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If you're in a bind and need cash now, you've got options thanks to the availability of personal loans, credit cards and other methods for stabilizing your finances. One solution is to transfer money from a credit card to your bank account—a cash advance.
A cash advance lets you borrow money directly from your credit card rather than using your account for purchases. Some financial institutions allow you to directly transfer a cash advance to a checking account, while others require an extra step. Either way, due to hefty fees and steep interest rates that kick in right away, cash advances should only be used for emergencies.
Can You Transfer Money From a Credit Card to a Checking Account?
If you have a financial emergency and choose to take cash out via your credit card account, the way you'd do this is through a cash advance. This is a loan you must repay and that can't exceed the current balance available on your credit card. Be aware that interest starts accruing on the cash withdrawal as soon as you take it out. There's no grace period like there is with a typical credit card purchase, so if you need the money for something that you could just pay for with your card, it's better to do that.
But if you need cash, the process for getting your money depends on your credit card issuer, so you'll need to find out what they offer. Here are a few ways you can typically get cash advance money into your bank account:
- Direct transfer: Some financial institutions allow you to directly transfer funds from your credit card to your checking account. U.S. Bank, for example, lets you complete this process entirely online. However, many issuers don't have this option. While this method is convenient, it might also make it a little too easy to take on more debt.
- ATM: Many banks and credit unions allow you to take out money for a credit card cash advance via an ATM; you just need to make sure your credit card has a PIN. If you need this money to go into your checking account, you can then deposit your cash into your account (either at an ATM that accepts deposits, or at a branch).
- In person: You may be able to take out a cash advance in person at a branch. If you go this route, you could then deposit the cash into your checking account.
- Convenience checks: These are checks your credit card issuer sends you that you can deposit in your bank account or use to pay for something like you would with a personal check. They function much like traditional checks, except the money comes from your credit card's line of credit rather than your checking account.
Is It a Good Idea to Transfer Money From a Credit Card?
The short answer is no, it's not a good idea to transfer money from a credit card to your bank account. It's always a better option to use income or savings when possible to avoid going into debt. If it's an unavoidable emergency and you must take on debt, consider other options that carry lower interest first. This could mean a low interest personal loan, home equity line of credit or a new credit card with a 0% interest introductory offer. Or you could even try to borrow the money from a friend or family member.
They might not be as bad as payday loans, but cash advances should never be the first option you consider for fast cash. For one, the interest rate on a cash advance is typically very high, so if it will take you some time to repay it, you'll pay a pretty penny in fees for this privilege. The interest rate on a cash advance is typically higher than the purchase APR on a credit card. But with a credit card purchase, you'll at least have a grace period of no interest for a few weeks, so a purchase will carry no interest if it is paid off fast enough. Cash advances have no grace period, so the interest starts accruing as soon as you take the cash out.
Then there are the fees. Most credit cards carry a cash advance fee, which will be either a small flat fee or percentage of the advance amount, with the majority of card issuers charging a 5% fee for every cash advance. If you're taking out large amounts, that can add up fast.
Only take out a cash advance if you absolutely need the money in an emergency and don't have more cost-effective options. It's not wise to rely on them whenever you need money. You should also aim to only take out a cash advance if you can pay it back very quickly and minimize the amount of interest you pay. If your financial institution has online bill pay, this makes it easy for you to quickly start repaying what you've borrowed.
How Transferring Money From a Credit Card Can Affect Your Score
Keep in mind that using a cash advance to access money can have a negative impact on your credit. The amount of credit card debt you have relative to your total credit limit is called your credit utilization ratio, a factor that represents 30% of your credit score (it's the second-most important factor).
To find your credit utilization ratio, divide how much you owe on all your cards by your total credit limit. Using a significant amount of your available credit can be a red flag to lenders and creditors. Because of this, it's considered ideal to keep your ratio under 30%. Say your credit card's credit limit is $10,000 and you have a credit card balance of $4,000. Taking out a cash advance of $2,000 would cause your credit utilization ratio to jump to 60%. A ratio this high can start to negatively affect your credit score.
The Bottom Line
Fast cash is tempting, and credit card issuers offer many different ways to easily get a cash advance, including the ability to directly transfer money from a credit card to your bank account. But it comes at a price, with high interest rates, steep fees and the potential to cause dings to your credit score, a cash advance is rarely your best option. If your current credit card's cash advance terms are really bad, consider finding a different credit card with lower cash advance fees or interest rates.