No Annual Fee Credit Cards to Outnumber Those with an Annual Fee: 2019 Credit Card Fee Study

Sunday, January 5th, 2020
Updated: January 5th, 2020
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

Using credit cards, we constantly have to encounter different kinds of fees. So, during the 2019 U.S. News Consumer Credit Card Fee Study, hundreds of credit cards were examined in order to investigate annual fees, cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees, late and returned payment fees, and balance transfer fees more closely.

The main finding is that Americans are more prone to choosing no annual fee credit cards. Only less than a third, namely 32%, of credit cards issued in the U.S. come with an annual fee. Furthermore, 13% of such cards waive it the first year. Both the probability of the fee presence and its amount depend on a credit card type. For example, every single student credit card comes with a $0 annual fee and only 14% of cash back credit cards charge this kind of fee which is $80.46 on average. At the same time, travel credit cards will most likely (in 66% of cases) turn out to come with a rather significant $139.16 average fee taken each year.

Another fee you can face with on any credit card in case you decide to withdraw some cash from an ATM is a cash advance fee. Taking into account the fact that only 4% of U.S. credit cards can boast a lack of this fee, the idea surely doesn’t look like the best one. Anyway, in case of emergency, you’d better be aware of the sum of money you will be taken for the operation. Thus, 50% of credit cards add 2% to 4% to the withdrawn amount, 39% charge extra 5%, and 3% of credit cards – 8%.

As for foreign transaction fees, unfortunately, not most but 39% of credit cards in general and nearly 50% of travel cards charge no fees for transactions in a foreign currency or accomplished abroad. 49% of cards offer a 3% foreign transaction fee and the other 12% charge from 0.8% to 2.7%.

Compared to other types of fees, late and returned payment fees apply to the greatest number of credit cards with the exception of literally a dozen cards automatically waving them. The average maximum size of late fees on different types of credit cards ranges from 34.39% to 37.83%, of returned payment fees – from $31.70 to $34.65. The smallest fees are charged on secured cards, the largest – on student and travel credit cards.

One more credit card fee analyzed is a balance transfer fee. It considers only credit cards that give their cardholders an opportunity to transfer current balances from other credit accounts. It must be noticed that credit cards having no such a fee are a rare option. In 96% of cases, you must pay some amount for these transfers. 72% of balance transfer credit cards charge their holders a 3% fee, the rest take 4% or 5%.

All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

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