A credit card annual fee is the minimum cost of keeping the account open for a year. It helps the issuer afford any rewards or promotional financing the card may offer as well as general account services, such as billing and customer support. The average credit card annual fee is about $19, but many cards have no annual fee. A credit card’s annual fee typically is charged on the account anniversary or the month after it. It will show up on the credit card statement like a normal purchase.
An annual fee on a credit card isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Lots of credit cards with annual fees more than make up the extra cost with better rewards and supplemental perks such as travel insurance. Others, however, try to seem prestigious by charging a big fee without offering nearly enough in return. That’s why it’s important to do your research before applying.
Here’s what you should know about credit card annual fees:
Annual fees typically range from $0 to $500.
The annual fee gets added to your balance as a purchase, reducing your available credit (and possibly leading to interest charges) until you pay it off.
As a special promotion, many credit cards waive their annual fee during the first year an account is open.
If you ask your credit card company to lower or waive your annual fee, they may consider it. But don’t count on your request being approved.
You should only get a credit card with an annual fee if it will save you more money overall than the best no annual fee card you can qualify for.
Getting a starter credit card with no annual fee is a great idea if you are new to credit. Closing your oldest credit card account can hurt your credit score, and you probably don’t want to continue paying for a card that you eventually stop using as your credit improves.
All in all, annual fees may or may not be worth your while, depending on what your card gives you in return. But it’s best to avoid fees while building credit, if possible, since you’re unlikely to get benefits that are worth the cost until you're more established. Once you’re able to qualify for more lucrative rewards cards, you can weigh the fees against the benefits and decide which card is right for you.
Credit cards with annual fees are worth it when they save you more than they cost you, especially if your savings exceed what the best no annual fee credit cards available to you would provide. Paying an annual fee on a credit card can unlock bigger initial rewards bonuses, higher ongoing earning rates, and a variety of additional benefits. But you need to make sure you get your money’s worth and actually use the perks you’re paying extra for. If you don't, a credit card that does not charge annual fees may offer better long-term value.… read full answer
Times When a Credit Card Annual Fee Is Worth It
When you can spend enough on the card to earn rewards worth more than the annual fee
Rewards can come as cash back, points, or miles, and if you spend enough to earn lots of them, the rewards alone can pay for your annual fee. If your card gives 1.5% back on purchases and the annual fee is $95, for instance, you’ll have to spend about $6,350 annually to break even with ongoing rewards alone.
When the perks your card offers are things you’re going to buy and use anyway
Annual travel credits, airport lounge memberships, TSA Pre-Check application credits, and free hotel nights are a few high-value perks offered by some credit cards. If you were planning to spend money on these things anyway, the annual fee on a credit card might start to seem like a deal.
When it would save you more than the best card with no annual fee
If you crunch the numbers and determine that a card with an annual fee would save you the most money at the end of the day, even considering the fixed yearly cost, then go for it. Just make sure to reevaluate if your spending or payment plans change.
To figure out if a credit card’s annual fee is going to be worth paying, consider how much you spend – overall and in the card’s major rewards categories. Then calculate how much you would earn with each card’s rewards structure. And evaluate the practical value of the card’s other perks – it’s good to be realistic about how often you’ll use them. Finally, subtract the annual fee. The remainder is how much the card could save you, assuming you pay the bill in full every month and avoid finance charges.
However, there are a number of no annual fee credit cards that offer rewards such as cash back or rewards earned on purchases. But you will need good credit or better to qualify for most of these cards.
A good go-between is a credit card that waives the annual fee for the first year you have the card. After the first year, the fee will be charged to your account. If, after that first 12 months, you’ve determined that having the card isn’t beneficial, you can close the account. Keep in mind that closing a credit card account, especially after only a year, could have a negative effect on your credit score. In addition, when your card is closed, you will be unable to redeem any rewards you’ve earned with the card.
Whether you should have a no annual fee card depends on your spending habits and preferences. If you’ll earn enough in rewards to warrant the cost of an annual fee, it might be worth the investment. But if you know you won’t make too many purchases over the course of a year, your best bet would be to stick with the no annual fee card.
The easiest way of getting your credit card annual fee waived would be to pick a credit card that waives the annual fee during the first year as a promotion, or one with no annual fee at all. Alternatively, you can call the issuer’s retention line, but it is not guaranteed that it will work. Beyond that, you’re unlikely to get your credit card’s annual fee waived unless you’re an active-duty member of the military. Still, it never hurts to ask, even if success is a long shot.… read full answer
Being well-informed about your rights and alternative credit card options definitely will help your chances. And you can find the most important info below.
Here’s how to get a credit card annual fee waived:
If you’re employed full-time by the U.S. military, call your issuer and tell them you’d like your SCRA benefits. Exactly how the process works differs by company, but they will ask you to prove your active military status. For example, you might provide a copy of your active duty orders. Once you send the issuer proof, they should waive your annual fee as well as reduce your interest rate. When applying for a card, there’s sometimes a box you can check to indicate your military status, too.
Call the retention line and ask your card’s issuer to waive or lower its annual fee. Long-time customers and high-spenders with great credit who always pay in full likely have the best chance.
It’s a common credit card promotion to waive the annual fee for the first year your account is open. This will be noted on the offer when you apply, though. It’s not something you have to ask for.
If you really want to avoid fees, get a no annual fee credit card. Hundreds are available, including cards with rewards and 0% APRs. You might be able to get a better deal overall by paying an annual fee for more rewards.
If you’re having difficulty paying your annual fee due to unforeseen financial difficulty, you might be able to apply for a financial relief/ hardship program with the issuer. This way, you could potentially have your annual fee waived. Or you might receive other assistance such as lower monthly payments or lower interest rates.
Since annual fees help pay for the benefits credit cards provide, issuers aren’t eager to waive them. But there’s no penalty for asking. And if you’re in the military, you should definitely take advantage of the waiver you’ve earned with your service.
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