Three Ways to Beat Credit Card Fees

Friday, April 11th, 2014

If you’ve ever been hit with a credit card fee, you know the frustration that can result. Often, you know you could have avoided the fee. Maybe you lost track of time and paid late. Maybe you didn’t realize that using your credit card in a foreign country was going to incur an extra fee. Or maybe you just didn’t see that annual fee coming because it was waived the first year.

Here are three ways to beat credit card fees:

  1. Always pay on time. This is the biggest one, so I’ll repeat it. Always, always pay on time. The late payment fee for a credit card is typically anywhere from $25 to $35—a fee that can easily be avoided by simply paying before the due date. One way to make sure you never miss a due date is to set up automatic payments right from your checking account or prepaid debit card account. There is normally no fee to do this, and it ensures that the payment will always be made on time. If you are experiencing a hardship of some sort, reach out to your credit card company and tell them what’s going on. They can often work with you to move the payment due date or work out an alternative payment plan until you get back on your feet.
  2. Read the terms and conditions when applying for a credit card. If a card has an annual fee, that is something that will be stated on the application. It may be waived the first year, and often is, but when the first year is up, do not be caught off guard. Similarly, if you travel out of the country frequently and want to use your credit card while abroad, make sure you get one with no foreign transaction fee. These are not difficult to find, but you must read the terms and conditions of the card before you apply. Another fee to be wary of is the ATM withdrawal fee. There is almost always a fairly hefty fee for withdrawing cash from an ATM using your credit card, but if this is something you feel you might do, then choose one that charges the smallest fee. Even better, get a prepaid debit card that offers free ATM withdrawals, and use that when you need cash, instead of a regular consumer card.
  3. Apply for a no-fee card. There are now cards that not only don’t charge an annual fee, they don’t charge a fee for a late payment, an over-the-limit charge, or other penalty fees. One of the latest trends in credit cards is to have as few fees as possible, so take advantage. Cards with annual fees tend to be high-value rewards cards like frequent flyer cards, but cash back cards and other types of credit cards usually don’t have an annual fee.

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