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Average Credit Card Annual Fees - 2018

Our study found the average annual credit card fee, for cards that had annual fees, to be $147. We looked at cards offered by seven of the biggest card issuers: American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Discover, and Wells Fargo. About half of the cards we examined had annual fees, ranging from $25 to $550. This guide will show you the typical annual fees you can expect for a given card issuer, card type, or target audience.

Annual Fee by Issuer

For the cards that had them, Citibank cards had the highest average annual fee, and Discover cards had the lowest. Discover’s lack of annual fees can be attributed to the types of cards it offers. Of the seven Discover cards included here, six were cash back and low interest cards. Of all card types, cash back and low interest cards have the lowest percentages of annual fees.

Card Issuer

Cards With Annual FeesMedianAverage Annual Fee for Cards With Annual Fees
American Express67%$95$189
Bank of America43%$0$74
Capital One31%$0$81
Chase67%$80$153
Citibank41%$0$190
Discover0%$0$0
Wells Fargo25%$0$35

One of the reasons that American Express and Chase had such a high percentage of credit cards with annual fees is that they, in many cases, offered cards of the same type—airline, rewards, cash back, etc.—at several different price points. For example, the annual fees for the American Express Delta airline cards range from $95 up to $450.

Despite tying for highest percentage of cards with annual fees, American Express offered a waived first year fee on 50% of those cards, while Chase offered a waived annual fee on only 25%. Although the value of the waivers diminish the more years a consumer has a particular card, it still reduces the amount consumers pay to start using the card.

Annual Fee by Credit Card Type

Rewards cards had the highest average annual fee of cards with fees that were included in our study. Airline and hotel cards had the highest concentration of cards with annual fees—88% and 89% respectively. They also ranked near the top in terms of average annual fee price and accounted for some of the highest individual annual fees, with some as high as $450.

Card Type

Cards With Annual FeesMedianAverage Annual Fee for Cards With Annual Fees
Airline88%$95$148
Cash Back12%$0$147
Hotel89%$95$130
Interest20%$0$32
Rewards51%$39$181
Travel40%$0$85

For cash back cards, if you include the cards with no annual fee when calculating the average annual fee it comes out to only $17, which is $130 less than the average annual fee for only the cards with annual fees. This amount is more representative of the card type as a whole in terms of annual fees.

Only 20% of low interest cards had annual fees, which can be attributed to the fact that these cards are directed towards consumers that are primarily interested in improving their credit scores instead of collecting rewards or benefits. It's difficult to justify paying an annual fee for a card that doesn't allow you to make the money back in rewards or cash back, so issuers for these types of cards generally omit the annual fee.

Annual Fee by Type of Users

There's a strong correlation between card audience and the price of annual fees. Cards marketed towards prime and super prime consumers—these are individuals with a credit score greater than 680—had the highest average annual fees of the cards surveyed. They also make up made the vast majority of the cards we examined.

Card Audience

Cards With Annual FeesMedianAverage Annual Fee for Cards With Annual Fees
Prime/Super prime49%$0$154
Business67%$95$145
Sub Prime33%$0$32
Students0%$0$0

Cards marketed towards students and people with low credit scores—labeled subprime on the table—generally tended not to have annual fees, because the primary function of these cards is to build credit. The value of these cards is not necessarily tied to any reward value they offer, making it difficult for card holders to recoup any upfront or yearly costs such as an annual fee.

The key reason that the average fee was low for cards marketed towards subprime consumers is that many of these cards were secured. To get these cards, the consumer must first pay a security deposit that the card issuer receives if the consumer defaults on their loans. Since obtaining one of these cards already requires a significant out-of-pocket expense, they typically have lower annual fees. Similar to student cards, these cards are aimed at consumers looking to build good credit.

Business cards had the highest percentage of cards with annual fees at 67%. Many, over two-thirds, of these cards have annual fees between $90 and $100. Over 60% of these cards waived the annual fee for the first year, making them an attractive option for short-term users.

Methodology

For this study, we looked at 117 different credit cards. The following issuers were included: American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Discover, and Wells Fargo. Our data for each card was gathered from the website of each issuer. We then categorized the cards based on issuer, type, intended audience, and calculated the percentage of cards with annual fees and the average annual fee for the cards that had them.

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