Best credit cards with no annual fee

No-annual-fee, or ‘free’ credit cards, may not have many added perks, but they can still be a great choice for many people

The breakdown

  • While they are less common, some no-annual-fee credit cards also offer rewards such as Airpoints or cashback.
  • If you don’t expect to pay your card’s balance off in full each month, pick a card that also has a low interest rate.
  • Be sure to look at what other fees might apply and before making a decision.
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    Author: Kevin McHugh, Head of Publishing at Banked.

    Compare all credit cards with no annual fee

    Choose from the best credit cards with no annual fee below or compare all credit cards

    Credit card Interest rate (p.a.) Annual fee Rewards Perks Learn more
    The American Express Airpoints Card American Express Airpoints 22.95% $0 1 Airpoints Dollar per $100 spent
    • 50 bonus Airpoints Dollars on sign up
    • 6 months interest-free on purchases

    Read the review
    ASB Visa Light credit card ASB Visa Light 13.50% $0 None
    • Balance transfer: 0% for 6 months
    Westpac Fee Free Mastercard Westpac Fee Free Mastercard 12.90% $0 None
    • Balance transfer: 5.95% for the life of the balance
    Kiwibank Zero Visa card Kiwibank Zero Visa 12.90% $0 None
    • Balance transfer: 1.99% for 6 months
    SBS Visa SBS Visa 18.5% $0 $1 cashback for every $150 spent None
    ANZ Low Rate Visa ANZ Low Rate Visa 13.90% $0 None
    • Balance transfer: 1.99% for the first 2 years

    What is a no-annual-fee credit card?

    Credit card with no annual fee

    A credit card with no annual fee is one that does not charge a regular fee for having the card.

    Sometimes referred to as a free credit card, this type of card is a more basic option that usually does not include the added benefits of some other cards, such as rewards or insurance.

    Credit cards with no annual fee can be a good credit card choice for many people, especially those who don’t expect to use the card regularly. Light users can benefit from having a credit card available when they need it, but without having to deal with an annual fee.

    3 tips for choosing the best credit card with no annual fee

    If you’ve decided that a no-annual-fee credit card is right for you, we have some tips to help you choose the right one.

    1. Look out for extra perks

    While it’s true that a card that has no annual fee is much less likely to have those added frills and perks, that’s not always the case.

    For example, the American Express Airpoints credit card comes with a number of benefits you might not expect. Cardholders can earn Airpoints Dollars on their spending and there is a 0% interest rate for the first six months of opening the card.

    Several no-annual-fee credit cards are also suitable for balance transfers. For example, the ASB Visa Light and Westpac’s Fee Free Mastercard have 0% balance transfer deals for the first 6 months.

    In summary, don’t simply pick the first card with no annual fee you find — it’s always worth reviewing what perks are available.

    2. If you don’t pay your card off in full, choose a low-rate card

    Choosing a credit card with no annual fee is great, but there is still the interest rate to consider.

    The only way to avoid paying your interest on your credit card purchases is to pay off the full amount within the interest-free period, which will either be 44 or 55 days (depending on the card).

    A more straightforward way of looking at it is that you need to pay off the total amount on your credit card statement by the due date. If you don’t, you must pay interest for that month’s outstanding amount.

    So, if you want a no-annual-fee credit card but don’t expect to pay the full amount off each month, choose one with the lowest possible interest rate.

    In the section above, we looked at some cards with extra perks and rewards. These cards can be great for people who pay their balance off each month, but they also tend to have higher interest rates. This means they are not a good choice if you usually have an outstanding balance at the end of the month because the added interest will always outweigh the benefits of any rewards earned.

    Compare credit cards that combine a low interest rate with no annual fee in the table at the top of this page.

    3. Watch out for other fees

    The annual fee may be the most obvious, but it’s not the only fee to consider when assessing credit cards.

    These fees are often avoidable by managing your card in the right way. For example, all credit cards involve a late payment fee or a fee for exceeding your credit limit. However, there area some fees that might apply in your day-to-day use that can also be avoided.

    Let’s take foreign exchange fees. Westpac’s Fee Free Mastercard doesn’t charge a currency conversion fee for transactions made on the card, so if you sometimes purchase things in other currencies, this is undoubtedly worth factoring into your decision.

    Consider how you expect to use your credit card and review what fees may apply before making a decision.

    Are there any rewards credit cards with no annual fee?

    Unfortunately, great rewards cards go hand in hand with annual fees — banks and credit card companies do have to make a profit after all. But there are reward card options with no annual fee.

    Possibly the strongest choice is the American Express Airpoints card. This card has the third-best Airpoints earn rate of any card in New Zealand ($100 spent will earn you 1 Airpoints Dollar). On top of that, the card comes with 50 bonus Airpoints Dollars on sign-up as long as you spend $750 on the card within the first three months.

    See how our guide compares the AMEX Airpoints card with other Airpoints credit cards.

    Another rewards option is the SBS Visa. A cashback card, the SBS Visa lets cardholders earn $1 cashback for every $150 they spend. Compare the SBS Visa against other cashback credit cards in our guide.

    But don’t forget the golden rule of rewards credit cards: always pay the balance in full each month. If you don’t, the interest you will be charged will more than outweigh the benefits of any rewards earned.

    Are there no-annual-fee credit cards with free travel insurance?

    Unfortunately, there are no credit cards with no annual fee that also offer complimentary travel insurance.

    Credit cards with travel insurance are usually reserved for platinum-level cards such as the American Express Airpoints Platinum or the ANZ Airpoints Visa Platinum. Both of these credit cards have annual fees that are over $100 per year.

    If a no-annual-fee credit card that also comes with complimentary travel cover enters the market, we will be sure to update this guide.

    Picture of Kevin McHugh

    Kevin McHugh

    Kevin is the founder and Head of Publishing at Banked. With years of experience working in personal finance, insurance, and related areas, Kevin created Banked to help Kiwis make better financial decisions.