Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.
Most of us have been in a position where we’ve had to send money to a friend or family member. Whether it's to settle a bill for a vacation rental that you’re splitting with family, repay a friend for a meal, or pay your rent, one of the easiest ways to send money is with a credit card.
But what is the best way to use your credit card to send funds? Let’s explore the different options.
When you open a credit card, you’re given a cash advance limit. Your cash advance limit is usually a percentage of your overall credit limit, such as 30%. Cash advances are generally the costliest way to access credit and should only be used for emergencies.
There are a few ways to initiate a cash advance, but the most common is to withdraw cash from your credit card at an ATM. By setting up a PIN code on your credit card, you can use it like a debit card to get cash from ATMs.
Where it gets expensive is with the associated fees, which include:
- Cash advance fees – Credit card issuers charge a fee every time you take a cash advance. Fees vary but are often a flat fee or a percentage of the cash advance, whichever is greater. According to Chase, its cash advance fees are typically 5% of the cash advance amount.
- Cash advance APR – Most credit card companies charge a higher APR for cash advances. Not only that, but you also begin to pay interest immediately. Unlike credit card purchases, there is no grace period for cash advances.
Another way to access a credit card cash advance is by writing a “convenience check” if your credit card issuer offers it. And you may be able to get a cash advance in person at your local bank.
Remember that cash advances don’t count as card purchases, so they don’t earn credit card rewards or help you meet minimum spending requirements to earn a welcome bonus.
Peer-to-peer payment apps
Many peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps allow you to send funds using your credit card, though they do charge a fee for the service. Some P2P apps will code this transaction as a regular purchase, allowing you to earn credit card rewards. Others may code the transaction as a cash advance, meaning that you’ll pay the steep cash advance fees without earning rewards.
Here’s a closer look at two well-known P2P apps, Cash App and PayPal:
Cash App is a popular P2P payment app that allows you to send money to other Cash App users. You can search for your payee by inputting their phone number or email address. And while Cash App is free to download, there is a 3% fee for credit card transactions, so it’s best to do so sparingly.
The better option is to send money from your Cash App balance or a linked bank account, as there is no charge.
Cash App Payments
Cash App Payments
Online payment giant PayPal offers a P2P payment service and charges a 2.9% fee (plus an additional 30 cents per transaction) for credit card transfers. There is no fee to send money from your PayPal balance or bank account.
Like Cash App, your payee will also need a PayPal account to access the funds you send them. However, there are more PayPal users than Cash App, so it’s a more surefire way to send money without requiring the other party to download software.
Paypal Money Management App
Paypal Money Management App
A wire transfer may be necessary in a pinch—and you can fund it with a credit card if needed. But you should be prepared to pay $25 or more to send a wire transfer.
To make matters worse, your credit card may code the transaction as a cash advance. This adds cash advance fees (again, normally around 5% of the total amount) and a high APR that begins accruing immediately.
MoneyGram is a popular option for wiring money from your credit card. There’s no debating that it’s quick and easy—funds are often available within minutes and can be delivered to a bank account, mobile wallet, debit card, etc.—but the fees are still steep.
On its website, MoneyGram warns users that their credit card issuer may apply cash advance fees and interest charges to credit card transfers sent through MoneyGram.
Credit card rewards
Here is a more indirect way to send money with a credit card. If you collect credit card rewards such as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, American Express Membership Rewards® points, Capital One miles, or Citi ThankYou® points, you may be able to transfer the value of those points to someone else.
For example, you can transfer up to 100,000 Citi ThankYou points per calendar year to another Citi ThankYou account member. The recipient will have 90 days to redeem those points for cash at a rate between 0.5 cents and 1 cent per point, depending on which Citi credit card the recipient holds.
American Express Send & Split
American Express offers a P2P payment feature called Send and Split® inside the American Express app. It allows you to send money from your American Express card to any Venmo or PayPal user with zero fees (as long as they’re within the U.S.). Transferring money this way will not earn you rewards, but it's also not coded as a credit card cash advance. The money you’ll save on fees is worth forfeiting a handful of points or cashback.
It’s not ideal, but you can use your credit card to buy Visa or Mastercard gift cards if you’re desperate to liquidate your credit line without being subject to cash advance fees.
You can generally buy gift cards for any amount up to $500 online or in-store. They’re as good as cash, as they can be used anywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted. However, most gift cards come with a fee (somewhere between $5 and $7), but they’re usually cheaper than cash advances.
Some banks claim they will charge a cash advance fee to your credit card if you use it to buy gift cards. That’s because gift cards can be considered “cash equivalents.” It’s not common, but if you’re considering this strategy, do some research in advance to understand the risks.
Another option is buying other types of gift cards that can be used broadly, such as Amazon. This won’t help if your recipient needs actual cash—but with friends and family, it could be worth inquiring whether an Amazon gift card would be helpful. After all, you can buy just about everything on Amazon.
TIME Stamp: Sending money from your credit card is easy but can be expensive
Here’s the bottom line. If you need to send someone money and don’t have the funds or would rather not dip into your bank account, you can use your credit card. But if doing so requires you to take a cash advance, and in most cases, it does, the high fees and interest charges should cause you to think twice. Transfers with a debit card or directly from your bank account are cheaper (and often free).
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Can I add a credit card to Cash App?
How can you receive money on PayPal?
If a PayPal user has your email address, they can send you money, and you’ll receive notice via an email alert. However, to access the money, you must create a PayPal account, which is where the money will be deposited. From there, you can choose to spend it directly from your PayPal account (many online and in-store merchants accept PayPal), or you can deposit the funds into a bank account of your choosing.
How do you fill out a MoneyGram money order?
If you’re sending an online money order through MoneyGram with your credit card, you’ll need to choose the country you’re sending the money to. You must then select the “receive option”—which indicates how you’d like the money delivered. You can also select the speed at which you’d like the funds to arrive. You’ll need to stipulate as to whether the transaction is for goods or services.
Finally, you’ll need to enter your payment details. MoneyGram only accepts Discover, Mastercard, and Visa.
If you’ve purchased a physical money order with your credit card from, say, Walmart, you’ll need only to fill out three lines to complete the order:
- The name of the individual or company you want to pay.
- Your name.
- Your address.
This is because you already specified the amount you want to send when you swiped your card to buy the money order.
The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.