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When is my credit card annual fee charged?

If you’ve got a $0 annual fee in the first year or want to keep track of ongoing account costs, here’s what you need to know about credit card annual fees.

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, though, the standard annual fee will be charged for the first time around 12 months from when you activated the card.

After that, the annual fee will be added to your balance each year around the same date. Use this guide to learn more about credit card annual fees, including ways to avoid and reduce the costs.

Compare credit cards offering no annual fee

Rates last updated May 26th, 2019
Name Product Annual fee Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Product Description
ME frank Credit Card
$0 p.a.
11.99% p.a.
Save money with an ongoing $0 annual fee, the same low 11.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases and cash advances, and up to 55 days interest free.
Citi Simplicity Card
$0 p.a.
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Get 0% p.a. interest for up to 6 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. Plus, a $0 annual fee for life.
St.George Vertigo Classic - Online Offer
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
0% for 14 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Online only: Low rate card offering 0% p.a. interest on purchases for the first 14 months. Plus, a $0 first year annual fee.
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
12.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
Offers a long-term balance transfer and $0 first year annual fee. Plus, insurance covers and Citibank Dining Program perks.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
$0 p.a.
21.99% p.a.
Save with 0% foreign transaction fees on purchases. Plus, complimentary flight delay passes, global wifi access and a concierge service.
St.George No Annual Fee
$0 p.a.
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases, a low minimum credit limit of $500 and a long-term balance transfer offer.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
Save with a $0 first year annual fee and a long-term balance transfer offer. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card - Balance Transfer Offer
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
20.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 26 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
Earn reward Points per $1 spent, take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 26 month balance transfer offer, plus $0 first year annual fee. Ends 31 May 2019.
Westpac Low Fee Platinum Card
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($90 p.a. thereafter)
0% for 9 months, reverts to 20.09% p.a.
Save with a $0 first year annual fee and a 0% p.a. interest rate for 9 months on purchases with platinum perks.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive a 0% p.a. for 18 month balance transfer offer and a $0 first year annual fee. Plus, complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card - Finder Only Offer
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
19.99% p.a.
2.99% p.a. for 18 months
Finder only:
Offers a $50 eGift Card, 4,000 bonus Credit Card points and a $0 first year annual fee. Plus, 10% off your shop once a month.
Virgin No Annual Fee Credit Card
$0 p.a.
18.99% p.a.
6.9% p.a. for 36 months
Offers a balance transfer rate of 6.9% p.a. interest for 36 months and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases, all for a $0 annual fee.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($150 p.a. thereafter)
20.49% p.a.
Earn 60,000 bonus Altitude Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, a $0 first year annual fee.
St.George Amplify - Online Offer
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)
0% for 14 months, reverts to 19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Online only: Save with $0 first year annual fee and 0% p.a. introductory offers. Plus earn uncapped Amplify or Qantas Pts/$1.
Bank of Melbourne No Annual Fee Card
$0 p.a.
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
Take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer, get up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and pay no annual fee for the life of the card.
BankSA No Annual Fee
$0 p.a.
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
Offers a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and an ongoing $0 annual fee.

Compare up to 4 providers

How can I avoid paying a credit card’s 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 contact your credit card company and ask to close the account before the anniversary of your account opening.

For example, say you got a credit card on 31 January 2018 that offered a $0 annual fee in the first year and then charged a $250 annual fee after that. If you decide the standard annual fee isn’t worth it for you, then you would need to cancel the card before 31 January 2019 to avoid being charged an annual fee.

Tip: Find out what date the annual fee is due

To make sure you leave enough time for the cancellation to be processed, contact your credit card company and ask them when the annual fee will be charged. 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.

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.
  • 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.

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 of 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.

However, 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: Shutterstock

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