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How much does a credit card cost?

Calculating credit card costs

Millions of us rely on our credit cards, whether it’s to make ends meet each month, help spread the cost of larger purchases, or simply because it’s a safe and secure way to pay

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However, the amount you pay for your credit card will depend on the kind of card it is, as well as how you use it.

For example, if you clear your balance in full every month, you will avoid paying any interest on what you owe, whereas if you only make the minimum payments, interest charges can soon mount up.

Here, we explain five costs you need to watch out for when you get a credit card.

1.    Interest rates

If you don’t clear your balance in full every month, you will be charged interest on whatever you still owe, unless you have a card which offers a 0% introductory rate on purchases.

The actual amount of interest you will have to pay will depend on which card you have, but the typical annual percentage rate (APR) charged on credit cards is usually around 19%. 

If you don’t pay at least the minimum repayment each month, you’ll be charged a missed payment fee of around £12. This will show up as a ‘default charge’ on your bill.

This means that you should try and pay off what you owe as soon as possible or move your debt to a 0% balance transfer card.

Our helpful credit card calculator will help you work out how long it will take to pay back your balance based on the amount you pay off each month, and how much it could cost you if you want to clear your balance by a certain date.

Also be aware that if you take cash out of an ATM on your credit card (which is known as a ‘cash advance’) you will be charged interest of up to around 28% from the moment you access the cash.

You will also be hit with a cash withdrawal fee of around 2% of the amount you have taken out of the ATM. So try to avoid withdrawing cash your credit card.

2.    Balance transfer fees

If you get a credit card in order to switch a balance from another card, you’ll usually have to pay a balance transfer fee, of about 3%.

However, a number of providers now offer more competitive fees, and you’ll find that, if you go for a shorter interest-free offer, the fee is often lower.

3.    Fees for using your card on holiday

You’ll usually have to pay more to use your card when you’re abroad, and this includes withdrawing cash.

Most credit card providers charge an exchange rate transaction fee of around 2.99% each time you use your card abroad, plus an additional 3% if you withdraw cash.

If you plan to use your card a lot when you’re abroad, it’s worth looking for a card that won’t charge you for spending on it overseas. Our credit card channel will help you find the best deal.

4.    Annual fees

Some credit cards, usually top-of-the-range gold or platinum ones, offer additional benefits such as travel or gadget insurance and a concierge service.

These cards will often charge an annual fee, and the amount can vary widely, depending on what’s on offer.

Some cards will waive this fee for the first year, so it may be worth calculating before you apply how much it will cost you in the second year and beyond, and whether this outweighs the benefits.

5.    Late payment and credit limit fees

If you don’t pay at least the minimum repayment each month, you’ll be charged a missed payment fee of around £12. This will show up as a ‘default charge’ on your bill.

If you go over your credit limit, you can also be hit with another fee of around £12.

MoneySuperMarket is a credit broker not a lender. You must be 18 or over and a UK resident.

Where to next?

The best credit cards to use on holiday

Compare credit cards to find the best one for you

The advantages and disadvantages of getting a credit card