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What is an annual fee?|

An annual fee is a yearly charge that some credit cards charge to borrowers. When you sign up for a credit card that has an annual fee, you'll be required to pay the annual fee when you first receive your credit card (though some credit cards waive the first year's fee as a new applicant perk). Then, you'll pay the annual fee again each cardholder anniversary. Annual fees can range from $39 to upwards of $500.

~Why do some credit cards have an annual fee?|

There are two main reasons that a credit card may include an annual fee.

First, some credit cards offer highly desirable perks, such as valuable cash back, miles, points or other rewards benefits. The annual fee helps the credit card issuer offset the cost of these competitive benefits. As a borrower, you might find that the value you get out of these rewards is enough to justify paying the annual fee.

Second, some credit cards tailored to borrowers with no credit history or with poor credit charge an annual fee. While these credit-building credit cards may not offer the same rewards that other annual fee cards do, you may decide to go this route in order to improve your credit. That said, you can also build your credit with a secured credit card, which may not include an annual fee.

~When do you pay an annual fee on a credit card?|

You'll typically pay the annual fee on a new credit card within the first month after you sign up for the card. Then, you'll be charged the annual fee as a lump sum once every 12 months. The annual fee will show up as a charge on your credit card statement.

~What does "no annual fee" mean?|

No annual fee means that a credit card doesn't charge you a yearly fee simply for using your card. This can offer you more flexibility, as you won't need to get the most use out of your card in order to compensate for the cost of keeping it open.

On the other hand, no annual fee cards can have other types of credit card fees, such as regular purchase APR, foreign transaction fees or returned payment fees. What makes these charges different is that, unlike if a card charges an annual fee, you can avoid paying if you don't carry a credit card balance and read the credit card agreement to understand the terms before you use your card.

~What features should you look for in a no annual fee credit card?|

While it can sometimes be the case that a no annual fee card doesn't offer the same beefy rewards as one with a yearly charge, this isn't always true. You can find a no annual fee card with the rewards that add the most value to your spending.

For example, you can find a credit card with cash back rewards for the spending you already do. Or, you can find a credit card with a hefty intro bonus and 0% APR introductory period to make the most out of a large purchase. Ultimately, you should apply for the credit card that offers you the highest overall value.

~How do I get my credit card annual fee waived?|

While there's no guarantee that you'll be able to get your card's annual fee waived, it doesn't hurt to try. You may be able to leverage your relationship with your credit card company to ask them to waive the fee. For example, if you call your credit card company and explain that you're considering closing your card because it's too expensive to keep it open, they may offer to waive the fee for a year in order to keep your business.

~Why should I choose a no annual fee credit card?|

Here are two main reasons to choose a no annual fee credit card:

  1. You don't feel comfortable paying an annual fee. Whether you're a big credit card spender or not, you may just not like the idea of paying a charge simply to have a certain credit card. Fortunately, there are no shortage of no annual fee credit card options to choose from.
  2. You don't use the credit card often enough to justify paying a fee. Maybe you only use your credit card once in a blue moon or keep it in your wallet as an emergency only payment option. If that's the case, paying an annual fee could mean taking a financial loss each year. A no annual fee card would work just as well for you, and you wouldn't have to worry about the yearly expense.

~Can I get a credit card with no annual fee if I have bad credit?|

Yes, it's possible to get a credit card with no annual fee if you have bad credit. That said, your options will be more limited. You should consider looking for no annual fee cards specifically designed for applicants who need to improve their credit.