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Using a credit card for gambling

Know exactly what it will cost you when you use your credit card for a gambling transaction.

Credit cards are convenient, but if you want to place a bet on the Melbourne Cup, pay for scratchies and lotto tickets or play poker online, they are usually very expensive. Most credit card providers categorise gambling transactions differently to everyday purchases and charge high rates (up to 29.49% p.a.) and fees for them. Others don’t let you use your card to gamble at all.

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 the higher cash advance interest rate that everyday purchases. Cash advances are also commonly exempt from any interest-free period, which means you'll be charged interest on gambling transactions from the time they are made. In this table you can find out which providers allow gambling transactions and the range of cash advance interest rates for personal credit cards.

ProviderGambling transactionsCash advance rate (varies by card)
American ExpressProhibitedN/A
ANZCash advance rate20.99% p.a. - 21.74% p.a.
BankwestCash advance rate21.99% p.a.
Bank of MelbourneCash advance rate19.49% p.a. - 20.49% p.a.
Bank of QueenslandProhibitedN/A
CommBankCash advance rate21.24% p.a.
CitiProhibitedN/A
CUAProhibitedN/A
HSBCCash advance rate21.99% p.a.
NABCash advance rate21.74% p.a.
St.GeorgeCash advance rate19.49% p.a. - 20.49% p.a.
Suncorp BankProhibitedN/A
Virgin MoneyProhibitedN/A
WestpacCash advance rate19.49% p.a. - 21.29% 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.

What should I think about before using a credit card for gambling?

Make sure you think about these factors before using your credit card for gambling transactions:

  • Interest rate. 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 29.49% (at the time of writing).
  • Cash advance fee. 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 cards that intermittently offer 0% interest or bonus points for new customers 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 stringent rules around gambling transactions and prohibits many forms of them altogether. Whatever you decide, always remember to gamble responsibly.

Images: Shutterstock

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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a senior writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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12 Responses

  1. 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?

    • finder Customer Care
      DebbieMarch 22, 2016Staff

      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 it with the company where you’ve made the transaction with.

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

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Debbie

  2. Default Gravatar
    January 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

    • finder Customer Care
      DebbieJanuary 25, 2016Staff

      Hi Rawdon,

      Thank you for your inquiry.
      Please note that you’ve come through finder.com.au, an online comparison service and does not represent any credit card issuer such as ANZ.

      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 more happy 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 this page.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Debbie

  3. 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.

    • finder Customer Care
      SallyJanuary 7, 2016Staff

      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

  4. 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

    • finder Customer Care
      JonathanNovember 9, 2015Staff

      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

  5. Default Gravatar
    AaronDecember 3, 2014

    Is there a credit card that counts transfers to betting agencies as purchases, with an interest free period on purchases.

    • finder Customer Care
      ElizabethDecember 4, 2014Staff

      Hi Aaron,

      Thanks for your question.

      As you can see from the page above many card issuers consider purchasing gambling chips or token as cash advances, and many also consider transfers as cash advances as well. I’m unaware of any specific card issuers that would classify this type of transaction as a purchase.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

  6. Default Gravatar
    ReinerNovember 27, 2013

    Have used Visa Card with foreign Lotto agent, then cancelled transaction /card. St.George did not allow me to answer the merchant (not sending my fax @ a local branch & thus refused to honour the cancellation? Because they claim of the type of merchant – I did not know this or we’re not advised after 6-8 month of transactions? Do I not have the right to cancel my money transaction? My Money after all?

    Why did they have the right not to fax my specially hurried letter over night before the dead line! Then not do the cancellation & still debit my Card A/C -$4500? What happened to customer service?

    I have now paid this money myself because the Bank did not like the Merchant – last payment? Please advise – email soon. Thanks – Reiner

    • finder Customer Care
      JacobNovember 27, 2013Staff

      Hi, Reiner.

      Thanks for your question.

      If you have a potential dispute with your card issuer, you can take the issue up with the Financial Ombudsman service. This service is available to people who have a dispute with their financial services provider and is free of charge. But the first step should be to take the issues to the complaints department at St.George. If they are unable to resolve the issue, take it to their customer relations team. The next step after this should be the Financial Ombudsman service.

      I hope this helps.

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