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Credit card fees explained

Knowing when credit card fees and charges occur can help you avoid them.

Is there a difference between interest and fees?

Yes. If you don't pay off the full balance of your credit card each month, you'll typically be charged interest on the outstanding amount you owe.

Fees are usually incurred for doing, or not doing, something in particular - such as making a cash withdrawal on your credit card. Some credit cards also come with an annual fee.

What are the different types of credit card fees?

Missed or late payment fees

This is a fee for making a late monthly repayment. Paying less than the agreed minimum amount owed, or having the payment bounce, may also incur a fee.

Going over your credit card limit

You'll be given a credit limit when you get your credit card. If you go beyond that limit, you'll be charged a fee.

Making a cash withdrawal

There may be a fee if you use an ATM machine to withdraw cash, known as a cash advance. Depending on the lender, this will be a percentage of the amount you withdraw. There may also be a minimum fee charged for a cash advance.

Balance transfer fees

There may be a fee for transferring your credit card balance from one card to another. This will be set out in any offer made to you.

Using your card abroad

Depending on the type of credit card you have and the lender, you may be charged a fee for using your credit card outside your country or territory of residence.

Explore: Using your card abroad

How to avoid credit card fees

Here are some tips to help you avoid incurring credit card fees:

1. Pay off as much of your credit card balance as you can

If you can afford to, pay off your credit card in full each month. If you're unable to pay off the full balance, pay as much as you can (at the very least, your minimum payment).

2. Make your payments automatic

Setting up a Direct Debit can help you avoid fees. You could set up a recurring payment to cover the minimum repayment amount, or for as much as you can afford to.

If you do set up automatic payments, you'll still be able to make further payments to help clear the debt faster.

3. Know your credit limit

Keep your borrowing limit in mind when using your credit card, and don't go over it. Also, make sure your credit limit is set at a level you're comfortable with.

If you're an HSBC customer, you can see real-time statements, and manage your day-to-day banking via online banking.

4. Make your payment day suit you

Pay off your credit card at the time of month that suits you. For example, if you get paid in the middle of the month, set up your Direct Debit for the payment to be made that day, or just after. That way, you'll know you can afford to make the payment.

5. Don't use your credit card to withdraw cash

There may be occasions where you have no choice, but if you can, try avoid using your credit card to make cash withdrawals. If you're withdrawing a lot of cash, the fee could be quite large too.

6. Set up alerts to remind you

Some providers may allow you to set up alerts on your account which let you know when a credit card payment is due, or you're nearing your credit limit. This can help you take action when you receive it.

7. Use a credit card with a 0% interest period

Some credit card providers will offer a 0% interest period on balance transfers and/or purchases. This will usually be an introductory offer. You may find fee-free balance transfer offers, but these aren't common.

You'll still have to pay any interest once the interest-free period ends, and you'll need to make sure you're making the minimum repayment each month.

8. Check the terms of your credit card when travelling

Before you travel, taking the time to check the terms of your credit card agreement can help you see if there will be any fees or charges for using your card in another country or territory.

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