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No annual fee credit card

Written by

Shaun McGowan

A no annual fee credit card is a type of credit card that does not charge a fee for access to credit. The fee can be waived for an introductory period, or for the life of the card (often with a minimum yearly spend). A no annual fee card can help save between $29 and $450 per year in fees.

How do no annual fee credit cards work?

Card providers charge an annual fee to give customers access to credit and the various perks, rewards, and features a card may offer the holder. A no annual fee credit card doesn’t charge a fee for holding the card, either as part of an introductory period or for the life of the card (usually with a minimum spend).

No Fee Introductory Offer

A no fee introductory offer waives the card’s annual fee for a specific period (usually one year) before reverting to the card’s standard annual fee.

An introductory offer can often be beneficial if combined with a balance transfer - allowing the cardholder to try out the card for free while repaying the transferred balance. Just be aware of the card’s standard annual fee, and whether you can afford this, before making the decision to keep the card beyond the introductory period.

No Fee with Minimum Spend

Other types of no fee credit cards will require you to spend a certain amount on the card each year before waiving the annual fee.

Minimum spend offers are generally for the life of the card, and as long as you can afford to spend this amount – and you pay it off each month before it starts accruing interest – this can provide an easy way to make use of the card’s features while saving on ongoing fees.

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No fee credit cards may include bonus points or extra rewards, however you should always compare these benefits with the standard annual fee when choosing a card with an introductory offer.

Who can qualify for a no annual fee credit card?

To qualify for a no annual fee credit card you must meet the following qualifying criteria:

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a good credit rating
  • Not bankrupt

Even if you meet basic qualifying criteria, some lenders may have specific eligibility requirements such as:

  • Having an existing account with the lender (such as a bank account)
  • Minimum income (varies between lenders)
  • Having a certain amount of loans or savings with the lender you are applying with

Qualifying criteria will vary between lenders and cards, so it’s important to compare no fee credit cards before applying to ensure you are eligible.

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If you have bad credit, you could still get approved for a credit card. Your choices will be limited, however, and you may need to supply additional supporting documentation with your application.

How to apply for a no annual fee credit card

You can apply for a no annual fee credit card online, over the phone, or at your bank. A key part of the application process is demonstrating that you have the income and assets to repay the full credit limit. To do this, you may need to provide:

  • Personal details
  • Valid I.D. - such as a driver licence or - passport
  • Employment details - including your employment status, employer contact details, salary information, and payslips to verify your income.
  • Your tax file number
  • Details of your assets - such as your home and motor vehicle
  • Details of your current expenses and other loans you may have

If you are self-employed, you will need to provide previous tax assessments instead of payslips. You may also need to provide information about your accountant.

Banks offering no annual fee credit cards

  • Virgin Money
  • HSBC
  • St George
  • BankSA
  • Bank of Melbourne
  • ANZ
  • American express
  • Citi
  • Bankwest
  • Commonwealth bank

How to choose a no fee credit card

Choosing a no fee credit card can offer many benefits in the right circumstances. How you plan to use your card will help determine whether a no fee card is suitable for your personal situation. Things to consider when choosing a no fee credit card include:

  • The card’s purchase rate. No annual fee credit cards will often have a higher-than-average purchase rate. The average purchase rate is between 12% and 19.99%, however this is only charged on any outstanding balance.
  • Additional features. No annual fee cards tend to be low on features, however a balance transfer offer on a no annual fee card could be very beneficial, helping you to save on annual fees, while you pay down more of your balance.
  • Rewards. It’s uncommon for no annual fee credit cards to include rewards and, when they do, the earn rate will generally be lower than other cards. However, this still means you’ll be earning rewards, and without paying an annual fee.
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If the card offers more features, you may find the purchase rate is higher. When comparing no fee cards, be sure to check all associated fees and the purchase rate to determine the true cost of the card and whether it is suitable for your circumstances.

How much does a no annual fee credit card cost?

No annual fee credit cards may appear cheaper than other cards, however there are various fees a cardholder may be liable for:

  • Foreign currency conversion fee - an additional charge for transactions made outside of Australia.
  • Over the counter payment fee - charged when you pay your credit card bill in person, with fees starting at around $2.
  • Over limit fee - charged if your balance exceeds its limit.
  • Late payment fee - charged if you cannot make the minimum repayments on your owing balance.
  • Cash advance fee - charged when making a cash withdrawal, and usually at a higher rate of interest than the card’s purchase rate.
  • Dishonour of direct credit fee - charged if repayments are missed when paying through direct debit.
  • Replacement card fee - charged if the card is lost or damaged.
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No annual fee cards tend to charge more in interest, so carrying a balance can become costly. Always clear your balance each month to avoid compounding interest.

What are the interest rates?

The interest rates for no annual fee credit cards range from 8.99% to 21.99%.

Interest is generally calculated daily on the balance owing and is charged once per month. Interest is charged on top of an annual fee - even if you hold a no fee credit card, you will still pay interest on your balance until it is repaid.

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What is the maximum credit limit?

No Annual Fee credit cards have a minimum credit amount of $500, and a maximum credit limit of $100,000. The amount of credit that you can access from a lender is determined by your:

  • Income
  • Credit score
  • Overall financial health
Minimum LimitMaximum Limit

$500

$100,000

No annual fee credit card benefits

While a no fee credit card may not include the same level of perks and features as other credit cards, they still offer various benefits in certain situations. People often choose no fee credit cards if they:

  • Want to save money. A no annual fee card lowers the ongoing costs of keeping a credit to zero (as long as you avoid interest as well).
  • Want a basic card. No annual fee cards tend to have fewer extras on offer, which means less small print to keep track of.
  • Don’t use their card that often. With a no annual fee card, you can use it when you need it, without paying an ongoing fee for the privilege.
  • Want a credit card for emergencies. A no annual fee card is there when you need it, helping you cover unexpected costs. And when you don’t need it, you’re not paying for it.
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On average, you can save between $29 to $450 per year by choosing a card with no annual fee.

Summary

No annual fee credit cards have the same features and purchase rates as other cards and can come with multiple types of rewards structures. The annual fee can be waived as part of a promotional period (often up to one year) or it can be waived for the life of the credit card. No annual fee credit cards are not suitable to be used for regular cash advance withdrawals.

In summary, no annual fee credit cards:

  • Are similar to other credit cards, minus the yearly fee
  • Don’t include the same rewards as other cards
  • May have limited features
  • Charge compounding interest daily
  • Can be repaid early, and in full, to avoid interest
  • Low-interest and high-interest cards are available
  • Can include extra benefits such as insurance

No annual fee credit card FAQ

What does no annual fee mean on a credit card?

Credit card providers charge an annual fee to give cardholders access to credit. A no fee card waives this annual fee either for an introductory period, or for the life of the card and generally with a minimum yearly spend.

Can I cancel my credit card before the annual fee?

You can cancel your no fee credit card before the end of the introductory period, however you should check the cancellation process with your credit card issuer to ensure you are not liable for any additional fees.

What is the best no annual fee credit card?

As with all credit cards, the best no fee card is the one which suits your spending habits, income, and provides the most benefits for your personal circumstances. Compare no fee cards before applying to find the best card for you.

Do no fee credit cards have rewards?

While no fee credit cards generally do not include rewards, there may be a few available which do. Be aware that no fee cards with rewards or features will generally include a higher purchase rate than those without.

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About the Author

Shaun McGowan from money.com.au

Shaun

McGowan

Shaun McGowan

Shaun is the founder of Money.com.au and is determined to help people pay as little as possible for financial products. Through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

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