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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|
|The Plum Card® from American Express||American Express||Business||$0 introductory annual fee your first year, then $250 - Rates & Fees|
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||Capital One||Business||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|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.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- 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 spent at restaurants
- 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:
- Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases
- Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit
- 25% back on United inflight purchases
- Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
- Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining and eligible delivery services
- 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
- Earn up to 150,000 bonus miles.
- Earn 75,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Earn an additional 75,000 miles after you spend $20,000 total in the first 6 months.
- Receive a 5,000-mile "better together" bonus each anniversary when you have both the UnitedSM Business Card and a personal United credit card.
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting.
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account so you can earn rewards faster.
- Enjoy a free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply), 2 United ClubSM one-time passes per year, and priority boarding privileges.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for one year with DashPass, DoorDash's membership service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- $100 United travel credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year.
- 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:
Even better, this card gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards, which can save you up to 30% on the miles required for domestic awards. 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
- Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
- 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: The Plum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card (Rates & Fees), and Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (Rates & Fees)
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