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Rewards credit cards that waive the first year of annual fees offer cardholders an instant head start compared to cards that charge an annual fee right from the get-go. You enjoy premium perks, earn thousands of points, and in some cases generate a substantial balance of points from a new cardmember bonus without any out of pocket expense on annual fees.
The list we've compiled doesn’t include cards with no annual fee, as we tackled the best $0 annual fee cards in a previous post. This post is specifically geared toward rewards credit cards that waive the annual fee for the first year.
Rewards Cards Featuring Waived Annual Fee for the First Year
|Credit Card||Card Issuer||Personal / Business||Annual Fee|
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||American Express||Personal||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 - Rates & Fees|
|Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card||American Express||Personal||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.|
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card||American Express||Business||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 - Rates & Fees|
|Capital One Spark Miles for Business||Capital One||Business||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Chase||Personal||$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®||Citi||Personal||$99, waived for first 12 months|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ MasterCard®||Citi||Personal||$50, waived for first 12 months|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®||Citi||Business||$99, waived for first 12 months|
|FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card||U.S. Bank||Personal||$0 introductory annual fee for the first 12 months, then $49|
|AeroMexico Visa Signature® Card||U.S. Bank||Personal||$0 introductory annual fee for the first 12 months, then $80|
The Best No Annual Fee Cards for the First Year from Each Card Issuer
American Express offers the largest range of credit cards with $0 introductory annual fees for the first year.
- Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
- $100 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, receive a Credit to use toward future travel.
- Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
- Terms Apply.
- Rates & Fees
- 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
- 2X miles per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets
- 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- 1X miles on all other eligible purchases
This card provides a ton of value for Amex fans.
Following the introduction of Capital One's new flexible rewards program, this card has become a go-to card for collecting flexible points, providing a fifth bank rewards program for points and miles fans to collect rewards.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening; worth $500 in travel if redeemed for a fixed-value, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
- 2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere
- Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® (up to $100)
- No foreign transaction fees
- $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
- Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
Our picks from Chase:
- 2X miles per $1 spent on purchases from United®
- 2X miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
- 1X mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
- 2x on United® purchases
- 2x on local transit and commuting- including train tickets, taxicabs, mass transit, tolls and ride share services
- 2x at gas stations, restaurants and office supply stores
- 1x on all other purchases
The United Explorer Card earns a solid 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays, 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases worldwide, and comes with an array of money-saving perks like free checked bags when paying for United flights with the card, and expanded award space only available to United co-brand cardholders and elite status members.
The United Business Card shares many of the benefits of its personal stablemate, but in addition, offers 5,000 bonus miles each anniversary if you also hold a personal United co-brand card.
If you fly American on a regular basis, our pick is:
With these perks, it's easy to justify the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.
- Free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic itineraries
- Priority boarding to help you win the race for overhead bin space
- A 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases
- Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at restaurants
- Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at gas stations
- Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
The card features no foreign transaction fees, and offers the first checked bag free of charge on domestic itineraries. Check out our review for all the details.
Our pick from U.S. Bank:
You'll get double FlexPoints on the category you spend the most on (choose from gas stations, grocery stores, airlines, and most cell providers).
Receiving your first year free is another way of maximizing your returns on rewards travel. Although many of these cards have benefits that make them easy to keep for the long term, it's great to be able to check out the benefits without the upfront cost.
If we’ve missed any cards off the list that you think should be on there, please let us know in the comments, and we can update the post with any new info provided.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card (Rates & Fees), and Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (Rates & Fees)
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