Annual fees are often considered a given by individuals looking for the most value in a credit card. The reality is that there are several credit cards with no annual fee that offer plenty of value for consumers. Just because a credit card carries no annual fee doesn't mean it doesn't offer any value. Below are some of the best credit cards available today that come with no annual fee. Use our guide to help you choose your next credit card.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Credit Card with no Annual Fee

Choosing a credit card with no annual fee is usually a conscious choice. Beyond the annual fee, consider these other factors when choosing your next credit card. 

Rewards: No annual fee cards typically don't offer the premium rewards of cards with annual fees. Still, you can find plenty of no-fee cards that earn valuable cash back and travel rewards, and even welcome bonuses. We've found the best rewards credit cards for 2022.

APR: A card's annual percentage rate (APR) determines the interest charge (including fees) you'll pay if you carry over a balance month-to-month. Most cards list an APR range based on the cardholder's creditworthiness. 

Card benefits: No-fee credit cards offer more than just rewards. Most cards offer some other benefits and perks that increase the card's value. Some possible benefits include travel perks, free credit score access, purchase protections, and more. 

Other fees: While there is no annual fee with these cards, always pay attention to a card's other fees, including foreign transaction fees, late fees, and balance transfer fees.

No Annual Fee Credit Cards At a Glance

 Best For Annual FeeCredit Welcome Bonus
Citi® Double Cash CardFlat-Rate Cash Back$0                                Good to ExcellentN/A
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUpsm CardFrequent American Airlines Travelers$0Good to Excellent10,000 Bonus Miles and $50 Statement Credit
Citi Rewards+® CardSmaller Purchases$0Good to Excellent20,000 Bonus Points
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit cardTravel Rewards$0Good to Excellent25,000 Bonus Points
Deserve® EDU MastercardStudents$0No Credit, Limited Credit HistoryOne Year of Amazon Prime

Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back

You can earn flat-rate cash back two ways with the Citi® Double Cash Card. First, you earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase. You will also earn another 1% when you pay your credit card bill. The Double Cash card also features an 18-month intro APR offer on balance transfers. 

Intro Offer: N/A

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 13.99% to 23.99% 

Intro APR: Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months.

Highlights:

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% once you pay for those purchases.

  • To earn cash back, pay (at least) the minimum due on time.

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. Balance transfers do not earn cash back.

  • No annual fee.


American Airlines AAdvantage MileUpsm Card: Best for Frequent American Airline Travelers

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Mastercard® is one of the few airline co-branded credit cards without an annual fee. The card earns bonus rewards on American Airlines and grocery store purchases. While it doesn't carry some of the premium perks usually offered by airline credit cards, cardholders get 25% off inflight food and beverage purchases on all American Airlines flights. 

Intro Offer: 10,000 Bonus Miles and $50 Statement Credit

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 15.99% to 24.99%

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights:

  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 on your card in the first three months. 

  • 2X miles on American Airlines purchases.

  • 2X miles at Grocery stores.

  • 1X miles on all other purchases.

  • No cap on the number of miles you can earn.

  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights.


Love to travel? Don't miss the best travel rewards credit cards for 2022.

Citi Rewards+® Card: Best For Small Purchases

The Citi Rewards+® Card earns rewards on all purchases. Where it really shines, though, is when making small purchases. That's because of its unique round-up rewards structure. When you make a purchase, your rewards are automatically rounded up to the nearest ten points. You won't notice a huge difference on larger purchases, but that $2 coffee earns ten points. So does a $1 pack of gum or any other small purchase. Cardholders can build up rewards quickly without a lot of card spending. 

Intro Offer: 20,000 Bonus Points

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 13.49% to 23.49%

Intro APR: Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers and new purchases for 15 months.

Highlights:

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 on your card in the first three months from account opening. 

  • 2X points at gas stations and grocery stores for the first $6,000 annually (1X points after that). 

  • 1X points on all other purchases. 

  • Round up to the nearest ten points on every purchase. 

  • Receive 10% of redeemed points back annually. 


Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best for Travel Rewards

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers unlimited 1.5X points on all purchases. The card is especially valuable for current BofA Preferred Rewards members. Preferred Rewards members earn from 25% to 75% more points on all purchases. Specific earnings depend on your combined balances in BofA deposit accounts and Merrill Investment accounts. Cardholders can redeem points for statement credits for travel or other card purchases. 

Intro Offer: 25,000 Bonus Points

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 13.99% to 23.99%

Intro APR: 0% APR on new purchases for 15 billing cycles.

Highlights:

  • Earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account.

  • Introductory offer of 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on new purchases. 

  • Unlimited 1.5X points on all purchases.

  • Points never expire.

  • BOA Preferred Rewards members earn 25% to 75% more points on every purchase.

  • Free FICO Score access.

  • No foreign transaction fees.


Deserve® EDU Mastercard: Best for Students

College students will love the Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students. It's one of the few student credit cards that doesn't rely on only a credit check or security deposit for approval.

The Deserve® Edu card earns unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase. Students can also receive a free year of Amazon Prime Student and cell phone protection. 

Intro Offer: One Year of Amazon Prime 

Annual Fee: $0

Regular APR: 18.74% 

Intro APR: N/A

Highlights:

  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student after your first purchase with your new Deserve® EDU Mastercard. 

  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases with your Deserve® EDU Mastercard. 

  • Cell phone protection up to $600.

  • No deposit is required. 

  • No annual fees.

  • No international transaction fees. 

  • No Social Security Number is required to apply.


What to Consider Before You Apply

One of the primary points to consider before you apply for a credit card is whether you are eligible for the card. The credit card issuer will perform a hard credit check to determine your creditworthiness during the application process. Card issuers don't publish specific credit score requirements online, but we can gauge credit range requirements based on data points from previous applicants. 

Check to see that your credit score aligns with the recommended score before you apply. Many banks and credit cards offer free credit score access for account holders. You can also get a free copy of your credit report annually at AnnualCreditReport.com.

How to Do No Annual Fee Cards Compare with Cards that Have an Annual Fee?

Typically, cards with an annual fee offer higher rewards rates, bigger sign-up bonus offers, and better card benefits than cards that don't carry a fee. Consider the annual fee as a premium to access all of these extra benefits. Still, some no annual fee cards earn points and miles and come with valuable benefits that most consumers would enjoy. 

Are Credit Cards With Annual Fees Worth it?

The annual fee is one of the first factors people consider when applying for a new credit card. A card with an annual fee is often worth the added cost because of the value it provides. The decision often comes down to whether the card's value outweighs the annual fee it charges.

Some credit cards waive the annual fee the first year to help make the decision a little easier. Other cards feature much higher fees, upwards of $500 or more, to access luxury travel perks and other card benefits. It all boils down to whether you're willing to pay a fee each year and if the card meets your needs. 

Can You Get a Card with No Annual Fee with Bad Credit?

If you have bad credit, your options are limited on which cards you qualify for, including cards with no fees. Depending on your credit, you may need to rely on a secured credit card, which is a card secured by a security deposit instead of a credit check. In most cases, you can get back your security deposit when you close your account or upgrade to an unsecured card (as long as you pay off your card balance). Many secured credit cards still charge an annual fee in addition to the security deposit.

Have bad credit? Check out the 5 best credit cards for bad credit in 2022.

Summary

Credit cards without annual fees are often the most popular cards among consumers because of the cost savings. People can still enjoy card perks without paying a premium. The best credit cards are the ones that align with your specific needs, whether there is an annual fee charged or not. Use our guide as you research the right card for you. 

Want nothing but the best? These are the best credit cards for 2022.

References:

https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/aadvantage-mile-up-credit-card
https://www.bankofamerica.com/credit-cards/products/travel-rewards-credi...
https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/citi-rewards-plus-credit-card
 

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All of the opinions expressed herein are the author's alone, and not those of any bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, lender, insurance company, outside financial institution, or any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post or any other third parties.