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Using a credit card to invest
It's possible in some cases, but strongly consider avoiding it.
Most investment platforms won’t accept credit cards as a payment method. But if you really want to use plastic, you have a few roundabout ways to try.
Before investing in general, know there’s a significant likelihood you can lose some or all of your money. Investing with a credit card carries even higher risk. Steep APRs can easily wipe out your gains. And if your investments decrease in value, you’ll end up in debt while still having the burden of paying interest.
Disclaimer: Use the information here at your own risk
We’ve written this information to give you a better picture of the possibilities and risks of using a credit card to invest.
But we must also caution you strongly against using this method. It is exceedingly risky, not only because you likely won’t get anywhere near the returns you need, but because you can also land yourself deep in debt.
We recommend investing only with funds you have available instead of trying to invest with a credit card.
Can you buy stocks with a credit card?
Most brokers and online trading platforms won’t let you directly buy stocks with a credit card. However, there are some platforms that allow you to buy discount stocks or fractional shares with your card, and there are some workarounds with those brokers who don’t accept credit cards.
How to use a credit card to invest
As we’ve discussed, investing with a credit card is risky. However, you may be able to do it with the following methods:
1. Take out a cash advance.
Once you take out your cash advance, funnel it into your brokerage. For example, you could deposit cash into your bank account, which you’ll link to your trading account.
You may also be able to deposit directly into your trading account with a cash advance check. If you decide to go with this method, consider applying for a credit card with low cash advance rates.
Is it risky?
There are big downsides to this method. Cash advances typically come with high fees and steep interest rates. What’s more, they’re rarely covered by a grace period, which means you’ll likely start accruing interest right away.
For example, let’s say you want to take out a $1,000 cash advance. You could pay a 5% fee right away, which is $50. The cash advance might also collect interest at a high 24.99% variable APR. All told, your investment would need to garner an incredible return — and fast, too — for you to cover the costs of your cash advance.
2. Use a brokerage credit card.
Some brokerage cobranded credit cards let you directly deposit your cashback rewards into your investing account. The more cash back you earn with these cards, the more you can deposit:
- Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Schwab Investor Card from American Express
- American Express Platinum Card for Schwab
- TD Ameritrade Client Rewards Card
Is it risky?
This is one of the lower-risk ways to use your credit card to invest. That’s mainly because you’re not directly using your card’s credit line to add funds to your brokerage account.
Instead, you’ll use your credit card as usual for your normal purchases. For this spending, you’ll earn rewards that you can later deposit into your brokerage account.
On the downside, earning rewards can be a slow process. But at least you’ll be investing with money you already have, rather than trying to produce a return while contending with high interest rates.
3. Redeem credit card cash rewards.
Most rewards credit allows you to redeem your rewards for cash. You can redeem this cash into your checking account and then make a deposit into your brokerage account.
Is it risky?
This is a similar method to using a brokerage credit card. Again, you’re not directly using your credit line to add funds to your brokerage account. Rather, you’re using the rewards you earn to start investing.
If you’re looking for a less-risky method, this is an option. After you cash out your rewards, the money is all yours, and you don’t have to pay interest on it.
4. Leverage PayPal.
Another strategy — of dubious validity under PayPal terms — is to create two PayPal accounts. Then link one account to your credit card and the other to your bank account. Once done, send money to yourself from the credit card-linked account to the bank-linked account.
You may be able to fund your brokerage account directly through PayPal. If not, you can withdraw your PayPal funds to your bank account, which you’ll link to your brokerage.
Is it risky?
Yes, this method is highly risky. We also want to repeat what we said earlier: This strategy is very dubious and you stand the chance of being shut down per PayPal’s user agreement.
Keep in mind that sending money from a credit card to your bank account may trigger a cash advance. That means you may pay very high fees and interest. Even if your transaction doesn’t count as a cash advance, you’ll still need to keep an eye on your credit card’s normal APR.
5. Sign up for Acorns.
With the Acorns app, you can make micro-investments in exchange traded funds (ETF). The app allows you to link your credit card. Note, however, that funds for Round-Ups are drawn from your linked checking account, so you’re not actually using the credit from your card.
Is it risky?
This method doesn’t draw funds from your credit card, so it’s among the lower-risk options.
In fact, this is one of the most indirect strategies to take advantage of your credit card. Your card’s only purpose is to identify how much Acorns draws from your checking account. In that sense, there’s good news: You’re investing only with money you currently have available.
6. Use a 0% APR balance transfer card.
With a balance transfer, you move debt from other sources onto your credit card. You can take advantage of this by acquiring money through credit and then moving your debt to a balance transfer card. For example, you can use the PayPal strategy we discuss above and then use a balance transfer to move your debt to a 0% APR card. On the downside, each balance transfer you make typically comes with a fee of 3% to 5%.
Is it risky?
Yes, and tricky as well. You’ll need to acquire money initially through credit, which likely means taking out a cash advance that comes with high fees.
Then you’ll need to move that balance to a 0% APR card, for which you’ll also likely pay fees. Note that there are some cards that charge $0 introductory balance transfer fees.
If you get this far, you’re hoping your investment produces a return before your intro APR expires. When that date arrives, you’ll start accruing interest on your balance at the normal rate.
A big risk here is the number of steps involved, which means there are more opportunities to make a mistake. You might find this strategy isn’t worth it at all when you factor in the fees you’ll pay.
7. Buy commodities.
If you have a good eye for valuable commodities, you can use your credit card for items like baseball cards and jewelry. Note that if you want to pay off your card balance with earnings from the sale of your commodities, you’ll need to be relatively certain your purchases will appreciate within a short period of time.
Is it risky?
This strategy carries risk because the value of commodities can be volatile. If your credit card doesn’t have a 0% APR, you’re basically hoping your commodity increases in value before your interest grace period expires.
You can reduce your risk by using a 0% purchase APR card. However, keep an eye on when the introductory rate expires, as you don’t want to pay interest on your purchase. And of course, there’s no guarantee that the value of your commodity will go up.
Our pick for a balance transfer card with rewards
Citi® Double Cash CardRead more
Compare balance transfer credit cards for investments
Should you use a credit card to invest?
It’s tempting to use a credit card to purchase investments. You can extract money from your card, then take advantage of the grace period from any accrued interest. Meanwhile, you can invest that money and hopefully start collecting a return on your investment before the interest kicks in.
That sounds great in theory, but in practice, it rarely pans out. Credit card APRs are generally between 15% and 20% — that’s a high price to pay to borrow money.
There’s more bad news: The average annual return for the S&P 500 is 10%. If you adjust for inflation, that figure drops to 7%. When you’re paying 15% APR to borrow money via credit card but only making a 7% return on your investments, you lose on the math.
There are alternatives to using a credit card to invest that can still boost your investment account. For example, with the TD Ameritrade Client Rewards Card, brokerage clients get an additional 10% value on points redeemed into their Ameritrade accounts.
What about 0% APR cards?
Let’s say you have a card that offers 0% APR for 12 months. Should you take out money from the card to invest?
You certainly have more time for your investments to work out. But according to many experts, you’re still playing a risky game. If you take out a lot of money but your investments don’t appreciate within 12 months, you’ll be hard-pressed to pay back the money you’ve borrowed.
Worse, after 12 months your cushy 0% APR has expired — and it’s probably replaced by a high APR. So while you’re under pressure to pay off your balance, your debt is accumulating interest at a high clip.
As always, your investment decisions are up to you. But many experts recommend investing with money you already have. And if you’re going to borrow money to invest, do your research and know what you’re doing.
Should you trade on margin instead?
If you want to invest on credit, one option may be to open a margin account, which lets you borrow money to purchase investments. For example, you might pay for half of an investment, then borrow the remaining funds from your broker.
Keep in mind that trading on margin can be very risky. While you may find higher returns, you may also see amplified losses. This is because you must pay back your broker for funds you borrow whether or not you get a return.
Additionally, if you don’t have enough equity in your margin account, you’ll have to deal with a margin call. This means your broker requires you to deposit more money or securities into your account to maintain a minimum value — especially painful when your investments aren’t working out.
For experienced investors only
As you might have guessed, trading on margin requires expertise to execute properly. It is certainly not for beginners, who stand to lose heavily from it. Make sure you study extensively and have proper liquidity before attempting it.
What is credit card arbitrage?
Credit card arbitrage is borrowing funds from your credit card at a certain interest rate and investing the money into a higher-rate investment, profiting off of the difference.
Usually, this involves leveraging a card with a 0% purchase or balance transfer APR. As a simple example, you might invest in certain stocks with a 0% purchase APR card. Before your introductory rate ends, you’ll sell your stocks, pay off what you owe on your card and collect whatever’s left.
Be cautious when using credit card arbitrage. The reward might not be worth the risk, especially considering federal and state taxes.
Most brokers won’t accept credit card deposits. You may find some trading platforms that accept this payment method, but in most cases, you’ll need to find a workaround. This often includes making a cash advance or redeeming your cash rewards into your checking account and then making a deposit to your investing account.
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