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Everyday Cards without Annual Fee

Rank 1 2 3 4
Institution Chase American Express CapitalOne Citi
Card Name Freedom Unlimited Blue Business Plus Quicksilver Double Cash
Earning 1.5x on All 2x on All
on first $50,000/year
1.5% on All 2% on All
Introductory Offer 15K for $500 in 3 Months None $150 for $500 in 3 Months None
Perks Can transfer to Chase Ultimate Rewards None No foreign transaction fee None

The Winner: Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is at the top of my list for best credit card for everyday purchases without annual fees.

At first glance, it's just a simple, 1.5% cash back on everything card with a decent $150 sign up bonus. However, when paired with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Preferred, it becomes so much more. The Freedom Unlimited allows 1:1 transfers to the higher tier Ultimate Rewards cards, meaning that you can use the same transfer partners or travel portal as those cards! Instead of 1.5% cash back, think about 1.5x Hyatt or United points on every purchase. With the 50% travel portal bonus with the Reserve, the Freedom Unlimited has the potential to earn 2.25% back, or up to even 3% or more with Chase's transfer partners! On top of that, the sign-up bonus becomes 15K points that you can also transfer.

The ability to transfer to a higher tier Chase card single handledly propels the Freedom Unlimited to the top of my list. The main downside of this card is that it does not waive foreign transaction fees, so it's not worth using outside of the U.S.

The Runner-Up: Amex Blue Business Plus

Yes, this is a card intended for small business, but you'd be surprised at what counts as a business! Even if you sell a few items a year on eBay/Amazon, do photography on the side, run a blog, make YouTube videos, etc. it can qualify as a business!

The Amex Blue Business Plus is also a very strong card. It earns 2x Amex Membership Rewards points on every purchase, up to $50,000 per year (100K points). You may think that this immediately outclasses the Freedom Unlimited's 1.5x, but it does fall short due to it's lack of sign-up bonus. If we value Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Amex Membership Rewards points equally, you'd have to spend $30,000 or more total in order for the Blue Business Plus to break even with the Chase Freedom Unlimited sign up bonus.

Just like the Freedom Unlimited, this card also doesn't waive FX fees, so don't use it abroad.

Third Place: Capital One Quicksilver

I surprised even myself by ranking this card higher than the Double Cash. But the reason it's better than the Double Cash is the same as why the Freedom Unlimited beats the Blue Business plus - the sign-up bonus. On top of that, this card waives foreign transaction fees (in fact, all Capital One cards do), and you can redeem your cash back for any amount. However, it falls short because it earns cash back instead of transferrable points.

Honorable Mention: Citi Double Cash

This card looks like it should be better than the Quicksilver, but it falls short in a couple places. It doesn't have a sign-up bonus, doesn't waive foreign transaction fees, cash back cannot be redeemed unless you have $25 in cash back or more, and cash back actually expires if you don't have any account activity for 12 months or more. Still though, 2% is better than 1.5%, so if you're okay with applying for multiple cards (and potentially being over Chase's 5/24 rule, more on that in another article), this card may be better than the Quicksilver.

Everyday Cards with Annual Fee

Rank 1 2
Institution CapitalOne Bank of America
Card name Venture Premium Rewards Credit Card
Annual Fee $95* $95
Earning 2x on All 2x on Travel/Dining
1.5x on All
Introductory Offer 75K for $5000 in 90 days 50K for $3000 in 90 days
Perks Global Entry credit
Transfer partners coming Dec 2018
$100 airline incidental credit
Global Entry credit
25% - 75% earning bonus with BoA Preferred Rewards
*Annual fee waived first year