There’s no doubt about it: More credit card issuers are adding or increasing annual fees. But there are still plenty of no-fee options, so before you sign up for a new card with an annual fee, make sure the benefits are worth the costs.
Spurred by the Credit CARD Act and new Federal Reserve Board regulations that limit the types of fees that credit card issuers can impose, card issuers are looking to increase revenues by adding or raising annual and other fees. In fact, 35 percent of all credit card offers mailed to consumers in the last quarter of 2009 carried an annual fee, the highest percentage in the past decade, according to Synovate Mail Monitor, a direct mail tracker.
5. Have you done your research to get the best deal? If you’re looking for a new card and considering paying an annual fee, your due diligence should include comparing rewards cards that have a fee with those that don’t and calling customer service to get more information if there is something you don’t understand. Many credit cards don’t offer a lot of specific information about redeeming rewards on their websites and in mailings, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you get a new card.
If you already have a rewards card, check periodically to make sure the benefits you originally got the card for still exist, says Scott Testa, a professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. “Credit card companies generally are not in the business to advertise what they’re taking away from you,” he says.
And make sure to call your card issuer and ask them to waive the fee every year, Testa adds. “You’ve got nothing to lose,” he says. “The worst case, they say no.”
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