While most frequent flyer credit cards come with an annual fee, there is a small selection that waive this cost. Depending on the card, you could get a $0 annual fee for the first year or for life – which could save you $30 to $700 or more compared to cards that have an annual fee.
So if you want to earn rewards without paying an annual fee, use this guide to compare frequent flyer credit cards that give you that option.
Compare frequent flyer credit cards with no annual fee
How do no annual fee frequent flyer credit cards work?
These credit cards give you a way to earn frequent flyer points that you can redeem for rewards including flights, hotels, gift cards and retail items. They also help you save money on account costs by offering a $0 annual fee – either for the first year you have the card, or for life.
$0 annual fee in the first year
Some frequent flyer credit cards will offer to waive the standard annual fee in the first year you have the card as part of an introductory offer. After the first 12 months, you’ll be charged a standard annual fee for the account.
This means you have time to test out the card (and enjoy perks such as bonus point offers or complimentary lounge access) without paying an annual fee. If you decide the card is worth it, you can then keep it and pay the fee when it is applied. If not, you can cancel the card before the end of the first year and avoid being charged any annual fee.
The catch is that you may not have as many extra features, such as complimentary travel insurance or lounge access. It’s also less common for frequent flyer cards that offer no annual fee for life to have huge introductory bonus point offers. But if you get one of these cards and pay the balance off each month, it does give you a way to earn frequent flyer points per $1 spent without paying any account fees.
How long will it take me to earn enough points for a reward?
This depends on the amount of points you earn per $1 spent, your overall spending and whether the card includes an introductory bonus point offer.
As an example, say you had a card that earned 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 and spent an average of $2,000 per month. Over a year, you would earn 12,000 Qantas Points, which is enough for a $50 digital Woolworths Group gift card (9,500 points) or a one-way economy flight between Melbourne and Brisbane (12,000 points).
You could also save these points for higher-value rewards. And if the card came with a bonus point offer, meeting the spend requirement would help fast-track your frequent flyer goals.
Is a no annual fee frequent flyer credit card right for me?
These cards are for people who want to earn frequent flyer points with a credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee for the service. They can also be a good starting point when you are new to frequent flyer programs or credit cards because they give you a chance to test the waters without paying any upfront costs.
However, if you're a big spender, a frequent flyer card with an annual fee and a higher earn rate could give you more value than the savings you'd get from a $0 annual fee.
How can I compare frequent flyer credit cards with no annual fee?
Weigh up these features when you’re looking for a credit card that earns frequent flyer points and has no annual fee.
Annual fee details. Before choosing one of these frequent flyer credit cards, check whether the $0 annual fee is for the first year only or an ongoing feature of the card so that you know exactly what you’re getting in the long run.
Bonus points. Many frequent flyer credit cards offer thousands of introductory bonus points when you meet the spending requirements as a new cardholder. This could give you a huge amount of value in the first year – especially without an annual fee. Just remember that this value is temporary, so you’ll still need to think about the costs that could apply beyond the first 12 months if you plan to keep the card.
Points per $1 spent. The amount of points you’ll earn per $1 can help you figure out how much value you’ll get from the card based on your typical spending. Keep in mind that although you’ll earn points for most everyday purchases, you usually won’t get any for transactions such as cash advances, BPAY payments and government charges.
Interest rates. These types of frequent flyer credit cards typically have high interest rates, which could offset the value of the no annual fee if you carry a balance. If you want to pay off credit card purchases over a few months, you could also look at low rate cards that can help you save on interest charges.
Additional cardholders. If you want to boost your frequent flyer point balance by sharing the account with a partner or family member, check whether they’ll also get the option to have a card with no annual fee. Otherwise, you could end up paying more for the account than what you earn in points.
Complimentary extras. Weigh up the value of any perks, such as complimentary insurance, lounge passes or annual travel credit. If the card offers a $0 annual fee in the first year, also consider whether these benefits will outweigh the cost of the standard annual fee once that applies.
FAQs about no annual fee frequent flyer credit cards
Want to know more about frequent flyer credit cards that offer no annual fees? We’ve answered some of the most common questions people ask us about them. If you have a question of your own, you can also get in touch with us using the comment box below.
Currently, the Qantas American Express Discovery Card is the only card that earns Qantas Points and has a $0 annual fee for life. You can also compare current introductory offers to see which Qantas Frequent Flyer credit cards offer a waived or reduced annual fee in the first year. Remember to consider the other costs and benefits available so that you can find a card that works for you.
Yes, it is possible to do this. Just make sure you pay the card off in full and cancel it before 12 months has passed. You may even want to call the provider and check what date the annual fee will be charged so that you can be sure you close the account before then.
Amy Bradney-George is the acting editor for Finder X and a senior writer for credit cards and Finder Green. She has more than 13 years' experience as a journalist and writer, with bylines in publications including The Equity Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News and produce industry website FreshPlaza. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Drama from Griffith University, and when she’s not putting (virtual) pen to paper, she spends her time as an actress.
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