Earning rewards without any cost to you? Now that’s seriously cool. Points and miles aren’t unicorns. They really appear, they really unlock free travel and you really need to be earning them. To eliminate any chance of excuses, or lack of participation, here are the best ways to earn points from a credit card with no annual fee…

But First, You Really Should Get Over The Annual Fee Cards, If You Travel…

You don’t see anyone crying when they get a free hotel night, room upgrade, impossible dining reservation or the boatload of miles that come with the best rewards cards, but somehow the tone changes and those perks are entirely forgotten when the subject of annual fees comes up. If you are open minded, here’s a compelling argument for why you should consider cards with high fees. Basically, if you travel the benefits can greatly outweigh the fee.

Best U.S. No Annual Fee Rewards Cards…

Amex Preferred Rewards Gold

Yes, this card generally carries an annual fee of $195, but for the first year it’s free and Amex seems to be offering incredibly lucrative 50,000 point bonuses, which you can spend on great airline and hotel partners before the year is up! You’ll also get a $100 travel credit good on the airline of your choice, 3x points on airfare, 2x points on dining and access to the “Hotel Collection”, which features generous benefits.. It’s a serious winner with NO fee. 

Citi Double Cash

No airline miles at stake here, but turning every dollar into two points of cash back is major. If you spend $1000 you’ll have 2,000 points of cash back worth $20, which can really add up over time and best of all, you can use the cash back on anything. No red tape. You get 1 point for the purchase and the extra point when you pay it off, so pay in full and enjoy 2x earning!

Amex Everyday

2 points per dollar at grocery stores can be really handy, since no other card offers that. If you make at least 20 swipes in a month you’ll also get a 20% bonus on the points you earn each month, making this a real winner. These points can be used as cash back or transferred to more than 20 airlines or hotels, giving total flexibility. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited 

1.5 points for every dollar spent and best of all, there’s a way to turn these cash back points into airline or hotel points. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred card you can convert these cash back points into Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer to many top airlines and hotels. 1.5x earning on everything is amazing. 

Best U.K. No Annual Fee Rewards Cards…

Hilton Platinum Visa

This card is a no brainer. Get a free night almost anywhere in the world after spending £750 in 90 days, get Hilton Gold after spending £10k in a year, 2500 bonus point for each of your first four stays at a Hilton and 2 points for every pound you spend. Getting free flights are only half the equation for free travel, so free hotel nights are big. No fee, no problem.

Amex Premier Rewards Gold

Huh? This one is here because the annual fee is waived for the first year and there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from cancelling after a year, after redeeming or transferring your 30,000 point bonus of course. That’s right, 30,000 points you can convert to more than 15 airlines and hotel programs is extremely lucrative and with no annual fee the benefits, such as the “Hotel Collection” and coverages during travel delays, can be brilliant. 

Amex Platinum Cash Back Everyday

Earn and burn! This card has no annual fee, offers 1 point for every pound spent and for the first 3 months of membership you can earn 5 points per pound, up to £100 cash back. Since this cash back can be used towards any purchase at any time, it makes it far more user friendly than the mileage earning card for people who don’t enjoy the hassles. 

British Airways (Basic) Amex

There are a few reasons (like earning rate or spending required for companion voucher) that may compel people to go for the Premium British Airways Amex, but for those who can’t bear the annual fee it’s hard to pass up earning 1 mile for every purchase and the ability to earn a companion voucher, which allows you to use half the generally required amount of miles for two people to travel. You’ll also get 3,000 bonus miles after spending £500 in three months.

Virgin Atlantic White Card

This card offers a very compelling sign up bonus for a no fee card. You’ll receive 3,000 points after your first purchase and an additional 7,000 points after you spend £1000 in the first 3 months. That’s 10,000 points for free, as long as you pay in full, which you should always do with any card. 1 point for every pound you spend, 2 for Virgin Atlantic purchases.