When is my credit card annual fee charged?

If you’ve got a $0 promo for the first year or want to keep track of ongoing costs, here’s what you need to know.

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

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 September 22nd, 2019
Name Product Annual fee Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Product Description
Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard
$0 p.a.
21.99% p.a.
Save with 0% foreign transaction fees on purchases. Plus, complimentary flight delay passes and a global wifi access.
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. Ends 30 September 2019.
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.
St.George Vertigo Classic - Exclusive 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
Finder Exclusive:
Low rate card offering 0% p.a. interest on purchases for the first 14 months and on balance transfers for 6 months. Plus, a $0 first year annual fee.
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.
BOQ Platinum Visa Credit Card
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
Enjoy 1,000 bonus Q Rewards points monthly when you meet the spend requirement, a 12-month balance transfer offer and $0 first year annual fee.
Virgin No Annual Fee Credit Card
$0 p.a.
18.99% p.a.
6.9% p.a. for 36 months
Offers 6.9% p.a. for 36 months on balance transfers and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases, all for a $0 annual fee.
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.
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 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and no annual fee for the life of the card.
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.
NAB Low Rate Business Card
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($60 p.a. thereafter)
0% for 12 months, reverts to 13.25% p.a.
Save with 0% p.a. interest for 12 months on purchases and receive complimentary unauthorised transaction insurance. ABN required.
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.

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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Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated September 22nd, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Annual fee Product Description
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
12.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a long-term balance transfer and $0 first year annual fee. Plus, insurance covers and Citibank Dining Program perks. Ends 30 September 2019.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Annual Fee Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$50 p.a.
Save with an ongoing $50 annual fee and 0% balance transfer offer. Plus, the ability to earn up to 30,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$295 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Collect up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points. Get 90,000 when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 60 days and 30,000 after 12 months.
Latitude Low Rate Mastercard
11.99% p.a.
$69 p.a.
Offers a competitively low interest rate and annual fee, plus up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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