Convenience plus crisis equals big price tag. A new report from Credit Cards.com found that credit card cash advances are loaded with stiff fees -- typically 5 percent of each advance or $10, whichever hurts the most. Here's what you need to know.
There's no grace period: "Interest accrues immediately with cash advances, unlike regular credit card purchases. That makes those high APRs, 24 percent on average, an even dicier proposition," says Matt Schulz of CreditCards.com. A typical $1,000 cash advance would cost an additional $69, even if paid in full within 30 days.
Small advance, big fee: "If all you needed was $20 to get enough gas to get home, you would still pay a $10 fee, which essentially becomes a 50 percent fee," points out Farhan Ahmad, founder of Bento for Business in San Francisco, a provider of financial services solutions to small businesses.
Avoid surprises: "Look at your credit card terms, which are often on your billing statement, so you are fully aware of the terms for cash advances," says Leslie Tayne, a Melville attorney specializing in financial issues.
Cash advances can serve a purpose. When Mike Bertrand, founder of MoneyStream, a free personal finance organizing service in Los Gatos, California, was starting out, he used cash advances from several credit cards to keep his company going.
Don't make it a habit: If you must take an advance once or twice, that's one thing. But, says Tayne, "if you find yourself constantly taking them out, it's indicative of a bigger problem -- money management and budgeting. Taking out high-interest- rate, quick-turn-around loans is not going to make this unaddressed problem any better."