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Tight on cash and worried about how you’ll make your credit card payment this month? Waiting for a commission check, tax refund or insurance settlement so you can pay off bills? Or are you trying to use your credit card to pay for as much as possible so you can earn reward points or cash back?
If any of these scenarios apply to you, you may be wondering if you can use one of your credit cards to pay another credit card bill.
Unfortunately, none of the major card issuers we queried will let you pay your bill directly by credit card. It’s not surprising, though. If your card issuer accepted another credit card for payment, it would have to pay the merchant fee — which could be 2% to 2.5% or more of the payment amount. That means, essentially, they wouldn’t get the full payment from you.
In addition, there may be restrictions on this practice imposed by the card associations. Andrew Gerlt, Director, Global Brand & Product Communications for Visa noted in an email that, “Visa rules do not allow the payment of credit card debt with a credit card. We do allow for debt repayment with a debit card, however.”
If you really need to “charge” your next payment, there are workarounds. In fact, there are three — but they all come at a cost.
Get a Cash Advance
As long as you have enough available credit, you should be able to use your credit card to get a cash advance, and then you can use that money to pay another credit card bill. You can obtain a cash advance at most banks or credit unions, or at an ATM if you have a PIN for your card. The problem with this approach is that the interest rate on cash advances is often at a higher rate than purchases, and interest accrues right away. That means that even if you pay off that cash advance by the due date, interest will be charged. Always double-check the interest rate before you take this approach.
The RPTPP Method
If cash flow is the reason you want to use a credit card to pay another credit card, then there’s another way to accomplish this goal: the “Rob Peter to Pay Paul” method. Use your credit card for everyday spending in order to free up as much cash as you can to pay your credit card bill. It’s not ideal, or even recommended, but it can be an option in a cash crunch.
Transfer Your Balance
If one of your card issuers offers a balance transfer you can use that to pay down or pay off your other card. If you have already received convenience checks in the mail, you can use one of those to make a payment on another card (you can’t use a convenience check to make a payment on the same account, though). Or you can deposit that check into your checking account then use those funds to make a payment. If you haven’t received one of these offers in the mail, check with your card issuer online or by phone to see if you are eligible.
If your credit scores are strong, you may be eligible for a low-rate balance transfer card. Just keep in mind that these offers almost always charge fees ranging from 2% to 4% of the amount transferred. It’s hard to find a credit card that offers a 0% balance transfer with no fee, but they do exist.
Of the three methods mentioned here, this one is the best. A low-rate balance transfer offer can be a smart way to lower your interest rate while you pay off debt. Use a credit card payoff calculator like this one to compare the time it will take you to pay off debt with different interest rates.
Proceed With Caution
None of these approaches will help you earn reward points, so that option is likely off the table. And if your cash flow problems are anything but truly temporary, these methods may simply help you dig a deeper hole.
In addition, simply moving your debt around may not help your credit scores in the long run. Debt is one of the main factors most scoring models consider when calculating credit scores. If your debt is bringing down your scores (you can find out if that’s the case by getting your credit scores for free at Credit.com), then paying it down is one of the best ways to build stronger credit.
More on Managing Debt:
- The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
- 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt
Image: Ingram Publishing