Understanding what cash advance interest rates are

A cash advance can give you quick and easy access to money, but do you know the costs involved?

If you require money in a hurry, one of the easiest options is to use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM. This convenience, though, comes at a price, and it’s in your most interest to try and repay the money as soon as possible.

What is a cash advance?

Credit card providers tend to charge different interest rates for purchases and cash advances, and the following transactions qualify as cash advances:

  • Cash withdrawals. You can use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, at a branch, or as cash out via EFTPOS, and your card provider will consider all such transactions as cash advances.
  • Purchasing foreign currency. Paying for foreign currency or traveller’s cheques using your credit card would qualify as cash advances.
  • Gift cards and prepaid cards. As the money you load onto a gift card or prepaid card is equivalent to cash, these transactions are usually considered as cash advances when you pay with a credit card.
  • Gambling. If you use your credit card to pay for gambling transactions, prepare to pay your card’s cash advance rate. The cash advance rate can also apply on expenses incurred in paying for food and beverage in gambling establishments.
  • Balance transfer revert rate. If you get a credit card with a promotional balance transfer offer, there’s a good chance that outstanding transferred balances at the end of the promotional period will start attracting the card’s cash advance rate. Learn more about balance transfer rates.

Low cash advance credit cards comparison

Rates last updated December 12th, 2017
Name Product Interest Free Period Cash advance rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
bcu Classic Credit Card
Up to 55 days on purchases
14.80% p.a.
11.80% p.a.
$45 p.a.
Enjoy a competitive interest rate of 11.8% p.a. on purchases, plus up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
bcu Rewards credit card
Up to 55 days on purchases
14.80% p.a.
12.80% p.a.
$89 p.a.
Enjoy a low ongoing purchase rate, get 0.66% cashback for every dollar spent, plus take advantage of up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

What to consider before conducting a cash advance

Cash advances aren't the same as purchases. If you’re planning to use your card for a cash advance, here’s what you need to know:

  • Minimum withdrawals. While you can use your credit card to pay for the smallest possible purchases, when it comes to withdrawing cash you may have to deal with a minimum withdrawal amount of $20 or more.
  • Maximum limits. If you think you can use your credit card to withdraw cash up to your card’s available credit limit, think again. It is not uncommon for credit cards to have daily, weekly, and monthly cash advance limits in place. Maximum daily cash advance limits of less than $500 are rather common.
  • Cash advances paid first. Regulatory changes in how credit card providers apply payments ensure that you credit card provider applies your payments towards balances that attract the highest interest. Since cash advances tend to attract higher interest than purchases, you can be certain that your repayments will go towards reducing your cash advance balance first.
  • High interest. Interest for cash advances is normally 20% p.a. or more, which is considerably higher than the purchase rate of around 13% p.a. that some low rate credit cards charge. This makes cash advances a rather expensive form of credit, and if you’re not in a hurry, getting a personal loan might be a better option.
  • No interest-free days. Most credit cards give cardholders the ability to make use of interest-free days if they pay their closing balances in full each month. These interest-free days apply only on purchases, and not on cash advances. When you use your card for a cash advance, it starts attracting interest from the word go.
  • Cash advance fees. In addition to paying a high cash advance rate, you could also have to pay a cash advance fee, which typically varies in between 1.5% to 4%.
  • No reward points. Unfortunately, cash advance transactions don't usually earn reward points. Some cards, such as Bendigo Bank Rewards credit cards offer reward points on balance transfers, though.

While credit card cash advances can give you quick access to cash, the costs involved get sometimes outweigh the benefits. Make sure you understand what is considered a cash advance and the interest rates and fees that apply to weigh up whether it's worth it.

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Commonly asked questions about cash advances

    Sally McMullen

    Sally McMullen is an editor at finder.com.au who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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    26 Responses

    1. Default Gravatar
      BRETTMay 25, 2017

      Hello,
      I was looking at a cash advance and realise the interest is higher but my question is say I owe $1000 on my credit card and get $100 cash advance do I pay the higher interest rate on the $100 until it’s paid in full or do I now pay the higher interest rate on the $1100 until it’s paid in full?

      • Staff
        HaroldMay 25, 2017Staff

        Hi BRETT,

        Thank you for your inquiry.

        Typically, regardless the amount the interest for cash advances is normally 20% p.a. or more, which is considerably higher than the purchase rate of around 13% p.a. that some low rate credit cards charge. This makes cash advances a rather expensive form of credit, and if you’re not in a hurry, getting a personal loan might be a better option.

        I hope this information has helped.

        Cheers,
        Harold

    2. Default Gravatar
      BradleyOctober 15, 2016

      Took a cash advance of $200, charged $5; Paid amount due for the month on time and next statement have additional interest charge of $1. Why when I paid it off and how long will this continue?

      • Staff
        MayNovember 4, 2016Staff

        Hi Bradley,

        Thank you for your question.

        Your card will continue to charge interest each time you’re not able to pay your balance in full at the end of the payment cycle. So in the next statement you receive, you’ll be able to see your remaining balance in the previous statement plus interest.

        However, if you have paid your account balance in full like you did for your cash advance, in your next statement, you will not be able to see any unpaid fees and interest. Unless if there are any due interest or fees that have not been accounted for in the previous statement/cut-off, these charges will most likely appear on your next statement.

        Cheers,
        May

    3. Default Gravatar
      HarryMay 1, 2016

      Hi,

      I was wondering with my credit card which has interest free period of 55 days on purchases whether a cash advance would affect my interest free rate on purchases?

      For example, if I take a cash advance of $500 on 1st of June, if I then used my card for purchases on 4th June would I still have the interest free rate on purchases?

      Thanks in advance.

      • Staff
        MayMay 3, 2016Staff

        Hi Harry,

        Thanks for your question.

        Interest-free days provide you with a period of purchasing with no interest charges. The requirement for receiving this benefit is to repay your balance in full by the payment due date. An example of that is the 55 interest-free days on purchases, excluding cash advances. So your cash advances will not affect your 55 interest-free days.

        However, please keep in mind that if you use your card on any form of cash advance, your card will immediately charge you with interest and cash advance fees – which of course, you need to pay off as well on your due date.

        I hope this has answered your question.

        Cheers,
        May

    4. Default Gravatar
      MarkDecember 2, 2015

      Hello

      I would like to take a cash advance on my credit card which charges 21.49% PA for CA. I intend to have this paid back in 20 days.

      Is the calculation I am using correct?

      21.49 / 360 X 20 = 1.20%

      Total amount to repay being $1518 excluding other fees?

      Thank you

      • Staff
        JonathanDecember 2, 2015Staff

        Hi Mark, thanks for your inquiry!

        Nice work trying to work your interest repayment out, there are only a couple of figures that need replacing in your equation.

        0.2149 / 365 x 20 = 0.01177534246
        = 1.18% (2 decimal places)
        You can multiply that percentage by your amount outstanding and number of days for the total amount of interest.

        Cheers,

        Jonathan

    5. Default Gravatar
      MaddyJuly 1, 2015

      Hi there,
      I am new to the credit card game. I am going overseas in the next few weeks and intend to use my credit card for purchases and for cash. I have a 21.49% cash advance rate – does this mean with every cash withdrawal I make I am charged 21.49% on top of what I withdrawal? For example I take out $200 will I then owe $42.98(21.49/100 x 200) on top of the $200 amount?

      I have a debit card – should I transfer money from my credit account into my debit to make withdrawals or does this still come with a fee?

      Thank you in advance :)

      • Staff
        JonathanJuly 8, 2015Staff

        Hi Maddy, thanks for your inquiry!

        The cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a. is calculated on a daily basis, multiplied by the cash advance amount outstanding by the number of days that the debt is remaining. Please refer to the following link for more information on Cash Advance Interest Rates. Withdrawal fees for credit cards depend on the bank, generally cash withdrawals from the bank’s ATM or partner ATM will not incur any fees. You may also like to refer to Low Interest Rate credit cards which can provide the flexibility and convenience to spend and make purchases on your card whilst taking advantage of lowest interest repayments.

        Cheers,

        Jonathan

    6. Default Gravatar
      alexJune 24, 2015

      Knowing that I’d need to take out $1000 cash advance overseas in a few weeks time, can I pre-load the same amount onto my platinum credit card and avoid interest charges?

      • Staff
        JonathanJune 24, 2015Staff

        Hi Alex, thanks for your inquiry!

        That is correct. Loading/ depositing a credit amount above a 0 balance can provide interest free withdrawals. It is ideal to contact your bank/lender directly before depositing the funds to guarantee your interest-free withdrawals overseas.

        Cheers,

        Jonathan

    7. Default Gravatar
      MarioJune 22, 2015

      Hi,
      If I were to transfer money from my credit card to a friends credit card would that be considered a cash advance??
      Thank you

      • Staff
        JonathanJune 23, 2015Staff

        Hi Mario, thanks for your inquiry!

        Unfortunately transferring through cash advance from your credit card to another credit card is not eligible, unless the funds being transferred are in a credit balance (transferred above a neutral balance of 0).

        Cheers,

        Jonathan

    8. Default Gravatar
      KristenJanuary 29, 2015

      I want to find a way to pay off a credit card debt. I took out a new card different bank to take advantage of 0% interest on balance transfer. Didn’t manage to get it paid off before that ended. Can I pay off a credit card debt that’s attracting a high interest rate with the other card which is lower? What are the pros and cons of this?

      • Staff
        JonathanJanuary 29, 2015Staff

        Hi Kristen, thanks for your inquiry.

        Please see our guide on balance transferring debt amounts on this page for answers to your question.

        I hope this helps!

        Cheers,

        Jonathan

    9. Default Gravatar
      JosephJanuary 8, 2015

      I want to take out a cash advance of $2000 and pay it off in 60 days how much would I have to pay in total with the interest rate of 21.25%.
      Thank you

      • Staff
        ElizabethJanuary 12, 2015Staff

        Hi Jay,

        Thanks for your question.

        This really depends at what rate you pay the cash advance back. If you intend to pay the full amount back at the end of the 60-day period without making periodic repayments throughout, you’ll pay approximately $2070.80 ($2,000 x 3.54%).

        I hope this has helped.

        Thanks,

        Elizabeth

    10. Default Gravatar
      christineNovember 21, 2014

      i had a cash advance of $200 five years ago so why am i still paying cash advance fees of $28.11 per month

      • Staff
        ElizabethNovember 21, 2014Staff

        Hi Christine,

        Thanks for your question.

        If there is any outstanding balance left over from that cash advance you may still be paying interest on it. You might want to get in contact with your bank directly to understand what you’re being charged and find out how you can avoid future charges.

        I hope this has helped.

        Thanks,

        Elizabeth

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