receive Purchase Protection, Return Protection, Extended Warranty, Travel Accident Insurance, and Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 miles with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: First checked bag is free and get priority boarding. Receive a 20% discount in the form of a statement credit on drink, food and entertainment purchases when you fly Delta.

BARCLAYCARD

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 miles with $3,000 spend in the first 90 days
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem on travel. 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months afteraccount opening – after that, a variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%,based on your creditworthiness. Receive a complimentary membership to TripIt Pro. No foreign transaction fees.For more information on this card, read my review here, and then check out this post for details on its Travel Bonus Category and Redemption Options, and this one for ideas on the Top 10 Ways To Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Miles.

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US Airways Premier World MasterCard
Current Sign-up Bonus: 30,000 miles after first purchase or balance transfer in the first 90 days – unverified offer from this FlyerTalk thread, see the T&C on the application page. Note: There’s also an offer of 40,000 miles with first purchase, but the annual fee is not waived the first year.
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Receive an annual companion certificate good for up to 2 companion tickets upon approval and every year on cardmember anniversary and 10,000 Anniversary Miles. Also receive 1 complimentary US Airways Club day pass and get first class check in and Zone 2 boarding.

CAPITAL ONE

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 20,000 miles with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $59 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. No foreign transaction fees.
For more information, check out this post on Maximizing Fixed-Value Travel Points.

CHASE

Ultimate Rewards Cards

Ink Bold Business Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 points with $5,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, cellphone, landline, internet, and cable TV services and 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations, up to $50,000 annually.

Chase Ink

Ink Plus Business Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 points with $5,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, cellphone, landline, internet, and cable TV services and 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations, up to $50,000 annually. Receive a complimentary LOUNGE CLUB membership and 2 free visits each year with access to over 350 VIP airport lounges.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 points with $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining. Receive a 7% annual points dividend on all points earned throughout the year. No foreign transaction fees.

For more information, check out these posts:
Details on the Sapphire Preferred 2X on Travel
The Sapphire Preferred 7% Annual Dividend
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ranking the Top Chase Travel Credit Card Offers

Airline Cards

United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 miles with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months (ONLY IN CHASE BRANCH) or 30,000 miles with $1,000 spend in the first the months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Get first checked bag free and priority boarding on United-operated flights. Receive two United Club passes per year. No foreign transaction fees.

United MileagePlus Club Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: $100 statement credit after first purchase
Annual Fee: $395 waived when you sign up in a Chase branch
Other Benefits: Full United Club membership. Get the firstand second checked bags free as well as priority check in and boarding on United-operated flights. No foreign transaction fees.

Hotel Cards

IHG Mastercard
Current Sign-up Bonus: Unverified Offer 80,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months. See this FlyerTalk thread for more information
Annual Fee: $49 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Get a 10% rebate on IHG Rewards Club point redemptions. Receive an annual free night certificate worldwide on cardmember anniversary. No foreign transaction fees.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months, some readers have noted a sign-up bonus of up to 70,000 points though.
Annual Fee: $85 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott locations, 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, car rentals and dining and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Receive 1 free night upon approval and every year on cardmember anniversary. Receive 1 credit toward elite status for every $3,000 spent. No foreign transaction fees.

Get 1 free night with the Hyatt Visa

The Hyatt Visa gives you 2 free nights and no annual fee the first year.

The Hyatt Card Visa Signature
Current Sign-up Bonus: Two free nights at Hyatts worldwide when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $75
Other Benefits: Automatic Hyatt Gold Platinum Passport status. For a calendar-year spend of $20,000, receive 2 stay credits and 5 night credits toward Diamond status ; for a calendar-year spend of $40,000, receive an additional 3 stay credits and 5 night credits toward Diamond, for a maximum of 5 stay credits and 10 night credits each calendar year. Free category 1-4 hotel night each cardmembers anniversary. No foreign transaction fees. Earn 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt, 2 points per dollar spent on all dining, airfare and car rental purchases and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else.

Fairmont Visa Signature
Current Sign-Up Bonus: Two-night stay with breakfast for two when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
Other Benefits: Automatic Fairmont Premier elite status. For each $7,500 in a calendar year, 1 stay credit towards Platinum status (limit 2 stay credits per calendar year). 1 free night stay at any Fairmont hotel or resort worldwide every year when you spend $12,000 or more. This free night can be used at any Fairmont property. Earn 5 Fairmont Rewards per dollar spent on Fairmont stays. Earn 2 Fairmont Rewards per dollar spent on airline tickets purchased directly with airlines, at car rental agencies, and on transit and commuting, and earn 1 Fairmont Reward per dollar spent on all other purchases. No foreign transaction fees. Airport lounge access with 2 free lounge visits.

CITIBANK

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 1.26.57 PM

Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles with $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Receive a $100 American Airlines flight discount every year with $30,000 or more in purchases. First checked bag is free for you and up to 4 travel companions and get Group 1 priority boarding when flying on American.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage World MasterCard
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
Annual Fee: $95 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate each year of cardmembership in which you spend $30,000 or more in purchases and renew your cardmembership.First checked bag is free for you and up to 4 travel companions and get Group 1 priority boarding when flying on American.

Citi ThankYou Premier
Current Sign-up Bonus:
Earn 50,000 points, 20,000 after $2,000 in purchases and an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $125 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Additionally you will earn 3 ThankYou Points for ever dollar spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment and 2 points per dollar on airfare and hotels. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. This card comes with a $125 annual fee that is waived the first year.

US BANK

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 17,500 FlexPoints with $2,500 spend in the first 5 months
Annual Fee: $49 waived the first year
Other Benefits: Earn triple FlexPoints on qualifying charitable donations and double FlexPoints on the category you spend the most on (gas, groceries or airline) and most cell phone expenses during each billing cycle. Earn 3,500 FlexPoints with $24,000 spend each year. Receive a $25 airline allowance with every award travel ticket good towards baggage fees, in-flight purchases and more.

For more information on this card, check out my review.

shutterstock_140175490

No annual fee means benefits of a rewards card without the price. Where will you travel to? Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • tn5280

    I missed the January Capital One Venture 50,000 point sign-up offer. Do you think it’s likely they will offer it again this year? Or, would it be better to take the current offer of 20,000? Love the site. Thank you.

  • iris97

    Unless I am missing something, Barclaycard Arrival requires $3000 spend in the first 90 days (not $1000) to get 40000 miles

  • KAM

    US Airways links for no fee card are dead. Any other no fee options for this card?

  • thepointsguy

    The link on the FlyerTalk page I mention still works and takes you to a no annual fee offer.

  • thepointsguy

    Yes – typo fixed, thank you for pointing it out!

  • Tony

    Why is the British Airways visa listed here? That card’s $95 annual fee is not waived for the first year.

  • bobi0000

    Once I receive the bonus points, do I get to keep all the points, even if I cancel the card before the second year? Thanks for rounding up these links and providing all this info!

  • thepointsguy

    Yes you do unless it’s Amex membership rewards or chase ultimate rewards- then you need to have a card open in the program for points to be active, so use them or transfer them before you close the account (or open a diff card ible for the program)

  • DarrenB

    Does it have to be another AmEx that accrues MR points, or can it be a card like AmEx BCE?

  • chataulait

    I now have two AAdvantage cards from Citi. One is an Amex platinum
    that’s used since 2008, with an annual fee of $50. The other is a Gold
    Mastercard which I just received, with the same annual fee from the
    second year on.

    As I’m moving out of the country soon and both
    these cards charge foreign transaction fees, now I want to keep only one
    of them. Any suggestions? Or do you think I should cancel both cards
    and only shop at AA’s eshopping mall to keep my miles from expiration?

    Ps. I also have a Chase Sapphire Card for shopping outside the country.
    Thus it makes no sense for me to apply for another AA card that doesn’t
    charge foreign transaction fees but has a high annual fee.

  • dudeman

    Hi, I really, really dig your blog. I’ve been using it for a while now and it has helped immensely. Quick question, does the United MileagePlus Club no-fee in chase branch promo still exist? The post you wrote is almost a year old and I just want to make sure as it is an offer that is too good to pass up!

    Thanks!

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