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. And you won't pay any annual fee if you get a credit card that offers no annual fee ever.
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 1 January 2022 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 1 January 2023 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.
What is the difference between an annual fee and a monthly fee?
A credit card annual fee is a yearly charge that banks and other financial institutions apply to some accounts. A credit card monthly fee is similar to an annual fee, but is charged each month instead of once a year. Both annual fees and monthly account fees are separate from any interest charges that may apply to your card.
Annual fees are more common on credit cards, but a number of new cards have launched in the last couple of years that have monthly fees – such as the American Express Cashback Card and no interest, flat fee cards from NAB, CommBank and Westpac.
Tip: Check how much a monthly fee will cost you each year
A monthly fee can help space out the account costs, but it's still useful to check how much it will cost you each year – especially when you're comparing cards.
For example, a card that costs $10 a month is equivalent to a $120 annual fee. Sometimes, you can also get the monthly fees waived by meeting a set of requirements, such as paying the full balance by the statement due date or meeting a spend requirement.
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 or monthly fee when you meet certain conditions, such as spending a set amount each month or year or not carrying a balance. 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 is 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.
- Use 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. But 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
RAT scams: How to avoid getting conned with rapid antigen tests
Don't fall for the scam artists when you're trying to protect your health - here's what to check.
How to do a COVID-19 test at home for international travel
Here's where you can book COVID-19 at-home tests approved for travel and how they work.
Where to shop every product in Kiernan Shipka’s beauty routine
We've rounded up everything you need to nail the 'date-worthy' makeup look, including some affordable dupes.
American Express Corporate Gold Card
Designed for big companies, this Amex charge card offers a mix of management tools and perks – including a 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards offer.
Rapid antigen tests: When will RAT stock be available? [UPDATED]
Rapid antigen tests are proving extremely hard to find, but there are options if you can be patient trying to find a RAT.
Beauty Product of the Week: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
We tried the viral Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer and spoiler alert, it's the bee's knees.
Where to watch Hotel Transylvania 4 online for free in Australia
Drac and the Pack are back, like you’ve never seen them before.
Dyson V12 Detect Slim review: Baby love, my baby love
A delightful compact vacuum with an unjustifiable price.
Stan Event: Streaming platform joins pay-per-view ranks
A new player enters the Australian sports broadcast market.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review: Fine if you’re already trapped by Bezos
The Amazon Echo Buds 2 are a solid addition to your earholes if you’re already integrated in the Alexa ecosystem. But if you’re not, its hard to find anything here that really stands out.
Ask an Expert