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When you're in need of cash, whether it's from an unexpected expense or a sudden job loss, heading to the ATM and withdrawing money from your credit card sounds like a quick fix.
This is called a cash advance, and although many credit cards allow you to do this, the negative financial consequences should make you think twice.
Below, CNBC Select explains what exactly it means to use your credit card to borrow cash as an advance, and why it's not worth it.
Cash advances let cardholders borrow money against their card's line of credit. They essentially act as a short-term loan and can be accessed by withdrawing cash at an ATM with your credit card's PIN number, by requesting one in-person at your bank or by writing a convenience check (if your card provides them) to yourself and then cashing or depositing it.
You can check your credit card statement or call your card issuer to find out your cash advance limit.
Here are two reasons why experts don't recommend cash advances.
1. They're very expensive
The cost to withdraw money from a credit card can add up quickly. Since you are borrowing the money rather than withdrawing like you normally would from a checking account, the credit card company will charge you fees and interest rates until you pay back the loan. And unlike having at least 21 days to pay off a credit card purchase in full before incurring interest, there is no grace period for cash advances. That means you will be charged interest starting from the date you withdraw a cash advance.
The fees to consider on cash advances are the monthly payment, the interest rate on that monthly payment, the cash advance fee (usually 3% or 5% of the total amount of each cash advance you request) and the ATM or bank fee (depending on what method you choose). Keep in mind that the interest rates for cash advances are usually steeper than the rate you pay on purchases or balance transfers.
For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (which requires good or excellent credit and ranked as CNBC Select's best credit card for grocery shopping) has a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% on purchases, but a 25.24% APR on cash advances (see rates and fees). But on a card such as the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card (which is a good choice for fair and average credit applicants to earn cash back), the APR on purchases and balance transfers is the same as the cash advance APR: 26.99%.
2. They can impact your credit score: Cash advances from your credit card won't show up on your credit report as their own line item, but they can harm your credit score if the amount you withdraw causes the percentage of available credit you're using, also known as your credit utilization rate, to increase. This could tell lenders that you are using more credit than you should while not paying it off.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.
Information about the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
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