What Are 'Cash-Like' Credit Card Transactions?

Buying cryptocurrency with a credit card may now come with extra fees

A man buys crypto with his credit card
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Are you thinking about sending money to a friend or buying cryptocurrency with your credit card? It could cost you. Many card issuers consider these types of transactions “cash-like" transactions, which involve additional fees and sometimes, a higher APR. Learn what you need to know about cash-like transactions, how much they’ll cost you, and ways to avoid them.

Key Takeaways

  • In general, peer-to-peer money transfers or the purchase of travelers’ checks, lottery tickets, foreign currency, cryptocurrency, money orders, wire transfers, and casino chips count as cash-like transactions.
  • Cash-like transactions typically have a fee of $10 or 3% to 5%, whichever is greater.
  • Cash-like transactions may also have an APR that is higher than the APR for purchases.


Definition and Examples of Cash-Like Credit Card Transactions

If you make a credit card transaction where money is being transferred to another method of payment that can be converted to or used as cash, it likely falls into the cash-like or cash-equivalent transaction category. These transactions usually come with a cash advance fee.

Common cash-like transactions include the purchase of:

  • Travelers’ checks
  • Foreign currency
  • Money orders
  • Peer-to-peer money transfers
  • Lottery tickets
  • Casino chips
  • Racetrack wagers

Cash-like transactions may not earn rewards. If you planned to buy a large amount of cryptocurrency on a card to take advantage of a rewards deal, double-check the terms because this type of transaction may not be eligible.

Buying Cryptocurrency Now Is Considered Cash-Like Transactions

Visa and Mastercard have made headlines for categorizing cryptocurrency card purchases as cash advances.

Because banks treat crypto purchases like cash advances, you’ll likely have to pay a cash-advance fee and APR on top of whatever fee the cryptocurrency exchange might charge for transactions.

Some exchanges, such as Coinbase, only accept bank accounts, debit cards, bank wire, or PayPal anyway—so saving up cash to buy cryptocurrency not only may be more affordable, it may be required depending on which exchange you choose. 

How Do Cash-Like Transactions Work?

Major credit card companies have similar guidelines for what counts as a cash-like transaction. Here’s an overview of what transactions count as cash-like and what the fee might be:

Credit card issuer    Cash-like transactions   Fee
Chase Travelers’ checks
Foreign currency
Money orders
Wire transfers
Cryptocurrency
Lottery tickets
Casino gaming chips
Racetrack wagers
Person-to-person money transfers
Account-funding transactions transferring currency
Bill payments using third-party services
5% or $10, whichever is greater
Bank of America ATM or teller cash withdrawals
Foreign currency
Money orders
Travelers’ checks
Person-to-person money transfers
Bets
Lottery tickets purchased outside the U.S.
Casino gaming chips
Cryptocurrency
Bail bonds
5% or $10, whichever is greater
American Express Travelers’ checks
Gift checks
Foreign currency
Money orders
Digital currency
Casino gaming chips
Racetrack wagers
Precious-metal coins or bullion
Digital precious-metals products
5% or $10, whichever is greater
Citibank ATM and teller withdrawals
Wire transfers
Money orders
Travelers’ checks
Lottery tickets
Gaming chips and other forms of gambling or betting
5% or $10, whichever is greater
 Barclay Money orders
Travelers’ checks
Foreign currency
Lottery tickets
Gambling chips
Wire transfers
 5% or $10, whichever is greater


Whether or not it makes sense to do a cash-like transaction depends on the fee involved and when you can pay off the balance. If the card charges a high APR on cash-like transactions, keeping that balance on your card could get pretty expensive.

For example, if you want to invest $2,000 into Dogecoin through Coinmama and your card has a 5% fee for cash-like transactions, that works out to a $100 fee your issuer adds to your balance. If you make just the minimum payment on a balance of $2,100 each month with an APR of 24.99%, your total interest paid over a year would equal $499.10. In just 12 months, you could rack up interest charges that equal about 25% of the initial investment.

If you’re low on cash and thinking about doing a cash-like transaction, consider using a credit card interest calculator to map out how much it might cost before moving forward.

Avoiding Cash-Like Transaction Fees

When you’re low on cash, you have to use workarounds to get cash with your credit card and avoid fees. While these methods aren’t recommended, they might help you get out of a jam:

  • Update your budget or make one: Over time, your spending habits and income can change. If you haven’t looked at your budget in a while, go through it and update the numbers to get an accurate picture of your spending. If you don’t have one, create a budget so you can control your spending and generate extra cash.
  • Change what you pay for with credit: Consider using a credit card to pay for purchases you typically would pay for in cash, such as groceries. With that spare cash in your bank account, you could buy cryptocurrency or send money to a friend instead of doing a cash-like credit card transaction. Just keep in mind that standard interest may be charged to your balance if you don’t pay it off by the end of the month.
  • Buy something and sell it for cash: Another way to turn credit into cash without the cash-like transaction fee could be buying gift cards and selling them for cash on a site like Card Cash or Gift Card Granny. This method isn’t advisable, as gift card sites typically buy your cards for less than what you paid. You also could consider buying a product with your card and reselling it to get cash in hand.
  • Borrow cash: A last resort could be borrowing cash from someone you know. Of course, this may or may not be possible depending on if you have a family member or friend who has the cash to spare.
  • Personal loan: If you have good credit, you may be able to get a personal loan that covers your cash shortage and charges an interest rate that is lower than what your credit card charges.

In a perfect world, cash-like transactions would be done sparingly since they can get expensive. However, things happen. If you have to make a cash-like transaction in a pinch, paying off the balance quickly can help minimize the financial hit you take from fees and interest charges.