The Three Fantastic No Annual Fee Credit Cards I Have

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

I have a lot of credit cards. A lot of them have annual fees, which I consider to be worthwhile given the perks they offer in return. However, there’s also a lot of value in holding onto some no annual fee cards long term. One big aspect of your credit score is your average age of accounts, and you can build that by holding onto some cards long term. Obviously it’s ideal to largely do that using cards that has no annual fee, since you can hold onto them for free.

At the moment I have three no annual fee credit cards, and they’re not just great to hold onto because they have no annual fee, but also because they offer incredible points earning potential.

Specifically, I have the following three no annual fee cards:

Here’s how I use each of them to maximize my points:

Chase Freedom® Card

The Chase Freedom offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 worth of spend each quarter. For example, this quarter the card is offering 5x points on Ubers, which I am pretty close to maximizing. Next quarter they’re offering 5x points at grocery stores and drugstores, which I imagine many people won’t have any issue maximizing.

chase-freedom-2

I know plenty of people earn 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points per quarter with this card, or up to 30,000 points per year. On top of that, we sometimes see even further bonuses.

Chase Freedom® Unlimited

This is an unbeatable card for everyday spend. The card offers 1.5x points on everyday spend, with no gimmicks. There’s no minimum number of purchases required in order to unlock that return, etc. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s a ~2.55% return on everyday spend. As a result, this is a card that offers the best return on non-bonused spend, along with The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

This card offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services, plus 2x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants.

This is the card I use for my cell phone bill and for office supply store purchases, where you can buy a surprising number of things. Earning a return of ~8.5% on those purchases is pretty tough to beat.

Unlocking these cards’ potential

On the surface the above cards are cash back cards, meaning that each point gets you a cent of value. However, in conjunction with a card accruing Ultimate Rewards points, those points can be converted at a 1:1 ratio.

Since I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, that’s like getting 70% more value out of those cards just by having them in conjunction with another card. So you’ll want to have the above cards in conjunction with one of the following:

So 5% cashback converts into 5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar with one of the above cards.

So you can potentially have the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Cash, and only pay an annual fee on a single one of the above cards. For example, the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred have $95 annual fees, so you can unlock a lot of value out of four cards with a single $95 annual fee.

Bottom line

It really is tough to beat the value I get out of having the no annual fee Chase Freedom® CardChase Freedom® Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. In conjunction with a card accruing Ultimate Rewards points, these are some of the best cards out there for maximizing everyday spend. If you’re considering applying for them, just keep in mind that they’re subjected to Chase’s “5/24 rule.”

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Serious question. How do you decide whether to earn 1.5 MR or 1.5 UR? What’s the process? Do you hit 30 transactions every month?

  2. You can definitely have too many cards. Not from a credit score perspective so much, although that might become an issue. But simply because you cannot realistically use them all. Usually there are one or two cards that I want to use at any one time, and that’s it.

    The other thing to note is that, a few times, if I don’t use a card for a year or two, it gets cancelled on me, since it presumably costs the issuer to maintain a dormant account

  3. “Chase Freedom® Unlimited
    This is an unbeatable card for everyday spend. The card offers 1.5x points on everyday spend, with no gimmicks”

    Glad to hear that the Chase Freedom® Unlimited (CFU) “is an unbeatable card for everyday spend” because I just got it precisely for that purpose! Because there is a Chase branch next to my office, I decided a week to 10 days ago to just walk into it during lunch break and apply for the CFU. Not only was I approved instantly, but the new card came with a credit line of $28K, which was surprise. Why? Some may remember that when the CSR launched last year, many otherwise eligible or qualified folks were not approved instantly because they had reached the maximum credit that Chase was apparently willing to extend to them, so CLs for their other Chase accounts had to be juggled to free up the $10K that was the minimum CL required to be for the CSR. Well, I was one those folks. I was not approved for the CSR until 3 weeks after applying. So, the surprise was not that I was approved instantly for the CFU, but that it came with a CL that took my total credit with Chase over its apparent ceiling and they did it on the spot! It thought it was kool.

    Now, why did I want the CFU? Because my previous everyday spending card that earned me 1.5x on practically everything to be a great complement to the CSR was the Chase United Club Business (UCB) visa. However, I could no longer justify the UCB because as a UA 1K could purchase the UC membership for just $50 more than the UCB’s $395 AF and, importantly, I earn plenty of UA miles through my mostly long-haul flying and I REALLY needed to boost my stash of Chase UR pointsfor doing all kinds of things. So, I canceled the UCB card and got CFU, which seemed like the perfect solution and glad that it is! Canceling the UCB freed $13K of my total credit (assuming that Chase’s credit line cap takes into account both personal and business cards), which means that Chase raised my total credit line with them by $15K when they approved me for the CFU.

    Just some interesting tidbits.

  4. @Martin says: “The other thing to note is that, a few times, if I don’t use a card for a year or two, it gets cancelled on me, since it presumably costs the issuer to maintain a dormant account.”

    Ain’t that a fact! My first card ever, which I got in 1986 with a $500, was a Citi card that’s gone through gazillion transformations and incarnations, including being visa at one time and a MC at another. It is now a visa card called Citi Forward, and my CL is now $11K (from $500!). In short, this card is the anchor of the length of my credit history. That’s why I was shocked about 3 years ago when I got a letter from Citi that due to inactivity for at least two years, the account was canceled. It only took a phone call to get it reopened but, yeah, loyalty accounts are not the only ones that get canceled for lack of activity!

  5. And so, once again, there are cards that I may wish to get but cannot due to the 5/24 Rule. I can understand that one shouldn’t over-extend themselves, but I applied for and received my 5th card BEFORE Chase announced and then released their CSR. Since it’s been less than 24 months since I received my last card, I have now lost 50,000 UR points¹, cannot get a Chase Freedom (CF) or Chase Freedom Unlimited (CFU) Card, and I am really tempted to tell C to FU . . . and yet, I could get a Ritz-Carlton card from Chase.

    WTF?

    __________
    ¹ Chase cut the sign-up bonus from 100,000 to 50,000 points. This presupposes, of course, that I’d get approved for the CSR and I cannot think of a reason why I wouldn’t. I view this as Chase punishing me because I have good credit . . .

  6. Hi, Lucky or anyone of you, do you know which credit card that provides you access to a bunch of airport lounges? I was on my flight to Orange County yesterday and the guy sat next to me told me he heard of such a credit card though he does not know either. Since Lucky whom I would consider expert on the subject may know and may like to share with me and others. Yes, it is a credit card with fees. But it maybe worth it. Currently, flying United on domestic would not allow lounge access, even if you are flying first class unless you have a club membership or lounge pass. Would like to find out more of this one credit card that would provide lounge access.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *