Access cash when you need it through a cash advance credit card. MoneyGeek used its ranking algorithm to find the best cash advance credit card offers for 2021 to help you make the best choice for you.
Best Cash Advance Credit Cards for 2021
Cash advance credit cards are unique tools that allow you to borrow money from your credit card account. Unexpected expenses could leave you in a financial crisis. If you need an influx of cash for an emergency but don’t have enough funds to cover it, a cash advance can be a real lifesaver.
The downside to borrowing money through a cash advance is that you typically pay higher interest rates than standard purchases and face additional card fees. Because of the extra costs involved, consumers should only take out a cash advance when absolutely necessary. When choosing a cash advance card, always pay attention to the fine print, including extra fees, interest charges and advance limits. MoneyGeek recommends considering other card benefits included — not just the cash advance option — to find the right card choice for your spending.
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MoneyGeek Quick Tip: Cash advances are helpful if you need cash quickly, but they’re also an expensive way to borrow because of high rates and fees. There may be better options available, such as a balance transfer card or one that offers introductory 0% APR on new purchases, which would allow you to pay off any emergency expenses over a longer period.
MoneyGeek’s Take: Credit Cards with Lower Cash Advance Fees
We analyzed 100+ credit cards to find the best cash advance credit cards on the market for consumers. Factors we considered included APR, cash advance fees, other card fees, card benefits, perks and potential drawbacks. If you decide to go this route, using our detailed guide as part of your research can help you determine the cash advance credit card that works best for you.
Credit Cards With No-Fee Cash Advances
- Milestone Gold Mastercard - An excellent option for individuals with fair credit, this card comes with zero cash advance fees for the first year of card ownership. The Milestone Gold Mastercard doesn’t offer many extra perks but is a near-perfect choice for cash advances.
Cards With Lower Cash Advances Fees
- Simmons Visa - This Visa card is geared towards individuals with excellent credit. It features low cash advance fees and an incredibly low APR on cash advances.
- Capital One Spark Cash for Business - Not only does this business credit card feature low cash advance fees, but it also earns unlimited cash back on all purchases and includes a sizable early spend bonus.
Best Cash Advance Credit Cards for October 2021
Below are the very best cash advance credit card offers currently available. Our detailed listings include offer insights, pros and cons, and an expert editorial review of the card.
Credit Cards with No-Fee Cash Advances
The following cards offer something even better than low cash advance fees — no fees at all. With no extra costs to worry about, you can pay off your card faster, saving money on interest charges.
FEATUREDMilestone Gold MastercardA great card for rebuilding your credit without paying a security deposit
- FairCredit Needed
- $0 during first yearCash Advance Fee
- 29.90%Cash Advance APR
- $75 the first year; $99 thereafterAnnual Fee
- 24.90%Reg APR
Cards with Lower Cash Advances Fees
Finding a credit card with low cash advance fees can save you money when unexpected expenses pop up. Below are cards that currently feature some of the lowest cash advance fees available.
FEATUREDSimmons VisaA fantastic low-interest card that comes with no annual fees
- ExcellentCredit Needed
- $4 or 3% of transactionCash Advance Fee
- 14.25% to 22.25%Cash Advance APR
- $0Annual Fee
- 10.25% to 18.25% VariableReg APR
- Capital One Spark Cash for BusinessA great card for earning unlimited rewards and paying no foreign transaction fees
- Good, ExcellentCredit Needed
- $10 or 3% of transactionCash Advance Fee
- 26.99%Cash Advance APR
- $95Annual Fee
- 20.99%Reg APR
Know your credit score from the start - Your creditworthiness largely determines if you qualify for a cash advance card. Knowing your credit score can help lead you to the best card options for your situation. Many credit cards come with free credit score access these days, so check to see if that’s a perk included with any of your current cards.
How We Rank Cash Advance Credit Cards
Our list of the best credit cards is based on publicly available data from card issuers and other reputable sources like the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. We review each card's fees, interest rates, rewards, benefits and more to assign a rating for each feature. These ratings are stack ranked and weighted for each card category to determine our top selections for each type of user. Because card details change regularly, we revisit our data each month to update our ratings, recommendations and other card information as needed. Learn more about our data collection and ranking process.
Top Rating Criteria for Cash Advance Credit Cards
How to Compare Cards with Cash Advance Features in Mind
While taking out a cash advance isn’t the best idea, it’s a valuable option if you’re in a financial pinch. If you’re thinking about applying for a cash advance card, here are several factors to consider while you research available credit cards.
- Cash Advance FeesIf you’re taking out a cash advance, look for a card with low cash advance fees. Typically, cash advances fees are a set amount ($5–$10) or a percentage of the advance total, whichever is higher. Some cash advance cards don’t charge any fees — we recommend seeking these out first. If unexpected expenses pop up, the last thing you want to do is <a href="https://www.moneygeek.com/credit-cards/resources/how-to-be-debt-free/">tack on even more debt</a> with costly card fees.
- Cash Advance APRAlong with expensive fees, most cards charge a higher APR for cash advances. Always check the APR before you open a new card. Also, understand that — unlike standard APR — interest starts accruing on charges immediately when you take out a cash advance.
- Introductory APR OfferCards may also feature an introductory APR offer. These offers typically feature 0% interest for extended periods of 12 to 18 months. Charging emergency expenses to your card and paying them off over time may be a better option than taking out a cash advance, especially with cards that have introductory APR offers.
Cash Advance Credit Cards Compared at a Glance
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- Card NameCash Advance FeeCash Advance APRCredit Needed
- Simmons Visa$4 or 3% of transaction14.25% to 22.25%Excellent
- Milestone Gold Mastercard$0 during first year29.90%Fair
- Capital One Spark Cash for Business$10 or 3% of transaction26.99%Good, Excellent
MoneyGeek’s Quick Guide to Understanding Credit Card Cash Advances
With so many people living paycheck to paycheck these days, there’s often no extra cash cushion when unforeseen expenses occur. Your washing machine breaks. Your car needs repairs. Unexpected doctor visits lead to a pile of medical bills you can’t cover.
Credit card cash advances are a way to tap into quick cash to cover emergencies like these, especially if you don’t have an emergency fund. A cash advance is money given by a credit card issuer. They often come with expensive fees and APR charges, so they aren’t ideal in most circumstances.
So, why would someone use a cash advance? You can look at a cash advance as a short-term loan from your credit card company to use to get out of a financial bind and then pay it back. Cash advances are also more convenient than applying for loans, which can take several days or weeks to be approved.
It’s essential to understand how cash advances work, why they tend to be expensive, and alternatives that might be a better option in the long run.
How a Cash Advance on a Credit Card Works
A cash advance is essentially a loan from your credit card company for access to quick cash. Depending on your card, you can get cash advance funds in person, through an ATM or by check. Cash advance limits are usually lower than your credit limit.
The primary benefit of using a cash advance is the ability to address a pressing financial need immediately. Cash advance funds are easily accessible, giving you a quick way to take care of emergencies.
While you can pay for an emergency expense with a cash advance, remember that these charges are immediately subject to interest charges. Hefty fees and high APR rates usually accompany cash advances. Using a cash advance means you’ll end up paying more than the unexpected expenses themselves. It’s not an ideal option if you just want extra cash in your pocket.
MoneyGeek recommends only using cash advances in extreme circumstances where there’s no other option available, or you need access to extra money fast.
Why Cash Advances Are Expensive
Most experts say to avoid cash advances because of the high fees and interest charges attached to them. If you’re low on available funds, the last thing you want is extra charges on top of what you borrow. That’s precisely what happens when you use a cash advance.
- Fees: Most cash advance fees are either a minimum flat rate charge or a percentage of the cash advance amount. For example, let’s say you take out a $500 cash advance. If the card has a $5 or 5% fee (whichever is greater), your cash advance fee would be $25.
- APR: The cash advance fee isn’t the only charge you need to worry about. Most cards have different APR rates for purchases and cash advances. Consider Chase Sapphire Preferred, one of the most popular rewards credit cards in the world. Depending on your credit, you could score a purchase APR as low as 15.99% with this card. Compare that to its 24.99% cash advance APR. Also, consider that the APR on card purchases doesn't typically kick in until after your statement due date. Interest on cash advances starts to accumulate immediately. If you had to borrow cash because of a difficult financial situation, the chances are it will take you a while to pay back your advance, leading to expensive interest charges.
Using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card mentioned above, let’s look at how much it would actually cost to use a cash advance.
This particular card carries a cash advance APR of 24.99%. In our example, we’re taking out a $500 cash advance that we’ll pay back in 30 days, or roughly one month. Cash Sapphire Preferred comes with a cash advance fee of $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater. The cash advance fee in this scenario is $25.
- Divide the cash advance rate (24.99%) by 365 (days in a year) = 0.06846
- Multiply 0.06846 by the cash advance amount ($500) = $34.23
- Multiply $34.23 by the number of days until its paid back (30) = $1026.99
- Divide $1,026.90 by 100 percent = $10.27
- $10.27 + $25 cash advance fee = $35.27
A $500 cash advance with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card would cost you $35.27 to borrow for 30 days.
Alternatives to Cash Advances
Using a cash advance may get the job done when you need access to cash quickly, and you’re able to pay it off fast. There are several other options available that might prove to be better and cost less money, though:
- Borrow money from family and friends. Borrowing money from loved ones is less expensive because you won't have to pay fees or interest charges. Keep in mind that if you aren’t diligent in paying back the money on time, you could damage the relationship, which is much worse than paying credit card fees.
- A credit card with an introductory APR offer. If you’re going to use a credit card, why not charge unexpected expenses to a card with an 0% intro APR offer and pay it off slowly over the next year or longer?
- Take out a personal loan. A personal loan might also have high interest rates depending on your credit, but probably still lower than those found with a cash advance.
- Request a payment extension. Talk to your creditor to see if you’re eligible for a hardship extension. Many creditors are willing to work with customers to offer extended time to pay off debt or work out a payment plan that works for both parties.
FAQs About Cash Advance Credit Cards
MoneyGeek answered some of the most critical questions about using a cash advance and cash advance credit cards:
Cash advances aren’t an ideal option for borrowing money, especially if you’re looking to avoid extra credit card charges. But, if you’re in a bind and need access to cash fast, using a cash advance may be the best choice available. Take time to research each card option by looking at details like cash advance fees and APR charges before choosing a card.
About the Author
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- Chase. "Pricing and Terms." Accessed July 12, 2021.
- Chase. "How do credit card cash advances work?." Accessed July 12, 2021.
- Chase. "When does interest start to accrue on a credit card?." Accessed July 12, 2021.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What is a grace period for a credit card?." Accessed July 12, 2021.
- CapitalOne. "What Is a Cash Advance on a Credit Card?." Accessed July 12, 2021.
- Bank of America Better Money Habits. "What is a credit card cash advance?." Accessed July 12, 2021.
- MyFICO. "What is a FICO® Score?." Accessed July 12, 2021.
- Experian. "What Is a Cash Advance?." Accessed July 12, 2021.
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