Multiple credit cards in a wallet.

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Fees play a key role in meeting or beating long-term personal financial goals. It's so significant in investing, because high fees can mean several hundred thousand dollars less money over multi-decade periods as charges eat away at returns.

No less important in the grand scheme of your personal finances, credit card fees can wipe out the advantages cardholders receive for rewards and other perks. These are a few reasons why The Motley Fool's credit card ratings are biased toward no- and low-annual-fee credit cards.

In the video segment below, credit card analysts Nathan Hamilton and Michael Douglass focus on annual fees, and what you should know before applying for a new fee-savvy credit card.

Douglass: James had a question, "What's a good no annual fee credit card?" James, we'll give you some sense of general things to look for, and you can apply those to what makes sense for you. Obviously, one of the first questions is, are you carrying debt or not?

Hamilton: That's the first question, because if you are, then balance transfer cards probably make sense. If you aren't, and rewards are the most important, I would personally pick cash back, just because I don't place as much importance on travel, I don't have a huge travel budget to earn those rewards. But, there are no annual fee cards that apply to each category that are very good cards that have best-in-class offers out there. So, I would look online. You can plug in any information on Google and search "no annual fee credit cards." We actually have lists of no annual fee credit cards.


Hamilton: Yeah,, you'll find some various lists. Included in those ranked lists are a bunch of no annual fee cards, which, if you look at our ratings criteria and our view, it biases toward no and low annual fee solutions.

Douglass: A few other things to think about when you're evaluating those: you often want to see if you can get a bonus $150 or more with your sign up, if possible. That's usually a good sign.

Hamilton: Yeah. You can get a no annual fee card $150-200 sign-up bonus, and the requirements are generally to spend around $1,000 within a three-month period, which for many people is doable.

Douglass: Yeah it's not bad. So, a lot of good stuff there. Check it out.