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10 Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards – All With a 2% or Better Return

Everyone should have at least 1 credit card without an annual fee. When a card is free to keep forever, you never have to second-guess it. And the card works its powers on your credit report to increase available limits, decrease utilization, and help boost the average age of all your accounts.

My oldest credit card is from 2002 and has no annual fee. No matter how many new cards I open, I’ll always have a 16-year-old card to raise the average age of my accounts higher and therefore, my credit score.

When a card has a fee, it’s harder to justify keeping it – unless you get outsized value.

But having a card without an annual fee doesn’t mean you have to give up solid returns. All of the cards on this list can get you 2% back or better.

best no annual fee credit cards

Discover It is one of the best no annual fee cards – up to 10% cashback the first year. I’ll share my top 10 faves!

Here’s my list.

10 best no annual fee credit cards

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10 Tricks to Save EVERY Time You Shop at Sam’s Club

If you like big box stores, I completely understand the sentiment. Buying in bulk and getting a month of grocery shopping knocked out in one go saves time and money – both of which are always worth saving.

I ignore the naysayers who over exaggerate what it means to buy in bulk. I have memberships at both Costco and Sam’s Club and use them both equally – especially now that both are around the corner from me at my pied-a-terre in Austin.

Sam’s Club is, in some ways, better than Costco. Both memberships add value to my life

What I like about Sam’s Club:

  • They have self-checkout
  • You can scan your items as you go (with the, what else, Scan & Go app) and check out instantly
  • Receipts are stored digitally online
  • Club pickup – Costco does NOT offer this
  • Digital membership card on your phone and in Apple Wallet
  • Cheaper prices on tires
  • They accept every payment method, not just Visa
  • You can easily reorder your most common items
  • Their app is way better

But they don’t offer free shipping on most items online like Costco does. And their food court offerings tend to be greasy, calorie-laden fiascos whereas Costco seems a *little* healthier. And in general, I find Costco stores to be cleaner and better laid-out. Sam’s Club locations can be hit-or-miss, whereas I feel like Costco has more consistency between the stores.

Also, there are more ways to save at Sam’s Club. A lot more ways. And that might seal the deal for some peeps, especially if both are nearby.

Let’s look at how to save money EVERY time you set foot (or web browser) in Sam’s Club.

10 ways to build your own discounts at Sam’s Club

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7 Tricks to Save EVERY Time You Shop at Costco

Dear light of heaven, I love Costco. Whereas to some it can seem like a gigantic warehouse with narrow aisles stacked to the ceiling with pallets, to me it’s a veritable wonderland.

love a good deal, and the best deals are often buying in bulk. When I mention I’m a Costco member, I’ve gotten scoffs and “Yeah but I don’t need 25 rolls of paper towels and 8 dozen eggs [or some other exaggeration]. Plus, where would I put it all?”

Ummmm… Costco was the cheapest place to shop in New York City, honey. If I can find space in a tiny Brooklyn apartment to store extra items and save some cash, you can too. And that’s what it’s all about: saving cash.

save at costco

In my element

Admittedly, Costco isn’t always the best deal. Sometimes they try to pull one over on ya and slip in some regular-priced stuff. But I don’t blame ’em for trying to make profit. Because when the deals are good, hoooo boy are they stellar (find me a cheaper avocado and I’ll eat my hat, and bananas cheaper than Trader Joe’s). That’s what keeps me shopping at Costco year after year: THE DEALS.

On top of already great prices, I’ve found ways to push them even further by making sure I always get a discount. 2% off, 5% back, even 10% rebates in some cases when I’m in the mood to plan a big shopping trip.

Here’s how I save every time I shop at Costco.

Stack these offers to build your own discounts at Costco

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7 Cards to Consider If You’re LOL/24 (No Chase on This List!)

There’s zero doubt Chase cards are the best to get first. Their products have high sign-up offers, excellent ongoing benefits, and strong category bonuses.

But… Chase shutdowns are increasing – even if you haven’t opened a Chase card in recent past. And, they have aspirations to use their 5/24 rule for ALL their cards. (Which is ridiculous, especially for the co-branded cards because you want people to actually get them, right?)

best cards over 5/24

I’ll have to accept this was the last Chase card I might ever get 🙁

I just earned 100,000 British Airways Avios points on the Chase British Airways card. But between shutdowns and 5/24… I might be done with Chase for a while.

I regret not ever having the Chase Freedom Unlimited for everyday non-bonus spending. Although with my current cards, I should be good for lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards with organic spending.

Anyhoo, I’ve been thinking of card options if you’re helplessly over 5/24, or just don’t want to mess with Chase any more.

Here are the 7 best!

Best cards over 5/24 and/or done with Chase

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Chase Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited: Which Is Better for Your Spending?

Chase has 2 great no annual fee cards that pair nicely with premium Ultimate Rewards cards: Freedom and Freedom Unlimited.

The Freedom card earns 5X in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 per quarter in combined spending. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5X on all purchases with no cap.

Really gonna depend on bonus categories and how much you typically spend

Lots of peeps ask which is better. To which I always answer: it depends on how much you like the bonus categories. But there’s a longer answer even beyond that: how much to you plan to spend on the card each year?

Let’s talk about the break even point and which is better for your finances.

Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited

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Bottom of the Barrel: Have I Gotten All the Points & Miles Cards I Possibly Can?

I wanna type out loud for a sec to assess which card offers I can still earn. Before I begin, I know there aren’t many.

After all, I currently have about 30 cards and have rotated through many others since I started the points & miles game in 2012 (and heavily in 2013).

which cards are left

My first award trip was to Hawaii in 2013, with Delta miles and Hilton points

So what’s left for me? I know it’s not much.

Let’s take a deep dive.

Which cards are left that I can even get?

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Plastiq for Mortgage Payments Is Dead, Mostly 😿

Also see: 

Thanks to readers Frank, Amar, and Ken for sharing experiences with their Citi AT&T Access More cards only earning 1X points for mortgage payments via Plastiq this month.

My statement just closed, too. And I can confirm: I only got 1X for last month’s mortgage payment. 😿

plastiq mortgage payments

Boo hiss! What’ll we do about you, Citi?

As of now, you can only use MasterCard and Discover cards to make mortgage payments through Plastiq. But you can still use any credit card to make rent or HOA payments.

So are there any good options left for paying mortgages through Plastiq? Or is it just… dead? 

What could be worth it for Plastiq mortgage payments?

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The Dublin 2017: $2,000+ Cashback This Year From a No Annual Fee Card 💸

Oh my word, I am in love with the Discover it® Cashback Match™ card. I just got my third one and am already busy earning that sweet cashback.

After the first year with my first card, I earned ~$1,184 in matched cashback (~$2,368 in cashback for the year). And after the first year with the second card – this year – I earned ~$1,113 in matched cashback. Or ~$2,226 for the year. All this from a card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

discover it cashback match

Incredible – look at that sweet cashback

It’s easy to get $600 in cashback if you make the most of the bonus categories. And you can get a sometimes staggering 30% cashback by stacking the Discover Deals shopping portal with the rotating quarterly bonus categories. When I say “it adds up” I mean it REALLY adds up!

I wasn’t sure if I could get the same card 3 years in a row. But I’m living proof that you can. And even at the low end, $600 back from a no annual fee card is still worth it. I think everyone (especially those over 5/24) should get this card!

Why now is an amazing time to get a Discover it® Cashback Match™ card

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5 Ways to Earn Points for Airbnb Stays (10% Back at Least!)

My friend Meghan asked if I knew of any ways to save on an Airbnb booking. I gave the obvious one – get $40 off a $75+ stay with a new account.

New to Airbnb? Save $40 off your first $75+ stay

Most everyone already has an Airbnb account by now. But if you don’t, here’s my link if you’d like to sign up (and I’ll get a $20 travel credit as well).

That’s honestly the biggest savings. Still, there are other ways to get a return on your Airbnb stay: earn points or miles for it. Depending how you like to redeem them, you can get big value by stacking a few of the methods I’ll tell you about.

Lezz begin, shall ve?

5 ways to earn points and miles for Airbnb stays

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Yasss: Just Got My 3rd Discover it® Cashback Match™ Card (And New Application Rules!)

Also see:

When last we spoke of my beloved Discover it® Cashback Match™ card, I’d been rejected from getting my 3rd card for a 3rd year in a row. And encouraged to apply again “at a later time.” 🙄

On a hot October morning, and on a lark, I rang Discover to reconsider me one more time. The phone agent explained the application had expired even though it had been under a month. Then repeated that ingratiating little line: “You are welcome to apply again any time.”

I noticed Discover did NOT pull my credit last time I applied. So reasoned even if they did, it was hit I was planning to take anyway. I asked if I could apply with her on the phone, just in case.

I selected the rainbow design again. Entered all in my info. Pressed “Submit Application,” and got my little high. And then…

third discover it

Squeeee

I was approved for my 3rd Discover it® Cashback Match™ card! Visions of The Dublin danced in my head. And I learned why my previous application was auto-denied…

Discover’s new application rules

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DENIED! No 3rd Discover it® Cashback Match™ Card for Me 😿

Also see:

Right after I got a 2nd Chase British Airways card, I trotted over to the Discover website hoping to pick up a 3rd Discover it® – Cashback Match™ card.

Last week, I had 2 Discover It cards. So I closed Discover It #1. With Discover It #2, I’m expecting a sweet $800+ cashback match next month:

discover it 3rd year

#ReadyForIt

Last year, I got back $1,100 in cashback match. So Discover has been generous to me, doubtlessly.

But, you can only have 2 Discover cards at once, so if I wanted #3, that meant #1 had to go.

I checked to make sure over a year had passed since I opened #2.

Good to go?

I waited until September 8th passed, and then a few extra days to be on the safe side. Then, with zeal in my little eye, I prepared my grubby mitts for a new Discover It – and a new year of that sweet cashback match.

PWND! No Discover it® – Cashback Match™ for you!

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Taking Stock: The 29 Credit Cards I Currently Have – and Why

Time for a credit card inventory. Over the years, my collection of credit cards has grown. I now have 29 credit cards to my name.

(I did have 30, but closed my Citi ThankYou Premier last week. Because the Chase Sapphire Reserve is better for the same 3X categories. And Citi is changing the Prestige and AT&T Access More cards next month – which is causing me to significantly rethink my relationship with them.)

Ah, but a small sample of the 29 cards I currently hold

And, I’m paying annual fees on many of my cards. So I thought I’d put the complete list together to take stock of what I have – and what I’m getting in return. I’ll write a little snippet for each card, but will try to keep it brief. 29 cards is a lot!

Let’s jump right in.

Amex

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