[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. For current terms and conditions, please see card agreements. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Store credit cards from retailers like Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Target can be enticing to sign up for. Once you are approved, the cashier is often empowered to offer you an immediate discount on the merchandise you’re buying.
There are additional bonuses as you continue to use the card, like special introductory offers 0% APR for a limited time, advance intel on in-store deals, extra discounts, and—with certain cards like the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card—the ability to use the card anywhere and earn cash back almost everywhere you shop.
While there are a lot of upsides, the downside of using store credit cards is the high annual percentage rate (APR), which can be as high as 26.99% in the case of the Lowe’s credit card and 26.24% for the Best Buy credit card. If you get a card that has a substantial APR, you could end up owing a lot of interest on top of your existing debt.
Ideally, these cards should be paid in full every month. But what if you can’t make that happen, or you get carried away and are now sitting on a pile of debt? What can you do to pay down the balance of your high-APR card and avoid accruing interest? You may be tempted to pay off your debt with another credit card, but there are a few things you need to know first.
Can I Pay My Credit Card with Another Credit Card?
Unfortunately, none of the major card issuers we queried (including those offering store credit cards) will let you pay your bill directly by credit card.
As a consumer, you may think that it would make sense to pay off one credit card bill with another credit card, thereby maximizing the benefits of one while paying the other. But it’s actually not that surprising that credit card companies won’t allow you to do so. 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, it wouldn’t get the full payment from you.
In addition, card associations may impose other restrictions on this practice. Andrew Gerlt, director of 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.”
6 Other Ways to Pay Your Credit Card Bill
If you really need to “charge” your next payment, there are workarounds. Here are six other ways to pay your credit card bill without charging it to another credit card.
1. Pay Your Credit Card Using a Personal Loan
A personal loan is a good option for managing your high-interest credit card debt and for consolidating debt as well. Personal finance expert Andrea Woroch, who is working with Marcus by Goldman Sachs, says, “Instead of paying separate credit card bills, people should consider a loan that offers lower interest rates. One loan can make payments easier to manage as well.”
For more information on personal loans, visit our Personal Loan Learning Center.
2. Pay Your Credit Card with a Cash Advance
As long as you have enough available credit, you should be able to use a credit card to get a cash advance and then 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.
But do your homework before you take this option. The interest rate on cash advances is often higher than the rate for purchases. David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks, says, “Advances generally start accruing interest immediately, and, depending on your credit card terms and conditions, could be at a rate higher than you think. Call your credit card company and ask before advancing cash, or, if willing and able, read your terms and conditions.”
Before you decide to use a credit card cash advance, review what that entails.
3. 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 (though you can’t use a convenience check to make a payment on the same account). Or you can deposit that check into your checking account and 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% APR balance transfer with no fee, but they do exist.
For more information, review our expert guide on credit cards with balance transfers.
4. Pay Your Credit Card with a Home Equity Loan
If you own a home, you may be able to use equity to help pay your credit card bills. Bobbi Rebell, financial expert and author of How to Be a Financial Grownup, says, “If you have credit card debt, you can often shift that debt to a home equity line of credit and get a double benefit. First, you will get a much lower interest rate. Credit cards often charge upwards of 20%! A home equity line of credit could be a quarter of that or less. The other big bonus is that in many cases, home equity debt can be deductible on your tax return.”
To learn more about home loans, review our guide to finding the right loan.
5. Sell Your Stuff to Pay Your Credit Card
Rebell also suggests selling off things that you don’t need. “Raise money to pay the debt,” she says. “Go through and actually sell stuff you don’t use—or can do without. Do you need the second car? Do you need the gym equipment sitting in the garage? What about that baby stroller? You’d be surprised how much value you can discover in your home.”
6. Use the RPTPP Method to Pay Your Credit Card
If cash flow is the main reason you want to use a credit card to pay another credit card, try the “Robbing 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.
If you’re finding it necessary to use the RPTPP method, it’s probably time to review your finances and budgets.
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, 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 report for free at Credit.com), then paying it down is one of the best ways to build stronger credit.
Image: Ingram Publishing
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.