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Few credit cards have inactivity or annual fees

By Leslie McFadden ·
Monday, April 19, 2010
Posted: 11 am ET released its 2010 survey of credit card fees today. Very few cards included in the study charged an inactivity or annual fee, two fees feared to arise as a result from the restrictions of the Credit CARD Act of 2009. Many of the provisions of the law took effect in February, while rules on penalty fees go into effect in August 2010.

Interestingly, though few cards charged for nonuse, many included a timetable for account closure after a period of dormancy. For example, the Patelco Credit Union Classic card requires one to two transactions every year to keep the account open. HSBC Platinum Card accounts may be shut down after a mere three to four months of zero activity.

While the survey only looked at basic credit card offerings, I have no doubt that the closure timetables extend to other cards as well. Dormant accounts cost money and still pose some risk for issuers. It's a matter of use it or lose it.

Tip: If you have cards with high credit limits that you'd like to hang on to for emergencies, or for the sake of your credit score, make sure to use them on a quarterly basis. Otherwise, you may be shown the door.

About the survey

In total, 73 basic credit cards from the 50 largest issuers were compared. In some cases, platinum cards were used where standard or classic cards weren't offered. For presentation purposes on, we narrowed it down to the basic cards offered by these issuers, which came to 47 -- 28 from banks and 19 from credit unions.

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May 22, 2010 at 2:33 am

I had a $50 credit on my Citibank Expedia card that I left on it (didn't use it). I switched an automatic payment for $24.95 per month over to this card, leaving, after two payments for two months, a positive balance of 10 cents. Then thieving Citibank comes along and swipes that dime out of there, citing "Balance Removed Due to Three Months' Inactivity"! What about my two charges of $24.95?! What criminals. Avoid them if possible - they own the government and are just plain greedy with their new annual fees and now this little ugly truth of stealing dimes when they can. Get a card from somewhere else.

April 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm

My Citibank diamond mastercard just started a $69 annual fee last month. I would have canceled it but I'm looking to make a purchase soon and didn't want to change my credit score. I'll be dropping it next year...