What is a cash advance?

From getting money out of a cashpoint to buying foreign currency or gift cards, find out which transactions are considered cash advances.

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Most credit cards give you the ability to get cash or a “cash equivalent” using your account. Known as a “cash advance”, these transactions often attract a higher interest rate than purchases. Cash advances also come with other restrictions, such as not being eligible for interest-free days or reward points, and they can attract additional cash advance fees.

What is a cash advance on a credit card?

A credit card cash advance is a transaction that gives you quick access to cash via a cashpoint or bank and typically comes with a high interest rate that will begin to accumulate immediately. Credit card providers have individual terms that they use to define cash advances, and these definitions will be clearly outlined in the terms and conditions of your card.

Here, we’ve outlined the range of transactions that may be classified as cash advances and attract the cash advance rates and fees.

The four most common types of cash advances

  • ATM withdrawals and cashback. Using your credit card to withdraw money from a cashpoint or at the checkout is a cash advance. Additional fees could also apply if you use your credit card at a non-network ATM.
  • Buying foreign currency or traveller’s cheques. Using your credit card to buy foreign currency or traveller’s cheques is not a good idea. Such transactions will attract your card’s cash advance interest rate. Instead, if you’re going overseas, you should look into a card specifically designed for travel.
  • Gambling transactions. Purchasing lottery tickets, placing bets and paying for gambling at a casino or online are considered cash advances. Don’t be surprised if you also have to pay the cash advance rate on money you spend eating and drinking while at a casino.
  • Gift cards and prepaid cards. Most issuers consider the purchasing or loading of value onto a gift card or other prepaid card as a “cash equivalent” transaction that is subject to the cash advance fee and interest rate.

Other transactions that may be defined as a cash advance on your credit card

  • Transferring between accounts. When you use your credit card account to transfer funds to a current account, your card issuer may view it as a cash advance. A good way to avoid paying interest on such transactions is to use your debit card instead. If you do plan to use your credit card for electronic transfers, review the fees and charges at the onset.
  • Paying bills. Some credit card providers may consider making a mortgage or utility bill payment as a cash advance. Contact your provider for clarification.
  • Buying stocks and shares or cryptocurrency. Your card provider is likely to consider this a cash advance.

woman-phone-card 250x250Where can I find the cash advance fees and charges for my credit card?

Most credit card issuers will charge both a cash advance fee and cash advance interest rate for applicable transactions. If you want to know what you’ll be charged, you can usually find these details under your card’s product disclosure statement or terms and conditions under “fees and charges”.

Details of the cash advance interest rate are also included in the “Key Facts Summary” that credit card issuers must provide when you’re considering their card. But if you’re unsure or can’t find this information, contact your credit card issuer to confirm what rates and fees apply before choosing a credit card or using one for a cash advance.

What you need to know about cash advances

Cash advances are not treated the same as a regular purchase, and if you are planning to use your card for a cash advance, here’s what you need to know:

  • Maximum withdrawal limits. It is not uncommon for credit cards to have daily, weekly and monthly cash advance limits in place. Maximum daily cash advance limits usually range from £100 to £500. Most providers only allow you to withdraw cash as a percentage of your overall credit limit, so don’t assume you have the full balance available.
  • High interest. Interest rates for cash advances can be up to 34.9%, which is considerably high. This makes cash advances a rather expensive form of credit, and if you’re not in a hurry, getting a personal loan might be a better option.
  • No interest-free periods. Most credit cards give cardholders the ability to make use of an interest-free period if they pay their closing balance in full each month. These interest-free periods only apply to purchases and not to cash advances. When you use your card for a cash advance, it starts accruing interest immediately.
  • Cash advance fees. In addition to paying a high cash advance interest rate, you could also have to pay a cash advance fee. Typically this is a percentage, for example, 3% of the transaction, with a minimum charge of £3. With this in mind, it’s better to withdraw a bigger amount in one go, rather than make repeated trips to the cashpoint, as each withdrawal attracts a separate fee.
  • Minimum withdrawals. While you can use your credit card to pay for the smallest possible purchases, when it comes to withdrawing cash you may have to deal with a minimum withdrawal amount of £10 or more.

What else should I consider before getting a cash advance?

Instead of using your credit card to make a cash advance, consider opening a money transfer credit card. Admittedly, there aren’t many available on the market so they’re not easy to come by, but these types of cards allow you to transfer money from your credit card to your current account with little-to-no interest charged for an introductory period. However, you must make the minimum monthly payments on time or face running up huge charges.

If you plan on using your credit card for a cash advance, consider the following to help keep costs to a minimum:

  • Will you earn reward points? Typically, you won’t earn reward points for cash advances, unless the credit card comes with some kind of promotional offer.
  • Are you overseas? If you’re considering using your credit card for a cash advance while travelling overseas, take into account that you could have to pay extra in the form of ATM fees and international transaction fees. There are some cards that offer 0% or low interest foreign transaction and currency conversion fees.
  • What other options are there? If you want to use your credit card, see if there’s a way to make a purchase instead of a cash advance. For example, if you can pay with your card instead of cash, you won’t need to withdraw money from your account. You could also use your debit card, consider getting a personal loan or ask your bank if it can provide a line of credit or an overdraft facility.
  • Do you want purchase protection? If you pay with a credit card instead of cash, you could be entitled to protection if something goes wrong with your purchase. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the credit card provider along with the retailer can be jointly responsible if you don’t get what you paid for.
  • How much do you want to withdraw? If you do decide to make a cash advance withdrawal, remember that there is a minimum cash advance fee. For example, many cards have a 3% fee, which would be £3 on a £100 cash advance. £3 is also usually the minimum fee, so even if you withdrew £50, you would still have to pay the £3 fee.

Credit cards generally aren’t designed to be used as an ATM card, so if you think that you’ll regularly perform cash advances, you may want to consider another option to avoid accruing high fees and interest. Regardless, make sure to read the terms and conditions of your credit card before applying to ensure that you’re not confronted with any nasty surprises.

Compare credit cards

Comparison is ordered by representative APR with affiliated products shown first.
Updated December 12th, 2019
Name Product Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Mastercard
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%
2.9% (min. £5)
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Nationwide BS Select Credit Card Visa
0% for 12 months reverting to 15.9%
0% for 3 months reverting to 2.4% (min. £5)
0% for 12 months reverting to 15.9%
£0
15.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 15.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 15.9% APR (variable).
Nationwide BS Credit Card Visa
0% for 12 months reverting to 17.9%
0% for 3 months reverting to 2.4% (min. £5)
0% for 12 months reverting to 17.9%
£0
17.9% (variable)
Customers will be able to earn commission-free purchases abroad by using their Credit Card each time they make a purchase in Sterling. The calculation will be based on a 5:1 ratio - for example, £5 spent in Sterling will earn an allowance of £1 commission free-purchases abroad. Purchases abroad beyond the earned amount will be charged 2% commission.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 17.9% APR (variable).
first direct Credit Card Visa
0% for 27 months reverting to 18.9%
2.29% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.9% (min. £5)
18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
Santander Everyday Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 18 months reverting to 18.9%
0% for 18 months reverting to 3% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
HSBC Premier Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 18 months reverting to 18.9%
1.4% (min. £5)
0% for 9 months reverting to 18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
A selection of rewards from a range of partners. Earn 1 point for every £1 spent within the UK and earn 2 points for every £1 spent outside the UK. Points can be redeemed for shopping vouchers and frequent flyer miles.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
John Lewis and Waitrose Partnership Mastercard
0% for 18 months reverting to 18.9%
2.9% (min. £5)
0% for 9 months reverting to 18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent in store or online at John Lewis, Waitrose and John Lewis Insurance. Earn 1 Point for every £2 spent elsewhere. Earn double points on selected insurances taken out through John Lewis Financial Services. Vouchers issued once customer reaches 500 points in Feb, Jun or Oct when vouchers are automatically issued to customers. Every 500 points is worth £5. Earn double points at John Lewis and Waitrose for first 90 days if card applied for by 29.2.20.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
Halifax 15 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 15 months reverting to 19.95%
0% for 3 months reverting to 3% (min. £3)
0% for 6 months reverting to 19.95%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Halifax 25 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 25 months reverting to 19.95%
1% for 3 months reverting to 3% (min. £3)
0% for 12 months reverting to 19.95%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit Card for 28 Months Balance Transfer Mastercard
0% for 28 months reverting to 21.814%
2.98% for 28 months reverting to 3.99% (min. £3)
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.944%
£0
19.9% (variable)
1 point per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco. Must have available credit to earn points. Points are converted to Tesco vouchers or can be exchanged for Partner rewards to receive money off a variety of restaurants, entertainment or Avios points.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.944% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 12th, 2019
Name Product Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Mastercard
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
M&S Bank Reward Plus Mastercard
0% for 6 months reverting to 19.9%
0% for 6 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Double points on spend in M&S for first 12 months (2 points per £1). Then earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
MBNA 0% Transfer and Purchase Credit Card
0% for 26 months reverting to 20.93%
0% for 26 months reverting to 20.93%
£0
20.9% (variable)
Introductory 0% purchase offer only applies to purchases made within 60 days of opening.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 20.93% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 20.9% APR (variable).
Santander All in One Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 26 months reverting to 15.9%
0% for 26 months reverting to 15.9%
£3 per month
21.7% (variable)
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 15.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 21.7% APR (variable).
Barclaycard Platinum All-Rounder Visa
0% for 25 months reverting to 21.9%
0% for 25 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Buy tickets for up to 3500 selected live events through Barclaycard entertainment and get 5% off tickets per year and exclusive pre-sale tickets on selected festivals with 10% off ticket prices.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit Card Purchases Mastercard
0% for 24 months reverting to 19.944%
0% for 3 months reverting to 21.814%
£0
19.9% (variable)
1 point per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco. Must have available credit to earn points. Points are converted to Tesco vouchers or can be exchanged for Partner rewards to receive money off a variety of restaurants, entertainment or Avios points.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.944% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Bank of Ireland UK Matched Mastercard
0% for 24 months reverting to 19.9%
0% for 24 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Sainsbury's Bank Dual Offer Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 22 months reverting to 20.95%
0% for 22 months reverting to 20.95%
£0
20.9% (variable)
Earn 750 bonus Nectar points each time £35 or more spent on Sainsbury's shopping, up to ten times in your first 2 months, up to a total of 7,500 points, offer available for new customers. Earn 2 Nectar points per £1 spent on Sainsbury's shopping and fuel. Earn 1 Nectar point for every £5 spent elsewhere.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 20.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 20.9% APR (variable).
Lloyds Bank Online Platinum 20 Month Purchase and Balance Transfer Mastercard
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.94%
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.94%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Halifax Online Balance Transfer and Purchase Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.95%
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.95%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 12th, 2019
Name Product Purchases Annual/monthly fees Credit limits Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
M&S Bank Reward Plus Mastercard
0% for 6 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
19.9% (variable)
Double points on spend in M&S for first 12 months (2 points per £1). Then earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Mastercard
0% for 20 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
19.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
American Express Rewards Credit Card
22.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
22.9% (variable)
Earn 5,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 in your first 3 months, and 1 point for virtually every £1 spent thereafter.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
British Airways American Express Card
22.9%
£0
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
22.9% (variable)
5,000 Avios when you spend £1,000 within 3 months of account opening. Earn 1 Avios for virtually every £1 spent. Spend £20K in 12 months and get 2 for 1 travel when redeeming Avios for a BA reward flight. Earn up to 90,000 bonus Avios points per calendar year, 4,000 points per friend/family member that successfully applies for an American Express card (Excl. Basic card) and uses the Referral Programme.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card
22.9%
£0
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
22.9% (variable)
5% after £1 of yearly spend for introductory period of 3 months. 0.5% on £1 to £5000 of yearly spend. 1% after £5001 of yearly spend. Cashback paid Anniversary into Card Account. 5% intro cashback in the first 3 months (max £100). Must spend £3K annually to earn cashback.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
The American Express Nectar Credit Card
22.9%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £25 per annum
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
28.2% (variable)
20,000 Nectar points when you spend £2K within 3 months of account opening. Earn 2 Nectar points for virtually every £1 spent at Nectar partners and elsewhere.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £25 per annum, your representative rate is 28.2% APR (variable).
American Express Platinum Cashback Card
22.9%
£25 per annum
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
28.2% (variable)
5% on £1 to £2500 of yearly spend for introductory period of 3 months. 1% on £1 to £10000 of yearly spend. 1.25% after £10001 of yearly spend. Cashback paid Anniversary into Card Account. 5% intro cashback (max £125).
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £25 per annum, your representative rate is 28.2% APR (variable).
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Amex
22.9%
£75 per annum
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
39.7% (variable)
Earn 30,000 points when you spend £1K within 3 months of account opening. Earn 3 points for virtually every £1 spent. Earn 6 points for every £1 of eligible purchases at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards hotels, until 31.12.2019.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £75 per annum, your representative rate is 39.7% APR (variable).
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card
22.9%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £140 per annum
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
57.6% (variable)
Earn 1 point for virtually every £1 spent. 2 points per £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency or 3 points for every £1 spent through American Express Travel. Earn 10,000 bonus points when you spend £3,000 in your first 3 months. Spend £15,000 or more during the year and earn 10,000 bonus points each year the card is renewed. Earn 6,000 points per friend/family member that successfully applies for the card or 12,000 points if they spend £3,000 in their first 3 months. Two complimentary lounge visits per year, available at over 500 airport lounges worldwide.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a. with an annual fee of £140 (£0 in first year), your representative APR is 57.6% APR (variable).
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
22.9%
£195 per annum
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
76% (variable)
25,000 Avios when you spend £3K within 3 months of account opening. Earn 3 Avios for virtually every £1 spent directly with BA, and 1.5 Avios for virtually every £1 spent everywhere else. Spend £10K in 12 months to redeem the Avios for a companion ticket on a BA flight. Earn up to 90,000 bonus Avios points per calendar year, 9,000 points per friends/family that uses Referral Programme and successfully apply for an American Express card (Excl. Basic card).
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £195 per annum, your representative rate is 76% APR (variable).