Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Credit Card Cash Advances: What do they Really Cost?

Credit Card
Credit Card (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)
It is the shopping season: stores are trying to entice people in to buy overpriced presents for their children and grandchildren and adverts on TV are waving expensive toys in front of the nation’s kids as a means of putting pressure on the adults that will be fulfilling the role of Santa. Even the most frugal individuals may find it difficult to resist spending large amounts of money during this period, as it is a time when consumerism is at its peak. Unfortunately there is nothing special about the festive season that magically generates cash once a person has ran out, which means that Christmas shoppers can sometimes end up spending beyond their means and taking out credit card cash advances whilst caught up in the holiday excitement. What most people do not realise is that when withdrawing credit, they are being charged stupid amounts for the convenience and costing themselves more money than they should be forking out.

High Interest Rates and Fees

One of the major downsides to credit card cash advances is that interest rates charged on cash withdrawals are usually considerably higher than those charged on regular credit card purchases. In addition to this, these advances often come with upfront fees of between two and four percent of the amount advanced. Over 50s empowerment, protection and security charity AARP likens cash advances to bait placed in a trap. The charity warns that people are particularly vulnerable to taking this bait during the holiday season but urges them to resist the temptation.

No Interest Free Period

Another reason that these advances should be avoided is that the fifty-or-so day interest free period that most providers offer on regular purchases does not usually extend to credit card cash advances. This means that interest will start to accumulate on the balance straightaway when you withdraw money. This is one of the many dangers of credit card cash advances and makes them a costly way to borrow cash both in the short term and in the long term. According to the NBC News network, the majority of Americans are now over seventy five thousand dollars in debt. You can do your bit to alter this statistic by steering clear of borrowing money altogether or, if there is no other option, choosing more sensible alternatives to getting credit card cash advances.

Better Alternatives to Cash Advances

Making use of an overdraft facility is a wiser choice than getting a cash advance, as most charge less on borrowing. If you go for this option then ensure that your overdraft limit is sufficient to meet your withdrawal needs and be sure to contact your bank straight away if you think that you are going to go over your limit. Some credit card providers offer money transfer facilities that allow you to transfer funds from your credit card to your current account without incurring any interest. This is usually done as part of an introductory balance transfer offer. It is another viable choice, as is using a low rate purchase card. The interest charges are usually far less for these cards and they also provide the benefit of an interest-free period in which you can clear the balance. Unsecured loans could also prove to be a better option in the long term if you are constantly in need of extra funds and know that there is a high chance that you will be borrowing cash for an extended period.

Emergency Situations

In the event that you have no choice but to borrow cash using your credit card, try and opt for the card that charges you the lowest level of interest and fees for making cash withdrawals. Most credit card providers will charge you a fee for each cash withdrawal that you make so it is a good idea to withdraw the whole amount of money that you require in one go. This will ensure that you only pay the cash withdrawal fee once. Finally it is important to pay off the outstanding amount as soon as possible in order to avoid wracking up more interest. Putting this off is liable to result in you becoming swamped with debt and being unable to turn the situation back around.

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