Most credit cards offer cash advances. However, there are many hidden costs that can be quite costly. When you take a cash advance, a standard fee of 3% will be tacked on. Additionally, a cash advance interest rate will apply. This rate is often 5% to 15% higher than the standard APR. A very select few credit cards do offer 0% cash advance interest rates for up to 1 year, but when the introductory period ends, the APR still skyrockets into the high 20’s.
If you intend to take a cash advance and are not able to get a 0% interest card, there are a number of things to take into mind. Here are just a few expensive cash advance scenarios and some possible solutions:
1.) Let’s say you have a balance of $1,000 on your credit card and you take a $1000 cash advance. Two months later, you pay $1000 towards your bill. Guess what? Your interest rate will still be the astronomical cash advance rate, not your regular rate. Why? Because credit card companies apply your payments to your lower interest balances before higher interest balances. That means you’ll have to pay off your entire $2000 balance to avoid paying 29% interest on your credit card.
One way to avoid this is to use a credit card that has no balance or a new credit card. Both of these situations prevent you from getting slammed by cash advance interest rates on previous balances.
2.) Now let’s say you use a new credit card to take a cash advance of $1000, but are unable to pay it immediately. Over the course of a year, your $1000 cash advance at a 29% interest rate could accrue interest of $300 or more. That’s an expensive $1000.
One way to avoid this situation is to take a cash advance from one credit card and transfer your balance to a 0% balance transfer credit card. This will not only save the cost of a year’s interest, it will also provide a lower interest rate after the 0% introductory term.
Taking a cash advance is expensive no matter how you look at it. However, there are ways to cut down on the hidden costs these transactions have. Finding a credit card that offers a 0% cash advance rate is ultimately the best way to avoid these fees, but even without a 0%, smart consumers can survive ending up in credit card hell.