How Do Credit Cards Charge Interest on Cash Advances?

Discover how credit cards charge interest on cash advances and the financial implications of these transactions. Learn useful strategies to minimize the impact on your wallet and make informed financial decisions.


Have you ever found yourself in a tight spot, desperately needing cash, and the only lifeline available is your credit card? In such situations, obtaining a cash advance from your credit card can be a real financial savior. But have you ever wondered how credit cards charge interest on these cash advances? 

In this article, we'll dive deep into cash advances whether you are considering a cash advance or just curious about how your credit card works, understanding this process is essential for your financial well-being.

Cash advances are essentially short-term loans provided by your credit card issuer, and there's a cost associated with borrowing money in the form of interest. Here’s how it works.

Read more: What is interest and how does it work?

Demystifying Cash Advance Interest Charges

When understanding cash advance interest, it's crucial to recognize that it's more complex than the interest charged on regular credit card purchases. Credit cards deal with cash advances differently.

Simply put, credit cards charge interest on cash advances when you withdraw money. This interest begins accruing immediately, and there's no grace period like there is with regular credit card purchases.

Let's imagine you're on a road trip, and you're in a small town with no ATMs in sight. You use your credit card to get a cash advance from the only bank in town. You walk out with $200 in your hand, but you may not realize that you're also walking out with a debt that starts growing immediately.[1]

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Understanding the Interest Rate

Credit cards charge interest on cash advances at a higher rate than the standard interest rate applied to purchases. While the interest rate for regular purchases may be 15% to 25%, the interest rate for cash advances typically ranges from 20% to 30% or even higher. It's higher because cash advances are considered riskier by credit card companies due to the immediate access to cash without the usual credit checks.

When you're facing an emergency, the convenience of a cash advance may outweigh the higher interest rate. However, you should always know the financial implications and consider alternative options.[2]

Now, let's delve into how this interest is calculated.

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Calculating Interest on Cash Advances

To illustrate how interest on cash advances is calculated, let's use an example:

Imagine you've obtained a cash advance of $500 with an interest rate of 25%. Unlike regular credit card purchases, there's no grace period. So, the clock starts ticking when you have that $500 in hand.

Here's how it typically works: The credit card company calculates the interest daily based on your average daily balance. Each day, they take the outstanding balance of your cash advance and apply the daily interest rate, which is the annual interest rate divided by 365 (for most credit cards). This daily interest is then added to your balance.

For example, with a $500 cash advance at a 25% annual interest rate, the daily interest rate would be approximately 0.0685% (25% divided by 365). So, on the first day, you'd accrue around $0.34 in interest (0.0685% of $500), bringing your total balance to $500.34.

The next day, the same calculation applies, but now it's based on the new balance of $500.34. This process repeats every day until you pay off the cash advance.

The longer you carry the cash advance balance, the more interest you'll accumulate.[3]

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The Immediate Impact on Your Wallet

To drive this point home, let's see how that daily interest accumulation can affect your wallet over time.

Suppose you keep that $500 cash advance for a full month without making any payments. At the end of the month, you would owe approximately $542.45. That's $42.45 in interest charges on top of your initial $500 cash advance.

Those daily interest charges would accumulate to over $500 in just a year. That means you'd owe approximately $1,000 on that initial $500 cash advance by the end of the year.

This illustrates the importance of quickly paying off your cash advance to minimize the financial impact.[3]

The Cost of Convenience: Cash Advance Fees

Interest isn't the only cost you'll incur with cash advances. Credit card companies often charge an additional fee when you take out a cash advance. This fee is usually a percentage of the cash advance amount, typically around 3% to 5%. In our example of a $500 cash advance, you might be hit with a fee of $15 to $25 right at the start.

So, on top of the daily interest accrual, you're already incurring an upfront cost for the convenience of a cash advance. This further emphasizes the importance of considering alternative options before resorting to cash advances.[1]

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Minimizing the Impact of Cash Advance Interest

Let’s discuss some strategies for minimizing interest on cash advances taken via credit cards.

  • Limit the Use of Cash Advances: Cash advances should be reserved for true emergencies. Whenever possible, find alternative ways to obtain the cash you need, such as using a debit card or seeking assistance from a friend or family member.
  • Pay Off the Balance Quickly: Carrying a cash advance balance for an extended period can be costly. If you take out a cash advance, prioritize paying it off as soon as possible to minimize interest charges.
  • Use Your Credit Card's Grace Period: If you have the option, use your credit card for regular purchases rather than cash advances. Credit card purchases often come with a grace period, allowing you to avoid interest charges by paying your balance in full by the due date.
  • Explore Alternative Financing Options: If you need cash, exploring alternative financing options with lower interest rates, such as personal loans or lines of credit might be worthwhile.
  • Seek Financial Guidance: If you consistently rely on cash advances to make ends meet, it may indicate underlying financial issues. In this case, consider seeking financial advice or assistance to address the cause of your financial challenges.[1][2]

Read more: Is Credit Card Interest Tax Deductible?


Cash advances can be a lifesaver in emergencies, but they are expensive. Credit cards charge interest on cash advances right from the moment you take out the money, and this interest accumulates daily. The higher interest rate and the absence of a grace period make cash advances more expensive than regular credit card purchases. It's essential to be aware of these costs and use cash advances judiciously.

The cost of a cash advance extends beyond interest. Cash advance fees add an upfront expense, and carrying a balance for an extended period can lead to substantial interest charges. To minimize the financial impact, limit the use of cash advances, pay off the balance quickly, and explore alternative financing options when feasible. Understanding how credit cards charge interest on cash advances empowers you to make informed financial decisions.

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1.Can I avoid paying interest on cash advances entirely?

Unfortunately, interest on cash advances starts accruing immediately with no grace period. To avoid paying interest, you must repay the cash advance balance in full before the next billing cycle, which can be a tight window.

2. Are cash advance interest rates the same for all credit cards?

No, the interest rates on cash advances vary from one credit card to another. They typically range from 20% to 30%, but some cards may charge even higher rates. Be sure to check the specific terms and conditions of your credit card.

3. Do cash advance fees count toward the cash advance limit on my card?

Yes, the cash advance fee is typically included in the cash advance limit on your credit card. For example, if your cash advance limit is $1,000, and you incur a $25 cash advance fee, you'll have $975 available for the cash advance itself.

4. Can I make a partial payment on a cash advance balance?

Yes, you can make partial payments on your cash advance balance like any other credit card debt. However, interest will continue to accrue on the remaining balance until it's paid off in full.

5.How does a cash advance impact my credit score?

Taking a cash advance won't directly impact your credit score, but it can indirectly affect your score if it leads to high credit card balances and missed payments.

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