Racking up annual fees on your credit card isn't the only way to guarantee access to rewards programs and cash-back incentives.
Credit card companies can mislead consumers on the hunt for their next card.
Promotions, such as a fee for a card with rewards, might actually cost you more than the reward points are worth.
Don't be fooled by a sign-up bonus until you've read the fine print.
You might think that because you pay an annual fee for card membership that the credit card is exclusive. It isn't. Oftentimes, it will carry restrictions in addition to the fee.
Committing to a credit card can help or hurt you.
Whether you're trying to increase your credit limit by making on-time payments, or you want to pay off existing debt by using a card with zero intro APR for a balance transfer — a credit card should work to improve your creditworthiness or afford you less interest.
While expensive things might appeal to you, not all credit cards that cost you are the best option, which is why we've found the best credit cards with no annual fees.
Some rewards cards can cost you up to $450 annually.
That's more than many cards will charge you in interest for your first year of spending—many of the cards on our list offer $0 introductory annual fees.
If you swipe regularly, you should consider a credit card that earns you reward points for your spending and let your credit card work for you.
There's a surprising number of rewards available on credit cards with no annual fee—from no balance transfer fee to bonus rewards for travel purchases.
By knowing the best credit cards with no annual fee you'll set yourself up to earn rewards and not break the bank.
You might even increase your credit limit and overall creditworthiness by paying less in fees and paying off your debt!
Even if you've been fooled by a sign-up bonus and are fearful of committing to a new credit card, or you just simply don't know where to begin your search—we've found the best credit cards with no annual fee to jumpstart your search.
With this list, you'll see that a credit card can be affordable and earn you rewards.
What You Need To Know
Sign-up bonuses, rewards, balance transfers, limits — the down-low on credit card fundamentals
A lot of credit card don't have annual fees, but not all cards are created equal.
Here's what you need to know in order to find the best credit card for your lifestyle.
Sign-up bonuses reward spending. Most cards on this list offer a sign-up bonus that will reward cardholders bonus cash-back, reward points, or statement credit for purchases made in the first 90 days.
The Chase Freedom and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit cards reward customers $150 cash-back for spending $500 in the first three months.
Other cards on our list offer a sign-up bonus for a greater cost of $1,000 spending in the first 90 days (Bank of America Travel Rewards, Amex Everyday).
Be sure that you aren't spending outside of your means just to earn a sign-up bonus.
The annual percentage rates vary. Many of the credit cards on our list have an intro APR period where they waive the APR altogether for a certain period of time.
This will entice consumers.
It's important to ask yourself one question when you see zero intro APR periods:
Is it affordable after the introductory APR is over?
Some credit cards offer lower APR financing than others.
The Citi Double Cash credit card has the longest zero introductory APR period at 18 months.
After the introductory period though, APR will jump to 14.49-24.99%.
The Discover it credit card has the shortest zero introductory APR period at six months.
Although short, the Discover it card offers the most competitive post-intro APR starting at 11.99%.
Credit cards offer rewards for spending. Each dollar you spend will equal reward points added to your account.
Reward redemption varies from card to card (travel, statement credit, or cash-back rewards).
Some cards on our list also have added bonus rewards for spending in rotating categories, like the Chase Freedom credit card.
Earn 1% cash-back on all purchases and 5% cash-back on quarterly rotating categories.
For the best reward points on purchases abroad and at home, check out the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards.
This card rewards all purchases.
If travel points are what you're looking for, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card rewards cardholders 1.5% points per dollar spent.
Your credit limit and rates depend on your credit score. It's crucial to know what amount of credit you're looking for when applying for a new credit card.
Credit card companies will pre-approve applicants for a credit limit based on the consumer's credit score or their debt-to-income ratio.
Credit limits are not set in stone and can increase if you maintain a low card balance or increase your credit score or income.
The Discover it card offers credit lines up to $9,700, based on a customer review.
The average credit limit for the Chase Freedom credit card is $4,686, according to Doctor of Credit.
Balance transfers help you get out of debt quicker. Some credit cards are better than others for balance transfers.
Our list has credit cards that offer zero APR promotions to help lower the cost and cards that charge less for balance transfer fees.
The Citi Double Cash Card and Discover it card offer zero interest for 18 months — the longest term of any card on our list.
Earn bonus rewards for regular spending habits with Chase Freedom
]Chase boasts many ways to earn cash-back rewards with its Chase Freedom credit card.
With no minimum spending to earn cash-back and rewards that don't expire, this card really works for you.
Earn points and cash-back within the first three months. You can earn $150 cash-back in the first three months after spending $500—in addition to the 15,000 points, you'll earn for your spending.
Spend with no interest. For the first 15 months, enjoy 0% APR interest on all purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period, variable APR is 15.99-24.74%.
Rewards perks offer versatility. Chase Freedom offers rewards on all spending, but the points earned per dollar varies.
No need to limit your card use to certain areas because with Chase Freedom you can earn 1% cash-back rewards on all purchases.
Earn 5% cash-back on up to $1,500 in spending in quarterly rotating categories.
These bonus categories are an added value to the card because they include common spending categories (i.e. grocery, gas, restaurants), meaning that you don't have to go out of your way to spend more to earn these rewards.
Don't miss out on bonus rewards.Customers must activate the bonus rewards quarterly in order to receive them.
This is easy to do, just log into your Chase account and activate rewards that appeal to you.
Not the card for cash advances. If you're someone who uses your credit cars for cash advances, Chase Freedom isn't for you.
At a whopping 25.99% variable APR for cash advances, you're better off avoiding this feature.
Best used in the U.S. Looking to use your card abroad?
Chase Freedom charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on all international purchases.
If you're someone who likes to take advantage of a versatile rewards program, Chase Freedom is worth your consideration.
Earn cash-back rewards for every purchase and bonus points in categories where you often spend money—you won't have to modify your spending to earn rewards.
How to apply
Apply online and see if you qualify for the Chase Freedom credit card.
Earn double cash-back on everyday spending and overseas with the Discover it's sign-up bonus
Discover is really bringing it with its Discover it credit card.
This card boasts bonus rewards, an amazing intro offer, and is free of many fees for customers with good or excellent credit.
Earn double cash-back rewards. Discover automatically matches your cash-back earned on all purchases for the first 12 months.
After the introductory offer, you can earn 1% cash back rewards on all purchases and 5% limited bonus cash-back on quarterly rotating categories.
Current bonus categories include Amazon and Target.
No interest on balance transfers. Conduct a balance transfer (3% fee) and pay zero interest for 18 months—saving you money on interest and getting you out of credit card debt quicker.
After 18 months, your variable APR for balance transfers is 11.99-23.99%.
No interest on purchases for the first six months. Discover offers an introductory offer of 0% APR for 6 months, then 11.99-23.99% variable APR thereafter.
Free of many fees. In addition to being free of an annual fee, the Discover it card is free of foreign transaction fees and over-the-limit fees.
Late for your first payment? Good news. Discover waives your first late-fee, and any other late payments will cost you $27-$37 dollars.
If you travel internationally, the Discover it card is a good option for you. No foreign transaction fees can save you 3% on average for every purchase outside of the US.
Bonus categories are often in regular spending categories, making it easy to earn 5% rewards on purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and even wholesale stores.
How to apply
Discover if you're eligible for the Discover it card by applying online.
Bank of America Travel Rewards
Earn more points per dollar that don't expire with Bank of America Travel Rewards
If you're in the market for a travel rewards credit card, look no further than Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card for more points per dollar spent and a hefty introductory bonus offer.
Earn travel credit. By spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, cardholders will earn 20,000 online bonus points or a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.
That could earn you a free flight or a free night stay at a hotel.
Spend and earn high return rewards. On every dollar spent, earn 1.5 points on unlimited purchases.
The points don't expire.
Travel relaxes with no foreign transaction fees. Enjoy no foreign transaction fees while earning points for international flights, hotels, baggage fees, and more.
Buy big with interest-free spending for a year. The Bank of America Travel Rewards card will award you 0% APR for the first year and charges 15.99-23.99% variable APR after 12 months.
Loyal customers get the best perks. If you're a current Bank of America customer (you have a checking or a savings account or both), cardholders will earn 10% customer points.
Competitive interest rates. When you open your account, Bank of America offers competitive interest rates for both balance transfers (15.99%- 23.99%) and cash advances (18.99-25.99%).
Indefinitely pay higher penalty APR. If you are late on a payment, your interest rate will spike to 29.99%.
The Bank of America Travel Reward credit card offers many benefits for frequent domestic and international travelers.
You can sync your account to your digital wallet (i.e. Apple Pay or Android Pay), and enjoy $0 Liability Guarantee.
What's lacking with this rewards card is a customer rewards program that offers travel perks like a concierge and travel booking.
The Bank of America Travel Reward credit card makes up for this by rewarding customers 1.5 points per dollar while other cards offer 1 point per dollar and no foreign transaction fees.
How to apply
If you're looking for a travel rewards card and Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card prompts your interest, apply online here.
Still not sure? Use Bank of America's rewards calculator and see if this card is worth it for your lifestyle.
Citi Double Cash
Earn double rewards on all spending with the Citi Double Cash card
Citi Double Cash card takes a 'simple' approach to cash-back rewards.
Rather than a variety of cash-back categories to choose from, Citi gives its customers rewards on all spending with no restrictions.
Double your rewards by paying off your card. Earn 1% on all purchases on your Citi Double Cash Card.
Citi incentivizes users to pay off their balance by rewarding you an additional 1% when you pay off your purchases.
Long-term 0% APR for balance transfers. Considering a balance transfer of existing credit card debt?
The Citi Double Cash card offers 0% APR for up to 18 months, earning you a year and a half to pay your debt at no additional interest to you!
Be on time or pay the price. Penalty fees are variable and up to 29.99% of your balance.
Variable APR for the card is 14.49-24.99%, depending on your credit.
Other fees include a 3% transaction fee for international purchases and a 26.24% variable APR fee for cash advances.
This card is perfect for consumers looking to practice better credit card habits.
If you are looking to conduct a balance transfer, the Citi Double Cash card is for you.
Eighteen months of 0% interest on balance transfers can save you hundreds in interest on your other card.
If you're using this card for balance transfers, then you understand that credit card debt is a headache. Citi rewards you for paying your balance each month and doubles your rewards back.
How to apply
Start earning your double rewards and apply online now.
AMEX Everyday offers bonus rewards on everyday spending
The AMEX Everyday card by American Express is a great credit card that earns customers bonus rewards for everyday spending.
Introductory bonus points. Right now you can earn up to 15,000 bonus points by spending $1,000 on your card in the first three months.
Earn bonus rewards on everyday spending. AMEX offers 20% more points on all purchases if you use your AMEX Everyday card more than 20 times in a billing cycle.
Long-term, interest-free purchases. Enjoy 0% APR on all purchases and balance transfers made within the first 15 months of opening your account.
Regular interest rates are 13.99-24.99%. Balance transfers will be assessed a $5 or 3% fee, whichever is more.
Double the points at all supermarkets. In addition to earning 1x the points on all purchases, cardholders will earn double the points on all purchases at supermarkets (for spending up to $6,000 annually).
Amex membership rewards perks. The AMEX Everyday card grants you access to Amex travel rewards—such as no blackout dates for travel booked through its rewards program for any airline, roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, and more.
Transfer your points for travel. If you're a member of a frequent travel loyalty program (such as Delta Skymiles, or Hilton Hhonors), any points earned on your AMEX Everyday card are transferable to select American Express partners.
AMEX also offers a lower foreign transaction fee than most credit cards on this list for AMEX Everyday cardholders at 2.7%.
Beware of high penalty APR. If you have a history of occasional late payments, beware of the AMEX Everyday card.
Your APR will skyrocket to a whopping 29.99% and you'll be charged a fee of $38 if you're payment is late one or more times.
Your APR will stay at this rate for at least 6 months, based on cardholder reviews conducted twice a year.
The AMEX Everyday card is a great option for consumers looking for a credit card to use every day.
Increased points for daily purchases each month and bonus points for common stops at the supermarket make this card easy to add to your wallet.
Don't miss a payment though because you'll be stuck paying a market premium in APR interest.
How to apply
If the Amex Everyday card is the card for you, apply online and see if you qualify in minutes.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
Earn unlimited points on everyday purchases with Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards is for those with excellent credit (750-850). Once approved, cardholders can earn unlimited points on everyday purchases.
Earn more rewards per dollar. With the Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card, customers earn 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase with no restrictions.
You don't have to spend a lot to earn the introductory offer. Cardholders earn $150 in cash bonuses by spending $500 in the first 90 days, and that money can go toward your statement balance.
Redeem your rewards anytime. Cash rewards can be redeemed at any time. There is no minimum or maximum amount needed to cash-in.
Rewards earned on this credit card don't expire as long as your account is open.
Competitive rates after the introductory period. Pay 0% APR in the first nine months on all purchases, and 13.99-23.99% variable APR after the introductory period.
Balance transfers qualify for the same introductory and regular period rates.
There is a 3% fee for balance transfers, which will still save you money on interest if you can pay it during the introductory period.
Swipe abroad and earn rewards at no additional cost. If you're a world-traveler, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card might be a good option for you because it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.
The Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card offers added bonus points per dollar spent, competitively.
Its rewards program doesn't cost you outrageous spending if you have a big purchase in the first few months of opening your account and won't cost you in interest.
This card is for people who want to receive added benefits from the Visa Signature benefits program (i.e. travel upgrades, shopping discounts, concierge) and are planning to use their credit card abroad.
How to apply
See if your excellent credit qualifies you for the Capital One Quicksilver Rewards credit card and apply online.
Don't let credit cards fool you for value with an annual fee
As you can see, credit cards can offer a variety of rewards from bonus cash-back to zero interest on purchases for 18 months.
Credit cards can help you build your credit score and earn you rewards points (cash back!) if you know where to look for them.
It's important to shop around. Don't let credit card companies mislead you into racking up additional fees just to earn reward points or introductory APR that costs more in interest after the intro period.
If you swipe your card regularly, it might be time to take into consideration additional cards that can earn you rewards and let your credit cards work for you.
Have you ever had any of the fee-free credit cards reviewed above?
Do you prefer one card over another?
Share what you know in the comments below.