When do you pay the annual fee on a credit card?
If you’ve got a $0 annual fee for the first year or want to keep track of ongoing costs, here’s what you need to know.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
A credit card annual fee is usually charged when you first activate the account, and then around the same time every 12 months after that. If you have a card that offers a $0 annual fee in the first year, you won't have to pay an annual fee until around 12 months after you activated the card.
Use this guide to learn more about credit card annual fees, including ways to avoid and reduce the costs.
How can I avoid paying a credit card annual fee?
If you have a credit card that offers no annual fee in the first year, you can avoid this cost by cancelling the account within the first 12 months. To do this, you’ll need to make note of the date you got the card, pay off your full balance and then close the account before the anniversary of your account opening.
For example, say you got a credit card on 31 January 2021 that offered a $0 annual fee in the first year and then charged a $250 annual fee after that. If you decided the $250 annual fee wasn't worth it for you, then you would need to cancel the card before 31 January 2022 to avoid being charged an annual fee.
Tip: Find out what date the annual fee is due
If you want to cancel a credit card before the annual fee is charged, contact your credit card company and ask them when the annual fee is due. This will help you sort out your account and close it before the fee is added to your balance.
If you’ve had the same credit card for years and want to cancel it, you can also use this approach to avoid paying another annual fee before you close the account.
What if I want to cancel the credit card after the annual fee is charged?
First thing's first: You can cancel a credit card at any time, as long as the balance is $0. So if the annual fee has already been charged, you'll usually need to pay it (and any other balance on the card) before you can cancel the card.
If you have questions about your annual fee, call your credit card company to talk about your options – they'll be able to let you know when it's charged, how long you'll have to pay it and anything else you need to know before you can cancel the card.
Other ways to avoid a credit card annual fee
- Credit cards with no annual fee for life. A selection of credit cards offer no annual fee for life, giving you a way to avoid this cost on an ongoing basis.
- Annual fee waivers. Some credit cards offer to waive or refund the cost of the annual fee when you meet certain conditions, such as spending a set amount each month or year. You can check your credit card's terms and conditions or ask the provider to find out if this type of waiver is available on your current card.
- Home loan packages. Some banks offer to waive a credit card’s annual fee when you request the card as part of a home package.
- Promotional $0 annual fee for life offers. These offers are rare, but sometimes a credit card company will run a promotion that gives you $0 annual fee for life on a credit card that normally charges an annual fee. However, there are very few opportunities to get a $0 annual fee in this way.
Compare credit cards offering no annual fee
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Tips to save money on your credit card’s annual fee
If you have a credit card that charges an annual fee, here are some ways to keep the cost as low as possible:
- Pay the annual fee as soon as it’s charged. Once the annual fee is added to your balance, it will attract interest charges at the standard rate for your card. You can avoid this added cost by paying off the annual fee as soon as it’s charged.
- Check if you’re eligible for a fee waiver. Call your credit card company and ask if there are any options for fee waivers on your card. Sometimes, you might be eligible for one without realising it.
- Take advantage of complimentary extras. If your card comes with benefits such as rewards or complimentary insurance, the value you get from using them could help balance out the cost of the annual fee. However, it’s a good idea to estimate the value of these perks to make sure they are actually worth it.
Example: Working out if complimentary extras will balance out the cost of a card’s annual fee
Say you have a credit card with a $99 annual fee and complimentary overseas travel insurance. If you travel overseas every year and usually pay more than $99 for your insurance, then this perk would offset the card’s annual fee.
But if you rarely travel overseas or tend to find cheaper travel insurance options, you might find a card with a lower annual fee or $0 annual fee is more affordable for you.
While most credit cards come with annual fees, there is a range of options that offer $0 annual fees for the first year or for life. However, other features such as the interest rates, complimentary extras and rewards can also affect a card’s overall value.
So if you’re looking for a new credit card, make sure you think about what features are worth the most to you and then compare a range of options to help you find one that fits your goals.
Images: ShutterstockBack to top
More guides on Finder
Amazon Prime Day Australia 2021: All the best deals from Day 2
Here are all the best deals from Amazon Prime Day Australia's second day - including the return of dirt-cheap Nintendo Switch consoles.
Prime Day deal: $100 off Sony’s ‘Bose Killing’ Headphones
Get 33% off Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones during Amazon Prime Day 2021. Here's how to get the deal before it disappears.
How to get $90.95 off Nintendo Switch with Amazon Prime
Amazon Australia is selling the Nintendo Switch video game console for $349 during Prime Day - that's over $120 off the RRP.
Amazon Prime Day’s best deals on big-ticket items: Up to 46% off
From Segways to stand-up paddleboards, these are the best Prime Day savings on the most expensive items.
Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 review: Super comfortable gaming headphones
The Nacon Rig 500 Pro HC headphones have wide console and PC compatibility, Dolby Atmos licensing and a genuinely comfortable design, even for longer gaming sessions.
Oppo Find X3 Neo 5G review: Oppo’s better flagship phone
The Oppo Find X3 Neo lacks the utter flagship features of the Find X3 Pro, but you won't miss them, while you will enjoy its lower price point.
7 health insurance deals to save you money at tax time
Avoid the MLS tax and get a rebate by taking out health insurance. Here are 7 deals that’ll save you money on your tax returns.
Today’s ASX top stocks: Milton Corporation (MLT ↑16.0%), Oneview Healthcare (ONE ↑12.8%)
The 10 biggest movers on the ASX for Tuesday 22 June 2021.
Mobile plans are now more expensive, but here’s a hack to save $200 a year
Telstra, Optus and Vodafone keep raising their prices even as the rest of the market is more affordable than ever.
Ask an Expert