A maintenance cost is a usually-optional cost required to keep a card on the field. These costs are typically paid during a player's Standby Phase or End Phase. If a player cannot or does not pay for the maintenance cost of a card, then that card cannot remain on the field, usually being destroyed. A monster destroyed as a result of not paying (or choosing to pay) a maintenance cost is not considered to have been destroyed by a card effect.

Maintenance costs cannot be negated and they do not activate or start a Chain Link.

Even if a card like "Skill Drain" or "Jinzo" is on the field and negating the card's effects, you still need to pay its maintenance cost. Also, cards such as "Card Guard" and "Field Barrier" cannot protect these cards from destroying themselves due to not paying their maintenance cost.

Mandatory maintenance costs

"Imperial Order" (after its functional erratum), "Degenerate Circuit", "Destructive Draw", "Mind Protector", "Red Screen", "Number 41: Baguska", and many "Archfiend" monsters have mandatory maintenance costs. Unlike most maintenance costs, the player does not have the option of choosing not the pay the cost and letting the card be destroyed. However, "Pandemonium" can be used to avoid paying these costs for "Archfiend" monsters.

In cases like these, if a player can no longer pay their costs, then these cards are destroyed. In the OCG, if a player has exactly the amount of Life Points left to pay the cost, he/she must lose the Duel.

For "Destructive Draw" only, if its controller cannot pay its maintenance cost, instead that player's Life Points become 0.

List of cards with maintenance costs

 Japanese namePrimary typeSecondary typeAttributeTypeLevel/ RankATKDEF
Armor Exe魔導アーマー エグゼEffect MonsterLIGHTRock424001400
Desrook ArchfiendデスルークデーモンEffect MonsterLIGHTFiend311001800
Imprisoned Queen ArchfiendプリズンクインデーモンEffect MonsterDARKFiend826001700
Infernalqueen ArchfiendインフェルノクインデーモンEffect MonsterFIREFiend49001500
Koa'ki Meiru Crusaderコアキメイル・クルセイダーEffect MonsterEARTHBeast-Warrior419001300
Koa'ki Meiru Rooklordコアキメイル・ルークロードEffect MonsterEARTHWarrior728002200
Koa'ki Meiru Sea Pantherコアキメイル・シーパンサーEffect MonsterWATERSea Serpent419001200
Koa'ki Meiru Speederコアキメイル・スピードEffect MonsterWINDMachine312002200
Masterking ArchfiendパーペチュアルキングデーモンLink Monster
Effect Monster
Mind ProtectorメンタルプロテクターEffect MonsterLIGHTPsychic302200
Shadowknight ArchfiendシャドウナイトデーモンEffect MonsterWINDFiend420001600
Terrorking ArchfiendジェノサイドキングデーモンEffect MonsterDARKFiend420001500
Vilepawn ArchfiendヘルポーンデーモンEffect MonsterEARTHFiend21200200
 Japanese nameCard typeProperty
Destructive Draw破滅へのクイック・ドローTrap Card
Continuous Trap Card
Continuous Trap Card
Firewallファイヤー・ウォールTrap Card
Continuous Trap Card
Continuous Trap Card
Golden Castle of Strombergシュトロームベルクの金の城Spell Card
Field Spell Card
Field Spell Card
Seal of Wickedness破邪の刻印Trap Card
Continuous Trap Card
Continuous Trap Card
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