Using a Credit Card Cash Advance – Pros and Cons

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Using your credit card to make purchases is a no-brainer and something we all do without even thinking about it. We use our credit cards to pay for gas, groceries, college tuition, food, utilities — just about everything. When was the last time you carried cash in your wallet or better yet when was the last time you used cash to make a purchase?  We have become so accustomed to paying for things with our credit cards that we have lost touch with handling cash. But what if you need cash in a pinch and you need more money than you currently have in your checking or savings account? This is when a cash advance may come in handy but before you go down this avenue, make sure you know all the pros and cons of using a credit card cash advance and if this is the right financial move for you.

What is a Credit Card Cash Advance?

A cash advance is a loan service provided by your credit card company that allows you to withdraw cash through an ATM, bank withdrawal, or by using a “convenience” check. Terms and conditions for this type of transaction vary widely from credit card company to credit card company so make sure you review the details in the terms of your card. Typically, you are able to withdraw sums ranging from $50 to a few thousand, and your cash advance limit is different from your credit card limit. So, make sure to find this information in your account details as this amount will be listed differently.

Why Use a Credit Card Cash Advance?

A cash advance from one of your credit cards can be an option if you need money right away and you don’t have enough cash on hand. If an unforeseen emergency has come up or a one-time expense that cannot be paid for out of funds in your checking or savings account, using a cash advance may be the answer.

How Does a Cash Advance Work?

It might feel the same but a cash advance is very different from using your debit card at an ATM. When you use a debit card, the money is immediately taken out of your account to pay for the purchase and if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the purchase, your purchase will be declined. On the other hand, a cash advance will show up as a charge to your account. Cash advances are more like short-term loans and come with their own fees and interest rate – typically higher than a regular credit card purchase. Again, before you use the cash advance option on your credit card, make sure you know what fees you will be charged and what the interest rate will be on this loan.

Over the years, consumers using a cash advance to pay for unexpected expenses has decreased dramatically. This is not a surprising statistic due to the costs associated with using a cash advance. Before you decide to use this type of loan, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I pay the money back in a month?
  • Is there another way I can deal with this financial situation?
  • Do I really need what I am about to buy?
  • Do I need help in the form of a financial make-over or a lifestyle change?

Pros and Cons of Using a Credit Card Cash Advance

A cash advance is relatively easy to get and it doesn’t require any money available in any account. But, this convenience can come with a pretty hefty price in the form of high fees and interest rates. Fees generally fall between 2 and 5 percent of the total amount of the cash advance and there are very few cards that do not charge this type of fee. On top of this high fee, there is also going to be a high interest rate associated with your cash advance. Another drawback to using a credit card cash advance is the fact there is no grace period and interest begins to accumulate as soon as you get the cash. Lastly, taking out a cash advance can also raise your credit utilization rate which may negatively affect your credit score.

If it seems like the cons outweigh the pros, you are right. Although getting a cash advance from your credit card may be quick and easy, it is a very expensive way to get money fast. Before you opt for this type of loan, you might want to consider some other ways to get the money you need. Maybe try a credit union, borrowing money from friends or family, or try selling some of your personal property on eBay or CraigsList. While a cash advance can help you fund an unexpected expense, it can be a very expensive short-term loan. It is important to examine your finances carefully and do what it right for you. If you do decide to use a credit card cash advance, make sure you pay it off quickly and get your finances back on track as soon as you can. The quicker you pay this loan off, the better your finances and credit score will be. Using this type of loan once in a while has its purpose – just don’t get in the habit of using this type of high interest loan very often.

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