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What Is a Cash Advance on a Credit Card? (And How To Get One)

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Christy Rodriguez
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Christy Rodriguez

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After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a cer...
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If you’ve ever wondered if you can withdraw cash from your credit card, you might be interested to learn more about cash advances. While there are significant fees associated with a cash advance and we generally don’t recommend taking one, we also know that cash advances might be useful in emergency situations.

We’ll give you all the information regarding fees, interest rates, and alternatives to a cash advance so that you can make the best choice in a tight situation.

What Is a Cash Advance?

A cash advance occurs when you take out cash using your credit card by tapping into your card’s credit line. This differs from taking money out using your debit card since you would just be accessing money from your checking account. For a cash advance, you are essentially taking out a loan from the card issuer and being charged fees and interest to do so.

Bottom Line: A cash advance can be an easy way to get cash in an emergency situation if you don’t have access to a debit card, but it’s not something to do frequently due to the high costs.

How Does a Cash Advance Work on a Credit Card?

In order to get a cash advance from your credit card, you have a few options:

  1. ATM: Since you are withdrawing cash from an ATM, you’ll need a PIN for your credit card. You will select the option for “cash withdrawal” or “cash advance.” Just remember, the ATM daily withdrawal limits still apply and you might get charged an ATM fee. If you don’t have a PIN, you’ll need to use another method.
  2. In Person: You need to find a location that accepts your card’s payment network, such as Visa or Mastercard. You can also get a cash advance at your card issuer’s bank.
  3. Convenience Check: Your card issuer might give you a check that is linked to your credit card. You can then use the check like you would a regular check. Note that these convenience checks are treated like a loan rather than regular checks that are tied to your checking account.

What Is the Cash Advance Limit?

A credit card’s cash advance limit is usually based on a percentage of your card’s overall credit limit. While some cards allow you to take a cash advance of up to 50% of your overall credit limit, 20% to 30% is typical. For example, if your credit limit is $20,000 and your card has a cash advance limit of 30%, your cash advance limit is $6,000.

If you want to check your card’s cash advance withdrawal limit, take a look at the fine print on your most recent statement. You’ll need to find information on both your card’s credit limit and the percentage that relates to your cash advance limit in order to calculate your card’s cash advance limit.

What Costs Are Associated With a Cash Advance?

Cash advances can be quite expensive. Let’s review the fees associated with taking out cash via your credit card.

Cash Advance Fees

Some credit cards charge a cash advance fee which is a percentage (3% to 5%, generally) of the amount you’re receiving as cash. For example, 5% of a $100 cash advance would mean you’ll owe a $5 cash advance fee. In this case, you can minimize the fees charged by taking out the exact amount of cash you think you’ll need.

Other cards generally charge a flat rate when taking out a cash advance ($5 to $10)  — or even a combination of a percentage and this flat rate. For example, on that $100 cash advance, you might owe both a flat rate fee of $5 as well as an additional 1% (so $1 in this case), meaning you’d pay $6 total in cash advance fees. In these cases, it’s best to take out one larger sum so that you can minimize the number of times you’ll be hit with the flat fee.

Hot Tip: Cards will each have a minimum flat cash advance fee and a minimum percentage that may be charged, and your issuer will charge you the greater of the 2 options. 

Interest

When you make a charge on your credit card, you don’t have to pay it back immediately. Credit cards offer something called a grace period, which is the period between you making a charge and when you have to pay back that charge. Purchases made during this time aren’t subjected to interest fees immediately — you’ll normally have around 25 days from when your statement closes until your payment due date, and you won’t be charged interest during this period. As long as you pay off your statement balance by the payment due date, you will not be charged interest fees.

Unfortunately, in the case of cash advances, there is no grace period. Interest will start accruing the same day you take out cash. This means interest fees can add up quickly.

To make things worse, the interest you are charged is generally higher than your card’s standard interest rate. For example, the average APR for carrying a balance on a credit card is around 20%, per the Federal Reserve. The average APR on cash advances is normally 25% to 30%.

Bottom Line: There are not many credit cards that have a low interest or interest-free cash advance fee. 

ATM/Bank Fees

To make things even more painful, your credit card may also charge you a fee when withdrawing cash from an ATM. The ATM fee can vary and depends on if you use an in-network bank or if you’re traveling internationally.

Person using ATM
Your credit card may also charge an ATM fee on top of a cash advance fee. Image Credit: Peggy_Marco via Pixabay

Which Cards Offer Cash Advances?

Most cards allow you to take a cash advance, with a few exceptions, such as the Apple Card. Here is a chart of the associated fees for taking out a cash advance by card issuer:

SCROLL FOR MORE
Typical Cash Advance APRMinimum Cash Advance FeeMinimum Cash Advance %
Bank of America16.99% to 28.99%$105%
Capital One24.49% to 26.99%$103%
Chase24.99%$105%
Discover24.99%$105%
Citibank25.24%$105%
American Express25.24%$105%
AppleN/A*N/A*N/A*
USAA11.4%-30.4%N/A3%
Wells Fargo28.99%$105%

* Does not allow cash advances

Hot Tip: If you’re wondering about typical cash advances for the payment networks, such as Visa or Mastercard, be sure to check your specific card’s issuer agreement. The card issuer sets the terms for fees and interest.

How To Pay Off a Cash Advance

We’ve already established that cash advances start accruing interest immediately, so paying them off quickly is very important. You should submit a payment for the full amount of the cash advance you took, plus any interest that has accrued, as soon as you are able — that means even before your statement closing date or your payment due date.

If you’re only able to make your minimum payment, unfortunately, this won’t go to paying off your cash advance. However, if you pay a little more than the minimum, your bank must apply any amount over the minimum payment to the balance with the highest interest rate. In this case, the cash advance balance would have the highest interest rate, so it would be applied toward that balance.

Does a Cash Advance Hurt Your Credit Score?

In general, taking out a cash advance doesn’t impact your credit score. However, there are a few factors to consider:

  1. Credit Utilization — If you end up taking out a large cash advance, you might end up using too much of your available credit. If your credit utilization goes above 30%, it can signal that you’re struggling to repay your debt and lead to a lower credit score.
  2. Difficult to Repay Debts — Fees from high-interest rates can add up quickly, making it much harder to repay your debts. Falling behind on your payments (or even missing payments) can really make your credit score suffer.

Cards Without a Cash Advance Fee

While most cards do charge fees and interest each time you take out a cash advance, there are a few cards that offer no cash advance fees and/or the same interest rate for regular purchases on cash advances! Here are some cards that offer these features:

  1. PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card — This card has a 0% cash advance fee and a low cash advance APR of 17.99%. This card requires good credit.
  2. PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card — Also from PenFed, this card offers cash back on purchases, along with a 0% cash advance fee and a low cash advance APR of 17.99%. This card requires good credit.
  3. PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card — This travel card offers some great rewards and perks, but does come with a $95 annual fee. Similar to the other cards from PenFed, it has a 0% cash advance fee and a low cash advance APR of 17.99%. This card requires good credit.
  4. DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card — If your credit is lower, this secured card could be a good option. It requires a $500 security deposit but offers a 0% cash advance fee and a 16% cash advance APR.

How To Avoid Credit Card Cash Advance Fees

As you can see above, there are very few credit cards that don’t have a cash advance fee. In order to avoid fees, here are some other ways to get cash without being charged a cash advance fee.

Use a Debit Card

Use your debit card instead of a credit card to take out cash from an ATM or use it to get cash-back from a merchant. Since you are simply accessing your own funds, there is no additional fee for this (unless you use an out-of-network ATM).

Charge It on Your Credit Card

If you have credit remaining on your credit card, you can charge your expense against your card’s credit limit. The APR you pay for regular purchases is typically much lower than the APR you pay for cash advances.

Take Out a Personal Loan

If you need a large amount of cash to pay off bills or expenses, you should consider taking out a personal loan. Personal loans typically have a much lower interest rate than cash advances. For example, the average personal loan APR for a 24-month loan will vary based on your credit score, but according to the Federal Reserve, it was 11.2% in late 2022.

Use an App

Apps like Venmo can be a good alternative for transferring money to friends or businesses. They allow credit card transfers for a small fee, meaning it will be less expensive than the fees and interest associated with a cash advance.

Redesigned Venmo app
Image Credit: Venmo

Overdraw Your Checking Account

If you have overdraft protection, you can write a check that will still be cashed by your bank. Your bank will allow you to go below zero, but you’ll have to pay a Non-Sufficient Funds (or NSF) fee. This fee normally runs around $30 to $35 and will likely be much lower than a cash advance fee and associated interest. You can only do this occasionally though, or you risk your account being closed.

Final Thoughts

Cash advances should only be considered as a last resort, but in a bind, cash advances could be a quick solution. It’s important to be aware of the high fees and interest that start to accrue immediately when you take out a cash advance. If available, try one of the other options we’ve suggested, such as using an app, charging your credit card, or taking out a personal loan instead of using a cash advance.

The information regarding the Apple Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.


The information regarding the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a cash advance on my credit card?

Most credit cards offer cash advances. You will pay both a cash advance fee as well as a higher APR in order to get cash from your credit card, as this is essentially a loan against your credit line.

How to get cash from a credit card without charges?

Unless you’re earning cash-back rewards, there aren’t many ways to get cash from a credit card without incurring some fees. You can use your debit card to get cash for free. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay the cash advance fees and associated interest when using a cash advance.

What is a cash advance APR on a credit card?

The cash advance APR on a credit card is usually anywhere from 25% to 30%, depending on the card. This is often higher than the card’s regular APR for purchases. Check your card’s cardholder agreement for specifics.

How much is a credit card cash advance fee?

The cash advance fee for a credit card is usually either $10 or 5% of the cash advance — whichever is greater. This will vary based on your specific card, so check your cardholder agreement for more information.

How to get cash from a credit card without a PIN?

You must have a PIN to get cash using your credit card. You can also request convenience checks from your bank or go in person to a physical location of your card issuer (such as Chase).

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About Christy Rodriguez

After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a certified CPA.

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