Editor's Note: Most credit cards offer cash advances. However, credit card companies do not like to have their offers listed in the cash advance categories. To find a cash advance credit card, please search the 0% APR credit card section of Card Wisdom. While I strongly advise against using cash advances unless absolutely necessary, it is very important not to take a cash advance on a credit card you currently have debt on. The reasons for this are explained below.
While cash advance credit cards allow you to use part of your credit line to withdraw cash, there are a number of fees and fine print issues that must be considered before proceeding with a cash advance. Getting a cash advance from your credit card is easier than ever. However, one must be aware of the expenses associated with taking a cash advance before inserting their credit card into an ATM. While there are a limited amounted of credit cards that offer 0% cash advances for 1 year, most charge much higher interest rates on cash advances than they do on regular purchases.
First off, there is a 99% chance of being charged a cash advance fee. Of the over 70 credit card offers covered on Card Wisdom, I could not find a single card that charged less than a 2.9% cash advance fee. Some cards even impose a $10 minimum fee. That means the cash advance fee can be 5-10% if you are only taking $100 or $200. Taking out less than $300, therefore, can be expensive.
Now, unless you take advantage of a 0% interest cash advance offer, you will also be charged a higher interest rate on the money you take out. For example, a very popular credit card with a variable 9.99% interest rate on purchases charges 23.49% on cash advances. This is not the exception, but the rule. Regardless of your credit, you will likely be charged 23% or higher on your cash advance balance.
There's another sticky issue here. When you repay your credit card, your dollars go first to the balance that is being charged the lowest interest rate. For example, let's say you have a $2000 balance from purchases at 9.99% and a $1000 balance from cash advances at 23.49%. Until you have paid off the $2000 from purchases, you will continue to pay the higher interest rate on your cash advance. This is an unfortunate trap many cash advance users fall into.
Now, there are ways to limit the expense of taking a cash advance from your credit card. First, you can find offers that will give you a 0% interest rate for 1 year. At the end of that year, you can pay the cash advance balance in full or, if your credit is good enough, transfer that balance to a 0% balance transfer credit card. However, if you do not repay the cash advance, you will get hit with an interest rate in the mid to high 20% range. Also, you may be charged a balance transfer fee.
If you have a balance on your current credit card, it is probably better to get a new credit card for your cash advance to avoid the messy interest rate situation having purchases and cash advances on the same card creates. Also, if you cannot repay the cash advance in a short period of time, you could transfer the balance to your current credit card and pay a much lower interest rate on your cash advance.
Taking a cash advance from your credit card does cost money. However, the wise use of a cash advance can limit the astronomical expense taking a cash advance often entails. By taking interest rates, cash advance fees, and the fact that paying off a cash advance on a credit card with a balance is not that easy into consideration, one can effectively use a cash advance credit card without falling prey to the traps in your credit card's fine print.
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