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.
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 name||Card type||Property|
|A.I.Q||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Aerial Recharge||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Clear World||クリアー・ワールド||Spell Card||Field Spell Card|
|Degenerate Circuit||Spell Card||Continuous Spell Card|
|Destructive Draw||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Fairy Box||モンスター||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Fiend's Sanctuary||デビルズ・サンクチュアリ||Spell Card||Normal Spell Card|
|Firewall||ファイヤー・ウォール||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Golden Castle of Stromberg||シュトロームベルクの||Spell Card||Field Spell Card|
|Imperial Order||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Iron Core Specimen Lab||Spell Card||Field Spell Card|
|Mask of Brutality||Spell Card||Equip Spell Card|
|Messenger of Peace||Spell Card||Continuous Spell Card|
|Mirror Wall||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Predaponics||プレデター・プランター||Spell Card||Continuous Spell Card|
|Red Screen||スクリーン・オブ・レッド||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|The Regulation of Tribe||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|SPYRAL Resort||Spell Card||Field Spell Card|
|Seal of Wickedness||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Spirit's Invitation||スピリットの||Trap Card||Continuous Trap Card|
|Spiritual Energy Settle Machine||Spell Card||Continuous Spell Card|
|Summoning Curse||Spell Card||Continuous Spell Card|