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Travel isn’t on everyone’s mind right now.  As such, it’s harder for many to justify carrying premium cards with high annual fees, most of which are only made worthwhile by travel perks. But travel will return, and whether you are (traveling) right now or not, it’s important to get the best reward for you, on every purchase you make.

The great thing about the ultra competitive credit card driven world we live in, is that you don’t even need to leave home to earn huge rewards, and you actually don’t even need to pay steep annual fees to enjoy fantastic benefits. Here are two cards which make more sense now, than ever…

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom Card can range from a great cash back card, earning between 1-5% cash back on all purchases, to something much more, if you happen to also hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Reserve Card.

The big story though: it has no annual fee.

Each quarter the card rotates a list of categories where you’ll earn 5X points on the first $1500 of purchases you make across those categories. This means 7,500 easy points per quarter, which mean $75 cash back per quarter at the most basic level, or 7,500 Ultimate Rewards Points which can be transferred to an airline or hotel, if you hold a Chase Sapphire Card.

Right now, the card is offering a $200 welcome bonus after just $500 in spending within the first three months. That’s a massive rebate on a card with no annual fee, which can generate hundreds in cash back annually, with a minimum of 1% back on everything, and 5% back on a variety of purchases each quarter. This quarter is 5X at Amazon and Whole Foods, which will be easy to max out!

Why now: no annual fee, no worries. Cash back is easier to use than travel rewards at the moment, and the ability for those who hold Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve Cards to move from cash back to miles with an airline or hotel points makes this super flexible on both sides of the coin.

You can check out the offer here.

Citi Double Cash

Continuing the “no annual fee” theme, which makes holding a credit card a lot less complicated these days, the Citi Double Cash is an extraordinary card, because not only does it not hold an annual fee, but it actually rewards you for staying out of debt.

Citi Double Cash offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and an additional 1% back when you pay your credit card bill, which gives you 2% back on everything. And yes, that means everything, not just some categories.

Much like Chase Freedom, there’s an additional benefit for cardholders if you also happen to hold one of Citi’s more premium cards, like the Prestige, or Premier.

Double Cash Points for people who hold one of these cards can be converted into airline miles or hotel points, not just cash back, which means you’re able to effectively earn two airline miles or hotel points of your choosing, within the Citi ThankYou program, on all purchases. That’s an amazing way to create flexibility by having the option of cash back if you like, but airlines miles for future travel if you prefer.

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash card here.

Unbonused Spending

Premium credit cards with high annual fees typically justify their place in your wallet by offering increased earning potential, like 5X points on airfare or dining, and with travel perks. If most of your spending still falls under one of these categories, cards like Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, etc can still make a lot of sense.

If however most of your spending is on day to day things which wouldn’t be earning one of these big multiples, earning through these cards is second to none, and with no annual fee to justify during these strange times, it takes a lot of thinking out of the equation. Earning 2% back on everything is a fantastic value proposition, as is earning 1% on everything, and 5% on some things, all with no annual fee.

Plus, for those who already have a premium card with Chase or Citi and double up with one of these no annual fee cards, you’re able to choose between cash back and points for future travel. It’s a nice choice to have.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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