I’ve applied for my fair share of credit cards through the years. Those cards have mostly had the same things in common — they’ve offered a generous rewards program and no annual fee.
In some cases, a credit card annual fee is worth paying. But for the most part, I tend to avoid annual fee cards.
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1. I don’t like paying for things I can get for free
I’m a pretty frugal person by nature, and as such, I generally make a point not to pay for things that I can come by for free. I tend to take this attitude when it comes to the credit cards I keep on hand. There are so many cards out there that offer robust reward programs and perks, yet don’t charge cardholders a yearly fee to own them. And in my mind, I don’t see the point in paying a fee for a credit card when I have the option not to.
2. I generally don’t spend enough to make those fees worth it
There are some cards — specifically, travel credit cards — that come with very generous reward programs. These are the cards that tend to charge the highest annual fees, and for people who fly a lot and stay at hotels frequently, they can be a good bet.
But that sort of spending doesn’t really align with my lifestyle. As a family of five, we tend to do most of our vacations by car because flying can be cost-prohibitive. Similarly, we tend to book private homes instead of hotel rooms so we can spread out more easily and get off the beaten path. A lot of the perks that come with travel cards with annual fees aren’t benefits we can really take advantage of. As such, I don’t tend to apply for those types of cards.
Is an annual fee worth it for you?
Though I may not be a big fan of paying an annual fee, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider paying one for the right card.
Take a look at the offers that are available today. When you compare credit cards, see if there’s a card that charges a modest fee you can easily make up for.
Many cards that charge an annual fee also offer generous sign-up bonuses. Now, say you decide to open a card with a $250 annual fee, but in doing so, you’re able to easily snag a $500 sign-up bonus. Clearly, in that situation, the numbers work out in your favor.
Finally, remember that you can always open a credit card with an annual fee and cancel it after a year if you find that you’re not getting enough value out of it. You can also try negotiating with your credit card company to see if there’s wiggle room with that fee. You may not get out of paying one completely, but your card issuer may lower its fee — at least temporarily — to keep you on board as a cardholder.