4 Credit Card Fees You Should Always Aim to Avoid

by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 3, 2021

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A woman looking frustrated with a credit card in her hand while looking at a laptop.

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If you don't like throwing money away, do your best to avoid these fees.

Credit card companies don't just make money by charging interest on balances that aren't paid in full. They also make money by imposing various fees on cardholders. No matter how many credit cards you have, here are four fees it pays to avoid.

1. Late payment fees

Late payment fees come into play when you don't make your minimum payment by the time your bill is due. Want to avoid those fees? Don't be late with your payments. Set up a calendar reminder so you don't forget when your minimum payments must be submitted. And also, pay attention to the charges you make during the month so you don't land in a situation where you're late with your minimum payment because you don't have the money.

Believe it or not, a single late payment could result in credit score damage. The lower your score, the fewer options you'll have for borrowing money when you need to. So it pays to avoid being late.

2. Cash advance fees

Many credit cards give account holders access to cash -- but at a cost. When you take a cash advance, you'll generally be charged a fee that can easily amount to 5% of the sum you withdraw. If you get a $1,000 cash advance, that could mean paying an extra $50 to get that money.

If you need cash in a pinch, you may want to look at taking out a personal loan instead. One drawback with personal loans is that they generally have a minimum borrowing requirement. If you only need to borrow a few hundred dollars, a personal loan may not make sense. But it does pay to explore your options outside of a cash advance from your credit card due to the high fees involved.

3. Annual fees that don't pay for themselves

Annual fees aren't always a bad idea. Annual fees that don't pay for themselves, however, are a waste of money and should be avoided. If you have a credit card with an annual fee, and that card doesn't give you any more air miles, cash back, or benefits than a card with no fee, then it pays to dump that card.

What's more, before you sign up for an annual fee card, research the benefits. And make sure you're likely to reap them. A card offering lots of cash back for travel may not be a good pick for you if you don't take many trips. In that case, you could end up paying an annual fee for no good reason.

4. Foreign transaction fees

Some credit cards will charge you for swiping your card abroad. And it's not uncommon for foreign transaction fees to hover around 3%, which can get expensive if you're spending a lot of time overseas and using your credit card frequently. Many travel credit cards don't impose foreign transaction fees, so do some research, especially if you plan to do a lot of traveling.

Credit card fees aren't always inevitable. Do your best to avoid the above fees so you can pocket more of your hard-earned money for yourself.

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