8 Things Your Credit Card Can't Buy

In some cases, only cash is money

Stack of credit cards wrapped in a chain and padlocked to signify they can not be used for purchases
••• Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

We use credit cards for so much these days. It is hard to imagine that there are places that don’t accept credit cards—unless, of course, the card reader is broken. If you can’t use a credit card for a purchase, it’s often because there is a high fraud risk to the purchase or because it is illegal in the United States.


Getting cryptocurrency with your credit card is tricky. Five top credit card issuers—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Capital One, and Discover—have banned cryptocurrency purchases. Other credit card users may allow you to purchase cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, but Visa and MasterCard may treat the purchase as a cash advance. That means you’ll pay a cash advance fee and a higher interest rate for the transaction, just like you would if you used cash. You can only use American Express with the cryptocurrency app Abra.

Money Orders

You also have very limited options for buying a money order with a credit card. Most businesses that sell money orders, like the United States Post Service, do not accept credit cards for money orders. If you find a merchant that does accept credit cards, the purchase will be treated like a cash advance, which means fees and a higher interest rate.

Casino Chips

If you’re planning a trip to the casino soon, be sure to take your cash because you won’t be able to use your credit card to buy casino chips. Some states have laws that prohibit the purchase of casino chips with credit cards. On top of that, credit card processing networks like Visa and MasterCard don’t allow merchants to accept credit cards for gambling chips. You can take the more expensive route of taking out a cash advance and then purchasing the casino chips, but using cash from your checking account is a far less expensive option.


Most full-service brokerages won’t let you use a credit card to fund your account. You may be able to use your credit card with a micro-investment platform, such as Acorns and Stockpile. These sites let you invest with your credit card in different ways.

Acorns will round up your credit card transactions to the nearest dollar and invests the pocket change in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Stockpile allows you to fund your brokerage account with a credit card then later purchase stocks with the funds. When you sell your stock, it won’t be returned to your credit card. Instead, you’ll have to transfer funds to a checking account.

Mortgage Payments

Your mortgage payment might be the biggest payment you make each month. It would be a great opportunity to earn some credit card rewards if you could use your credit card. Visa and MasterCard both allow cardholders to pay their mortgage with a credit card, but many of the major credit card issuers do not. If you have a credit card issuer that allows you to pay your mortgage with a credit card, you'll have to make sure your mortgage lender accepts credit cards. In the rare event that your mortgage lender accepts credit cards, it’s typically through a third-party payment processor that charges a service fee.

Online Gambling

Online gambling became illegal in the United States in 2006 after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed. The law made it illegal for businesses to transfer payments between gambling companies and consumers. Since credit card companies do not allow you to make any illegal transaction, most credit card companies will deny authorization of any transactions that are classified as online gambling.

Lottery Tickets

To be more specific, you can only buy lottery tickets with a credit card in 20 states, including seven states at merchant’s discretion, according to research by CreditCard.com in 2017. The other 30 states and Washington D.C. have laws against purchasing lottery tickets with a credit card. Just because the state law allows you to use a credit card to buy lottery tickets doesn’t mean the merchant will allow you. It’s not a good idea to use credit cards for gambling, especially if you’re not going to pay your balance in full. The chances of winning the lottery are slim, but your credit card payment is due 100% of the time.

Payment to Another Credit Card

That’s right: You can’t use your credit card to make your regular credit card payment. When you’re setting up your online credit card payment, you won’t even find a place to enter your credit card number online. You can, however, transfer your balance to another credit card. However, you have to initiate the transaction using the target (transferred to) credit card. You’ll be charged a fee and the transaction could take several weeks to complete. In the meantime, your regular credit card payment is still due.