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These no annual fee cards earn transferable points to help you accrue airline and hotel rewards

Oct. 29, 2021
10 min read
These no annual fee cards earn transferable points to help you accrue airline and hotel rewards
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Transferable credit card rewards are our favorite kinds of points. They're great for the vast majority of travelers because they can be used in such a flexible way. Instead of earning miles with a single airline or points with a particular hotel chain, transferable rewards allow you to accumulate points in a central account that you can then convert into airline miles or hotel points with a number of different partners.

Many travel credit cards earn transferable points, but by and large, these cards charge annual fees.

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For example, the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited earns Chase Ultimate Rewards. These points can be transferred to many airlines and hotels -- but only if you have one of the following cards:

Very rarely does a no-annual-fee card earn points that you can transfer to airline and hotel partners if you don't also carry a higher-end card from the same issuer. But there are a few. Let's compare them.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Heglas/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: You'll earn 20,000 Capital One miles after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. TPG valuations peg Capital One miles' value at 1.85 cents each, making this bonus worth $370 in travel, on average.

Earning rate: The card earns a flat 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases (a 2.31% return).

Why we like it: Capital One miles have recently become one of the hottest rewards currencies in the game. If you have the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, you can transfer the miles it earns to over a dozen airline and hotel transfer partners, including Air Canada, British Airways, Wyndham and Turkish Airlines. Here are some examples of what you can do:

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If you know how to redeem Capital One miles for maximum value, this no-annual-fee card can provide some surprisingly luxurious travel opportunities. Read our Capital One VentureOne review for more card details.

Apply here: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: You'll earn 20,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Because Capital One miles are worth 1.85 cents apiece on average, this bonus is worth $370 in travel.

Earning rate: The card earns a flat 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases (a 2.77% return).

Why we like it: The Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business offers all the benefits of transferring to valuable partners as the Capital One VentureOne, as they earn the same currency. We like the Spark Miles for Business better because it earns 0.25% more than the VentureOne with every purchase. Just note that because it's a business card, you'll need a for-profit venture to qualify. Things like Uber driving, tutoring, freelance writing, etc. are usually enough for you to qualify, though.

Read our post on how to redeem Capital One miles for maximum value to understand the power this card possesses.

Read our review: Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business

The information for the Capital One Spark Miles Select has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 bonus Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Amex points are worth 2 cents each, per TPG valuations, making this bonus worth $300 in travel.

Earning rate: The card earns 2 Amex points per dollar on the first $50,000 in eligible purchases annually (then 1 point per dollar on eligible purchases).

Why we like it: The ability to earn a flat 2x Amex points makes The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express an extremely valuable instrument in the Membership Rewards earner's toolkit. You won't find many no-annual-fee cards (see rates and fees) that offer an effective 4% return on all purchases. This card is an excellent choice for all spending that doesn't fall into a bonus category on one of your other credit cards. Think expenses like medical expenses, rent, insurance, etc.

Amex Membership Rewards also has a vast collection of useful airline and hotel partners, such as Delta, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Hilton. Here are a few quick examples of what you can do with your points:

  • Fly one-way in lie-flat business class seats between Madrid and Boston, New York or Chicago for 34,000 Iberia Avios
  • Fly to Hawaii from the East Coast for 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles on partner United Airlines
  • Transfer Amex points to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio, and stay at jaw-dropping five-star hotels for 40,000+ Amex points per night

Read our Amex Blue Business Plus review for everything you need to know about this card.

Apply here: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: You'll earn 10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Again, TPG valuations estimate Amex points to be worth 2 cents each. That makes this bonus worth $200 in travel.

Earning rate: The card earns:

  • 2 points per dollar on travel booked through Amex Travel
  • 2 points per dollar on the first $6,000 you spend at U.S. supermarkets annually (then 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases)
  • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms Apply

Plus, you'll receive a 20% points bonus after you use your card for 20 or more transactions in a single billing cycle.

Why we like it: If you have the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, you should be doing whatever it takes to make at least 20 transactions each billing cycle. If your billing cycle is coming to an end and you still have more transactions to make, you can simply load money to your Amazon account in increments of 50 cents.

By earning that 20% bonus, you'll earn up to 2.4 Amex points at U.S. supermarkets, which is a huge expense. If you were to max out the 2x cap of $6,000 each year, you could earn up to 14,400 points from supermarkets alone.

Read our review: Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

The information for the Amex EveryDay has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: You'll earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. TPG valuations estimate Marriott points to be worth 0.8 cents each, making this bonus worth $480 in travel.

Earning rate: The card earns 3 points per dollar spent at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 2 points per dollar on general travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Why we like it: We generally use Marriott points for free stays with Marriott -- but another popular redemption is transferring points to any of the program's dozens of airline partners. That's significantly more partners than any other transferable points program, meaning Marriott allows you to earn rewards with valuable programs that other cards can't (such as Alaska Airlines – a notoriously difficult program with which to accrue miles).

When converting Marriott points into airline miles, you'll generally receive a 3:1 transfer ratio (a few partners are different). That means you'll receive one airline mile for every three Marriott points. However, when you transfer Marriott points in increments of 60,000, you'll receive a bonus 5,000 airline miles.

By transferring the full Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card bonus of 60,000 points to an airline, you'd receive a total of 30,000 airline miles with most partners.

Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

Bottom line

The following no-annual-fee cards offer the ability to transfer points to travel partners without the help of an annual-fee-imposing sibling:

If you're new to the points and miles hobby and are still a bit skittish as to whether award travel is for you, these are perfect cards for dipping your toe into this world. You can quickly earn the rewards you need for a free flight or hotel, and then perhaps graduate to more effective cards once you've experienced the rush of saving hundreds of dollars.

Apply here: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Apply here: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Apply here: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Plus, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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