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Cash advance credit card fees

Credit Card Cash Advance Pitfalls

Credit card cash advances can provide consumers with convenient and instant access to “cold cash” in times of financial need, but cash advances should be avoided if at all possible. Informed consumers realize that cash advances are typically accompanied by fees and exorbitant interest rates (there is also no grace periodfor cash advances). Moreover, cash advances can be a major stumbling block for consumers seeking debt relief. We hope the following tips help consumers avoid the pitfalls associated with cash advances.

* Fees for cash advances vary, but fees can be very costly. Fees are computed using two calculation methods. Many card issuers calculate fees on a percentage basis, which typically ranges from 1% to 4%. Other issuers charge “flat fees” for advances. “Flat fees” are not based on the amount of the advance and, therefore, are always the same.

An increasing trend is to combine both calculation methods. Combining calculation methods results in higher cash advance fees. An example of this would be an issuer that charges x% for an advance, but charges a minimum of $10 regardless of the amount of the advance. Another example would be an issuer that charges x% for an advance or $20, whichever is greater. Read the terms of your card agreement carefully. Fee calculation can get tricky.

A few issuers do not charge any fees at all. This is very rare, though.

Finally, if you must get an advance, avoid using ATM machines. ATMs charge an additional fee for advances. This fee is charged by the financial institution that owns the ATM.

* Often the greatest potential pitfall for consumers who decide to get a cash advance involves finance or interest charges. The interest rate for cash advances is often several points higher than the normal purchase interest rate (the rate that is associated with everyday card purchases). Cash advance rates normally range from 20% to 25%. In contrast, the average purchase rate for a standard credit card ranges from 15.88% to 17.30% according to. However, a few issuers charge the same rate for both purchases and cash advances “Low Rate Report” for more info).

Other finance charge pitfalls involve grace periods and the payment method that a card issuer utilizes. Cash advances begin accruing interest immediately and, therefore, are not subject to a grace period. Thus, even if you pay your card balance in full when your bill arrives, you will still be accessed a finance charge for any advances.

A similar pitfall involves the manner in which payments are applied to your account. Most issuers apply payments to card purchases before they apply payments to cash advances (i.e. payments are first applied to purchases). If you carry a balance on your card, this can result in your a dramatic increase in your finance charges and overall interest rate.

* Please be aware that any “credit card checks” that you receive in the mail are usually treated as cash advances! Card issuers often tout such checks as an easy way to pay off the bill of your choice or to acquire some extra spending money. While using a check may be convenient, it can be extremely costly. Many balance transfers are also treated as cash advances.

If I use my credit card, can I get cash back when I buy something? Will I be charged a fee?

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The answer to whether you can get cash back when you buy something with a credit card actually depends on what you mean by "cash back."

While credit cards are great for a lot of things, using them as a way to put cash in your wallet right away when making a purchase at a cash register isn’t one of them.

Debit cards have become so familiar, we're totally accustomed to punching in our PINs and asking for cash back at the grocery store. Credit cards don't offer quite the same amount of flexibility. For example, you can't request cash back on a credit card purchase at the grocery store or the pharmacy.

You can, however, get cash from your credit card at a bank teller or at an ATM. You'll just have to pay for the privilege. We'll talk more about this in a moment. First let's address the way you can get cash back, in a way, when you buy something.

Another possible meaning of "cash back" is definitely a possibility with your credit cards. If you're interested in earning rewards on your everyday spending, there are certainly myriad options that allow you to collect points or otherwise rack up "cash back" when you make purchases at stores, gas pumps, online and just about anywhere you use your credit cards.

Cash-back credit cards can even be tailored to provide you with the highest possible cash back to fit your lifestyle. In other words, if you spend a lot of money monthly on gas, you'll want to look for a cash-back credit card that offers you particularly high rewards earning potential at gas stations. If you're a regular grocery store spender, the same logic applies: Look for a cash-back card that offers higher rewards for spending at grocery stores.

While cash-back credit cards don't provide instant cash in your hand at a cash register, they do offer plenty of opportunity to earn cash back for buying something with your credit card, there's just a bit of a delayed-gratification factor to consider.

Getting back to the the ways you can get immediate cash-in-hand with your credit card. According to most industry analysts who watch these kinds of statistics, cash advances have declined in popularity over the past few years. So many merchants accept credit cards, it's often easier to transact with plastic than with greenbacks, anyway. Even the best credit cards charge fees, so should you require cash in an emergency, here’s what you might end up paying:

  • Cash advance fee. Many banks now charge an upfront fee of up to 5 percent when you convert part of your credit limit into cash.
  • Immediate finance charges. Unlike purchases, most cash advances immediately start racking up interest. Many banks charge higher APRs for cash advances than for purchases.
  • Network access fee. Your bank and the ATM network could each charge you a service fee of a few dollars for handling your cash advance.
  • Teller processing fee. If you make your cash advance request from a live person at a bank or at a travel services agency, you can expect to pay an even higher service charge.

You can also get cash from your credit card by using convenience checks. Most of us use these to take advantage of balance transfer offers when we want to pay off a debt that's not linked to a major online bill payment service. Convenience checks often carry their own fees of up to 5 percent of face value.

One final -- but not necessarily recommended -- method to get cash from your credit card involves reloading prepaid debit cards at particular retail locations. However, merchants can dictate whether they process this kind of transaction as a cash advance. If you find one that doesn't, you can pay a flat fee for the reload card, then withdraw the cash from a participating ATM. Due to the potential for fraud, many merchants decline to sell prepaid card reload packs to customers using anything other than ATM cards or cash.

Used sparingly, this can be an inexpensive way to tap some cash from a credit card without paying hefty fees. Some cards may charge various fees for activation or usage. So be sure you fully understand the fees attached to the prepaid card.

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Earn $100 cash back via statement credit after you spend $500 on net new retail purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.*

Earn $100 cash back via statement credit after you spend $1,000 on net new retail purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.*

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all net new purchases. No categories. No limits. ▲▲▲

Earn 1x reward point for every dollar spent.***

Earn 3x rewards points on supermarket, gas station, and restaurant purchases; up to 15,000 points per calendar quarter; 1x point otherwise.**

3% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 90 days of opening your account. Normal finance charges thereafter. ▲▲▲

0% Introductory APR for 24 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 90 days of opening your account. Normal finance charges thereafter.***

0% Introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles on purchases. Normal finance charges thereafter.***

0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 90 days of opening your account. Normal finance charges thereafter.**

* Bonus Offer Details: Accounts must be in good standing. Applies to net new retail purchases only. Net new retail purchases: qualifying purchases less credits, returns, and adjustments. Balance Transfers, Cash Advances, including purchases of money orders or other cash equivalents, purchases made by or for a business purpose, fees, interest charges, unauthorized/fraudulent transactions, and certain other charges do not earn cash back credit. The cash back balance on your account does not expire for accounts in good standing. Cash Back in the form of statement credit upon your request. Receive the $100 cash back bonus via statement credit: When you spend $500 on net new retail purchases using the Santander ® Ultimate Cash Back SM credit card, or when you spend $1,000 on net new retail purchases using the Bravo credit card, within the first 90 days of opening your account. $100 cash back is credited to customer account within 6 weeks after spending requirements are met. Other terms and conditions apply.

▲▲▲ Santander ® Ultimate Cash BackSM Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) and Fees: 3% introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 90 days of opening your account. After the introductory period, a variable APR for balance transfers from 15.49% to 24.49% based on the Prime Rate and your creditworthiness, with a transaction fee for each balance transfer of $0. There is no grace period on balance transfers. Also if you take a balance transfer offer, this means that unless your purchase APR is at an introductory or promotional 0% APR, you will pay interest on new purchases from the date made if you do not pay all balances, including the promotional balance transfer, in full by the next payment due date appearing on your statement. Variable APR for purchases from 15.49% to 24.49% based on your creditworthiness when you open your account. Cash advance APR of 25.99%. Minimum finance charge of $1.50. Penalty APR of 30.99%, which may apply indefinitely to your account if you miss payments or otherwise default. There is no annual fee. Rates effective as of 09/01/2017. Rates are subject to change. Late payment fee and finance charges will still apply. 1.5% cash back via statement credit, gift cards or merchandise on net new retail purchases with no limits on how much you can earn. Earn $100 cash back via statement credit after you spend $500 on net new retail purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. This credit can take up to 6 weeks to be processed. Late payment fee and finance charges will still apply. Credit card accounts are subject to approval.

Credit Card Cash Advance Saved the Day

I took a cash advance from a credit card last week. I had never done that before. I’m very happy I was able to do it. I’m also very happy with the cost and the efficiency of how it was done, even though I borrowed at 39,608% APR.

I had been in the process of doing a mortgage refinance. At 9:30 in the morning that day, I got an e-mail from my loan advisor with my final HUD-1 closing statement. Documents signing was scheduled at 11:00. I had been waiting for this for quite a while. I had money ready in my Fidelity mySmart Cash account. Not a problem, except they required a certified check.

In my previous refinances, I’ve always been able to submit a personal check. So I erroneously assumed that it would also be the case this time, without asking the loan advisor ahead of time. My bad. I needed about $4,000 for a certified check. I had to have it in about one hour.

I also have a checking account with Wells Fargo, although I only used it for depositing paper checks. I went into a Wells Fargo branch and asked them if they would allow me to deposit a personal check (from Fidelity mySmart Cash) and make it immediately available for the certified check. Despite my having a “top of the line” relationship checking account with Wells Fargo, they said no, which I could understand. I was basically asking them to advance money to me before they collect on the check.

I called Fidelity. They said in any single day I can withdraw maximum $500 from an ATM and do a cash advance against the Visa debit card in a bank branch for up to $2,499. Theoretically I could do both and get $2,999. Because the Wells Fargo ATM charged $3 fee, withdrawing $500 plus the $3 fee would throw me over the $500 limit. I had to withdraw $480. Together with the $2,499 cash advance, I got $2,979.

With the few hundred dollars that happened to be sitting in my Wells Fargo checking account, I was still short $300. Although I was disappointed with Wells Fargo not trusting me for even $300, I was focused on getting the certified check done as opposed to whom I should blame for my scramble.

I took out my Chase credit card and did a cash advance against it for $300. The cash advance fee from Chase was 3% of the advance, with a minimum of $10. Interest would also accrue right away without a grace period. Because I was able to make a payment on Chase’s web site with the linked checking account and they would make it effective on the same day, I would not owe any interest. Even if there was interest for a few days, the interest would be minimal ($300 * 20% / 365 = $0.16 per day).

$10 cash advance fee did it. I gave my card, signed a slip, and got $300 in a few minutes. I walked out of the bank with the certified check I needed. I signed the refinance documents on time. By coincidence, mortgage interest rate went up as much as 0.75% on the same day I signed my documents. I did not want to give the lender any excuse to back out of the deal.

The APR for the $10 fee on a $300 cash advance for two days is 39,608%. To be honest I don’t care although I calculated it for writing this post. Chase credit card gave me the money when I needed it. Nobody else could do it in the same timeframe for less. That’s what mattered.

After the dust settles, I need to re-think how I should handle emergency cash needs. When I come up with a strategy, I will write about it. Meanwhile here’s my question for you to think about:

If you need $4,000 in the next hour, how will you get it and how much will it cost you?

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