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Using a credit card for gambling

Know when you can use your credit card for a gambling transaction and what it will cost you, including for lotto, TAB and Sportsbet.

If you want to place a bet on the Melbourne Cup, pay for scratchies and lottery tickets or play poker online, credit cards are usually very expensive. Most credit card providers categorise gambling transactions differently to everyday purchases and charge high rates (up to 29.99% p.a.) and fees for them. Others don’t let you use your card to gamble at all.

In fact, credit cards have been banned for gambling in-person at hotels, clubs, casinos and TAB outlets since the early 2000s. Credit cards can still be used to gamble online but in 2023, the government introduced legislation that would ban them. At the moment, the decision to allow these transactions remains with individual banks, credit card providers and businesses.

Using a credit card for gambling can lead very quickly to a very serious debt trap for consumers and this debt cycle can be extremely difficult to break. Online gambling a fast growing form of gambling so it’s imperative that this loophole is finally closed. ”

Do you need help?

If you're affected by gambling, you can access free, confidential and 24-hour counselling through the Gambling Help Online chat service or by calling 1800 858 858.

Credit card companies that charge the cash advance rate for gambling transactions

If your credit card allows you to make gambling transactions, the charge will typically be categorised as a cash advance. This is because gambling charges are often "cash equivalents" or "cash substitutes" (ie. where you spend money to get another form of money).

These transactions attract a cash advance fee and a higher cash advance interest rate than everyday purchases. And you'll be charged interest straight away. Here, you can see details for some of the biggest credit card providers:

ProviderGambling transactionsMaximum cash advance rate (varies by card)
American ExpressProhibitedN/A
ANZCash advance rate21.99% p.a.
BankwestCash advance rate21.99% p.a.
Bank of MelbourneCash advance rate
Bank of QueenslandProhibitedN/A
CommBankCash advance rate21.99% p.a.
CitiProhibitedN/A
Great Southern BankProhibitedN/A
HSBCCash advance rate25.99% p.a.
NABCash advance rate21.74% p.a.
St.GeorgeCash advance rate21.49% p.a.
Suncorp BankProhibitedN/A
Virgin MoneyProhibitedN/A
WestpacCash advance rate21.49% p.a.

Using a credit card at gambling establishments

If you're at a gambling establishment, using your credit card for non-gambling activities – such as buying drinks or meals – could also attract the cash advance fee and interest rate.

When this happens, it is because the establishment’s merchant category code is preset to process gambling transactions. So, when the charge goes through to your credit card company, it will most likely be processed as a gambling transaction or cash advance.

If you're planning to use your credit card for a dinner, drinks or anything else at a venue that allows gambling, call your credit card company first and ask them if your spending would be considered a purchase or a cash advance.

Alternatively, get a receipt for your spending and – if you think it is wrongly processed as a cash advance – contact your issuer and explain the transactions were not for gambling.

Tip: If you don't want to use your credit card for gambling, some credit cards let you put a block on these transactions. For example, you can do this through Internet or mobile banking with an eligible card from CommBank, NAB or Westpac.

Finder survey: Which credit card features would people like to understand better?

Response
None of the above41.15%
Rewards programs36.93%
Interest-free days24.53%
Balance transfers20.22%
Cash advance17.43%
Purchase rate16.8%
Minimum payment13.03%
Statement period12.76%
Other0.45%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

Buying lotto tickets with a credit card

At the moment, you can use a credit card to buy lotto tickets at most news agencies and other authorised outlets that accept credit card payments.

The Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA) has also said buying lotto tickets in-store should be excluded from any regulatory changes around credit cards and gambling. In a submission to the ABA (pdf), it said that lottery products "pose a very low risk and are considered low harm" compared to other forms of gambling.

What to think about before using a credit card for gambling

  • Interest rates. The cash advance interest rates on most credit cards are usually much higher than your regular purchase transaction rates. This rate can reach as high as 25.99% (at the time of writing).
  • Cash advance fees. In addition to the interest charges, you will be charged a cash advance fee, which can be the greater of either a percentage of the transaction amount or a minimum fee. The cash advance fee is typically worth 2–4% of the transaction, which means it would cost you between $10 and $20 for a $500 bet.
  • No interest-free days. Cash advances are not eligible for the standard interest-free period on your card. This means that interest begins accruing immediately when you make a gambling transaction.
  • Rewards. As with cash withdrawals from an ATM, travellers’ cheque purchases and other similar cash equivalent transactions, you will not usually be able to earn credit card rewards points for gambling transactions.
  • Promotional offers. Credit card offers that intermittently reward new customers with bonus points will likely exclude gambling purchases from the list of “eligible transactions” required to take advantage of those deals.

Example: How much could a gambling transaction on my credit card cost?

Say you decide to use your credit card to place a total of $2,000 worth of bets on a sporting event. On a credit card with a 3% cash advance fee and a cash advance rate of 21.99% p.a., here’s what could potentially happen:

  • If you pay the minimum amount each month. If your card balance was $0 before the gambling transaction, and this remains the only transaction on the card, you would pay $5,735 in total over 16 years and 9 months.
  • If you pay the full amount after 30 days. Assuming again that this is the only transaction on your card, you would have to pay $36.15 in interest (21.99% x $2,000 x 30/365), plus $60 for the cash advance fee (3% of $2,000). This is on top of the original $2,000, bringing the total you'll pay off the card to $2,096.15.
  • You pay the total amount later that day. Assuming that this is the only transaction on your card, you would have to pay $1.20 in interest (21.99% x $2,000 x 1/365), plus $60 for the cash advance fee (3% of $2,000) on top of your $2,000 bet. This means it would cost $2,061.20 in total.

Now that you’re aware of the fees that a gambling transaction could incur on your credit card, it may be wise to consider some alternatives. There are fee-free ways to pay for your wagers, such as debit cards or cash. If you’d still rather use a credit card, check out these low cash advance rate cards.

You could also research and explore workaround E-wallet solutions like Skrill and Neteller or PayPal – although PayPal has its own strict rules around gambling transactions. Whatever you decide, always remember to gamble responsibly.

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14 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CBOctober 5, 2023

    Thank you for good information regarding purchasing a lottery ticket on a credit card. I spoke to my bank a while back and discovered something additional. Payments made to a credit card are usually allocated to purchases before cash advances. So, despite paying my statement amount every month the cash advance is not paid off and interest continues to accrue (payment is allocated to purchases made subsequent to statement before cash advance). The only way to get rid of it is to find out the total balance on the day you pay and pay that (best to go into the bank). You can request to pay cash advances first but they don’t tell you that. Have you come across this before? It means you could pay interest on lottery ticket purchases for a long time to come.

      AvatarFinder
      AmyOctober 9, 2023Finder

      Hi CB,
      Thanks for your detailed question. Credit card repayments are actually allocated to balances with the highest interest rate first. This is a requirement that was introduced in 2012 as part of broader credit reforms in Australia. Finder’s guide to credit card interest rates has more details and an example of how it works. If you have further questions, you can contact your bank or the Australian Securities Investments Commission (ASIC) on 1300 300 630. I hope this helps.

    Default Gravatar
    HSMarch 18, 2016

    I’ve been with NAB Mini Visa since 2006.Over last twelve months I have used my Visa Credit card for online (Internet) TattsLotto purchase on numerous occasions. I have never been charged a $2.50 fee until recently on 17 March 2016 categorized as a Cash advance. How legal is this? Why is a transaction for purchasing a piece of paper with lotto numbers qualified as a Cash Advance but an online purchase of rolls of toilet paper are not a cash advance? Logic indicates that either of the purchases are just’Consumer goods and services’ and not actual cash advance meaning cash in hand like you’d get from an ATM withdrawal. Isn’t this another way of banks stealing from credit card consumers by creating their own definitions ? And, how legal is it that it was not charged in the past but all of a sudden it is charged?

      AvatarFinder
      DebbieMarch 22, 2016Finder

      Hi HS,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      It is possible that there may have been changes on the transaction and is currently now treated as cash advance instead of purchase. You may need to verify this with the company where you have made the transaction.

      To understand more, you may wish to check our page about transactions that are considered cash advances.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Debbie

    Default Gravatar
    RawdonJanuary 22, 2016

    I recently received a letter from ANZ advising that Lottery ticket purchases on credit cards will now be deemed cash advances.
    I have 2 questions:-
    1) Does this include purchase of lottery tickets from organizations – in particular Boystown, RSL and the Deaf Lottery? and
    2) When I purchase Gold Lotto tickets from the news agencies, how do you differentiate them from other purchases such as magazines?
    Thanks
    Rawdon

      AvatarFinder
      DebbieJanuary 25, 2016Finder

      Hi Rawdon,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      To verify the letter you’ve received and for full details, you may need to speak directly to an ANZ customer service representative. They will be happier to assist you further with your concern. Please check the contact number I’ve sent in your email for your reference.

      For other transactions that are considered as cash advance, kindly refer on What credit card transactions are considered cash advances? You may also revisit your credit card provider’s terms and conditions and cardholder agreement to ensure you are covered on your transactions.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Debbie

    Default Gravatar
    BevanJanuary 6, 2016

    Hi ive been with westpac for over 10 years.& i like to admit that i have a slight gambling problem but not as serious like others i know. ive like online gambling for fun & entertainment. ive funded a few online casinos with my debit mastercard may 5 times a week only small amounts of 30 to 40 dollars max where i have to give them my details. then i finally go through my bank statements & notice alot of debit card authoritys taken out by some of these sites. ive talked to their so called live chat members & they say that its impossible for them to authorise funds to be taken out. Deep inside me i know i never authorised some of theses transactions. i want my an investigation done but is it worth it. Cause oline gambling is condemed by most people. ive locked my debit card and getting a new one. Is there a chance that i could get those unathorised transation refunded. or just live with it cause im really @ngry about it. i feel ashamed cause ive been scammed.

      AvatarFinder
      SallyJanuary 7, 2016Finder

      Hi Bevan,

      Thanks for your question and we’re sorry to hear about your predicament.

      If an unauthorised transaction has been taken from your account, you need to contact your provider immediately. To notify Westpac of a fraudulent transaction on your credit card, please call 1300 130 961.

      Make sure you have your account details and the details of the fraudulent transactions on hand before you make the call.

      While using your credit card for gambling purchases isn’t encouraged, you should still be able to challenge fraudulent transactions made on your card.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

    Default Gravatar
    MonksNovember 7, 2015

    I’ve moved from ANZ to Westpac. ANZ never charged a cash advance for depositing money to my TAB Accounts over the last 8 yrs I had been with them but now with Westpac they do… How come and how can I get around this? A normal debit card takes days to deposit (clearance reasons) to TAB accounts but Credit Card is instant.

    Cheers

      AvatarFinder
      JonathanNovember 9, 2015Finder

      Hi Monks, thanks for your inquiry!

      Please note that you have reached finder.com.au a comparison service and not Westpac. Cash advance transactions typically charge an interest rate of 18-20% p.a. depending on the product. It would be best to contact Westpac directly on 13 20 32 to resolve this issue.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

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