As a rule, taking a cash advance against your credit card is not the best way to get cash on short notice. Nearly all lending institutions charge a combination of high fees and high-interest rates on cash advances. It’s a practice best avoided unless it’s absolutely necessary. But if you occasionally need to take advantage of cash advances, below is a list of the best credit cards to use.

For example, credit cards typically charge the higher of $10 or 5% of the cash advance. As well, there’s a higher APR on cash advances. This will typically be in a 26% to 28% range, which is only a couple of points below the penalty APRs (usually 29.99%) charged by most card issuers.

In compiling our list, our criteria include credit card issuers that either charge lower cash advance fees, lower cash advance APRs, or both. But the benefit of the lower cash advance pricing must be weighed against the other benefits offered by each credit card.

With that information in mind, here is our list of the best cash advance credit cards.

Best Cash Advance Credit Card Best for
DCU Visa Platinum No extra cost for a cash advance
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Average credit
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Reasonable cash advance APR with very generous sign on bonus and rewards
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Frequent shoppers

Best Cash Advance Credit Cards

1. DCU Visa Platinum

Best for: No extra cost for cash advances.

DCU Visa Platinum is the perfect credit card if you want a no-cost cash advance. The card has a lot of compelling features and the no-cost cash advance is only one of them. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll need to open a checking account to apply for a credit card, but there are plenty of benefits with the card if you do.

For example, whether you make a purchase, a balance transfer, or a cash advance, there are no fees and no increased APR. DCU also offers two other no-fee cash advance credit cards, though they come with higher regular interest rates.

  • Cash advance fee: None
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards: None
  • Annual fee: None

2. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Average, Fair, Limited credit.

The card_name takes our number two spot because while they have a standard low-end cash advance fee of the higher of $3 or 3% of the advance taken, they don’t charge a higher rate on the cash advance balance. And what really makes this card attractive is that it’s available for those with average credit.

The favorable cash advance fee structure aside, the card comes with a very low annual fee and provides

1.5 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day. 5 % Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply).

  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards:

    1.5 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day. 5 % Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply).

  • Annual Fee: $39

3. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Reasonable cash advance APR with very generous sign-on bonus and rewards.

The card_name has the same cash advance fee structure as the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. And though it technically doesn’t have a higher APR for cash advances, it nonetheless charges the highest regular APR possible on those transactions.

Because of the sign-up bonus and the ongoing rewards, we were tempted to put this card in second place. That’s particularly true since both the bonus and the rewards are among the best in the industry. But the card does require Excellent, Good credit, which puts it a notch below its sister card, at least as far as cash advances are concerned.

Put another way, this is an excellent credit card to have if you never plan to do a cash advance. And a reasonable one if you do.

  • Sign-up bonus:

    Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 Miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

  • Rewards:

    2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. 5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

  • Annual Fee: $95

4. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Best for: Frequent shoppers.

American Express had shoppers in mind when it created the card_name

This card is impressive-yet-simple and makes it easy to instantly get cash-back rewards, even after the sign-up period ends. Plus, there’s no annual fee. Could it get any easier?

  • Sign-up bonus:

    Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

  • Rewards:

    3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%. 3% Cash Back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%. 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.

  • Annual fee: $0

See Rates & Fees

What is a Cash Advance?

A cash advance is when you borrow against a credit card line without a specific purpose. For example, you’re not using the card to make a purchase, or even to pay off another credit card or debt as a balance transfer. You’re simply taking the funds to be used for some other unspecified purposes.

Credit card issuers consider these to be cash advances and will usually charge you a fee for doing so, as well as a higher interest rate. That’s because cash advances are seen as a higher-risk use of your credit card, and even one that can predict default. After all, if you’re taking an advance against your credit card line, you probably don’t have savings or other funds you can tap for short-term needs.

You should also be aware that the grace periods that come with purchases that don’t require you to pay interest on balances paid off within 30 days do not apply to cash advances. Interest will be applied from the day you take the advance against your credit line.

How Cash Advances Work?

A cash advance can be initiated in several different ways. Perhaps the most common is when you use your credit card to get cash at an ATM machine or a bank teller window. This will typically need to be done with an ATM machine or a bank branch that is part of the issuing credit card company’s banking network (but not always).

Some credit cards will also enable you to access cash advances online. You take the advance against your credit line and transfer the funds into a checking or savings account.

Still, others may offer checks with your credit card. When you complete a check and deposit it into a bank account, it becomes a cash advance against your credit line.

Once you receive the cash, it’s immediately charged as an advance against your credit line, and subject to all the restrictions and charges that apply to this type of transaction.

Who Are Cash Advances Best For?

Cash advances usually only make sense if you don’t have any other way to access cash, and you’re facing a true emergency situation. The fees and interest rates make them an expensive way to access cash in the normal course of business. For that reason, they should be used sparingly and only under very limited circumstances.

Now, if you have a credit card that does not charge a cash advance fee or a higher APR like the DCU Visa Platinum you can use cash advances at will. But as you can tell from this list, that’s an unusual situation.

But if you have a credit card that has a low cash advance fee structure and you expect to be able to repay the advance very quickly after taking it, it might also work in certain circumstances.

For example, let’s say you have a credit card that charges the higher of $10 or 3% of the amount of the advance. They also tack on an interest rate of 26.74%. If you take a cash advance of $1,000, you’ll pay a cash advance fee of $30. If you can pay the advance back in just a few days, the impact of the interest rate will be minimal.

But even in that situation, $30 is a lot of money to pay for a short-term loan of $1,000. That’s why even this type of cash advance is best avoided.

What are the Best Alternatives to a Cash Advance?

If you don’t have a credit card with favorable cash advance terms and fees and you don’t qualify for a new one, there are alternatives available:

401(k) loans: If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), you may be able to take a loan against your plan. Generally speaking, the IRS allows you to borrow up to 50% of your vested interest in your retirement plan, to a maximum of $50,000. You will then have up to five years to repay the loan. You won’t need credit to qualify, the interest will be lower than just about any other loan source, and you’ll be paying it to yourself anyway.

Bank personal loans: Most banks and credit unions today offer personal loans. These are unsecured loans made to bank or credit union customers that can be used for just about any purpose. They carry a fairly-low interest rate, and generally have no fees. However, you will need excellent credit to qualify. Use a marketplace like Fiona to try to find the best offer possible. There, it’s possible to see the best loan options and the lowest rates in a process that’s incredibly easy.

Roth IRA withdrawals: If you have a Roth IRA account, you can withdraw your contributions free of income tax and an early withdrawal penalty. Since your contributions are not tax-deductible when made, they don’t create a tax liability even on early withdrawal. The IRS also allows you to withdraw the full amount of your contributions before you take out any accumulated investment earnings.

Low-Interest or 0% Intro APR credit cards: It might sound counterintuitive to use a credit card to help get your bills down, but this will actually give you more time to get back on your feet financially. However, for this to be a viable option, you have to be sure you’ll be able to pay the balance in full by the time the friendly introduction terms end. Otherwise, you could face high interest and even more debt than before.

Family and friends: If you only need a small amount of money and you have the ability to repay the money in no more than a few months, this may be an option. But if you do take a loan from a family member or friend, make sure to strictly observe the terms and fully repay the amount borrowed. Otherwise, the price of this type of loan can be a damaged or lost relationship.

Cash Advance apps: One app that offers an easy way to get Cash Advances is Empower. Empower offers a powerful debit card, the Empower Card. When you deposit your paycheck to the Empower Card, you’ll unlock a few perks.

One is the option to request Cash Advances of up to $250.^ Empower will send the cash directly to your Empower Card and you can immediately use those funds to make purchases or withdraw the money for free from more than 37,000 ATMs nationwide.

There are no late fees or interest to worry about with the Cash Advance. Empower automatically takes the repayment from your next paycheck, making the whole process a breeze.

The second is that you can get access to your paychecks up to two days faster.* This can help if you’re low on cash and waiting for payday to replenish your checking account balance.

Credit Card Cash Advance Terms

  • Cash Advance APR: The interest charged on cash advance transactions, based on the amount of the cash advance and the individual’s credit score.
  • Cash Advance Fee: A fee charged by the institution for each transaction, in addition to the APR. It may be a set fee per transaction or a percentage of the transaction amount.
  • Introductory APR: A special low APR offered by the card for a set period of time after joining.

How We Came Up With This List

We first took a look at the credit cards we trust that offer cash advance options. From that list, we culled out the ones offering the easiest terms, lowest APR, and most reasonable fees. From that, we also considered the kinds of introductory rates, rewards, and cash back options that are of most assistance in times when a cash advance is needed. This could range from 0% introductory APR periods or cash back points on everyday shopping.

Pros and Cons of Cash Advances

  • Provides immediate access to cash if you have no other source.

  • Cash advances usually have a higher APRs than purchases or balance transfers.

  • Even if you pay off the advance immediately, you’ll still pay the cash advance fee, which makes it a very expensive way to borrow.

  • There is no grace period – interest will begin as soon as the advance goes through.

  • If you use cash advances too frequently, the credit card issuer may re-evaluate your credit line – don’t be surprised if your credit line is reduced.

  • Regular use of cash advances could be an indication of a lack of savings.


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Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, a beneficial cash advance pricing schedule should not be a compelling reason to choose one credit card over another. Since cash advances are predictably expensive no matter which credit card you use, they’re best avoided entirely. And since you’ll only be making infrequent use of them, lower pricing shouldn’t be a major factor.

Concentrate instead on the overall benefits provided by a credit card. Those include the regular APR you’ll be paying on purchases, as well as the ongoing rewards the card pays, any sign-up bonus offered, and a 0% introductory APR. Those will have a much greater impact on the overall cost of your credit card than any reduced cash advance fee structure.