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2 Pesky Credit Card Fees to Avoid

By Nathan Hamilton - Mar 4, 2017 at 4:11PM

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Uncover why you may want to avoid paying these two credit card fees.

Beating long-term financial goals can come down to nixing out-of-pocket costs. Winning the credit card game is no exception, especially for cardholders paying down debt faster with 0% introductory APR credit cards.

With this in mind, Motley Fool credit card specialist Nathan Hamilton and Deputy Managing Editor Michael Douglass discuss two credit card fees to avoid. The first one should be avoided at all costs, while the second fee may make sense for some people in certain instances.

Michael Douglass: Hi, folks. We're here to talk about credit cards and I'm joined by Fool credit card specialist Nathan Hamilton today. Nathan, thanks for joining us.

Nathan Hamilton: Absolutely. Glad to be here.

Michael Douglass: Let's hop right into it. Dumb, pesky credit card fees that you just want to avoid. Let's start with the credit limit fee.

Nathan Hamilton: So there's more than just a few of them...

Michael Douglass: Right...

Coin stacks with dice spelling "fees"

Image source: Getty Images.

Nathan Hamilton: ... but essentially credit cards can be packed with fees, and with the number of card offers out there nowadays and the competition -- really, cardholders, as you and I, should expect to get a super high-quality card without really many fees at all. So two of them to be aware of -- the first one is credit limit fees, as you mentioned.

So when you're issued the card initially, you're going to have a limit, say, of $1,000, or $3,000, or $8,000 and so forth, and that's going to be [dependent] upon your credit score (your borrower credit assessment, essentially). So if you go over that limit, you're going to get hit with a fee. Generally they're going to be $25+ for each instance.

And really, when it comes down to it, the reason why you're not going to want to go over that limit is first, your credit score is going to be impacted and then the second part is essentially you're not meeting your budget, and spending on credit and high-interest credit card debt can snowball very quickly. You're getting hit with interest charges, as well. It's just a fee that you should avoid [if] at all possible.

Michael Douglass: That totally makes sense. And as you [said], really the big problem with it, more than anything else, is not necessarily the $25, but it means that you're going not only over your budget, but over even the credit card's budget, which is probably not a good sign.

Nathan Hamilton: Yes, you've got to address the problem, which is budgeting.

Michael Douglass: The underlying problem as opposed to just the $25. Let's also talk about annual fees a little bit.

Nathan Hamilton: Yeah. And that gets back to [there being] so many cards out there nowadays, you really can get a great card without annual fees. And [when] it comes down to an annual fee, typically if it is charged, many cards will waive it for the first year to get you to sign up, and then tack it on after the first year of service. So essentially they can run anywhere from $50 to $95. And premier cards start getting into the [range of a] couple of hundred dollars.

Michael Douglass: I think I've seen one that's like $395 or something like that.

Nathan Hamilton: That's not the highest.

Michael Douglass: It gets pretty high.

Nathan Hamilton: Yeah, there are some cards out there for $450 that are currently on the market. For people that have the credit-spending budget to earn the rewards to offset the fee, it makes sense, but you've got to be spending tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on credit to make that worth it.

So for you and [me] -- I don't know if I'm necessarily spending that much money...

Michael Douglass: No!

Nathan Hamilton: ...we should expect a card that doesn't charge annual fees. In the end we'll be better off and have more money in our pockets.

Michael Douglass: Absolutely, and really that's what it comes down to. That's both the Foolish ethos and just, in general, I think what people want. More money back in their pockets.

Nathan Hamilton: Yeah, use that money to invest.

Michael Douglass: Absolutely. Well, check us out at cards. A lot of good information there. Some free guides, some good articles, and, of course, some of our top picks of credit cards for 2017. For The Motley Fool, I'm Michael Douglass. Nathan, thanks much.

Nathan Hamilton: Absolutely.


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