Perhaps money is tight or you need cash for something that can’t be paid for with credit, or perhaps you’re simply looking for a different way to access cash with your credit card. While it’s not as simple as getting cash with your debit card, and you’ll likely face hefty fees and interest rates, you can use your credit card to withdraw cash in the form of a cash advance. In some cases, you may also be able to get cash back from your credit card in the same way you would with a debit card. For more about credit card cash advances and cash-back options, see below.
Overview of How to Get Cash From a Credit Card
There are several ways to get cash from your credit card. The most common method is a cash advance, which involves withdrawing cash from an ATM, bank or credit union, or writing a convenience check in your own name. (Convenience checks are blank checks provided by your bank; you may have received some in the mail with a monthly statement.) These methods essentially function like a loan that you borrow against your existing line of credit. You may also be able to get cash back at a store, but the ability to do this varies by store and card issuer.
Cash Advance Fees
Credit card companies often charge hefty fees for cash advances, and they may not advertise these fees ahead of time. For example, Wells Fargo charges either $10 or 5% of the transaction amount (whichever is greater) for all cash advance transactions.
Cash Advance APR
The advance will also typically come with a high interest rate — higher than the APR for standard purchases. A cash advance accrues interest differently than regular purchases made on a credit card. Typically, your purchases show up on your credit card bill, and then you have a grace period of about three to four weeks where the balance does not accrue interest. As long as you pay off your credit card balance in a timely manner, you won’t be charged interest. Cash advances are different — you’ll be charged interest from the day that you take out a cash advance.
For example, the Chase Freedom card charges an APR on cash advances that can be as much as around 10% higher than its regular purchase APR. On top of that, you will also be charged a separate cash advance fee. Cash advance fees vary, but a common fee structure is either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater. The Discover It for Students credit card, for example, also charges this cash advance fee. If you take out a cash advance through an ATM, you might be charged an ATM withdrawal fee as well.
Cash Advance Limit
While this method of accessing cash should be considered a last resort, it’s good to know about the options available to you. It’s important to note that your credit card may have a cash advance limit that is different than your overall card limit. Cash advances also typically don’t count toward any benefits associated with your credit card, like points or annual cash-back rewards.
How to Get Cash From a Credit Card: The Four Conventional Methods
Below, we explain the most common ways to get a cash advance from your credit card, starting with the most accessible options. Keep in mind the information detailed above about cash advance fees, interest rates, and limits.
1. Cash Advances Through an ATM Withdrawal
To withdraw through an ATM, you need to have a PIN set up for your credit card. To set up a PIN, contact your financial institution by phone or visit your local branch in person. For more information on managing a credit card, you can check out Citi Credit’s Knowledge Center.
Simply go to an ATM, insert your credit card instead of your debit card, and withdraw money as a cash advance. Remember that your card may have a cash advance limit — you cannot withdraw more money than allowed by your cash advance limit or your available credit. You will likely be charged a cash advance fee plus an ATM withdrawal fee, depending on the terms of your credit card.
2. Cash Advances Through Your Financial Institution
To access a cash advance through a bank, simply go to your local branch and inform the bank teller that you would like to withdraw cash through your credit card. Like cash advances through an ATM, you cannot withdraw more money than allowed by your cash advance limit or your available credit.
3. Cash Advances Through a Convenience Check
Convenience checks are different from regular checks and are linked to your credit card, not your checking account. You can use a convenience check to get cash from your credit card by writing the check out to yourself, and going to the bank to cash it. Cash advances through convenience checks are typically subject to the same fees outlined above.
Unlike getting cash through an ATM or bank teller, cash advances through convenience checks may not be restricted to your card’s cash advance limit. Credit card companies often mail out convenience checks at times when people are likely to spend beyond their means, such as during the holiday season. Remember that you will likely face penalties if you cash a convenience check that is over your credit limit.
4. Cash Advance by Transferring Funds to a Checking or Savings Account
You can also get cash from a credit card by visiting your local bank or credit union branch in person or going online and transferring funds from your credit card to another account, such as a checking or savings account. Like convenience checks, this method of getting cash from a credit card may not be restricted to a cash advance limit, but you will likely be charged the standard cash advance fee.
How to Get Cash From a Credit Card: The Two Unconventional Methods
If none of the options listed above work for you, there are a couple of other ways you can get cash from your credit card — we detail these options below.
1. Get Cash Back at a Store
You may be able to get cash from your credit card by making a purchase at a store, and requesting cash back (also known as “cash over” your purchase amount). Availability varies by the credit card issuer; the company best known for offering this feature is Discover. Most stores have a limit for how much money you can access through cash back. At Walmart, you can only get $100 cash back per transaction — you can get around this by simply making multiple purchases. For more information, see our research on getting cash back from a credit card.
2. Shop for a Friend
Another way to get cash from your credit card is by making a purchase for a friend or family member, and asking them to pay you back in cash. In many ways, this is the best way to use your credit card to access cash. First of all, you will avoid the steep interest charges that you would face if you took out a cash advance or got cash back at a store. Second, you don’t need to pay an ATM fee or a cash advance fee, or make a minimum purchase as you would when getting cash back. If you have a credit card with rewards, then the purchase could also contribute to your accumulation of points or your annual cash-back earnings (traditional cash advances typically do not qualify for these programs).
Of course, the main drawback is that you will still need to pay off the purchase. If you don’t pay off your credit card balance, you will be charged interest just like any other purchase, according to the terms of your card.
Best Credit Cards for Cash Advances
The best credit cards for cash advances are generally those with low interest rates and cash advance fees. As explained above, most credit cards charge high APRs on cash advances, plus a significant cash advance fee (often $10 or 5% of the purchase, whichever is greater). A credit union in your area may offer better terms and fees for cash advances. For example, the Freedom+ card from American 1 Credit Union, the Visa Classic card from America’s Credit Union, and the Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card from PenFed Credit Union do not charge fees for cash advances. If you know you’ll need cash advances, or you need to carry a balance, be sure to look for a card with a low interest rate and low or no fees.
Some credit cards also offer special cash back or cash over terms, so you don’t need to pay extra fees. As mentioned above, Discover Cards don’t charge transaction fees or higher interest rates when you get cash back from select stores. In fact, they work just like a debit card for the purposes of cash back, and you will be charged the same interest rate as other purchases. Discover stipulates that you can only withdraw $120 in cash back every 24 hours, though there isn’t a monthly limit on cash back.
You can get cash from your credit card through cash advances (withdrawal from an ATM, bank teller, or convenience check), cash back with an in-store purchase, or by shopping for a friend. Remember that cash advances are some of the most costly transactions you can make with your credit card, and you will likely face a high interest rate and multiple fees. For these reasons, cash advances should be a last resort and made only after checking the terms of your credit card.