Understanding what cash advance interest rates are

Information verified correct on December 7th, 2016

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 7th, 2016.

ME Bank frank Credit Card

Interest rate changed from 9.99% p.a. to 11.99% p.a. on purchases, balance transfers and cash advanc

September 19th, 2016

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Jonathan Choi Jonathan
Cash advance rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
ME Bank frank Credit Card
Enjoy a low and consistent interest rate on purchases and cash advances, combined with no annual fee.
11.99% p.a. 11.99% p.a. $0 p.a. Go to site More info

How do cash advances work?

Cash advances don’t the same as a purchase, and 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.

Pros and cons of cash advances

Pros

  • Quick access to money. Getting a loan requires that you go through an application process and approval isn’t certain. With a credit card, you can access funds up to a given limit at any time, as and when required.
  • Use money for any purpose. You can use money you receive through a cash advance for just about any purpose. You can use this money for household expenses, to pay bills, for auto repairs, or just to settle a temporary setback.

Cons

  • 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%.

Your credit card gives you easy means to access money in an emergency, but given the costs involved, it is ideal that you take this route as a last resort. If you wish to apply for a new credit card that you can use for cash advances, make sure you compare your options well.

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Frequently asked questions

What do I do once I've made a cash advance?

What you can do is to repay your cash advance as soon as you can afford it. People who only need a cash advance for a few days until payday should jump to their online credit card account and pay their cash advance as soon as they receive their pay.

Do credit card providers consider bill payments as cash advances or purchases?

This essentially depends on any given biller’s setup with BPAY. If your biller accepts credit cards as a form of payment, your card provider would process your transaction as a purchase. If the biller does not accept payments via credit cards, your card provider might still let you go through with the payment, and it would process such a transaction as a cash advance.

If I get a rewards credit card, would using it for cash advances earn reward points?

Cash advances don’t earn reward points. You can only earn reward points when you use your card to make eligible purchases, and in some instances, bill payments earn reward points.

If I use my credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, would I have to pay ATM fees as well?

You won’t have to pay ATM fees if you use an ATM that belongs to your financial institution or its ATM partner network. In all other cases, you would have to pay ATM fees.

Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is a journalist 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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24 Responses to Understanding what cash advance interest rates are

  1. Default Gravatar
    Bradley | October 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
      May | November 4, 2016

      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

  2. Default Gravatar
    Harry | May 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
      May | May 3, 2016

      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

  3. Default Gravatar
    Mark | December 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
      Jonathan | December 2, 2015

      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

  4. Default Gravatar
    Maddy | July 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
      Jonathan | July 8, 2015

      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

  5. Default Gravatar
    alex | June 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
      Jonathan | June 24, 2015

      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

  6. Default Gravatar
    Mario | June 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
      Jonathan | June 23, 2015

      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

  7. Default Gravatar
    Kristen | January 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
      Jonathan | January 29, 2015

      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

  8. Default Gravatar
    jay | January 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
      Elizabeth | January 12, 2015

      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

  9. Default Gravatar
    christine | November 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
      Elizabeth | November 21, 2014

      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

  10. Default Gravatar
    susan | November 7, 2014

    We have a c/c and a cheque attached to the same card. (Revolving credit) The c/c is paid monthly to avoid interest altogether. An accidental withdrawal from the wrong account ie: c/c for $100 was made today. If I transfer the $100.00 is it paid off or must the entire c/c balance be paid off to avoid interest on the advance

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | November 10, 2014

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your question.

      The entire balance owing on your card needs to be paid off each statement period in order to avoid interest charges. If you made the withdrawal and it was considered a cash advance, you will likely be charged a cash advance interest rate and so you will need to pay more than $100 to cover the cost of this withdrawal. You can check your account online to see what your outstanding balance is and what you will need to pay.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

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