How To Beat The Worst Credit Card Fees Money
You might not realize that for every type of annoying credit card fee, there is a card that doesn’t charge one (or all) of them. Annual fees are easily avoidable (only about 5% of cards charge for them), and over-limit fees, which used to be a big deal, were taken over by the federal government. Credit Cards Act 2009. (If you’re still not happy with being hit by an over limit charge, contact your card issuer and deny the right to charge over your credit limit.)
But if your problem is just paying the minimum amount due on time, or paying a currency conversion fee when using your card abroad, you may actually find a card that doesn’t have such fees. Some cards are almost free. The PenFed Promise card, from the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, charges no fees and incurs no APR penalties — the highest interest rate you can be charged after a single late payment. The Citi Simplicity also doesn’t have an annual fee, late fee, or APR penalty (although it does charge a cash advance, foreign transaction, and balance transfer fee).
So, if you find yourself paying fees on a regular basis, here’s the recap of the five common indiscretions that cards penalize and the handful of cards that luckily don’t charge them.
The fees for late payment of your bill typically range from $ 15 to $ 35 for each violation. The Citi Simplicity and the PenFed Promise are the only two cards that never charge them. Discover IT gives you a no-get-out card for late fees, then it’s $ 35 apiece after that. Important to note: Late payments can still be reported to the credit bureaus, lowering your score. And while these cards don’t charge late fees, a late payment pattern would likely result in your credit card being closed.
Foreign transaction fees
These currency conversion fees are typically 3% of everything you buy overseas. But they can also apply to items purchased on a foreign website from the United States, including bookings on websites of foreign airlines or travel agencies. Capital One, Discover, and the Pentagon Federal Credit Union are the only card issuers to waive offshore transaction fees on all of their cards.
Several individuals travel cards—Airline branded cards and general bank travel cards, such as Capital One Venture — waive overseas transaction fees. But travel cards can have multiple iterations, with a basic version charging foreign fees and a premium version (often with annual fees) not. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which gives two points for every dollar spent on travel, does not charge any foreign transaction fees, but the Chase Sapphire Basic does charge a 3% fee. The Citi Platinum Select American Airlines card is subject to an annual fee of 3%, while the Citi Executive American Airlines card has no overseas fees.
The Discover IT card and some Amex cards do not charge an overseas conversion fee, but overseas acceptance is limited compared to MasterCard or Visa cards.
Balance transfer fees
Most cards these days charge a fee of 3% or more when you want to carry a balance to a new card to take advantage of a lower interest rate. So, if you transfer a balance of $ 5,000, you will pay $ 150 upfront, assuming a 3% fee.
One of the few good balance transfer cards left over is the Chase Slate card. It offers 0% for 15 months on transfers (and purchases) with no transfer fees, as long as you transfer a balance within 60 days of opening your account. But after the introductory period, your APR will drop to 12.99%, 17.99% or 22.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
So, if you can’t pay off your card in two years, choose one of the many Pentagon Federal Credit Union cards that offer a promotional balance transfer rate of 4.99% on transfers through September 30, 2013 ( PenFed usually renews this offer), for the life of the balance with no balance transfer fees. The credit cards offered by Simmons First Bank do not charge a balance transfer fee.
Cash advance fees
PenFed Promise Visa and PenFed Defender cards do not charge a cash advance fee. With all other cards, expect to pay a 5% balance transfer fee and a higher interest rate than the card’s purchase APR – up to 25% is common.
The worst penalty APRs, also called default APRs, can be up to 30%, and you can land in the penalty area for a single late payment or if your card payment bounces. The Discover IT card and cards offered by Simmons First Bank and Iberia Bank have no penalty APR.
To learn more about how to choose a credit card, see our Credit card buying guide.
– Chris Fichera