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Visa Traveler

Exploring the world one country at a time

UK tourist visa: Requirements and application procedure

Updated: September 9, 2023

United Kingdom UK Tourist Visa Image

The UK tourist visa requirements are clear and easy to understand. UK tourist visa application is online but the rest of the process requires an in-person appointment for biometrics.

The UK or the United Kingdom is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. To visit any of these four countries, you would need a UK tourist visa. UK tourist visas are valid for 6 months and you can stay up to 180 days in the UK.

The UK tourist visa application process is long and there is no status tracking. Make sure to start your UK visa process at least two months from your intended date of travel to the UK.

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UK TOURIST VISA REQUIREMENTS BY NATIONALITY

United Kingdom Tourist Visa Requirements by Nationality

Minimum passport validity required to enter the UK

  • Passport must be valid for the entire stay in the UK

Visa EXEMPT nationalities

Unlimited entry.

  • This requirement will change from 01 Jan 2021 when UK will no longer be part of the EU
  • Czech Republic
  • Liechtenstein
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland

6-month entry

  • You must carry all documents needed for a visitor visa to show at the port of entry if asked
  • Visa is REQUIRED if you have a criminal record or refused entry into the UK before
  • Anguilla (British territory)
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bermuda (British territory)
  • Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba (Dutch territory)
  • British Virgin Islands (British territory)
  • Cayman Islands (British territory)
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Falkland Islands (British territory)
  • Hong Kong
  • Marshall Islands
  • Montserrat (British territory)
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Pitcairn Island (British territory)
  • San Marino
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Korea
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Maarten
  • St Vincent and The Grenadines
  • Timor Leste
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands (British territory)
  • United States of America
  • Vatican City

Visa REQUIRED nationalities

  • Afghanistan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Congo, Dem. Rep. of
  • Congo, Rep. of
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Dominican Republic
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • North Korea
  • North Macedonia
  • Palestinian Territories
  • Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • São Tomé and Principe
  • Turkmenistan

Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) required nationalities

  • United Arab Emirates

24-hour VISA-FREE entry at Heathrow airport

  • Eligible to request a 24-hour VISA-FREE entry at London’s Heathrow airport if holding a valid visa from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or any EU/Schengen country
  • Must be in transit to/from the country of visa (Ex: if holding a Canada visa, you must be in transit to/from Canada only)
  • Onward flight must be within 24 hours (on the same day or next day before midnight)
  • Granting the 24-hour entry is at the sole discretion of the immigration officer
  • Applies to all nationalities

BONUS (FREE eBook Download): Travel 56 countries VISA-FREE with a visa from the US, Canada, Schengen, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan or Singapore

UK TOURIST VISA APPLICATION PROCESS

United Kingdom UK Tourist Visa Requirements - Visa Application

First, check if you need a visitor visa to travel to the UK in the “UK tourist visa requirements by nationality” section above.

Alternatively, you can check your eligibility and requirements on the UK gov website .

Validity of UK tourist visa

UK tourist visas are valid for 6 months from the date of visa issue.

Example: If your UK visa was issued on January 15, the visa will be valid until July 15. 

NOTE There have been instances where visas were issued with validity starting from the date of travel mentioned in the visa application. 

When to apply for UK visa

You can apply for a UK visa up to 3 months in advance.

Example: If you plan to visit the UK on April 15, you can apply for your UK visa on or after January 16.

Also, keep in mind that you must apply for your UK visa at least 3 weeks prior to your travel, otherwise, you may not receive your visa on time. There are no refunds if you receive your visa after your travel date. 

IMPORTANT The UK visa process can take up to 3 weeks and even longer in some cases. I strongly recommend applying for your UK visa at least 2 months in advance.

How long can you stay in the UK?

The UK tourist visa allows you to stay up to 180 days in the UK. But if you stay that long continuously in the UK on a tourist visa, you will have serious trouble getting another UK visa in the future or entering the UK next time.

Here is my advice. Stick to the days you have mentioned in your UK visa application. A few days more or less is fine. But staying months on your UK tourist visa will pretty much look like you “live in the UK” rather than “vacation/holiday”. 

Application procedure

The UK visa application is online. You must apply for the visa online at the UK Visas and Immigration website

Below are the steps you will go through for your UK tourist visa application

  • Go to the UK Visas and Immigration website
  • Select your preferred language, type of visa, your country, nearest visa application center, etc
  • Create a login using email and password
  • Complete in the application form
  • Sign the declaration
  • Pay visa fee
  • Submit the application
  • Download and print the submitted visa application form
  • Make an appointment at your nearest UK visa application center
  • Attend the appointment at your nearest UK visa application center
  • Submit your passport, visa application and supporting documents at the visa application center
  • If applying from the US, Australia or New Zealand, mail your passport, visa application and biometrics receipt to your nearest visa application center
  • Pickup/receive the passport when the visa decision is made

Below are some of the information you will provide in the application form

  • Your travel dates to the UK
  • Your hotel address and telephone number in the UK
  • Your total estimated cost for the trip
  • Your present home address and how many years you’ve lived there
  • Your parents’ names and their dates of birth
  • Your annual income
  • Your travel history for the past 10 years
  • Your employer details including the address and telephone number

Templates for UK visa by Visa Traveler

Documents required

The following are the documents required for UK visitor visa application 

  • Completed online visa application form with GWF number
  • A passport-size photo (optional)
  • If employed – an employment letter on company letterhead indicating your length of employment, salary, role, etc.
  • If self-employed – a business registration document indicating your business name, date of business, etc.
  • If student – a letter from the school/university on the letterhead indicating your enrollment, leave of absence, etc.
  • Proof of funds ( bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months)
  • Proof of legal residence (if applying from a 3rd country. you must submit a copy of your visa or residence permit of that country)

Do you need flight tickets and hotel bookings for the UK visa application?

UKVI has stopped asking for flight tickets and hotel bookings for UK visa applications. But some nationalities are still being asked to submit flight tickets and hotel bookings.

When you complete your online UK visa application, you will see a checklist of documents to be uploaded. Check if you are asked to submit flight tickets and hotel bookings.

Even if you are asked to submit your flight tickets and hotel bookings, you should not book any flights/hotel until your UK visa is approved.

For flights, get a price quote from British Airways which can be used as a flight itinerary for your UK visa application. Visa ticket booking agencies such as DummyTicket offer flight itineraries for the UK visa for $19, valid for 2-3 weeks.

For hotel, book a refundable or pay at check-in hotel on booking.com or Expedia . Cancel the booking after your visa is approved.

For more options, check out my detailed flight itinerary and hotel reservation articles.

Photo requirements

A passport-size photo is only required if are exempt from biometrics. All tourist visa applicants MUST give their biometrics. Your fingerprints and digital photos are taken during your biometrics appointment.

Since all tourist visa applicants MUST give their biometrics, a passport-size photo is not required. But, I suggest bringing one with you on the day of your biometrics appointment just in case.

Visa application fee

The UK tourist visa application fee is £95 GBP. You will pay this fee in your local currency. Due to exchange rates, you may end up paying about £2 – £5 GBP more.

You can use the UK home office visa fee wizard to find out the exact visa fee that you would need to pay in your local currency. 

If you are applying for a long-term UK tourist visa, below is the visa fee for 2, 5 and 10-year tourist visas. 

  • 2 years: £361 GBP
  • 5 years: £655 GBP
  • 10 years: £822 GBP

Visa appointment

As part of the online application process, you will be prompted to make a visa appointment at your nearest UK Visa Application Center . Visa Application Centers are run by either VFSGlobal or TLSContact in conjunction with UK Visas and Immigration.

On the day of the appointment, you will give your biometrics (fingerprints and photo) and submit your original documents. You must bring all your original documents along with one photocopy of each including your passport.

Applicants from the USA, Australia (Adelaide and Hobart only) and New Zealand

You must give your biometrics at your nearest Biometric Enrollment Center and later send/post your documents to the nearest UK Visa Application Center.

During your online UK visa application, you will be prompted to make a biometrics appointment at your nearest Biometric enrollment center.

  • Biometric enrollment centers in the USA are run by the US Homeland Security.
  • Biometric enrollment centers in Australia are run by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
  • Biometric enrollment centers in New Zealand are run by Immigration New Zealand.

The biometrics appointment takes about 10-15 minutes. You will give your fingerprints and photo. You will receive an acknowledgment stamp on the biometric appointment confirmation.

You must then mail your original passport, visa application, biometric confirmation with the stamp, supporting documents and return postage to the UK Visa Application Center you have selected during your online visa application.

You will be notified via email when the UK Visa Application Center receives your documents.

Visa processing time

The UK tourist visa processing takes up to 3 weeks. There have been incidents where UKVI has taken over 2 months to process, especially when the visa applications are “not straightforward”.

UKVI considers a visa application “not straightforward” if additional information is required to process the visa. Additional information can be, verifying information, background check or requesting additional documents. UKVI usually notifies you in such cases and requests any additional documentation necessary.

Keeping such incidents in mind, ALWAYS apply for your UK visa at least 2 months prior to your travel.

If you have to travel sooner, you should purchase the “Priority Visa Service” while applying online. Or at least before you mail/submit your documents. This way your visa application will be processed within 5 working days.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE When I applied for my UK visa, the visa processing time was about 2 weeks. I had a planned trip to Canada before my trip to the UK. My trip to Canada was in 4 weeks, so I thought I had enough time to apply for my UK visa. However after I submitted my passport, the email confirmation said the visa process would take up to 4 weeks. I panicked. I went ahead and paid for the priority visa service. I panicked again. Then I emailed a formal visa withdrawal request, so I could at least get my passport back and make my trip to Canada. However, my visa was processed within 2 days of paying the priority visa service fee. Please do not make the same mistake as I did. Apply for your UK visa at least 2 months prior to your travel.

Visa application status tracking

Online visa application tracking is NOT AVAILABLE on the UK Visas and Immigration website. To track your UK visa application status, you must use UK Visas and Immigration’s email or phone option, which unfortunately is NOT FREE.

UKVI charges for all phone and email inquiries. 

Below are UK Visa and Immigration phone, email details and charges.

PHONE Telephone: +44 2034811736 Available 24 hours from Monday to Friday Calls cost £1.37 per minute plus any international call charges

EMAIL Email communication must be initiated via Email UK Visas and Immigration Email inquiries cost £5.48. Follow-up emails after that are not charged. You will receive a response to your email within 2 working days.

You must give out your credit card information for billing when you start the phone inquiry. For email, you must fill out the payment form and then you can submit your email inquiry.

PERSONAL OPINION Email inquiries generally receive a standard response saying that your application is “in process”. Phone inquiries are slightly better and cheaper.

Priority visa service

If you would need to travel to the UK urgently, you can opt for the “Priority Visa Service”.  This service is expensive and may not be available in all countries. If available, you will see the option in your online UK visa application. 

  • Priority visa service fee: £220 GBP
  • Visa processing time: Guaranteed in 5 working days

Priority visa service must be purchased during your online visa application. This will ensure your visa is processed within 5 days.

Purchasing this service after you have submitted/mailed your documents will take much longer than 5 working days. You must first pay the fee on the Visa Application Center (VAC) website and then email the receipt to the Visa Application Center where you have submitted/sent your documents. It can take more than a day for the VAC staff to locate your packet and push it into the priority queue

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE I purchased my priority service after I had mailed my documents. My visa application was approved within two days of buying the priority visa service.

Super priority visa service

If you would need to travel to the UK immediately, you can opt for “Super Priority Visa Service”. This service comes with a hefty price tag, so purchase this service only in super urgent, emergency cases. 

  • Super priority visa service fee: £956 GBP
  • Visa processing time: Guaranteed in 24 hours

Cancel your UK visa application

If you haven’t given your biometrics at the visa application center yet, you can cancel your UK visa application and get a full refund of your visa fee. The procedure to cancel your UK visa application depends on at what stage your application is in.

Application not submitted and fee not paid : If you haven’t paid your fee and haven’t submitted your application, there is a “Delete Application” option that will delete your current visa application.

Application not submitted but fee already paid : If you have already paid your fee and have not yet submitted your application, you can still delete your application but you may have to send a formal refund request in writing to the visa application center.

Application submitted, fee paid but haven’t given your biometrics : If you haven’t given your biometrics at VFS/BLS, you can cancel your application and request for a refund. The refunds take 4 weeks. 

Application submitted, fee paid, biometric given , and documents/passport already submitted: If you have already given your biometrics and submitted your documents/passport, you CANNOT cancel your visa application anymore. You can only WITHDRAW your visa application. You must email the visa application center a formal withdrawal request. Upon receipt of the withdrawal request, the visa application center will return/mail your passport back. Any visa fee and priority service fee paid are not refundable. 

IMPORTANT Even though UKVI says the refunds are processed in 4 weeks, it usually takes 8 weeks or even longer. There have been instances where applicants waited several weeks and some even gave up on their refunds. However, I have seen applicants having success in getting their refunds by reminding UKVI with phone calls or emails. It costs about $5 USD to email them, but it helps in getting your refund eventually. 

Withdraw your UK visa application

The UK visa application center keeps the passport for the entirety of the visa process, which could be 3 weeks or more. There may be emergencies where you need to have your passport with you. The only way to request your passport back is by formally withdrawing your visa application. 

If you withdraw your application, the visa fee and any priority service fee you have paid are NOT refundable.

To withdraw a visa application, you must submit a withdrawal request along with the reason for the withdrawal to the visa application center via email. It might take up to 72 hours for the consulate to locate your packet and send it back to you.

You must first call/email the UK Visas and Immigration mentioning your intention to withdraw your application. They will guide you through the process of withdrawing your application. Usually, the UK visa application withdrawal request should be a signed document with personal information including the GWF number. This document must be printed and signed. It must be scanned and emailed to the visa application center. Below is a sample withdrawal request letter.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I hereby request to withdraw my UK visa application. I understand that the visa fee is non-refundable. I also understand that my package may not be shipped for up to 72 hours.

Full Name of the Applicant: <name> GWF Number: <GWF number> Date of Birth: <date of birth> Nationality: <Nationality> Country of Residence: <Country of residence> Passport number: <Passport number> Type of Visa Applied: General Visit (up to 6 months) Biometric taken date:  <biometric date> Visa application centre’s address:  <address of the visa application center where you have submitted your documents> Contact number of the applicant: <Your phone number>

Priority Service Paid: <YES/NO> Priority Service Paid On: <Priority service purchased date>

Reason for Withdrawal: Emergency international travel has been scheduled. I need to have my passport in order to travel. Please return my passport as soon as possible. Thank you!

<Your signature here> Signed: <Your full name> Date: <date>

IMPORTANT Cancellation or withdrawal is NOT a refusal. It WILL NOT affect your future UK visa applications. You don’t need to mention it in your future UK visa applications either.

ENTERING AND LEAVING THE UK

United Kingdom UK Tourist Visa Requirements - UK Currency

Entering the UK by air

At the immigration, the officers may ask you questions about your trip, how long you plan to stay, your next destination, etc. You may be asked to show your return/onward ticket and your hotel booking. If you are traveling on a one-way ticket, you can use OnwardTicket to get proof of your onward ticket. 

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: The immigration officer at Heathrow Airport asked me to show my return/onward ticket. I had a print of my onward ticket, so quickly took it out and gave it to the immigration officer.

Get a proof of onward ticket for your trip from OnwardTicket

Leaving the UK by air

If you are flying out of Heathrow Airport, make sure to arrive early. The airport is huge and you may have to take a bus from the gate to the flight.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Frequently Asked Questions

What is GWF number in UK visa application ?

GWF reference number is the unique visa application number that was provided to you on your visa application submission. You must provide your GWF number when calling or emailing UK Visas and Immigration. Without the GWF number, UK Visas and Immigration will not be able to provide you with a status update on your visa application.

What to do if my UK visa application is refused?

If your UK visa application is refused, the first thing is to understand the  reasons for your UK visa refusal . If the reason is due to missing information, proof of funds or documentation, make sure to fix these the next time you apply for your UK visa.

Write a detailed cover letter explaining the reasons for your previous visa refusal, missing information/documentation and any additional information/documentation that you have provided in the new application. This will help the ECOs cut to the chase and focus on the new information/documentation.

There is no “appeal” for UK visa. So, re-apply for your UK visa by making sure you have the new information, proofs and documents that were lacking previously. You must pay the visa fee again as the fee paid for your previous application was non-refundable.

If you do not know the reason for your visa refusal/denial, give at least 6 months before you apply for the visa again. 

Can I get my UK visa application fee refund if denied?

No. The visa fee and any priority service fee paid are non-refundable if your visa application is denied. The visa fee is also non-refundable in incidents where the visa is approved for less number of days than requested.

I’m planning to visit the UK and Schengen countries on a single trip. Should I apply for my UK visa first or Schengen visa first?

If you plan to visit the UK and Schengen countries on a single trip, ALWAYS apply for your UK visa first. 

UKVI keeps the passport for the entirety of the visa process and there is no visa status tracking. Calls and emails to customer service are charged. Even if you pay and contact, you will usually get a canned response. If your UK visa is refused, there is no “appeal”. You can only re-apply, which means you have to repeat the entire process again.

On the other hand, the Schengen visa application process is much streamlined. There is application tracking, customer service and appeal. 

I highly recommend applying for your UK visa first and get done with it. After that, apply for your Schengen visa. 

When applying for your UK visa, show a “UK-only” itinerary for your UK visa. This eliminates the need for submitting your Schengen visa, flights in/out of the Schengen region, etc. 

United Kingdom UK Tourist Visa Requirements - London Tower Bridge

The UK tourist visa requirements are clear and easy to understand. But, the visa application process is long and expensive. Apply at least 2 months in advance, and follow all the proper steps and documentation. Tourist visas are usually multiple-entry with 6 months validity.

WRITTEN BY THIRUMAL MOTATI

Thirumal Motati

Thirumal Motati is an expert in tourist visa matters. He has been traveling the world on tourist visas for more than a decade. With his expertise, he has obtained several tourist visas, including the most strenuous ones such as the US, UK, Canada, and Schengen, some of which were granted multiple times. He has also set foot inside US consulates on numerous occasions. Mr. Motati has uncovered the secrets to successful visa applications. His guidance has enabled countless individuals to obtain their visas and fulfill their travel dreams. His statements have been mentioned in publications like Yahoo, BBC, The Hindu, and Travel Zoo.

PLAN YOUR TRAVEL WITH VISA TRAVELER

I highly recommend using these websites to plan your trip. I use these websites myself to apply for my visas, book my flights and hotels and purchase my travel insurance.

01. Apply for your visa

Get a verifiable flight itinerary for your visa application from DummyTicket247 . DummyTicket247 is a flight search engine to search and book flight itineraries for visas instantly. These flight itineraries are guaranteed to be valid for 2 weeks and work for all visa applications.

02. Book your fight

Find the cheapest flight tickets using Skyscanner . Skyscanner includes all budget airlines and you are guaranteed to find the cheapest flight to your destination.

03. Book your hotel

Book your hotel from Booking.com . Booking.com has pretty much every hotel, hostel and guesthouse from every destination.

04. Get your onward ticket

If traveling on a one-way ticket, use BestOnwardTicket to get proof of onward ticket for just $12, valid for 48 hours.

05. Purchase your insurance

Purchase travel medical insurance for your trip from SafetyWing . Insurance from SafetyWing covers COVID-19 and also comes with a visa letter which you can use for your visas.

Need more? Check out my travel resources page  for the best websites to plan your trip.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER We are not affiliated with immigration, embassies or governments of any country. The content in this article is for educational and general informational purposes only, and shall not be understood or construed as, visa, immigration or legal advice. Your use of information provided in this article is solely at your own risk and you expressly agree not to rely upon any information contained in this article as a substitute for professional visa or immigration advice. Under no circumstance shall be held liable or responsible for any errors or omissions in this article or for any damage you may suffer in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the information in this article. Please refer to our full disclaimer for further information.

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please refer to our full disclosure for further information.

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Visitor Visa

Visa Waiver Program

Travel Without a Visa

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to travel to the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1 visa), for tourism (B-2 visa), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2 visa).

Here are some examples of activities permitted with a visitor visa:

Business (B-1)

  • Consult with business associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • Settle an estate
  • Negotiate a contract

Tourism (B-2)

  • Vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Travel Purposes Not Permitted On Visitor Visas

These are some examples of activities that require different categories of visas and cannot be done while on a visitor visa:

  • Paid performances, or any professional performance before a paying audience
  • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • Work as foreign press, in radio, film, print journalism, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United States

Birth tourism (travel for the primary purpose of giving birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for their child) is not permissible on a visitor visa.

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the  U.S. Embassy or Consulate website .

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160 . You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must meet the Photograph Requirements .

Schedule an Interview

Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.

You should generally schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the  U.S. Embassy or Consulate  in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be present but aware that in some cases it may be more difficult to demostrate your qualifications for a visa outside of the country where you live.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply: 

Appointment Wait Time

Check the estimated wait time for a nonimmigrant visa interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Note:  Please check the individual Embassy or Consulate website to determine if your case is eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview.

Applicants scheduling visa appointments in a location different from their place of residence should check post websites for nonresident wait times.

Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

Prepare for your interview.

  • Fees - Pay the non-refundable visa application fee , if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee

  • Review the instructions available on the website of the  U.S. Embassy or Consulate  where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements ). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements .

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip,
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.   

Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.

Note:  Visa applicants must qualify based on their ties abroad/to their home country, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.

Attend Your Visa Interview

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.  Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further  administrative processing .  The consular officer will inform you if this required.

After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.  Review the  visa processing times  to learn more.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website .

Extending Your Stay

See  Extend Your Stay  on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94. 

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in being  out of status . Under U.S. law, visas of individuals who are out of status are automatically voided ( Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ).  Any multiple entry visa that was voided due to being out of status will not be valid for future entries into the United States. 

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas in the future. Review  Visa Denials  and  Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws  to learn more.

Change of Status

If your plans change while in the United States (for example, you marry a U.S. citizen or receive an offer of employment), you may be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status to another category through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). See  Change My Nonimmigrant Status  on the USCIS website to learn more.

While you are in the United States, receiving a change of status from USCIS does not require you to apply for a new visa.  However, once you depart the United States you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the appropriate category for your travel.

Additional Information

  • An individual on a visitor visa (B1/B2) is not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.
  • There is no guarantee you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • A valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States. 

Travel for Medical Treatment

If you are seeking medical treatment in the United States, the consular officer may ask for further documents at your visa interview, which may include:

  • Medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason you need treatment in the United States.
  • Letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States, stating they are willing to treat your specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
  • Proof that your transportation, medical, and living expenses in the United States will be paid. This may be in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns (either yours or the person or organization paying for your treatment).

Visitor Visas for Personal or Domestic Employees (B-1)

You may apply for a B-1 visitor visa to work in the United States as a personal or domestic employee for your employer in limited situations. You may for a visitor visa as a domestic employee if, among other requirements, your employer is:

  • A U.S. citizen who has a permanent home or is stationed in a foreign country, but is visiting or is assigned to the United States temporarily; or
  • A foreign citizen who is in the United States on one of the following nonimmigrant visa categories:  B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q or TN.

Learn more about your rights in the United States and protection available to you by reading the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet.

Visa Renewal

Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply , above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver (IW) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if IW is available and if you qualify.

Do I need a visa if I have an ABTC?

Yes, you will still need a visa to travel to the United States, unless you qualify for the  Visa Waiver Program . Having an Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC) does not change visa requirements, your visa status, or the visa process for travel to the United States.

How can I use my ABTC when I apply for my visa?

If you have an Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC), you might be able to schedule an expedited visa interview appointment. Review the instructions for scheduling expedited appointments on the website of the  embassy or consulate  where you will apply. 

Visa Annotations for Certain Maritime Industry Workers

Certain foreign maritime workers are eligible to apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) once in the U.S. If you, as a maritime industry worker, will perform services in secure port areas, your visa must be annotated “TWIC Letter Received.” Workers whose visas are not annotated will not be permitted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to apply for a TWIC.

In order for your visa to be annotated, you must obtain a letter from your employer explaining the need for a TWIC and that you are a potential TWIC applicant. See a template example of this letter. You must present this letter when you apply for the B-1 visa. You must meet all other eligibility requirements for a B-1 visa. 

Complete information about the TWIC program is available on TSA’s website at  https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic .

Visa Denial and Ineligibility

Review  Visa Denials  for detailed information about visa ineligibilities, denials and waivers.

I was refused a visa, under Section 214(b). May I reapply?

Yes, if you feel circumstances have changed regarding your application. Review  Visa Denials  to learn more.

Misrepresentation or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

Review  Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws .

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda generally do not require visas to enter the United States, for visit, tourism and temporary business travel purposes. For more information see  U.S. Embassy Ottawa website ,  U.S. Consulate Hamilton website  and  CBP website .

Additional resources for Canadian visitors to the United States can be found on the U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites in Canada.

Citizens of China

In accordance with the agreement signed between the United States and China to extend visa validity, beginning on November 29, 2016, Chinese citizens with 10-year B1, B2 or B1/B2 visas in Peoples’ Republic of China passports will be required to update their biographical and other information from their visa application via a website every two years, or upon getting a new passport or B1, B2, or B1/B2 visa, whichever occurs first.  This mechanism is called EVUS - Electronic Visa Update System.

The EVUS website is now open to the public for enrollments at www.EVUS.gov .  CBP will not collect a fee for EVUS enrollment at this time. CBP anticipates the eventual implementation of an EVUS enrollment fee, but does not have a time frame. Until the implementation of a fee, travelers can enroll in EVUS without charge.  The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will keep visa holders informed of new information throughout the year. For further information, please visit  www.cbp.gov/EVUS .‎

根据美中双方签署的延长签证有效期的协议,自2016年11月29日起,凡持有10 年 期B1,B2 或 B1/B2签证的中华人民共和国护照持有人需要每两年或在获取新护照或最长有效期的B1、B2或B1/B2签证时时(以先到者为准),通过网站更新他们签证申请上的个人资料及其它信息。这个机制我们称之为EVUS –签证更新电子系统。

EVUS的登记网站 www.EVUS.gov 现已开放接受登记。美国海关和边境保护局(CBP)目前不会收取登记费用。美国海关和边境保护局预期EVUS登记收费最终会实施,但目前尚未落实执行时间。在收费实施前,旅客可以免费完成EVUS登记。美国国土安全部海关和边境保护局将在今年及时向签证持有人公布最新的信息。获取更多的信息,请访问 www.cbp.gov/EVUS 。

Citizens of Mexico

Citizens and permanent residents of Mexico generally must have a nonimmigrant visa or Border Crossing Card (also known as a "Laser Visa"). For ease of travel, the B-1/B-2 and the Border Crossing Card have been combined into one document (DSP-150). Select  Border Crossing Card  to learn more about this card.

Please visit  U.S. Embassy or Consulate  websites for more information regarding applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Mexico.

Further Questions

  • Case-Specific Questions - Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your visa application for status information. Select  U.S. Embassy or Consulate  for contact information.
  • General Questions - review  Contact Us .

Visa Waiver Program  (VWP)

Tourist or business travelers who are citizens of participating countries may be eligible to visit the United States without a visa. Visits must be 90 days or less, and travelers must meet all requirements.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda generally do not need visas for tourism and visits.

More Information

A-Z Index Legal Rights & Protections Lost/Stolen Travel Documents Denials Fraud Warning Visa Expiration Date Automatic Revalidation Nonimmigrants in the United States–Applying for Visas in Canada or Mexico Visa Applicants - State Sponsors of Terrorism Border Security/Safety Find a U.S. Embassy or Consulate Customer Service Statement

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U.S. Travelers Will Soon Have to Pay to Enter the U.K.

By Sarah James

An elevated view of the London skyline  looking east to west

U.S. visitors—as well as visitors from Europe , Australia and Canada —will soon be required to apply for permission to enter the U.K. through a new scheme known as Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA).

The U.K. government is in the process of fully digitizing U.K. borders by the end of 2025—and the ETA scheme will play its part, allowing “individuals, and carriers, with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel to the U.K.,” the government said.

The scheme will be in place by the end of this year (2023), and visitors will be required to fill out an online application granting them permission to travel. There will be a small fee included in the application—similar to how the U.S.'s own ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) system works for U.K. travelers.

Here's everything we know.

Will I need a visa to enter the U.K.?

This isn't technically a visa—the ETA system will grant travelers permission to enter the country. You will need to apply for an ETA prior to arrival. If you haven't received permission to travel before arrival, you may get fined.

West London UK

Travelers from the U.S. will soon need to apply for permission to enter the U.K.

How long will it take to get an ETA?

Travelers will be advised to apply for an ETA at least a few days before their journey. Approval should be granted within 72 hours of application.

How long will an ETA last?

After your ETA has been approved, visitors will be granted permission to stay in the U.K. for six months, whether for business or tourism reasons.

The U.K. government is yet to confirm how often visitors will need to apply for a new ETA, but it's likely to be valid for two years—meaning there's no need to apply for a new one every time you visit within the valid time period.

Peak District National Park Derbyshire UK

Visitors with valid ETAs can stay—and travel—in U.K. for up to six months.

How much will an ETA cost?

We don't know yet—but the government has said that the cost will be small. The EU implemented a similar system in 2022, which costs €7. A U.S. ESTA, meanwhile, costs $21.

Who will need to apply for an ETA?

The full list of nations included hasn't been announced yet. We do know that U.S. citizens who don't hold a visa will need to apply for an ETA, as will other visa-exempt nations such as Canada and Australia. European countries are likely to be included, too.  Those traveling from nationalities without a visa-free agreement with the UK will still need to apply for another applicable type of UK visa.

What will I need to apply for an ETA?

You'll need a valid passport , an email address to register with, and to supply the details of your travel, as well as a valid debit or credit card to pay any fees to apply.

To keep up to date with the latest information on the ETA scheme, check the official website for more details as they become available.

This article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveller U.K.  

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Visiting the UK Will Soon Require an Online Application With a Fee — What to Know

The UK's Electronic Travel Authorisation will be fully rolled out by the end of 2023.

uk tourist visa from usa fee

Travelers to the United Kingdom will soon have to apply in advance and pay to enter the country when the Electronic Travel Authorisation visa waiver goes into effect later this year.

The UK’s ETA system, which will be fully rolled out by the end of 2023, will require all non-visa foreign visitors (including those from the United States) to apply online in advance of coming, according to the government’s ETA website . 

The rollout of the ETA is part of the UK’s effort to fully digitize its borders by 2025.

“Our number one priority is the security of the UK border and by launching ETAs we can ensure that everyone wishing to travel to the UK has permission to do so in advance of travel and refuse those who pose a threat,” the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement .

To apply, travelers will need to provide personal details, passport information, and security information. Applications will then be processed automatically and travelers should expect a response typically within 48 to 72 hours.

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

The cost for the application was not immediately clear and was expected to be announced at a later date.

The ETA will first be rolled out to several Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates , Qatar , Bahrain, and more.

The rollout of the ETA comes as Europe plans to implement its new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (or ETIAS) in November. That authorization will include a €7 fee and apply to foreign visitors 18 to 70 years old.

In the U.S., visitors must also apply for a similar authorization before coming: the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (or ESTA), which is available to travelers from countries granted a Visa Waiver Program. Last year, the fee for ESTA increased from $14 to $21, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection .

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Sasha Brady

Jun 15, 2023 • 4 min read

uk tourist visa from usa fee

The UK is introducing a pre-travel authorization system © Getty Images

If you have plans to travel to any country within the UK ( England , Scotland , Wales or Northern Ireland ), you'll need to pay an entry fee starting in 2024.

The new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) , as it's called, will cost about £10 ($12.50 )  and will be fully implemented at the end of 2024 as the UK continues to digitalize its border control systems. The ETA will require some visitors to apply for an electronic pass to enter the UK for tourism, short-term business, transit and other common travel purposes.

Close up shot of a mid adult woman holding her travel documents, passport and sunglasses in the airport

It's a completely electronic system, based on the  United States' ESTA system , so you won't have to get bogged down on paperwork. Just as British travelers need to sign up for ESTA online before entering the US, Americans will likely be required to do the same for travel to the UK. 

So, how will the ETA work when it's implemented? It's not yet clear exactly what screening criteria will be used to grant an ETA but passengers will more than likely be asked to register passport information and answer a series of security questions online to determine eligibility.

Assuming you are successful, you will be issued with a pass which, combined with your passport, entitles you to visit the UK for a specific period.

Do you need a visa to go to the United Kingdom?

Here's what we know so far.

Who will need an ETA to enter the UK?

According to the government, the ETA applies to people who are eligible to travel to the UK without a visa. So that is anyone arriving for tourism purposes, visiting family or friends, or traveling to the UK for business or study for up to six months. It also applies to people eligible for the Creative Worker visa concession  and anyone transiting through the UK .

The UK is rolling out the new system in phases. Starting November 15, it will apply to visitors from Qatar. Then from February 22, 2024, it will be extended to citizens from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The UK government has not listed additional countries included in the scheme but it is expected to be applied to all foreign visitors who currently have visa-free access to the UK, such as European Union citizens and people from the US, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Argentina, Israel, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and more before the end of 2024.

Irish citizens are excluded from the ETA requirement due to the Common Travel Agreement between the UK and Ireland.

Is the ETA a visa?

No. Nationals from some countries will still be required to apply for a visa and visa applications will continue to operate as before. The ETA is a pre-authorization system for travel that will apply to people from countries that currently have visa-free travel agreements with the UK. 

"The scheme will give the UK more control of our borders, allowing us to block threats from entering the UK while also providing individuals and carriers with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel to the UK," the government stated.

How much will it cost to apply?

It will cost £10 to apply, which works out to about $12.50 or €8.50.

How soon before traveling should I apply for my ETA?

The ETA will take up to 72 hours to be approved. ETAs will be valid for visa-free travel for up to six months in the UK.

How long will my ETA be valid for?

Two years — so you'll need to reapply every two years for renewed access to the UK or whenever your passport expires.

Will my ETA grant me access to European countries?

No, the ETA is valid for entry to the UK only. If you are a non-EU citizen and you're eligible to visit the European Schengen Zone without a visa for a short-term stay, you'll soon need to apply for a similar permit. That's called an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) and it is expected to be rolled out early next year. That one will cost about €7 (or $7.50). As the UK is no longer part of the EU, British travelers will also have to apply for an ETIAS to travel to much of Europe when the new system is in place. 

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Pay for entry: US travelers will soon have to pay a fee to enter the United Kingdom

uk tourist visa from usa fee

U.S. citizens will soon have to apply for permission before their United Kingdom trips and pay a small fee to enter as part of the country's upcoming Electronic Travel Authorization scheme.

The  travel fee is meant to secure the U.K.'s borders by giving them more accurate data on who is passing through, according to a U.K. official for the British Consulate General. The move is part of the U.K.'s plan to fully digitize its borders by 2025. 

"The scheme will give the U.K. more control of our borders, allowing us to block threats from entering the U.K., whilst also providing individuals, and carriers, with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel to the U.K.," according to the U.K. government website .

The scheme is set to be fully implemented by the end of 2023, the "permission to travel" requirement  will apply to travelers visiting or transiting the U.K. without a visa or special immigration status – including visa-free nationalities like the United States. However, being granted permission to travel through the authorization program is not a regular visa.

Travel woes: Why the visa process could be 'discouraging visitors' and keeping families apart

Learn more: Best travel insurance

Other countries already have an authorization scheme process in place. In 2022, the U.S. implemented  the requirement for certain visitors, which costs them $21. The European Union is also looking to create an authorization scheme.

Here's what we know so far about the U.K.'s upcoming authorization scheme: 

How will the process work?

The new scheme shouldn't be too much of a burden on your trip planning. The application process is expected to be quick and easy, according to officials. 

The application process can be done online in a few minutes. Travelers need to make sure they finish the process "a few days before (their) departure to the U.K." To apply, people will need a valid passport, travel details, a valid email address and a credit or debit card for online payment. 

The typical process time for approval will be between 48 and 72 hours. Any errors in your application could delay its processing time or result in a rejection.

Once approved, you'll be able to stay in the U.K. for business or tourism reasons for up to six months. Short-term study and medical treatment are also valid purposes. 

Is Europe cheap to travel to now?: It can be with these low-cost airlines.

Trouble getting a visa?: New website highlights travelers affected by 'unconscionable' wait times

Who will the authorization scheme  apply to?

Non-visa nationals will need to apply for the new program. The confirmed list of countries will be announced at a later time but it's expected to include:

  • The European Union.
  • Other European countries like Norway, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Vatican City and Monaco.
  • Visa-exempt nations like Australia, Canada and the United States.

How much will it cost?

According to officials, the fee will be small but the exact cost has yet to be announced .

How long will it be valid? Do I have to apply for each trip?

The authorization will likely be valid for two years  and allow multiple trips to the U.K. 

What happens if I don't apply?

Permission will be confirmed prior to travel and carriers will be checking people's forms, either a printed document or digitally. Showing up without permission to travel may result in a penalty charge. 

The Nationality and Borders Bill will also make it a criminal offense if someone uses deception to try to get authorization. 

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How to apply for or renew a U.S. tourist visa

If you visit the U.S. for tourism or business, you may need a visitor visa, also known as a tourist visa. Learn how to get and renew this type of nonimmigrant visa.

Find out if you need a visa to visit the U.S.

Check if your country participates in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) . If it does, you can get a waiver and will not need a visa. If you do not see your country listed, you will need a visitor visa.

Visitor (tourist) visas and other travel documents for entering the U.S.

The visitor visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa for people who wish to temporarily enter the U.S. There are two categories:

  • B-1 for business travel
  • B-2 for tourism and medical treatment

Learn about B-1 and B-2 visas , including:

  • Reasons you would need each type of visitor visa
  • How to apply
  • What documents you will need
  • Application fees
  • How to prepare for your interview at your U.S. embassy or consulate

Along with your visa, you must bring a passport issued by your country of citizenship. When you arrive at your port of entry into the U.S., officials will issue you a Form I-94, which electronically records your arrival and departure dates. Learn more about Form I-94.

How to renew a visitor visa

The process to renew a visitor visa is the same as getting one for the first time. Follow the process to apply for a visitor visa from the Department of State.

Find the contact information for your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and contact them for visa renewal information.

Understand expiration dates for visas and I-94 forms

  • The date you must depart the U.S. will be shown on your Form I-94. This date is determined by the Customs and Border Protection officer when you arrive at the port-of-entry into the U.S. 
  • Only diplomatic visa holders and their dependents can renew their visas while they are in the U.S.

LAST UPDATED: May 31, 2024

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Though credit cards with annual fees can be worth it, cardholders may sometimes struggle to maximize usage to outweigh the cost. If you're uncomfortable with a yearly fee or use your credit card only occasionally, a no-annual-fee card is a smart choice.

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Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards for June 2024:

  • Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card : Best overall
  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card : Best for dining & entertainment with no annual fee
  • Citi Custom Cash® Card : Best for automatic custom category
  • Discover it® Cash Back : Best for rotating bonus categories
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card : Best for occasional travelers
  • Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card : Best overall cash back card with no annual fee
  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card : Best for shopping
  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card : Best for credit builders
  • Bilt Mastercard® : Best for renters
  • Citi Double Cash® Card : Best for cash back after intro APR
  • Bank of America Unlimited® Cash Rewards Credit Card : Best for Bank of America customers
  • Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card : Best for transit and commuting

Are no-annual-fee credit cards worth it?

Expert advice for no-annual-fee cards.

  • How we assess the best non-annual-fee cards

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  • Frequently asked questions

Credit range

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

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How do we choose the best overall card?

In determining which cards were worthy of “Best Overall” distinction on marketplace pages, our editorial team reviewed the cards currently available on each page and narrowed the list of candidates to only those cards that either:

  • A) had received a minimum 4.0-star overall rating in their primary scoring category based on our proprietary card rating methodology , or 
  • B) were currently the highest-rated card on the page. 

We then surveyed an internal panel of expert credit card writers and editors as to which card from the candidate list was most deserving of a “Best Overall” distinction. The winner was selected based on popular vote.

Best overall

Image of Wells Fargo Active Cash&#174; Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Bankrate score

Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards.

Intro offer

Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Rewards rate

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Regular APR

  • 2% Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Why it’s the best overall: “My journey with this card has been nothing short of transformative. It’s not only helped me earn rewards, but also encouraged me to take more control of my finances. Its generous cash rewards and low cost make it easy to optimize my everyday spending as I continue to build strong credit history.” — Re’Dreyona Walker , Editor, Credit Cards What we love: On top of a flat rate of 2 percent cash rewards and no annual fee, this card comes with plenty of perks, including an intro APR on both qualifying balance transfers and purchases, cellphone protection and select Visa Signature® privileges. Learn more: Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash worth it? Alternatives: For rewards seekers who want to earn more than 2 percent back in select categories, the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature Card could give more overall value in key spending categories.

  • It earns unlimited 2 percent cash rewards, which won’t expire as long as you keep your account open and in good standing.
  • The card has a solid bonus for a card with no annual fee, and the low spending requirement means it's easy to earn.
  • You have to be a Wells Fargo customer to enjoy some of the best redemption perks, such as withdrawing your cash rewards at a Wells Fargo ATM or direct deposit in a checking account.
  • It charges a 3 percent foreign conversion fee, which makes the card an expensive choice for spending abroad.
  • Select "Apply Now" to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • No categories to track or remember and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • Find tickets to top sports and entertainment events, book travel, make dinner reservations and more with your complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature® Concierge.
  • Up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.

Best for dining & entertainment

Image of Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

8% Cash Back on Capital One Entertainment purchases 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply) 3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®) 1% Cash Back on all other purchases

  • 8% 8% Cash Back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • 5% 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
  • 3% 3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®)
  • 1% 1% Cash Back on all other purchases

What we love: You can earn cash back on food and fun without paying an annual fee. And since the card has a great cash back rate on groceries (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®) and dining out, you don’t have to choose favorites. A terrific pick if you love to dine out and spend on entertainment. Learn more: Is the Capital One SavorOne worth it? Alternatives: People who want a card with more flexibility in cash back earnings and reward redemption should consider the Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card , which comes with an unlimited Cashback Match welcome offer, matching all the cashback you earn at the end of your first year.

  • This card has higher rewards rates and more bonus category variety than many no-annual-fee cards.
  • Benefits include inside access to premium dining, entertainment and sports experiences.
  • Popular superstores like Target and Walmart aren’t included in the bonus rewards rate on grocery store purchases.
  • The recommended credit requirements are a bit high, putting this card out of reach for many people.
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases
  • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Best for automatic custom category

Image of Citi Custom Cash&reg; Card

Citi Custom Cash® Card

Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
  • 4% Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

What we love: If you’ve hesitated to commit to a few cash back categories, the Citi Custom Cash Card offers a unique solution. You’ll automatically earn bonus cash back in your top spending category from a list of 10 each month. This makes it a great choice if you want to earn a high cash back rate without being limited to one or two category options. Learn more: Is the Citi Custom Cash worth it? Alternatives: If you want to earn extra rewards in multiple categories at once, you may be better off with the various rotating categories the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers.

  • The eligible bonus categories include everyday expenses, like gas stations and grocery stores.
  • You can redeem points for a few different options, like checks, statement credits and travel.
  • Your bonus category cash back is subject to a cap (up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent).
  • There’s a high balance transfer fee of 5 percent of the transferred balance or $5 (whichever is greater).
  • Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash® Card account per person.

Best for rotating bonus categories

Image of Discover it&#174; Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match for all new cardmembers – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

What we love: Spending in Discover’s rotating cash back categories gets you a great cash back rate on key purchases, and Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. This card is a great choice if you like to strategize spending, track categories and maximize your card rewards.  Learn more: Is the Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card worth it? Alternatives: Flat-rate cash rewards cards such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card may be better if you want a straightforward rewards program.

  • Discover has many consumer-friendly card terms, including no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
  • You can redeem the rewards you earn at any time for any amount.
  • Discover doesn’t release its bonus categories a year in advance anymore, making it more difficult to maximize cash back.
  • There’s a spending cap each quarter for the 5 percent cash back and enrollment is required (up to $1,500, then 1 percent).
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 18.24% to 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms and conditions apply.

Best for occasional travelers

Image of Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

We calculate this number by multiplying the card's intro offer by Bankrate's valuation of this issuer's rewards program , showing you how much your points or miles are worth in dollars.

5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

1.25 Miles - 5 Miles

  • 5 Miles 5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 1.25 Miles 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

What we love: If you say “yes” to travel but “no” to annual fees, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card might be the card you want for your next trip. You can use your Capital One miles to book hotels, flights and rental cars through Capital One’s website. You can also  redeem your miles as a statement credit to cover travel purchases you make. Its simplicity makes it a great choice for beginner or occasional travelers. Learn more: Is the Capital One VentureOne Card worth it? Alternatives: If you’re a frequent traveler who wants to maximize your rewards earnings and don’t mind paying an annual fee, you should consider Chase Sapphire Preferred® .

  • This card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and has no annual fee, making it an inexpensive option to use both at home and abroad.
  • You have multiple options to redeem your miles, including potentially boosting points by transferring your miles to travel partners.
  • None of the large U.S. airlines are on the current list of partner airlines. Other issuers’ travel partners typically include at least a few U.S. airlines.
  • Redeeming miles for statement credits or gift cards can reduce mile value by up to 50 percent.
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies

Best overall cash back card with no annual fee

Image of Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

  • 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

What we love: Cash back first-timers seeking a simple no-annual-fee card will find the Quicksilver Cash Rewards a great fit. It checks many of the boxes for a great cash back card: a straightforward rewards program, no annual fee, an easily attainable sign-up bonus and more. Learn more: I s the Quicksilver Cash Rewards worth it? Alternatives: For people who'd rather focus their spending on a few categories, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card could provide higher cash back earning potential overall. 

  • Your rewards don’t expire for the life of the account and it has solid shopping and travel protections included.
  • This card is a good option for financing large purchases with its intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • You may be able to earn more rewards with other flat-rate or bonus category cash back credit cards.
  • This card has few noteworthy benefits — other Capital One cards may have better perks for you to take advantage of.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy up to 6 months of complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn

Best for shopping

Image of Bank of America&#174; Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases). Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases). Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

  • 3% Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • 2% Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

What we love: This card offers a nice mix of bonus categories, making it easy to earn rewards in several common spending categories without juggling multiple cards or paying an annual fee. These features make it a great fit for cardholders who want to earn rewards on both everyday purchases and extras like online shopping and travel. Learn more: Is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card worth it? Alternatives: If you like the flexibility this card offers but don’t think you’ll make the most of its 3 percent and 2 percent categories simultaneously, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a worthy alternative that offers 5 percent back in your top spending category each billing cycle (up to $500 per billing cycle, then 1 percent).

  • It offers a terrific mix of value and flexibility since you can both choose your own bonus category and enjoy a flat rewards rate at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
  • The Preferred Rewards® program lets you qualify for a rewards rate up to 75 percent higher with eligible Bank of America savings or Merrill investment account balances.
  • The combined spending cap restricts cash back earnings in your 2 and 3 percent categories to $1,500 per quarter.
  • Though its welcome offer is generous, it requires twice as much spending as some competing offers.
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
  • Choose 3% cash back on gas and EV charging station, online shopping/cable/internet/phone plan/streaming, dining, travel, drug store/pharmacy or home improvement/furnishings purchases.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn 3.75%-5.25% cash back on purchases in your choice category.
  • No annual fee and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Best for credit builders

Image of Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Intro offer is not available for this Capital One credit card.

What we love: This no-frills credit card is a good option for people with fair credit who can’t yet qualify for a rewards or zero-percent interest credit card. It’s also a solid option for people who fear they might overspend with a card that offers rewards. Learn more: Why I love the Capital One Platinum Card Alternatives: If you don’t mind paying a small annual fee, cards for fair credit like the Capital One Quicksilver One Cash Rewards can reward you with solid cash back for using your card responsibly.

  • You could feasibly qualify for this card with a FICO score as low as 580.
  • The card charges no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, solidifying it as a flexible, low-cost card option.
  • There is no welcome offer or intro APR offer on this card, reducing its up-front value compared to other no-annual-fee cards.
  • The regular APR on this card is among the highest on the market, so carrying a balance could be expensive.
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you

Best for renters

Image of Bilt Mastercard&#174;

Bilt Mastercard®

Intro offer is not available for this Wells Fargo credit card.

3x points on dining 2x points on travel 1x points on other purchases Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

1X Points - 3X Points

  • 3X Points 3x points on dining
  • 2X Points 2x points on travel
  • 1X Points 1x points on other purchases
  • 1X Points Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

What we love: Along with its savings on rent payment processing fees, this card offers exceptionally high-value flexible travel rewards for a no-annual-fee card. This makes it a natural fit for renters who plan to redeem their rewards for travel, especially those who already have a card that earns rewards on everyday purchases like groceries and gas. Alternatives: If you don’t see yourself renting long term, but still want to earn rewards on travel and dining, a flexible no-annual-fee travel card like the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card could be a better fit. Though its rewards aren’t as valuable as the Bilt card’s, the Autograph card offers a wider range of everyday bonus categories, including travel, transit, restaurants, gas and more. 

  • This is the only card that earns bonus rewards on rent and helps you avoid the transaction fees that typically come with paying rent with a card.
  • Our valuations estimate that Bilt points are worth 2.1 cents each if you redeem for travel through Bilt — more value than you’ll get with most no-annual-fee travel cards.
  • It doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus. Most no-annual-fee rewards cards offer a sign-up bonus of at least $200 back after you meet a spending requirement.
  • You must make at least five purchases each statement period to earn points.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year.
  • 2x points on travel.
  • 3x points on dining.
  • 1x points on other purchases.
  • Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period.
  • When renting at a Bilt Alliance property, you can choose to have your rent payments automatically reported by Bilt to the three major credit bureaus each month; Experian™, TransUnion™, and Equifax™.

Best for cash back after intro APR

Image of Citi Double Cash&reg; Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

  • 1% Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • 5% Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

What we love: With no bonus categories or annual fee to worry about and a solid cash back rate, this card can be a valuable, stress-free addition to most wallets. It’s a particularly great choice if you want a card that can provide value after the intro APR ends.  Learn more: Is the Citi Double Cash Card worth it? Alternatives: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® might be a better choice for people looking for more lucrative cash back rewards thanks to the card’s additional 5 percent earning categories and ability to pool points with other Chase cards. 

  • The card sports a longer-than-average intro APR offer for balance transfers, which is relatively rare on a cash back credit card.
  • Holding a Citi card grants you access to Citi entertainment perks, which include presale tickets and other popular events.
  • Its introductory APR offer doesn’t extend to purchases.
  • This card charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, which may be expensive during international travel.
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

Best for Bank of America customers

Image of Bank of America&reg; Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

What we love: Bank of America Preferred Rewards members with qualifying account balances can tap into this card’s full potential and earn one of the highest flat cash back rates on the market. But even if you’re not a Preferred Rewards member, this card’s combination of an intro APR, an easy-to-earn welcome offer and a solid cash back rate all for no annual fee means it delivers a sizable value for the cost. Learn more: Is the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card worth it? Alternatives: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has the same base flat cash back rate but also comes with bonus rates in key, everyday categories.

  • The card offers great value thanks to its solid rewards, welcome offer and intro APR period.
  • Bank of America Preferred Rewards® members with qualifying balances can boost their cash rewards earnings by 25 to 75 percent.
  • There are other cards on the market with a longer intro APR period.
  • You can find higher cash back rates on other cards if you don’t have a qualifying balance with Bank of America or Merrill Edge.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn 1.87%-2.62% cash back on every purchase with Preferred Rewards.
  • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.

Best for transit and commuting

Image of Wells Fargo Autograph&#8480; Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.

Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Earn 1X points on other purchases

  • 3X Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans.
  • 1X Earn 1X points on other purchases

What we love: This Wells Fargo card features an expansive layout of spending categories with which you can earn rewards at competitive rates without spending caps. It’s a good choice for credit card newbies and minimalists alike who want a straightforward rewards plan without the hassle of tracking rotating categories. Learn more: Is the Wells Fargo Autograph worth it? Alternatives: The one key spending category missing from the Wells Fargo Autograph is groceries or supermarket purchases. Although it’s a great card for travel, dining, streaming and gas, it lacks everyday categories that you can find on a card like The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express .

  • You can earn points in unique spending categories that cards on the market don’t include.
  • It has a solid intro APR on purchases so you have extra time to finance a larger purchase without added interest costs.
  • The welcome offer, though generous, has a required spend that may be steep for many people.
  • Its points value is weak compared to other issuers’ travel rewards programs.
  • Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR thereafter.
  • Redeem your rewards points for travel, gift cards, or statement credits. Or shop at millions of online stores and redeem your rewards when you check out with PayPal.

Compare the best credit cards with no annual fee

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How we assess the best no-annual-fee cards

A credit card’s annual fee is generally worth it when the benefits of the card equal or outweigh the cost. Many cards with annual fees include perks that offset the annual fee, but no-annual-fee cards can still be valuable.

However, the latest J.D. Power credit card customer satisfaction study finds that cardholders who have a credit card with a $100 or higher annual fee are more satisfied with their card benefits and rewards than cardholders with a no-annual-fee card on average. It’s important to calculate whether these premium features are worth the price tag based on your typical annual expenses and whether you’ll be able to take full advantage of the perks consistently. Otherwise, a premium card could be a money pit.

For example, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card could be a worthwhile step up from the no-annual-fee Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card if you can utilize the annual credits toward airline incidental costs like seat upgrades, in-flight services and baggage fees. Otherwise, the no-annual-fee version could easily be the better choice.

*Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data , an assumed $22,500 yearly spend and a 1-cent point redemption value .

Pros and cons of no-annual-fee credit cards

No-annual-fee credit cards are one of the more forgiving credit card options available since you don’t need to worry about making up for a yearly cost just to hold the card. However, you should weigh the benefits and drawbacks before applying.

Affordability with rewards opportunity : You don’t have to pay a premium to get rewards or useful benefits with the best no-annual-fee credit cards.

No planning to cover the cost of an annual fee : If your card carries an annual fee, you have to justify the cost through rewards spending or taking advantage of benefits. A $0 annual fee won’t eat into your hard-earned rewards value.

Better zero-interest offers: No-annual-fee cards are better for settling debt since they tend to offer 0 percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers while premium cards typically don’t have these offers.

Small sign-up bonuses : If the card has a sign-up bonus at all, it’s typically smaller than the offers associated with some premium cards.

Rewards aren’t usually as valuable: No-annual-fee credit cards usually have lower rewards rates and fewer eye-catching perks than their premium counterparts.

The card may carry other fees: No-annual-fee cards may not be the most cost-effective option depending on your needs. Some of these cards may charge foreign transaction fees or other fees, so it’s key to review a card’s terms before ruling it out.

No-annual-fee credit cards tend to be less complex than cards with annual fees, though there are still a few tricks to choosing the best option for you and getting the most out of it. 

How to choose a no-annual-fee credit card

No-annual-fee cards can be helpful for anyone, from prospective first-time cardholders to savvy rewards strategists, so we have a few specific pointers to help you narrow down your best choices from the sea of options on the market.

Understand your spending habits

Recognizing your spending habits is key to figuring out which no-annual-fee card will be most beneficial for you. Many cards offer boosted reward rates for spending in certain categories . Knowing which categories you spend the most in will help you pinpoint the card that gives you the most bang for your buck.

Weigh your reward preferences

Some cards offer rewards in the form of cash back , while other cards offer travel points and miles . Rewards can vary in redemption value , so figuring out how you’ll redeem most of your rewards can help you pick the best card.

Look at APR offers

If you already have credit card debt or there’s a chance you’ll need to carry a balance soon, you’ll want to consider a zero-interest card or balance transfer card with a lengthy intro APR offer. Fortunately, the best cards for 0 percent intro APR offers usually don’t have an annual fee.

Just be sure to pay your balance off before the intro period ends. If you may need more than 21 months to pay off your card, consider a debt consolidation loan , which generally has lower interest rates than credit cards.

Credit card newcomers: Consider your current needs and future plans

A card with no annual fee is an excellent choice to get experience with credit if you’re looking for your first credit card. You won’t have to worry about developing a strategy to maximize the card’s benefits to compensate for an annual fee.

However, a few other factors besides affordability are smart to consider. A straightforward rewards program would help while you’re learning the ropes, but finding a card that also has diverse reward redemption options and pairs well with other cards would help future-proof your rewards strategy. For example, a flat-rate rewards card is easy to use and could pair well with bonus-category rewards credit cards you apply for in the future.

Consider downgrading to a no-annual-fee card

Not all credit cards with annual fees have the long-term value you may need. However, instead of canceling your card and applying for a new one, you may be able to downgrade to a no-annual-fee card .

When you downgrade, your credit score is unaffected as it maintains your credit utilization and account age while also avoiding a hard credit inquiry . However, you probably won’t be eligible for any sign-up bonuses on the new credit card when you downgrade.

If you haven’t established a good-to-excellent credit score yet, there are several rewarding secured cards and student cards with no annual fee as well. Several of these may let you eventually upgrade to a full-fledged rewards card with no annual fee. 

Still unsure if a no-annual-fee credit card is right for you ? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool to get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

What people say about no annual fee credit cards

With so many no-annual-fee options to choose from, first-hand experience and perspectives will come in handy if you’re searching for a card. We checked Reddit and other popular discussion forums to see what users saw as the best no-annual-fee cards and when an annual fee might be worth it.

First-hand experience with no-annual-fee cards

In the Reddit thread “ What is your favorite no [annual fee] credit card & why? ” most users pointed to cards that earn rewards on everyday spending, often citing categories like gas, groceries and online shopping. Some of the top suggestions were the Bilt Mastercard® , Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® . 

“If you pay rent, Bilt Mastercard is great. No [annual fee], no processing fee for rent, 3X on dining, 2X on travel, 1X everything else, double those points on the first of the month.” — Reddit User

With the exception of the Bilt card, travel rewards cards didn’t come up in this discussion. But according to some users in the r/CreditCards community , the choice between a card with an annual fee and a no-annual-fee card comes down to rewards value — how many rewards you can earn and how much they’re worth when you redeem, especially for travel. 

Some users pointed to cards like the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card and Citi Double Cash® Card as flexible, no-annual-fee rewards cards, while other users suggested cards with relatively low or easy-to-recoup annual fees, like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card , highlighting valuable perks like travel credits or sign-up bonuses. 

*The quotes and citations included on this page have been verified by our editorial team and are accurate as of the posting date. Outlinked content may contain views and opinions that do not reflect the views and opinions of Bankrate. Please see the issuer’s website for updated terms and conditions.

How a Bankrate editor chose his no-annual-fee card

Bankrate editor Steve Dashiell chose a no-annual-fee card with rotating reward categories to help him keep an eye on his spending:

“Having crashed and burned on my first attempt at using a credit card, I needed my second attempt to keep things simple. But at the same time, I also wanted some extra depth. My thought was pretty simple: I can set up the card to pay off my balance in full at the end of each statement period so that it effectively runs itself. But once I felt comfortable managing the card, I could lean into some extra card features to take advantage of any perks or rewards. The Chase Freedom — now the Chase Freedom Flex℠ — came highly recommended by a friend of mine, and it was easy to see why. The card’s rotating reward categories offer an extra incentive to monitor and plan out your spending, something I wasn’t great at doing. And even if I didn’t feel like chasing a quarter’s categories, I could still earn a reliable 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. During my research, I also learned about the Chase Trifecta , which was just the type of value ‘expansion’ I was hoping for in the event everything went well with my credit card revenge arc. The fact that the card offered so much potential for no annual fee (along with a recommendation from a friend) made choosing the card a no-brainer.” — Steve Dashiell, Editor, Credit Cards

How can you maximize your no-annual-fee credit card?

Pay your balance on time and in full each month

Keeping your spending in check so you can pay off your balance in full each month will allow you to take full advantage of your no-annual-fee card’s low ownership cost and keep your credit utilization low .

Pair the no-annual-fee card with a premium rewards card

When you’re comfortable managing your no-annual-fee credit card, it’s worth combining it with a card that charges an annual fee but provides more reward opportunities and perks. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the best no-annual-fee cash back cards, but pairing it with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for travel rewards can greatly expand your rewards’ redemption value.

Keep the card open when you upgrade

Even if you stop using your no-annual-fee card, don’t close the account right away. Keeping the card open will improve your credit utilization ratio and lengthen your credit history for no yearly charge.

Our data: When’s the best time to get a no-annual-fee card?

Once you’ve decided you want a no-annual-fee card, there’s another key question to consider: when is the best time to apply ? Some months may be better than others depending on credit card welcome offers, perks and your seasonal needs.

Our research indicates a solid answer: No-annual-fee cards — cash back cards, especially — are the most popular in January and October , leading into the holidays.

According to Bankrate’s proprietary data of readers who clicked on no-annual-fee credit card offers on our site in 2023, reader interest in these offers dropped 31% from February to August 2023 but quickly rebounded by 44% to their highest interest level all year in November 2023.

Across our top credit card offer pages, the top few cards that users were most interested in each month tended to be a no-annual-fee credit card, usually with cash back rewards and unchanging sign-up bonuses. Each month’s trending offers tended to reflect what users may need a credit card for at that time of year. 

For example, a no-annual-fee card with a strong balance transfer offer was one of the most popular cards on our site January through March — when people may need 0 percent intro APRs to recover from holiday spending . And a student credit card shot up in popularity during the fall months while students returned to school.

However, our data also shows that travel cards with annual fees can be just as popular, especially when issuers increase sign-up bonuses in the spring or fall. If you’re on the fence about getting a card with no annual fee, make sure that travel card you might have your eye on didn’t recently increase its welcome offer. Otherwise, that no-annual-fee card could be the next best addition to your wallet.

If you want a travel card, it’s also smart to apply three to six months before your trip so that you can put your sign-up bonus toward your travel plans. That means you may want to apply in March for summer travel and in August for holiday travel at the latest.

When evaluating the best credit cards with no annual fee, we take into account several factors, including how cards score in our proprietary card rating system and whether they offer features that fit the priorities of a diverse group of cardholders, from earning rewards to scoring a large sign-up bonus to saving on interest. 

We analyzed over 250 of the most popular credit cards and selected standouts that carry no annual fee. We scored each card based on the factors most relevant to its primary category, including its rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, intro APR period, ongoing APR, perks and more to determine whether it belonged in this month’s roundup. 

Here are some of the key factors that we considered:  

Solid rewards value

Since many cardholders looking for a card with no annual fee are eager to earn rewards, a key criteria for a card’s inclusion in our list is whether it offers impressive rewards value. This includes a card’s average rewards rate, estimated annual rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value and reward redemption value.

To estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings, we calculate its average rewards rate based on how much it earns in different bonus categories, as well as how closely those categories match the average person’s spending habits. In other words: Does the card earn rewards at a high rate in the most popular spending categories?

We use consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to get a reliable third-party measure of people’s spending habits. The most recent BLS data estimates average total spending in 2022 was $72,967 per consumer. We then narrow our focus to which purchases are likely to be put on a credit card and earn rewards, subtracting expenditures like housing, vehicle purchases and education. This gives us a total “chargeable” annual spend of around $22,500.  

Some of the major spending categories that contribute towards the annual spend include:

  • Groceries: $5,700
  • Dining out: $3,600
  • Entertainment: $2,400
  • Gas: $3,100
  • Apparel and services: $1,900

Using this data, we assign a weighting to each of a card’s bonus categories. For example, a card’s grocery rewards rate receives a 22 percent weighting based on how much of the average person’s budget is spent on groceries. We also estimate the redemption value of points or miles from various issuer, airline and hotel rewards programs.

This weighting and rewards valuation allows us to estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings — how many points or miles you’d earn with a given card if your spending was about average and you used the card for all of your purchases — as well as what those points are worth. We also use point valuations to determine a card’s sign-up bonus value

With these calculations complete, we assign each card a score based on how its average rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value, rewards rate and redemption value stack up against other cards in its primary category.

The better these values, the higher its score will be, making it more worthy of inclusion in our list and increasing its potential ranking.

Reasonable fees and APR

To start, all cards on this list charge no annual fee.

We also rate all cards based on how their ongoing average APR compares to the average APR you’ll find other cards in their primary category. However, the impact of an especially high or low APR on a card’s overall score depends on its primary category.

For rewards-earning cards, this factor has only a minor influence on the card’s score and whether the card is included in our list, since rewards card users generally try to avoid carrying a balance. That said, rewards-earning cards may get a solid boost in score and be more worthy of inclusion in our list if they also offer an intro APR on balance transfers or new purchases, since such offers aren’t always present on these cards.

Interest rates and intro APR offers play a much larger role in a card’s score and whether it’s included in our list when the card is designed specifically for users looking to save on interest charges, such as dedicated balance transfer or low-interest cards. 

Other fees considered include cash advance and late payment fees, along with penalty APRs.

Flexibility and perks

Along with rewards value and cost, we consider other factors that could give cards great long-term value, like flexible rewards redemption and especially unique and valuable perks.

We rate rewards-earning cards based on the restrictions they impose on earning and redeeming rewards and consider this when deciding on a card’s inclusion in our list. 

These restrictions could include only allowing users to earn a high rewards rate on a small amount of spending or requiring users to meet a certain earning threshold before they can redeem rewards. We also examine whether points are worth less when you opt for some redemption options over others and whether a card gives you the flexibility to transfer rewards to airline and hotel partners. 

We also evaluate each card’s perks based on their value, usefulness and uniqueness. Cards that offer top-tier benefits like airport lounge access or travel credits are likely to stand out, but we also aim to highlight cards that offer valuable under-the-radar perks, like cellphone protection or one-off credits for everyday expenses like dining and streaming services.

Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email , find us on Facebook , or Tweet us @Bankrate .

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply

We’ve asked a few personal finance experts about the best perks you should look for on a no-annual-fee credit card.

Many no-annual-fee credit cards also have great perks, including:  Intro APR . If you're looking for a card that doesn’t charge interest for several months, you’re in luck. There are plenty of cards on the market that offer a low intro APR, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which can help you save on interest for the first 15 months after opening the account.  Cell phone protection . The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card doesn't charge an annual fee and has cell phone protection, which will reimburse you for the cost to repair or replace your phone if it's damaged or stolen (up to $600 per claim, up to two claims per year, minus a $25 deductible). Although cracked screens and cosmetic damages are not covered, this coverage can definitely give you peace of mind, at no cost.  Free credit score access . If you want to keep track of your credit score, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is a great option since it offers free access to your FICO Score.  So it really depends on what you’re looking for!  — Erica Sandberg, personal Finance expert
No-annual-fee cards can still have a variety of perks and rewards. The best perks are ones you will actually use, so choose a card with a rewards program that offers a high rewards rate on the types of spending that you do the most. Other perks, like purchase protection and insurance coverages, are also included on many no-annual-fee cards. Take time to review all the details and select the one that makes the most sense for you.  — Thomas Nitzsche, personal finance expert
For any card you consider, you’ll want to look for benefits that match your spending style. For cards that have no annual fee, every benefit that you can take advantage of is a gain (since you don't have an annual fee to offset). Start by looking for options that offer a sign-up bonus. If you want to keep your earning simple, look for a card with a high flat rewards rate (like the Citi Double Cash® Card). If you want to max out your earnings and are willing to take the time to track rotating categories, choose a card that offers a high rewards rate in categories that fit your spending habits (consider a card like the Chase Freedom Flex*). — Stephanie Zito, personal finance expert

* Information about the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Frequently asked questions about no-annual-fee credit cards

Can you get a no-annual-fee credit card with bad credit.

No annual fee cards for bad credit are rare but not impossible to find. A likely option might be getting a secured credit card that doesn't charge an annual fee.

Learn more: Credit cards for a 500 credit score (or less)

Can I get the annual fee waived on a credit card?

What is the best no-annual-fee card for pairing.

Pairing a no-annual-fee card with premium travel cards can help you maximize your rewards’ value and rake in rewards on a wider range of purchases. Some of the best pairings for no-annual-fee cards are flat-rate cards with tiered categories that focus on entertainment and travel or cards within the same issuer. Some issuers like Chase even let you pool your points from different cards to redeem rewards toward travel for a higher point value.

Article sources

We use primary sources to support our work. Bankrate’s authors, reporters and editors are subject-matter experts who thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate, timely and relevant.

Consumer Expenditures 2022 . Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed on April 1, 2024.

Credit Card Issuers Must Confront Consumers’ Mounting Debt, J.D. Power Finds . J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. Accessed on April 1, 2024.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.

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How to apply for a US ESTA as a UK Citizen

To apply for an ESTA, you will need your applicant's photo and a scan of the passport's personal details section.

The form we provide is broken down into three easy steps and won't take you longer than 10 minutes to complete:

Step 1. Complete your application form online.

Step 2. Choose the processing option and make payment.

Step 3. Upload your additional documents (if required).

Once you complete all three steps, just submit your application and wait for it to arrive via email. When you choose our services, your ESTA can be ready in as fast as 2 hours, perfect for anyone in a rush.

Cost of a USA ESTA for UK citizens

If you order an ESTA with us, the price of your Electronic System for Travel Authorization will depend on the processing time you choose and your budget. The ESTA isn’t free, but it’s inexpensive. Check the options below:

Standard Processing , ready in 2 days and costing USD $38.49 , is the most economical option available and accessible to everyone if you are planning your trip in advance.

Rush Processing , a quicker option available with a waiting time of just 12 hours for USD $56.99

Super Rush Processing , available in 4 hours for USD $75.99 , is the fastest option available for anyone in a rush to obtain the ESTA.

The ESTA also has a Government fee of USD $21.00 , which you pay with the processing fees when you apply on our site.

Where do I find more information?

Feel free to contact our customer service team or chat with us via WhatsApp if you still have questions about obtaining your ESTA. You can always check our US visa page for more detailed information.

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Thailand Expands Visa-Free Entry: 93 Nations Now Qualify

Peden Doma Bhutia , Skift

May 30th, 2024 at 7:26 AM EDT

Thailand's aggressive push to attract tourists through these visa promotions highlights its commitment to reviving the tourism sector and ensuring long-term economic stability.

Peden Doma Bhutia

In an effort to attract more tourists and remote workers, the Thai cabinet this week rolled out a series of new visa promotions, including visa-free and visa-on-arrival schemes, extended stays for students, and reduced compulsory health insurance for retirees.

Starting June 1, the number of countries eligible for visa-free entry to Thailand will increase from 57 to 93. Under the new scheme, visitors can stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, compared to the earlier limit of 30 days.

The countries eligible for visa-free stays include key tourism markets like China and India, as well as U.S., UK, Albania, UAE, Cambodia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Romania, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.

The Thai cabinet has also approved visa-on-arrival for 31 countries, up from the previous 19. This list includes Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Fiji and Malta

Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke emphasized the importance of tourism to Thailand’s national economy and its role in job creation. From January to May 26 this year, Thailand recorded 14.3 million tourists and aims to reach a record 40 million foreign arrivals for the full year, with an expected revenue of THB 3.5 trillion ($95.73 billion).

In comparison, 2019 saw a record 39.9 million arrivals, generating THB 1.91 trillion in revenue.

New Measures for Students and Digital Nomads

In a bid to retain talent, postgraduate students will now be able to stay in Thailand for an additional year after graduation, provided they obtain certification from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation.

This extension aims to help foreign students secure employment in the country. According to Wacharonke currently there are approximately 40,000 such students in Thailand

Digital nomads will also benefit from the new visa policies. The “Destination Thailand Visa” will now be valid for five years, allowing a 180-day maximum stay per visit, extendable for another 180 days, with another THB 10,000 ($270) fee.

Previously, digital nomads were entitled to only two 30-day stays. Wacharonke noted that this measure targets remote workers, freelancers, and those interested in learning Muay Thai and Thai cuisine.

Eased Requirements for Retirees

Retirees aged 50 years or more seeking long-stay visas will benefit from reduced health insurance requirements. Currently, these visitors must have health insurance coverage worth THB 3 million ($82,000). The requirement is now lowered to THB 440,000 ($12,000), effective for applicants from September to December. Additionally, the cabinet approved the expansion of e-visa application services at Thai consulates and embassies, increasing from 47 to 94 locations starting in September.

Targeting Key Source Markets

China and India are among the largest and most important source markets for global tourism, and Thailand is keen to capture the interest of travelers from these countries.

Data firm ForwardKeys noted a 212% surge in travel from China to Kazakhstan during this year’s Labor Day holiday, with notable increases to Singapore, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, and the Maldives, following the relaxation of visa policies.

While Thailand and China have agreed on a reciprocal permanent visa exemption , Skift had earlier reported that Thailand’s slower recovery is attributed to ongoing safety concerns.

India is also a critical market for Thailand , being the fastest-growing source of tourists. In 2023, over 1.6 million Indian travelers visited Thailand, making it the fourth-largest source market for the country. These tourists contributed more than THB 63 billion ($1.7 billion) in spending.

In November last year, Thailand decided to grant visa-free entry to Indian citizens from November 10 till May this year. The Thai cabinet this month approved a plan to extend the visa exemption for six more months.

Skift India Report

India is booming. Discover the subcontinent’s most important travel news here every Tuesday-Thursday.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: asia monthly , china outbound , digital nomads , dwell , e-visas , india outbound , students , thailand , visa waiver

Photo credit: Thailand is making a concerted effort to attract more tourists and remote workers by rolling out a series of new visa promotions. Darren Lawrence / Unsplash

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Home > Blog > Student > visa > Fees for UK Visa: A Comprehensive Guide for Indian Students

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Fees for UK Visa: All You Need to Know About the Application Process

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Navigating the complexities of UK visa fees as an Indian student just got easier with this comprehensive guide. Explore the ins and outs of UK visa costs , and discover how the Go Niyo app can enhance your financial management during the application process.

As an Indian student aspiring to study in the UK, a significant concern is understanding the fees involved in obtaining a UK visa. In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the specifics of the application process and provide you with all the information you need to know about fees for UK visas.

How Much Does a UK Student Visa Cost?

The fees for a UK visa vary depending on several factors, such as the duration and type of course you will be pursuing. Here is an overview of the key fees involved:

  • Application Fee: The current fee for a UK student visa application is 53,972 INR. This fee covers the processing and assessment of your application.
  • Healthcare Surcharge: In addition to the application fee, you will also be required to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of your application. The amount you pay depends on how long your visa lasts and the type of visa. It is essential to check the specific charges before applying, but it typically costs £470 per year for a student.
  • Priority Service Fee: If you are eligible and seeking a faster processing time for your UK visa, additional services come at an extra cost. With the cost of the UK priority visa service, you can receive a decision within five working days by paying £500 in addition to the standard application fee. For an even quicker option, the super-priority service and the application fee are available for £1,000.

Navigating the UK Visa Application Process

Now that you understand the fees for a UK visa , let’s dive into the step-by-step process of applying for it:

  • Determine Your Eligibility: Before starting your application, ensure you meet all the eligibility requirements.
  • Obtain Confirmation Acceptance for Studies (CAS): Once you’ve been offered a place at a licensed student sponsor, they will provide you with a Confirmation Acceptance for Studies (CAS) document. This document is essential for your visa application.
  • Maintain Sufficient Funds: As part of your visa application, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have enough money to cover your living expenses and tuition fees. Make sure to maintain the required funds in your bank account.
  • Register and Complete the Online Application: Visit the official website for UK visas and register an account. Follow the prompts to complete the online application form, providing all necessary details and supporting documents.
  • Book an Appointment: After completing your online application, schedule an appointment at a visa application centre to submit your biometrics, tuberculosis certificate, and English proficiency test results.
  • Pay the Application Fee: You’ll be prompted to pay the British visa application cost during the online application process. Make sure to have the necessary funds available to complete the payment.

Following the interview, the waiting period begins. The processing time for a UK student visa application is usually within three weeks. However, you can significantly reduce this waiting period by opting for the priority or super-priority service mentioned earlier.

Simplify your UK student visa application with the Niyo app. Enhance control and visibility, making the process faster and more convenient. Applying for your student visa online becomes an easy and confident step in your educational journey.

Common Mistakes to Avoid - Ensuring a Smooth Application

Even with thorough preparation, making small mistakes can easily lead to delays or even visa rejections. Here are some common mistakes to avoid during the UK student visa application process:

  • Ensure that all the information you provide in your application is accurate and up-to-date. Double-check spellings, addresses, and other personal details before submitting.
  • Make sure you provide sufficient evidence of financial sufficiency to cover your expenses during your studies in the UK. Include bank statements, sponsorship letters, or scholarship documents as required.
  • Be mindful of all the deadlines associated with your visa application, including document submission, biometric appointment, and payment. Missing these deadlines can result in delays or rejection.
  • Ensure all your supporting documents are properly organized and meet the specified requirements. Poorly prepared documents can create a negative impression and affect the outcome of your visa application.

Key Takeaways

  • Applying for a UK student visa involves certain fees, including the application fee and healthcare surcharge.
  • Additional services like the priority or super priority services can expedite the decision-making process.
  • Follow a step-by-step guide when applying for a UK student visa, ensuring you meet all eligibility requirements and submit all necessary documents.

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  • Entering and staying in the UK
  • Permanent stay in the UK
  • UK visa fees
  • UK Visas and Immigration

Home Office immigration and nationality fees: 10 April 2024

Updated 10 April 2024

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© Crown copyright 2024

This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected] .

Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.

This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visa-regulations-revised-table/home-office-immigration-and-nationality-fees-10-april-2024

Visas and applications made outside the UK

Work – applications made outside the uk, study – applications made outside the uk, optional premium services outside the uk, optional premium services in the uk, premium services at the border, work – applications made in the uk, study – applications made in the uk, other applications made in the uk, nationality, sponsorship.

Application fee of £115 where the applicant is a Chinese national applying in mainland China under the Chinese visa scheme  ↩

Skilled Worker visa fees are reduced for those qualifying for Health and Care Visa and the fees after reductions are shown above  ↩   ↩ 2   ↩ 3   ↩ 4

Administrative Officer, Executive Officer and Higher Executive Officer are Civil Service staff grades.  ↩   ↩ 2   ↩ 3   ↩ 4   ↩ 5

The citizenship ceremony fee of £130 will be added to the application fee  ↩   ↩ 2

Additional £130 per applicant is required to cover the ceremony fee should the minor turn 18 during the application process. This will be requested at point of decision.  ↩

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The best (and worst) budget airlines in the UK

T hey’re the airlines we love to hate, whisking passengers to Europe and beyond for miniscule fares with incredible regularity – in theory, at least. But the reality of “budget” airlines , as all-too many of us know, can be fraught with hidden fees, confusing baggage allowances and copious delays.

However, not all budget airlines are created equal. In a bid to find the best low-cost carrier, we’ve compared Wizz Air, Jet2, easyJet and Ryanair on all of the key credentials. There is a clear winner – and loser – but do you agree? Have your say in the poll and comments below. 

Explore the categories

Best for routes and connections, best prices for summer 2024, best for seat comfort, best for punctuality, best for hand baggage allowance, best for fines and fees, best for priority boarding, best rated on trustpilot , best rated by the telegraph readers, the verdict.

By passenger numbers, Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline group: it carried 182 million people in 2023. This summer, it will have a fleet of 600 aircraft – by far the biggest of our survey, serving more than 250 airports across 40 countries.

Ryanair is also the best-connected of the bunch. It flies from 22 UK airports, including lesser-served ones such as Newquay and Teesside, so we’re rating it top for UK range. Its routes include rarer low-cost destinations too, such as Jordan, Montenegro and Morocco . 

Currently operating from 18 UK airports, easyJet serves 155 airports across 36 countries. It is Europe’s second largest airline by passenger numbers (pipped by Ryanair), with a large fleet of 336 planes.

In March, easyJet opened a new three-aircraft base in Birmingham – joining the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh . For connectivity, it comes second place to Ryanair.

In third place is Wizz Air, which serves 95 routes to and from the UK, to more than 30 countries – including cities in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. 

There are 207 aircraft in the Wizz Air fleet, and it has hubs at London Luton and Gatwick. It flies from a further six UK airports: Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Aberdeen, Leeds and Liverpool, so has a fair regional coverage.

For routes and connectivity, Jet2 ranks fourth. It flies to over 65 European destinations from 11 UK airports, with a new base at Liverpool opening in March. Other hubs include Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Stansted.

It operates 119 aircraft, and is the UK’s third largest scheduled airline; notable destinations include Norway , Morocco, Cyprus and Iceland . 

The winner: Ryanair

The loser: Wizz Air has a higher number of destinations than Jet2 – but the latter scoops Wizz on its choice of UK airports. It’s a tie.

Let’s say you want to fly from London to Malaga this summer, 13 to 21 July – hand luggage only , on the lowest-cost tariffs. Which airline has the cheapest return fares? 

The price per adult offered by Ryanair currently starts from £127.90 (departing Stansted, though you’ll need to leave Malaga at 5.55am); with easyJet it is £133.98 (from Gatwick, arriving in Malaga just after midnight). 

Wizz Air’s fares start from £219.98 (leaving Gatwick at 5.55am); Jet2’s start from £231 (departing Stansted at 9am). 

Prices were sourced directly from the airlines on April 18, 2024, and are inclusive of booking fees.

The winner: Ryanair, for a superb £127.90 per adult fare, return.

The loser: Jet2. However, this was the airline with the most “decent” flight timings for its cheapest tickets: departs Stansted at 9am, and departs Malaga at 8.25pm.

When it comes to seat width (which the industry generally measures in inches), our four airlines are pretty much equal. On Wizz’s Airbus A320 and easyJet’s Airbus A321neo, the seats are 18in wide. Opt for Jet2’s Boeing 737-300 or Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800, and you’ll miss out on an inch: their seat width is 17in.

But when it comes to seat pitch, there’s a clear winner. This is the distance between any point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front – so is a good measure of not only leg room, but “headspace” and perception of roominess in the cabin. According to Seat Guru, and verified by the airlines, Wizz’s seat pitch is 28in, easyJet’s 29in, Ryanair’s 30in, and Jet2’s 31in. 

The winner: Jet2

The loser: Wizz Air

If you boarded a flight anywhere last summer, chances are it was delayed or cancelled . Airport strikes, wildfires, air traffic meltdowns: which airline fared best against the odds?

The aviation analysts at OAG provided Telegraph Travel with data across more than half a million flights from June 1 to September 3, covering airlines departing from 48 UK airports. 

Ryanair operated 91,897 flights, of which 31.8 per cent arrived or departed on time. For easyJet, 44.7 per cent of its 111,551 flights were on schedule, while 57.7 per cent of Jet2’s 38,986 services ran as planned. 

The data from OAG suggested that Wizz Air managed to depart or arrive on time on just 7.8 per cent of its services. The airline contested the figure, insisting that “almost half” of departures and “almost 40 per cent” of arrivals were on time. It added: “The majority of delays were due to issues outside of Wizz Air’s control, such as the recent air traffic control fault, meaning these statistics are not an accurate representation of our overall performance.”

The loser: According to OAG, Wizz Air experienced the most disruption – though this figure was disputed by the airline – therefore it’s a tie between Wizz Air and Ryanair.

We compared the size and weight limits for free hand baggage, on a standard ticket. 

Jet2: 56 x 45 x 25cm (total volume 63,000cm3); maximum 10kg.

easyJet: 45 x 36 x 20cm (total volume 32,400cm3), “which needs to fit in our baggage gauge and under the seat in front of you”. Maximum 15kg.

Wizz Air: 40 x 30 x 20cm (total volume 24,000cm3), and “must be placed at the feet of the passenger under the seat in front of them”. Maximum 10kg.

Ryanair: 40 x 20 x 25cm (total volume 20,000cm3); no weight limit is listed.

The winner: easyJet’s 15kg limit is the most generous weight – but for size, Jet2 is the best. Its volume allowance is more than three times the size offered by Ryanair.

The loser: Ryanair

Best for checked-in luggage

When you pay to bring a suitcase, the fee structure varies wildly. For ease of comparison, the following covers luggage weighing 20kg or more, booked at the same time as your flight. 

With Ryanair, a 20kg bag costs £18.99 to £59.99, according to your route and travel dates – the lowest weight allowance of our four airlines. Excess baggage ranges from £9 to £11 per kilo, the cheapest fee in this comparison.

Jet2’s baggage add-on covers bags up to 22kg: costs vary, and it doesn’t quote a ballpark fee online if you don’t have a booking. According to mybaggage.com, the average cost is £21 each way. Excess weight is £12 per kilo.

Wizz charges between £8.25 and £87.11 for a 20kg bag, in peak season, with an excess fee of £12 per kilo. On easyJet, 23kg of hold luggage costs from £9.49 per item; excess weight is £12 per kilo.

The winner:  The varying prices make it hard to compare fees, but easyJet’s baggage allowance is the most generous, at 23kg.

The loser: It’s a tie: Ryanair and Wizz Air offer 20kg each. The latter’s upper threshold is the most costly, though Jet2 isn’t transparent about its fees unless you have a booking with them.

To change a name on a booking, Ryanair charges £115 per flight. To change your flights costs £45, plus any additional fare. To check in at the airport rather than on the app, Ryanair charges £30 or £55 if flying from Spain. Boarding pass reissue is £20.

Name changes with Jet2 cost £35; flight changes are £35, plus any additional fare. No charge for airport check-in or boarding pass print-out.

With easyJet, name changes cost £55; flight changes are £25 if more than 60 days before travel, or £49 if within 60 days, plus any additional fare. There is no charge for airport check-in or boarding pass print-out. 

Name changes with Wizz cost £55; flight changes cost £36.50 to £46, plus any additional fare. If you want to check in at the airport, you can pre-book online for £11.50 per flight; airport check-in without pre-booking costs £35.50.

Be warned: in many instances, the above fees are higher if arranged via a customer services agent, rather than online. 

Jet2 is the only airline not to offer speedy boarding as an optional add-on. But if you want to board first (or at least be in the queue to board first), Ryanair’s priority access costs from £6 to £36, and includes two cabin bags.

Wizz’s package costs up to €58.80 (£50.62) when booked in advance, and includes priority boarding and check-in, plus a carry-on wheelie. To get “Speedy Boarding” on easyJet, you’ll need an easyJet Plus card (£215 annually), pay for a Standard Plus or Flexi fare, or add a large cabin bag to your booking – priced “from £5.99”.

The winner: There really isn’t much between easyJet and Ryanair

The loser: Jet2, for not offering the option

On customer review website Trustpilot, Jet2 is by far the best-rated of the airlines – scoring an overall 4.5 (“Excellent”) out of a possible five. It has five-star reviews from 72 per cent of reviewers; four stars from 14 per cent; and one star from 7 per cent. 

“Pleasant and attentive cabin crew,” reads one verified Jet2 customer review. “Friendly and informative captain. Took off an hour late but we made up 25 minutes. Excellent.”

It’s a different story for the rest of the pack. Ryanair and easyJet both score 1.4 stars overall, and Wizz Air 1.3 stars (out of five). A total of 89 per cent of Wizz customers awarded it just one star.

“Robbery,” states a reviewer of one of the airlines. “I don’t understand why people still buy ticket[s] from that airline… [it] should not be allowed to operate in our society.”

The loser: Wizz

In last year’s Telegraph Travel Awards, Jet2 was voted “best short-haul airline” – scooping the top spot for the second consecutive time. Almost 30,000 readers voted in the awards, widely praising Jet2 for its clear contact with passengers, and giving refunds without fuss . 

Further down the table, easyJet took 10th place, Ryanair 22nd and Wizz Air came 23rd – the very last place. Wizz faced criticism from Telegraph readers for its slow refunds, last-minute cancellations and poor customer service .

Bravo to Jet2, which is rated consistently high for customer satisfaction, baggage allowance and comfort – while offering the lowest fees and fines among its peers. Our study suggests it doesn’t come cheap, though: in our fare comparison, it was the most expensive by £103.10.

At the other end of the spectrum, the wooden spoon goes to Wizz. It tallies three individual “loser” titles and three shared ones, and no “wins” to its name – thanks to hefty delays, terrible reviews, reportedly poor service and measly bag allowance.

A Wizz Air spokesperson said: “We do not consider these findings to be representative and the results are most certainly not what we are hearing from our customer surveys.

“Our most recent customer data shows Wizz Air’s brand consideration to be higher than our main UK competitor. We also perform better in customer service, refunds, ease of booking and information provided to customers.

“We are proud to have offered more than 90 million customers affordable airfares, getting them from A to B for the lowest price possible.

“Regarding costs, ticket prices and optional extras are clearly outlined on our website and app. We are an ultra-low-cost carrier and to keep our fares low, we offer optional add-ons at an additional charge, such as checked luggage or preferential seating. Unbundling products means that customers only pay for what they need and we can offer the most affordable and exciting travel opportunities.

“In terms of performance, 2023 was one of our strongest summers to date. We completed more than 99.36 per cent of our flights and saw a 67.4 per cent reduction in the number of cancellations. In the last fiscal year, our on-time performance was better than all but one of our major competitors.”

This story was first published in December 2023 and has been revised and updated.

Play The Telegraph’s brilliant range of Puzzles - and feel brighter every day. Train your brain and boost your mood with PlusWord, the Mini Crossword, the fearsome Killer Sudoku and even the classic Cryptic Crossword.

Good value or hidden costs? Our Travel team has ranked the main low-cost airlines - Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe

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  7. UK Visa Fees

    Visit visa (up to 6 months) £100. Visit visa (up to 2 years) £376. Visit visa (up to 5 years) £670. Visit visa (up to 10 years) £837. Visiting academic (more than 6 months but not more than 12 months)

  8. Nonimmigrant visas fees

    The MRV application fee for visitor and certain other nonimmigrant visa categories will increase from $160 to $185, effective June 17, 2023. Similarly, the MRV application fee for certain petition-based nonimmigrant visas for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will increase from $190 to $205. The fee for a treaty trader, treaty ...

  9. Apply for UK Visa From USA

    To apply for a UK visa from USA, Green card holders must provide the following documents: Completed UK visa application form. Two UK visa photographs that are taken within the past six months. Your valid Passport. It must be valid for three more months beyond the date you plan to leave the UK after your trip.

  10. UK tourist visa: Requirements and application procedure

    If you are applying for a long-term UK tourist visa, below is the visa fee for 2, 5 and 10-year tourist visas. 2 years: £361 GBP; 5 years: £655 GBP; 10 years: £822 GBP — Visa appointment. As part of the online application process, you will be prompted to make a visa appointment at your nearest UK Visa Application Center.

  11. Visitor Visa

    Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both ...

  12. U.S. Travelers Will Soon Have to Pay to Enter the U.K

    February 3, 2023. Karl Hendon/Getty. U.S. visitors—as well as visitors from Europe, Australia and Canada —will soon be required to apply for permission to enter the U.K. through a new scheme ...

  13. Visiting the UK Will Soon Require an Online Application With a Fee

    The UK's ETA system, which will be fully rolled out by the end of 2023, will require all non-visa foreign visitors (including those from the United States) to apply online in advance of coming ...

  14. What travelers should know about the UK's new entry fee

    If you have plans to travel to any country within the UK ( England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland ), you'll need to pay an entry fee starting in 2024. The new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), as it's called, will cost about £10 ($12.50) and will be fully implemented at the end of 2024 as the UK continues to digitalize its border ...

  15. Here's what to know about the United Kingdom's new travel fee

    The travel fee is meant to secure the U.K.'s borders by giving them more accurate data on who is passing through, according to a U.K. official for the British Consulate General. The move is part ...

  16. Visa Fees

    General Fee Information. All visa applicants, including children, are required to pay a non-refundable and non-transferable nonimmigrant visa (MRV) application fee. Please view the options and instructions below. Payment of the visa application fee is required whether or not an application results in the issuance of a U.S. visa.

  17. Visa application fees

    Find out about UK visa application fees based on country, visa category, and type with this Home Office tool.

  18. How to apply for or renew a U.S. tourist visa

    Visitor (tourist) visas and other travel documents for entering the U.S. The visitor visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa for people who wish to temporarily enter the U.S. There are two categories: B-1 for business travel; B-2 for tourism and medical treatment; Learn about B-1 and B-2 visas, including: Reasons you would need each type of visitor ...

  19. Visa and MasterCard face new UK lawsuits over merchant fees

    LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - Global payments processors Visa (V.N) and Mastercard (MA.N) must face a new set of lawsuits over fees charged to retailers, after a London tribunal ruled on Friday that ...

  20. Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards for June 2024

    According to Bankrate's proprietary data of readers who clicked on no-annual-fee credit card offers on our site in 2023, reader interest in these offers dropped 31% from February to August 2023 ...

  21. Do UK Citizens Need a Visa to Visit the US?

    The form we provide is broken down into three easy steps and won't take you longer than 10 minutes to complete: Step 1. Complete your application form online. Step 2. Choose the processing option and make payment. Step 3. Upload your additional documents (if required).

  22. Thailand Expands Visa-Free Entry: 93 Nations Now Qualify

    Starting June 1, the number of countries eligible for visa-free entry to Thailand will increase from 57 to 93. Under the new scheme, visitors can stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, compared to ...

  23. Best Travel Medical Insurance For Visitors To The USA Of 2024

    The Best Travel Medical Insurance for Visitors to the USA. Atlas America - Best Overall. Patriot America Lite - Best for Cost. Patriot America Plus - Great for Trip Interruption Insurance ...

  24. Fees for UK Visa: A Comprehensive Guide for Indian Students

    Here is an overview of the key fees involved: Application Fee: The current fee for a UK student visa application is 53,972 INR. This fee covers the processing and assessment of your application. Healthcare Surcharge: In addition to the application fee, you will also be required to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

  25. Home Office immigration and nationality fees: 10 April 2024

    Fee from 10 April 2024. Fee Change. Visitor Extension - main applicant and dependants. £1,000. £1,000. £0. Leave to enter for persons in the UK who are liable to immigration detention. £ ...

  26. Visa application fees

    Visa types Visa application fee (INR) Short-term (up to 6 months, single or multiple entry) 12683: Longer-term (valid for up to 2 years) 47644: Longer-term (valid for up to 5 years) 85032: ... Visit the UK in a Chinese tour group (UK only) 12683: Short-term study visa. Visa types

  27. The best (and worst) budget airlines in the UK

    Wizz charges between £8.25 and £87.11 for a 20kg bag, in peak season, with an excess fee of £12 per kilo. On easyJet, 23kg of hold luggage costs from £9.49 per item; excess weight is £12 per ...