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CNET Money's mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors' independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards

Best Credit Cards With No Annual Fee in August 2022

These cards offer rewards, welcome bonuses and introductory APRs without charging you an annual fee.

Credit cards without an annual fee are good for your first credit card, to supplement your other credit cards or as an emergency source of financing in case unexpected charges come up. The common thread with the best credit cards with no annual fee is they offer a well-rounded value proposition. Not only do they feature some of the best rewards programs for maximizing your budget, they offer a fruitful welcome bonus and a reasonably long introductory APR period, which may allow the cardholder to temporarily avoid interest on large purchases and balance transfers

Best cash-back credit card with no annual fee

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
APR16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer APR16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Our Take

The Chase Freedom Flex offers a wide range of cash-back rewards and additional perks all with no annual fee. The rewards include popular spending categories, and the quarterly rotating bonus categories often catch other big-budget items. Now through September, you earn 5% cash back on gas stations, car rental agencies, movie theaters and select live entertainment on up to $1,500 in combined spending per quarter, then 1%. You'll have to activate this benefit through your account to take advantage of it, though.

You can earn a very competitive welcome bonus and take advantage of the introductory APR. The welcome bonus can be redeemed for statement credits against your purchases, and the introductory APR can give you some cushion to pay back big purchases over a longer time period while avoiding interest charges.

For more information, see our full review of the Chase Freedom Flex.

Best travel card with no annual fee

Card Highlights
Intro Offer25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
APR16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See terms
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR up to 29.99% APR
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.

Our Take

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.

With the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, you earn 1.5 points (equivalent to 1.5 cents) for every dollar spent on any purchase, anywhere. These points can be redeemed for statement credits against travel expenses (like hotels and flights) and restaurants, with no restrictions on airlines, websites or dates. You'll also enjoy no foreign transaction fees, so anywhere you travel to, you can use this credit card without penalty. The sign-on bonus and introductory APR on purchases make this a well-rounded everyday credit card, as well.

For more details, see our full review of the Bank of America Travel Rewards card.

Best welcome bonus with no annual fee

Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - 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.
APR13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 months
Recommended Credit Good/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 15 months
Balance Transfer APR13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

The Discover it® Cash Back* is another good card that costs nothing but a good credit score to open. It offers decent rewards and an introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, but what makes this card really stand out is the Unlimited Cashback Match welcome bonus. For your first year as a cardholder, all of your cash back earned is essentially doubled by Discover, with no limitations. You can rack up a lot more cash back with this welcome bonus than with most credit cards, but you'll have to be patient to earn it, as Discover won't match your cash back until after your full first year as a cardholder is up.

For the quarterly rotating bonus category, you'll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending for the quarter, then 1%. You have to activate these rewards through your account each quarter to earn them, though. Now through September, you can earn these rewards at restaurants and on PayPal purchases.

For more information, see our full review of the Discover it Cash Back.

A card that adapts to your spending

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
APR16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 months on purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • 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.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 15 months on balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 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.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Our Take

The Citi Custom Cash card offers flexibility in your rewards -- but unlike with the Discover it Cash Back and Chase Freedom Flex, the flexible category is dictated by your own spending rather than by the credit card issuer. Without having to manually activate anything, this credit card will apply 5% cash back to your topmost spending category each billing cycle, on up to $500 spending per billing cycle (then 1%). Eligible categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.

As with the other options on this list, you can also take advantage of the welcome bonus and introductory APR with this card. For more details, see our full review of the Citi Custom Cash Card.

Best flat-rate credit card with no annual fee

See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
APR17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% Variable APR
Balance Transfer Fee up to 5%; min: $5
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Our Take

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card offers an unlimited 2% flat cash rewards structure, making this a simple but powerful card. There's no worrying about reward limits or bonus categories -- you'll earn a flat rewards rate on eligible everyday purchases. Plus, if you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of opening your account, you'll earn a $200 cash rewards welcome bonus. You can also take advantage of the low introductory APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, as this is a well-rounded card.

Check out our full review of the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card for more details.

FAQs

How much are credit card annual fees?

Many rewards credit cards and travel credit cards have annual fees around $100. These are usually associated with better rewards rates and perks. Some credit cards, like premium travel credit cards, can cost hundreds of dollars or even more. These credit cards often offer a lot of annual statement credits or other niche benefits.

Are there balance transfer credit cards with no annual fee?

Yes. In fact, most balance transfer credit cards offer no annual fee. You'll want to keep an eye out for balance transfer fees, though. Most cards charge a 3% balance transfer fee, but some charge as much as 5%. Otherwise, you can find a handful of credit cards with no balance transfer fee.

How can you tell if a credit card annual fee is worth the cost?

First, make sure you have room in your budget to handle an annual fee. Then you want to make sure that any rewards or benefits you get from the credit card will outweigh the annual costs. Consider the rewards program and how it fits your lifestyle, welcome bonuses and other perks when valuing a credit card's offer.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

*All information about the Discover it Cash Back has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.