Are Credit Card Advances Ever a Good Idea?

By Sarah McDaniels

Credit card cash advances may be a reasonable option if you have a revolving account or card that allows it. That said, it shouldn’t ever be your primary option if you’re in need of money. To request a credit card cash advance, all you have to do is take your card to a bank branch or ATM, decide how much you need and punch in your PIN.

Bear in mind, however, cash advances can be quite expensive. Unlike regular everyday purchases you make with your credit card, there is no grace period, meaning interest starts accrue right away. Cash advance APRs also can be much higher than purchase APRs. Advances typically come with a fee that can amount to 5% or more of the flat advance amount.

One other thing to remember: Your bank may set the cash advance limit to an amount that’s much lower than your card’s spending limit. You will need to wither check your account online, review your latest statement, or call the telephone number on the back of your credit card to find out exactly what your limit is.

Finally, you should know there’s no established repayment term on a standard credit card advance, so if you aren’t careful, you will end up with a much higher interest debt for years. If your only other alternative is unmanageable triple-digit APRs on a payday loan or personal loan, however, you may end up being better off with a credit card cash advance.