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Best Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
Platinum Cashback Everyday by Amex & The Partnership Card
Best No Transaction Fee Travel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
BA Premium & IHG
According to our analysis of the market, the following cards stand out as objectively the best for certain purposes. The best card for you will depend on your individual situation and spending patterns. Please use the information in this guide to help you learn about differences between cards and narrow your choices.
Best Free Credit Cards for Cash Back Rewards
These rewards cards offer cashback for no annual fee. If you're a big spender, a paid card like the £25 per year Platinum Cashback Card by American Express might reap higher rewards for you.
Best Free Cashback Credit Card, Overall: Platinum Cashback Everyday by American Express
The Platinum Cashback Everyday card from American Express is a great cashback card for those looking for a simple rewards card that takes minimal effort to manage. Amex cashback is delivered to cardholders automatically at the end of each year with the card, as a statement credit that effectively reduces the balance and what you owe. The Platinum Cashback Everyday card offers long-term cashback rates of 0.5% up to £5,000 of annual spend and 1% beyond; addition value is created by a three-month intro period of 5% cashback (rewards capped at £100 in this period). This card is ideal for those spending less than £10,000 a year. Those spending more may prefer the paid sister card, the Platinum Cashback Card. Keep in mind the £3,000 spending threshold that must be met in order to receive any cashback at all.
- 0.5% cashback rate on purchases up to £5,000 per year
- 1% cashback rate on purchases over £5,001 per year
- 5% intro cashback rate up to £100 reward, in first three months
- No annual fee
- Amex not accepted everywhere
John Lewis & Waitrose: Partnership Card
Loyal John Lewis and Waitrose shoppers can do quite well with the Partnership Card, earning 1% in store and 0.5% on all other spending. Rewards come as vouchers which can be used at John Lewis or Waitrose, expire in two years and are sent out to cardholders three times a year (i.e., in February, June, and October). If you find that a significant amount of your budget is spent at John Lewis and Waitrose, and you don't want to pay an annual fee, then this could be the card for you. It all depends on your individual situation.
- Earn 1% at John Lewis
- Earn 1% at Waitrose
- Earn 0.5% elsewhere
- Lower-than-average APR 16.9% variable
- No annual fee
Best Free No Transaction Fee Travel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
If you're looking for a credit card to use overseas, there are a number of free cards with no annual fee that also charge no foreign transactions fees.
Best Free Card for No Foreign Transaction Fees: Creation Everyday Credit Card
The Creation Everyday Credit Card is another solid travel card, with lower than average interest rates of 12.9% (variable) on both purchases and cash, which can limit your interest charges if you ever need to withdraw cash using your card abroad. That said, if you do take out money from an ATM with the Creation card, you'd want to go online ASAP after the transaction to pay off your credit card balance since interest on cash withdrawals is charged immediately from the date of withdrawal. As one of the best travel cards, you won't pay fees on non-sterling ATM withdrawals or transactions abroad. Applicants must have minimum income of £800 per month (after tax and NI).
- No fees on non-sterling ATM withdrawals or transactions abroad
- Lower-than-average 12.9% APR, variable, on cash withdrawals
- 12.9% variable purchase APR
- Eligibility checker
- No annual fee
Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
Best Free Hotel Credit Card with No Annual Fee: IHG Rewards Club Credit Card
The IHG Rewards Club Credit Card is the free version of the £99 per year IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card. For a free card, it offers decent rewards rates estimated at 1% on IHG spend and abroad, and 0.5% elsewhere in the UK, plus a pretty good welcome bonus. As a free card, there's no chance to earn a free night each year. If you think you'll spend at least £10,000 annually on the card, we'd recommend taking at look at the paid card (above) for the chance to earn a free night each year.
- Solid rewards rates around 2% on participating IHG purchases and abroad and 1% elsewhere in the UK
- Earn 1 point for every £1 you spend in the UK
- Earn 2 points for every £1 you spend in an IHG location in the UK
- Earn 2 points for every £1 you spend abroad
- Welcome bonus of 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points (when you spend £200 in first 3 months)
- Gold Elite status
- Annual fee of £0
- Takes active management to achieve strong rewards
Best Free Air Miles Credit Card with No Annual Fee: British Airways American Express Card
With few air miles credit cards left in the UK, the British Airways American Express Card stands out for earning airline rewards with no annual fee, creating the potential for both short-term and long-term value for loyal BA flyers. Cardholders can earn 5,000 Avios (reached after spending £1,000 in the first three months). Besides this decent welcome bonus and Avios earning power of 1 Avios/£1 spent, cardholders can earn a Companion Voucher in every year they hold the card by spending £20k annually. One hard-to-value perk is the Companion Voucher—keep in mind that vouchers earned on the card are good for one year. If you spend more than £39k per year on the card, we think you'll get more value from the £195 per year BA Premium Plus Card.
- Earn 1 Avios for every £1 you spend
- Rewards rate around 1%, depending on how you redeem Avios
- Welcome bonus of 5,000 Avios (when you spend £1,000 in first 3 months)
- Chance to earn a Companion Voucher annually (when you spend £20,000 in a year)
- No annual fee
- Companion voucher expires in one year
- Avios takes active management to achieve strong rewards
How Do Free Credit Cards Work?
Credit cards with no annual fee are good choices for most people with modest budgets. Free cards are good for those with smaller spending habits and are also good as a secondary card, enabling you to extract extra value out of a particular area of your budget, e.g., groceries, fuel or dining. Depending on your needs, you can also find free cards to use overseas when you travel, which don't charge FX fees on non-sterling transactions.
When it comes to rewards cards, you'll tend to get a higher rewards rate from a paid card, but you might need annual spending of thousands or tens of thousands of pounds a year just to make up for the annual fee. Issuers are able to offer higher rewards on paid cards because the annual fee provides more revenues for the company to then pay out through a rewards program. Paid cards usually only make sense if your spending is focused on a particular area (e.g., Asda shopping or if you're a frequent BA flier).
Summary of Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
Here is a summary of some of the best UK credit cards with no annual fee. This list is by no means exhaustive, and we are not recommending any in particular. There may be other credit cards out there that would suit your needs better.
|Best For...||Credit Card||Quick Summary|
|Travel purchases||Creation Everyday||No foreign transaction fees; lower than average interest rate on cash withdrawals|
|All spend||Platinum Cashback Everyday|
|John Lewis & Waitrose||Partnership Card|
Estimated Rewards on No Fee Credit Cards
When to Pick a No Annual Fee Card
As anyone would expect, credit cards with an annual fee tend to offer more rewards per pound spent than free rewards credit cards. This really makes perfect sense, since the issuer has fewer profits to package and disperse as rewards on a free card. To help you make the decision between a free card and a paid card, we will discuss some important factors to consider.
Free Cards as Supplemental Cards
Most consumers carry more than one credit card in their wallet. By doing so, a consumer can use the most appropriate card for any given situation. If you have not already employed this strategy, we are not recommending that you rush to apply to multiple cards - this can be damaging to your credit rating. But having a few cards that offer bonus rewards on the largest areas of your budget can be an effective long-term strategy to keep in mind. If you do this, stay on top on minimum spend requirements and any annual fees, as they can add up. With this in mind, you can see how cards with no annual fee are attractive as supplemental cards. Free cards can offer extra earning power on select categories, with no annual fee to claw back.
Best Practices For Supplemental No Annual Fee Cards
Having a rewards credit card or two can be useful in the right circumstances, but only if you stay on top of the various due dates on your cards. Missing a payment will cost you much more in fees and charges than you can earn in rewards. In fact, a rewards card only makes sense if you can pay off the whole balance every month to avoid interest charges that would wipe out any earned rewards.
If you change your phone number, or any other contact information, be sure to let the credit card company know. This will help you track all of your credit cards, so issuers can continue to send you text messages reminding you to pay your bill, perhaps, or that you're approaching you credit limit. Many students, in particular, fall into the trap of changing phones and forgetting to update their contact info with their credit card issuer. This is important because missed payments or exceeding the credit limit can be very damaging to your credit rating, as well as costing you a significant amount in default fees and interest charges. Regular updates from your issuers will help with card management, but they need to have your up-to-date contact information.