posted: 16/3/23 | March 16, 2023
One of the easiest ways to save money on traveling is by
travel hack. Using a credit card (responsibly) to accumulate points and miles essentially turns your daily expenses into free flights, free hotel stays, and other great travel perks.
This not only stretches your travel budget, but enhances your travel experience, providing free upgrades, lounge access, and much more.
Whether you want to be on the road longer, take more trips, or simply save money on your next vacation, points and miles can get you there.
However, most of the best travel credit cards have a (sometimes very large) annual fee.
While the annual fee is usually decent for frequent travelers (you can get a lot more value out of the card than the annual fee), if you're new to travel hacks or just don't travel, you may want to get no fees. card first.
And there Lots no fee card out there. Which one do you choose?
Here is my list of the best no-fee travel credit cards so you can start earning points towards free travel today:
1. Bilt Prize Master Card
Without a doubt my favorite no-fee travel card, the Bill Mastercard allows you to earn points when you pay your rent (as well as everyday purchases). This card is primarily aimed at travelers and restaurant goers as it offers 2x points spent on travel and 3x points for dining out.
You can transfer points 1:1 to travel partners, including American Airlines, United, Emirates, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, Air France/KLM, Hyatt, and IHG. The fact that you can transfer Bilt points to American Airlines really sets this card apart; no other card points can be transferred to America, so collecting Bilt points is the only way to get AA points without owning an AA card.
Bilt is also integrated with point.me, a search engine and easy booking for award flights.
With the Bilt card, you get:
- 1x points on rental payments
- 2x points on the way
- 3x points for eating
- American Airlines as a transfer partner (it's the only card that does)
- Rent Day Benefits: monthly rewards and challenges plus 6x points for meals, 4x points for travel and 2x for all other spending on the 1st of each month
- Travel protection includes trip cancellations and delays
- There are no foreign transaction fees
The Bilt Card is really a no-brainer for renters who love to travel. To learn more, read my full Bilt Review. This is the card I use the most nowadays (especially on rental days).
2. Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
The cards in Capital One's Venture lineup are all fantastic. While Venture and Venture X are more well known, they come with an annual fee. If you're looking for a no-fee card, VentureOne is an excellent choice. You will earn 1.25x points for all purchases as well as 5x points for travel booked through the Capital One travel portal. Just like with other Venture cards, the points you earn with the VentureOne card can then be transferred to Capital One's 15+ transfer partners to be exchanged for flights and hotels.
With this card, you will get:
- 40,000 points when you spend $1,000 within 3 months of account opening
- 1.25x points for all purchases
- 5x points for hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel
- Travel accident insurance and car rental
- There are no foreign transaction fees
3. The Pursuit of Unlimited Freedom
The Pursuit of Unlimited Freedom is a great no-fee card that offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, 3% back on restaurants and drug stores, and 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This card also offers travel protection such as rental car insurance and trip cancellation/delay. However, it does charge a foreign transaction fee, so you don't want to use it when traveling abroad, just book your trip in advance.
When you sign up for this card, you will get:
- Get an additional 1.5% on all purchases in the first year (up to $20,000)
- 1.5% cashback on all purchases
- 5% cash back on trips purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores
Another similar option is Chase Freedom Flex. Freedom Flex offers 5% cash back for quarterly rolling bonus categories, 5% cash back for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% for restaurants, and 1% back for all other expenses.
LOW COST CARD
If the cards above are a little too basic for your travel hacking needs and you want something more mid-range, here's a short list of affordable travel credit cards:
Pursuit of Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) – 3x points for dining, online grocery purchases, and certain streaming services, 2x points for travel (5x when booked through Chase travel portal), travel protection, and $50 annual hotel credit when you book and prepay through Chasing the Grand Prize.
One Business Capital ($95 annual fee) – 2x points on all purchases, 5x points on hotel/rental car booked on Capital One trips, $100 Global Entry/TSA pre-check credit, 2 airport lounge visits per year.
Chase Ink Plus Preferred Business ($95 annual fee) – If you own a business, this card offers 3x the points per dollar for the first $150,000 spent each year on shipping, internet, phone, travel, and online advertising, as well as a free card for employees.
While fee-based cards have a better income structure and travel benefits, if you're new to the points and miles game, the idea of paying an annual fee might keep you from using a travel card entirely. But if you love to travel (or want to travel more), not accumulating points and miles is the biggest mistake you can make.
No-fee cards are a great place to start so you can start working toward free flights and hotel stays today, without having to worry about whether you're getting enough value from the card to justify the annual fee.
Book Your Trip: Logistics Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find cheap flights using Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the world so you always know there's no stone unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, go for it Booking.com because it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guest houses and hotels.
Don't Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you from illness, injury, theft and cancellation. It's comprehensive protection in case something goes wrong. I never travel without it as I've had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Want to travel for free?
A travel credit card allows you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what kept me on the road for a very short time. Check out my guide to choosing the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to work with when you're on the move. I list everything that I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can't go wrong with them on your travels.
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Editorial Disclosure: “Opinions, reviews, analyzes & recommendations are those of the authors themselves, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any entity.”