[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture Rewards and Capital One VentureOne Rewards. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Are you looking to get out of paying your credit card’s pricey annual fee? Credit card users may love the security and convenience that their cards offer them. And those who use reward credit cards can receive valuable points, miles and cash back in return for their loyalty. But the one part of reward credit cards that may be universally disliked is their annual fees. Although there are many credit cards that have no annual fees, those with the most valuable rewards will often charge annual fees between $50 and $500 dollars.
Thankfully, there are several ways that credit card users can try to escape paying an annual fee while continuing to use the most competitive reward credit cards. (Remember that rewards credit cards are generally reserved for applicants with good credit scores, so you’ll want to check your credit and see if you’re likely to qualify before applying. You can get two of your free credit scores each month on Credit.com.)
Here are six tricks you can try to get out of your annual fee.
1. Ask for the Annual Fee To Be Waived
The credit card industry is intensely competitive, and card issuers can spend hundreds of dollars to acquire new customers. With so much money invested in bringing you onboard, some card issuers are willing to waive the annual fee in order to keep you. To have your annual fee waived, try calling the card issuer and simply asking. In some cases they will agree to credit you the amount of the fee, but they might choose to offer you additional rewards that can offset the cost of the annual fee in part or in its entirety.
2. Give an Ultimatum
If simply asking to have your annual fee waived doesn’t work, you might want to up the stakes a bit. Consider telling your issuer’s customer service representatives that you are thinking about canceling your card, and you will likely be transferred to a special department called retentions. These representatives can have a selection of offers that they may present to you in order to convince you to keep your card, and waiving the annual fee is frequently on their menu. Another possibility is that you could be offered bonus points or miles worth as much as your annual fee, or even more.
3. Try Cards That Waive the Annual Fee for the First Year
Many reward cards that have an annual fee will waive it for the first year for new applicants. For example, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus has an $89 annual fee that is waived the first year, giving you time to see if this card is right for you before having to pay for it. Keep in mind frequently applying for new credit can hurt your credit scores.
4. Downgrade Your Card
Some credit card issuers offer two versions of a particular card. A premium version may carry high rewards for an annual fee, while another version may carry a lower rewards structure, but no annual fee. For instance, the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card offers two miles per dollar back on all purchases, but has a $59 annual fee (waived the first year), while the Capital One VentureOne Rewards credit card offers 1.25 miles per dollar back on all purchases, but features no annual fee. (You can see a full review of both cards here.)
If you have an annual fee credit card and you no longer think you are recouping enough rewards to justify it, you may want to call your issuer and see if there is a fee-free version of the card you can downgrade to.
5. Use Rewards to Pay the Annual Fee
The point of having a credit card with an annual fee is to earn more rewards than you could have otherwise. And if you are using the card to earn far more rewards than you could have with a similar, non-rewards credit card, then you can use a portion of those rewards to pay for the annual fee. In fact, some credit cards even have special programs that allow you to do just that. For example, the FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card from US Bank allows cardholders to redeem 3,500 points to pay for their card’s $49 annual fee.
6. Cancel Your Credit Card
The ultimate way to avoid paying an annual fee is to cancel your card altogether. Most credit card issuers allow you to cancel your card within 30 to 60 days of being billed the annual fee and receive the fee back in the form of a statement credit. In addition, most banks allow cardholders to cancel their card at any time throughout the year and receive a pro-rated refund of their annual fee. Closing a credit card can damage your credit, so weigh your other options carefully before resorting to that action.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
At publishing time, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture Rewards and Capital One VentureOne Rewards credit card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.