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I am looking to take out my first credit card to assist in the improvement of my credit score. I have been hunting around card offers online, and have found some I am willing to give a try. The top think on my list of questions, is that do UK Companies/banks have a fixed charge for owning the credit card? So, for instance.

I take out the card, decide not to use it for a month of three. Would I be charged at X Amount a month/year for not taking items out on credit? despite any charges like this are either not explained on the website, nor are clearly mentioned?

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I can't vouch for the UK, but in the US most basic cards have either no fee or a fairly small yearly fee (about US$15, if you don't have a problematic credit record). Shop around.

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    It's true in the UK too. If there are any fees, they have to state this clearly up front. Unless you're interested in any specific perks that come with these cards, you might as well go for a free one. – Steve Melnikoff Oct 27 '15 at 10:12
  • @stevemelnikoff for instance. Barclays have a platinum card which I had a 8/10 acceptance chance. The site it's self state no annual fees nor do the pre-contract information & the terms & conditions. Reviews stated none. There has been some reviews stating annual fees came after a while.. they was extremely minimal. So the only major fee I saw was a handling fee of ~2% – Daryl Gill Oct 27 '15 at 10:45
  • What do you mean by handling fee? A free credit card is one which costs you nothing - assuming you pay the bill off in full every month. – Steve Melnikoff Oct 27 '15 at 10:48
  • I would quibble slightly about the "small yearly fee", at least in the US. Depending on creditworthiness, this can be $30 to $40 in some instances. So I would say "smallish". =P – Anaksunaman Oct 27 '15 at 21:03
  • @Anaksunaman: Possible. I've never seen over $20 for a basic card (more for some higher-reature cards), but I've also never had a bad credit rating. – keshlam Oct 27 '15 at 21:33
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You seem to be asking about an inactivity fee. It is not normal for UK credit cards to charge based on usage (or lack thereof). A card will either have an annual fee, charged regardless of the level of use, or it won't have any charge at all.

The one exception to this rule is prepaid debit and credit cards, which are likely to charge for dormant periods, often levied if you go for a full year without spending on it. But it doesn't sound like this is what you're looking for.

Final note: when credit cards are advertised in the UK, you'll see an APR rate in the ad. That rate includes annual fees, and is based on a representative balance of £1200. And unless you have a particular need for a feature offered by a chargeable card, you should stick with the free ones, which are in the majority.

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You should typically avoid any cards that cost any annual fee, or any other fee, just to keep it open. There are plenty of options out there without any annual fee, especially if your only concern is to build credit. Having said that, there are some cards that offer rewards, such as travel miles, that justify an annual fee if you make enough of your purchases on your card. I personally still avoid even these, but if you travel a lot then this might make the most sense.

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