Whether you are planning to get your first credit card or just switch to a new one, be ready to face loads of fees. Just like interest rates, credit card fees come in a variety of types and are charged for the card usage, as well as for all common operations with your account. Knowing all types of fees and cases when they typically apply can help you choose a better credit card or avoid unnecessary fees on it.
Let’s start with the type of fee that should be the first to look at when applying for a credit card. Annual fee, or card maintenance fee, is charged for using a credit card on a yearly basis. Depending on whether or not your bank requires the fee, you may save or overpay up to $300 a year. The majority of cards for good and excellent credit, as well as a number of subprime card offers require no annual fees.
So, if you’re looking for a less expensive bank card, it’s worth your time to search for what fee free cards are currently available. If you find a really tempting offer but it has an annual fee, you may ask the bank to waive it. If it does not work, just get one of the numerous cards without a fee.
Then there is an application fee that may be charged on any card regardless of its type and credit requirement. Most often, however, an application fee, also called set up fee, is found on prepaid and secured card types.
As you start using your card account, the number of fees charged triples. Most common of them are cash advance fees, finance charges, balance transfer fees, as well as a whole range of penalty fees that you pay for being delinquent on your account. While these fees are obligatory, it does not mean you cannot avoid them.
For example, a cash advance fee is charged when you withdraw cash from your credit account. What you need is to create a cash fund which you could use in emergencies instead of making a cash advance.
As to a finance charge, it is impossible to avoid as long as you carry a balance beyond a 0% introductory rate and a grace period. A finance charge applies once a billing cycle and depends on your card’s APR, the balance you’re carrying and the method of calculating the charge. One simple way to avoid it is pay your balance in full before the end of the grace period.
Making a balance transfer from your current card, it’s very likely you’ll pay a transfer fee. The fee is a percentage of the money amount transferred and is charged by almost all balance transfer cards available on the market.
The highest and most painful fees to beware of are charged as a penalty when you are late on your monthly payment or exceed your spending limit. Whether or not you pay these fees depends on how responsible and disciplined you are using your credit card.
Obviously, most of the fees mentioned can be avoided by simply following the rules of rationalism and principles of wise credit card use.