Cash advances — which let you “borrow” money from your credit card account — are a unique way to get cash when you need it quick. While convenient, cash advances can prove incredibly pricey beyond the money you borrow from your account. That’s because they come with high interest rates and fees. It is possible to get a low cash advance rate, but strongly consider alternatives before getting a cash advance.
How much could a cash advance cost?
- ATM withdrawal fee: $3
- Cash advance fee: The greater of $10 or 5% of the total transaction cost.
- Cash advance interest rate: 21.99% APR
If you withdrew $500 on the first day of the festival, your initial costs would be:
- ATM withdrawal fee: $3
- Cash advance fee: $25
- Total: $528
This would start accruing interest at the rate of 21.99% APR from the day you made the withdrawal.
How to calculate the total cost of my cash advance
- Cash advance APR. This is the interest rate you start to accrue from the day you make your transaction. This is often the highest credit card interest rate and it’s usually above 25%. The exception here are cards issued by credit unions. Some of these cards have a 0% intro APR period on cash advances, but they all have a low APR between 9% and 18%.
- Cash advance fee. This is the fee you pay as you make your cash advance transaction. The most common fee you’ll find is between 3% and 5% of the amount. Some cards issued by credit unions completely waive this fee.
- ATM fees. If you’re making a cash withdrawal from an ATM, expect to pay a fee of around $3 per withdrawal. Usually, you can avoid this fee if you withdraw your money from an ATM of your card issuer.
Example of a cash advance calculation
|Cash advance fee||Up to $25|
|ATM fee||Up to $3|
|30-day cash advance APR||Up to $11 on average, depending on your creditworthiness|
How to calculate cash advance interest?
Suppose your cash advance APR is 26%. This is a yearly interest rate, meaning every day you’ll accrue less than 0.1% interest. Let’s say you’re making a $500 cash withdrawal and you want to pay it off in 30 days. Here’s how the math goes:
26 percent / 365 days = 0.0712 x $500 x 30 days = 1,068/100 percent = $10.68
In this example, you would pay $10.68 interest for a $500 cash withdrawal if you paid it off after 30 days.
Is a cash advance ever a good idea?
If you have a debit card, try to use it instead. You will avoid the cash advance fee and the cash advance APR right off the bat. But if that’s not an option, calculate the costs of making a cash advance and make a repayment plan.
Alternative options to getting a cash advance
If you need emergency access to cash, cash advances aren’t your only option. For example, you can apply for a:
- 0% purchase intro APR period credit card.
Credit cards with a 0% intro APR period on purchases can be an excellent alternative, especially if you’re looking to make purchases now and pay them off without interest between 12 and 20 months.
- Balance transfer credit card.
If you’ve already accrued credit card debt and are finding it hard to pay off because of high interest rates, a 0% intro APR period balance transfer card should be on top of your list. Once you move your balance, you can get between 12 and 21 months of 0% intro APR period. This should help you pay off your debt faster and with no interest.
Compare cash advance credit cards
If you really need to use a credit card for cash withdrawals or other cash advance transactions, these cards offer relatively low fees or APRs.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Cash advances are useful if you need emergency access to cash. But with high rates and fees, credit card cash advances are almost always an expensive option.
If you really need to use a credit card for cash withdrawals or other cash advance transactions, make sure you use a low cash advance rate credit card and consider other options so that you can keep your costs to a minimum.
Frequently asked questions
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