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Credit card fees 2024

Wondering how much you'll pay for using a credit card? Here's a look at 9+ fees and charges, plus ways to keep the costs down.

Credit cards are a handy way to pay for things and also give you a way to earn points or get other perks as you spend. These don't come free, though: There are different fees and charges that can add up when left unchecked.

On the down side, several of these fees can be applied at once. For instance if you get a cash advance of $50, are late with your repayment and purchase an item in foreign currency all in the same month, you'll be slugged with multiple fees. The good news is that you can avoid most credit card fees with a little careful management. Here are the most common fees and how to avoid them.

1. Annual fees

The majority of credit cards charge an annual fee, ranging from $20 to $700+.

  • A standard credit card with few extra features usually has a fee of $50-$150.
  • A credit card with a lot of features and benefits, such as a rewards program or complimentary travel insurance, generally comes with a higher annual fee of $200-$400.
  • Annual fees on business credit cards can go even higher, from $400 and up.

Annual fees usually start when you first activate a card, and are charged on the anniversary of that date every year you have the card.

If you take advantage of credit card perks, the value they offer in things like free insurance and airport lounge offers could outweigh the cost of the annual fee. If not, consider a card with a lower fee or one that charges no annual fee.

How to avoid it: Some cards waive this fee in the first year to entice you to sign up for the card. You may also qualify for an annual fee-free credit card if you take out a home loan with an eligible package.

Learn more about home loan and credit card packages

Example: How Alex avoided annual fees

Dollar sign iconAlex pays an annual fee of $199 for her platinum rewards credit card. She earns 1 point per $1 spent and spends about $12,000 per year, which is enough points to get a $100 gift card. This means Alex pays $99 more for the card than what she gets in benefits. By switching to a no annual fee rewards credit card, like the Qantas American Express Discovery or Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard, Alex can save between $99 and $199 and still get rewards.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

2. Interest

While not technically a fee, credit card interest is the biggest cost you may be liable to pay. The amount you pay is based on a percentage of your balance that remains unpaid by the due date. It's a little complicated, but this percentage is represented by an annual rate (for example, 19.99% p.a.), but is calculated daily and charged monthly.

Depending on your card, you could have any or all of the following interest rates applied to your balance:

  • Purchase rate. The interest rate charged for new purchases. The Reserve Bank of Australia reports the average standard credit card interest rate is 20.16% p.a., but standard purchase rates can be 8.99% p.a. to 24.99% p.a. (variable).
  • Cash advance rate. The interest rate applied for cash advances, such as ATM withdrawals. It is usually between 19.99% p.a. and 25.99% p.a. (variable).
  • Balance transfer rate. The interest rate applied to any balance you have moved from an old card to the new or current card. If you get a balance transfer credit card, you will usually pay a low or 0% promotional rate for the introductory period. After that, a higher standard interest rate will apply for any remaining balance transfer debt you're still paying off.
  • Promotional interest rate. This interest rate is usually offered to new cardholders for a set period of time, such as the first 12 months. If you’re looking at getting a card with a promotional interest rate for purchases or balance transfers, make sure you also check the standard interest rate that kicks in afterwards.

How to avoid it: Most credit cards in Australia won't charge you interest if you pay your balance in full by the due date on your statement. If you don't pay the total balance in full by the due date, aim to pay more than the minimum each month or choose a card that has a low ongoing interest rate or a 0% promotional interest rate. These strategies will help you keep costs down, at least in the short term.

Example: Thien's interest savings

Clock timer iconThien's credit card has a $5,000 balance on an interest rate of 19.99% p.a. (variable). If he makes minimum payments each month, he'll pay around $955 in interest for the year. If Thien switches to a card with a lower interest rate of 12.99% p.a., he could save $354 in interest over the year. He could also avoid interest charges completely by transferring the debt to a 0% balance transfer card, and paying it off before the introductory period ends.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

3. Balance transfer fees

Some balance transfer credit cards charge a fee for moving your existing debt from a current card to the new account.

Balance transfer fees get charged as soon as you transfer a balance and get added to the principal amount of the debt you transferred, not accruing interest until the introductory period expires.

Balance transfer fees (also known as balance transfer processing or administration charges) are usually between 1% and 3% of the total debt you move, which quickly adds up if you have thousands of dollars of debt.

For instance, if you transfer $5,000 of debt and the fee is 1%, you'll pay $50.

How to avoid it: Compare balance transfer credit cards and look for options that don’t charge a balance transfer fee.

Example: Move your debt and save like Miranda

free iconMiranda has seen a balance transfer credit card that offers 0% interest for 12 months, with a 2.5% balance transfer fee. She has a $6,000 debt she wants to move, but a $150 transfer fee would be added to her balance with this new credit card. Instead of applying, Miranda compares a range of balance transfer options and finds a different card that charges no balance transfer fee. This means she can transfer her debt, save $150 on the fee and pay off her balance faster.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

4. Foreign transaction fees

Most credit and debit cards apply a foreign transaction fee when you use your card overseas or when you shop online with an international merchant. This charge, also known as an “international transaction fee” or “currency conversion fee”, is usually between 1% and 3.5% of the total transaction.

How to avoid it: Look for a credit card that doesn’t apply a foreign transaction fee, such as the Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard or any platinum Bankwest credit card. You could also consider a prepaid travel card that lets you load and use funds in several currencies, cash, traveller’s cheques or a combination of travel money options that can help reduce the fees you pay when you’re overseas or shopping online.

Example: How Jai saved on transaction fees on holiday

Earth iconJai has just got back from a trip to Brazil, where he spent $3,000 on his credit card. He checks his statement and sees that a 3% foreign transaction fee was applied each time he used the card, adding $90 to his total bill. While Jai has to pay the fees this time, he decides to shop around for a card with no foreign transaction fee so that he saves money on all his future trips.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

5. Cash advance fees

This fee is charged for “cash advance” transactions, including when you withdraw money from an ATM, buy foreign currency or pay with plastic whilst gambling.

In these instances, you’ll be charged between 2% and 3.5% of the total transaction. Some cards also have a substantial minimum cash advance fee of between $20 and $35. You’ll also be charged the cash advance rate of interest from the day the transaction is made.

How to avoid it: Don’t use your credit card to get cash out. Avoid using it to buy foreign currency or for transactions in a casino. Also check with your credit card provider about other transactions where this fee applies and steer clear of them.

Example: Valentina's cash advance mistake

Save moneyValentina has run out of cash at a music festival. She can't access her everyday transaction account, so she withdraws $500 using her credit card. When she gets her next statement, she sees she has been charged a 3% fee worth $15. The cash advance interest rate of 21.99% p.a. has also been charged for 20 days, totalling $6, which means Valentina has paid $21 for using her credit card. She makes sure she takes cash next time.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

6. Late payment fees

If you don’t make a payment on your credit card by the due date on your statement, you will be charged a late payment fee worth anywhere from $0 to $30. Some providers charge this straight away, while others may not apply a late fee unless they have to contact you to make a payment. Note that even if a late fee is not charged, other penalties could apply and it may affect your credit history.

How to avoid it: Set yourself a reminder to make payments before the due date on your statement. Make sure you factor in processing times by paying a day or 2 early if you can. You may even want to set up an automatic payment from your transaction account so you always meet this deadline.

Example: Asad uses reminders to avoid late fees

Calendar iconAsad has racked up a few late fees after forgetting to pay his balance on time, so he sets up a calendar reminder for the 10th of each month. His credit card is usually due around the 13th, so this gives him time to check his statement, pay the minimum or full balance due, and allow for processing time.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

7. Over limit fees

You could be charged an “over limit fee” if you max out your credit card in a statement period. For instance, if your credit card limit is $2,000 and you go on a shopping spree and push the balance up to $2,200, then you've gone over your limit.

Not all credit card companies apply this charge, but if they do, it's usually between $5 and $35.

How to avoid it: Regularly check your credit card balance so that you know what your “available credit limit” is when using the card. If you regularly get close to going over the limit, consider requesting a credit limit increase.

Example: Marie shops up a storm

Touch phone iconAfter a fun day of shopping with her friends, Marie realises she's charged $500 worth of purchases to her card, which will put it over the limit. She quickly transfers $300 from her savings to her credit card to avoid an over limit fee.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

List of bank's late and over limit fees

8. Reward program fees

Some rewards credit cards charge an annual fee for choosing a particular rewards program. Usually this only applies to cards that give you a choice between standard rewards and Qantas rewards, such as the Citi Qantas Rewards program that you can opt into with a Citi Rewards card. This fee is usually between $30 and $50 and applies on top of the card’s annual fee.

How to avoid it: Carefully read the terms and conditions of any rewards program you’re considering. If a fee is charged for opting to earn Qantas rewards, make sure the value of points you will earn from the card will outweigh this cost (and the annual fee). You may also want to consider a Qantas frequent flyer card that doesn’t charge a reward program fee.

Example: How Antony got the most out of his rewards credit card

bills payment iconAntony opted to earn Qantas rewards on his current credit card, at a rate of 1 point per $1 spent. He pays an extra $30 per year for the program, and an annual fee of $200. He decides to switch to the NAB Qantas Rewards card, which has an annual fee of $95 and offers 0.5 points per $1 spent on a Visa and 1 point per $1 spent on an American Express card linked to the account. This saves him $135 a year, while also giving him the opportunity to earn just as many points.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

Finder survey: What annual fee would people be willing to pay for a rewards credit card?

Up to $10040.13%
Up to $20010.97%
Up to $3007.21%
Up to $4004.7%
Up to $5001.57%
More than $5000.94%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

9. Credit card surcharges

This fee is actually charged by businesses, rather than your credit card provider. Credit card surcharges are usually between 0.5% and 3% of the total transaction cost, but some merchants apply a flat fee that could be much higher. All merchants legally have to notify you of a surcharge before you make a payment.

How to avoid it: You can avoid this fee by having another payment option available, such as a debit card, cash, direct transfer or by using a service such as POLi or PayPal.

Example: How Doug avoided extra fees

bills payment iconDoug uses his credit card to pay his everyday expenses, then pays it off at the end of the month. He noticed that the surcharge he pays when he's in a cafe, restaurant or bar is often 1-2%. It's a small amount per transaction, but it all adds up. He starts using his debit card when eating out to avoid the unnecessary charges.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

10. Extra cardholder fees

A supplementary card is an easy way to share your account with someone else and can double your opportunities to earn points. But if you want to allow someone else to use your credit card, such as your partner or child, you may be charged an additional cardholder fee.

How to avoid it: Compare options and look for a credit card that offers additional cardholders for free.

Example: Leila and Lui share cards without the fees

group icon Leila wanted to give her university-aged daughter Lui a credit card to use in emergencies. As Lui won't use the card very often, Leila wasn't keen to pay any extra fees for the convenience of an extra card. So, she shopped around and found a suitable card that offers free supplementary cardholders.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

Compare no annual fee credit cards

Name Product Annual fee Purchase rate p.a. Balance transfer rate p.a.
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
Annual fee
$0 first year ($59 after)
Purchase rate p.a.
0% for 28 months with 2% balance transfer fee, then 21.74%
Get a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for the first 28 months (with a 2% BT fee). Plus, save with a $0 first-year annual fee.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card
Annual fee
$0 first year ($87 after)
Purchase rate p.a.
Get $300 back on your card when you spend $1,500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months and a $0 first-year annual fee. Plus, complimentary overseas travel insurance.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Annual fee
Purchase rate p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points for every $1 dollar spent, plus a $0 annual fee.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Annual fee
Purchase rate p.a.
Save with a $0 annual fee and earn 0.75 Velocity Points per $1 on everyday purchases.
Kogan Money Credit Card - 0% Purchase and Balance Transfer Offer
Annual fee
Purchase rate p.a.
0% for 9 months, then 20.99%
0% for 9 months with 1% balance transfer fee, then 21.74%
Limited time offer. Save with 0% p.a. interest on purchases and balance transfers (with a 1% BT fee), both for 9 months. Plus, an ongoing $0 annual fee.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
Annual fee
$0 first year ($195 after)
Purchase rate p.a.
Save with a $0 annual fee in the first year. Plus, $200 Travel Credit every year.
American Express Low Rate Credit Card
Annual fee
Purchase rate p.a.
Offers a low ongoing interest rate of 10.99% p.a. and a $0 annual fee. Plus, complimentary purchase cover.
NAB StraightUp Card
Annual fee
Purchase rate p.a.
Save with 0% p.a. interest charges and 0% foreign transaction fees. Plus, $0 monthly fees when you don't use the card or carry a balance.
More Info
Citi Simplicity Card
Annual fee
Purchase rate p.a.
0% for 6 months, then 21.49%
0% for 6 months, then 22.24%
Get 0% p.a. interest on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months and an ongoing $0 annual fee.
More Info

Other credit card fees

These credit card fees are less common, but it’s still good to know when they may apply and how you can avoid them.

  • Chargeback fee. If you need to reverse a credit card transaction through your credit card provider, you could be charged a fee of around $10–$25. You can avoid this fee by trying to get a refund with the merchant before going to your credit card provider.
  • Card replacement fees. Most credit card companies don’t charge a fee if you need a replacement card in Australia. But for fast-tracking or overseas replacements, you could pay anywhere from $30 to $200 for the service.
  • Paper statement fee. Some credit card companies will charge you a fee if you request paper statements for your account. Usually this will be around $2 to $7, but you can avoid it by opting for paperless statements delivered to your email or via Internet banking.
  • Non-bank ATM fee. If you use your credit card to withdraw cash or check your balance at an ATM outside of your credit card provider’s network, you could be charged a fee of up to $5. There may also be additional charges from the ATM operator, so avoid getting cash out and check your balance via Internet or mobile banking instead.

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    SpencerDecember 22, 2017

    Hi. I am interested to know if there is a limitation on how many times a Credit Card Company can charge a ‘late payment’ fee and/or a ‘missed payment’ fee during the course of one year? I have heard that they can only charge this fee once in a twelve month period, is this the case? Can I request the reversal of subsequent, repeat charges of these fees or am I mistakenly optimistic? Thanks for your expertise, its worth its weight in ‘credit card fees’.

      Default Gravatar
      ArnoldDecember 23, 2017

      Hi Spencer,

      Thanks for your inquiry

      Generally, a late payment fee (a late charge) is charged to a borrower who misses paying at least their minimum payment by the payment deadline.

      Depending on your credit card’s late fee policy and whether it’s your first time being late in the past six months. You’ll be charged a late fee each month your payment is late or less than the minimum payment.

      It would be best to check the terms and conditions of your credit card or contact your credit card issuer to clarify this matter.

      Hope this information helps


    Default Gravatar
    LeanneApril 14, 2013

    I’ve recently switched credit card providers and was shocked when they charged me a cash advance fee for buying a lotto ticket online at, and then interest on the cash advance fee! Their answer is that website is considered a gambling website and they will charge me extra fees for gambling online. I’ve never gambled, I always pay off my balance in full each month and never get charged any interest or extra fees until now. Can you recommend a credit card that wouldn’t charge me extra for buying a lotto ticket online? Thank you.

      JacobApril 15, 2013Finder

      Hi Leanne,

      Thanks for your question.

      We have a guide about gambling transactions and credit cards. You may want to check it out for an answer to your question.

      It depends on the provider as to whether the transaction is treated as a purchase or a cash advance. Some providers don’t allow these types of transactions at all.

      Hope this has helped. Let us know if you have any further questions.

      I hope this helps.


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