The cost of using a credit card at the races

Amy Bradney-George 27 October 2017

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You'll be gambling with restrictions and higher costs if you place bets or use your credit card for other payments at the races.

Whether you’re strutting your stuff by the racetrack, sitting in a bar with friends or checking the action from your phone, a credit card can seem like a fast and convenient way to place bets. But that’s not usually the case, with most credit card companies outlining strict terms and conditions for gambling and gaming transactions.

In fact, you could be stopped in your tracks if you have a credit card from American Express, Bank of Queensland, Citi, Suncorp or Virgin Money, which all prohibit gambling transactions.

Even if you can make bets and other gambling transactions with your credit card, they’ll most likely be treated as cash advance transactions. When that’s the case, you’ll pay a cash advance fee worth around 2-3% of the transaction. You’ll also be charged the cash advance interest rate for your card, which is usually upwards of 20% p.a. and starts accruing from the day you make your transaction.

It could be even more expensive to use your card if you’re actually at the races or at a venue that allows betting because there is a chance that any payments made with your card will be treated as cash advance transactions. So buying drinks or food could end up costing a lot more than you bargained for.

To bring these points home, let’s look at how much money using your card could potentially cost you. Say you’re planning to place bets worth $1,000 this race season and want to use a credit card that has a cash advance fee of 3% and an interest rate of 21.99% p.a. Straight after placing your bets, you’d pay an extra $30. You’d also be charged interest on your balance of $1,030, which would lead to charges of $18.62 in the first month alone (assuming you made no repayments in that time).

That’s without factoring in any extra money you might spend on booze and food at the races or at another venue where all transactions might be processed as “cash advances”. This can make your credit card balance harder to handle than a free-spirited stallion.

The other unfortunate issue with gambling transactions is that they aren’t usually eligible for rewards. So any points you were hoping to earn for your bets are off the cards.

It is worth noting that credit card terms and conditions do vary between providers and only some of these factors may apply to you. But if you are planning to pull out your plastic while horsing around, it’s a good idea to check what conditions your credit card provider will apply. Otherwise, your next statement could have you chomping at the bit.

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