What are credit card cash advances?

And why you should avoid them

  • A credit card cash advance allows you to withdraw cash with your credit card.
  • Cash advances can be similar to payday loans in terms of the fees and charges applied, our credit card expert warns.
Credit card cash advance
Credit card cash advance

What is a credit card cash advance?

A credit card cash advance is when you withdraw cash using your credit card, use it to transfer money to another account, or use it for any other transaction that's the equivalent of accessing cash.

A credit card cash advance is usually an incredibly expensive way to access money. You’ll usually be charged far more for a cash advance than you would if you simply made a purchase of the same value using your credit card.

This is because there is generally a higher interest rate for cash advances and additional fees charged.

Here's a fairly typical example...

Purchase rate vs cash advance rate

Using your credit card for a purchase versus cash advance

Purchases Cash advances


None as standard, unless the transaction is in a foreign currency or the retailer applies a surcharge.

Usually 2-3% of the amount advanced.

Interest rate

Varies by card, anywhere between 0% and 23% p.a.

Almost always higher than the purchase rate and sometimes much higher.

Interest-free days

Usually 44 or 55.



You can make purchases up to the value your credit card’s overall credit limit.

There is usually a limit on how much you can withdraw as cash from your credit card account per day (e.g. $1,000).

Rewards points

Most purchases qualify for rewards points.

Will not earn you any rewards points.

What transactions count as a credit card cash advance?

These are the types of credit card transactions most commonly classified as a cash advance:

  • Withdrawing money from an ATM using your card or getting cash out in a store.
  • Transferring money from your credit card account to another bank account.
  • Paying a bill in person at a bank or post office.
  • Buying foreign currency.
  • Buying cryptocurrency.
  • Money spent on gambling.
  • Purchasing prepaid cards (like the ones sometimes given as gifts).
  • Many credit card providers also classify store gift cards as a cash advance but not all do. This is worth checking before you use your credit card to buy a gift card.
  • If you get a balance transfer credit card and do not pay off the balance in full during the introductory period, the card’s cash advance rate usually applies to the remaining balance.

How much does a credit card cash advance cost?

Credit card cash advances can be very expensive. But it’s not a single factor causing this. It's a potent combination of fees, interest and how that interest is applied. Let’s look at each of these factors:


Cash advance fees

You will be charged a fee simply for using your card to access a cash advance. This is usually a percentage of the transaction value – typically ranging from 2-3% of the cash advance amount, or a flat dollar fee on small amounts.


Interest on cash advances

The interest rate on cash advances is almost always higher than the interest rate on purchases using the card. In some cases, it’s substantially higher. For example, Money.com.au’s found credit cards with a cash advance rate double the interest rate on purchases.


No interest-free days

You will also be charged interest immediately on a cash advance. This is because there are no interest-free days on cash advances like there usually are on purchases. Interest is charged daily while the cash advance remains unpaid, meaning you will be charged interest on the interest you were charged the previous day (compound interest).


International cash advance fees

If you make use of a cash advance while overseas (e.g. at an ATM while on holiday) you will also likely be charged an overseas ATM fee on top of everything else.

Why are credit card cash advances so expensive?

Brad Kelly

It comes down to risk. The minute a customer is getting a cash advance on a credit card, it raises a red flag for the bank that this customer is a risk. And the bank prices it accordingly. This is not to protect the consumers, it’s to protect the bank. There's basically a payday lending product lurking in your credit card. If you're that desperate that you need cash on a credit card, you will pay for it.

Brad Kelly, Money.com.au credit card expert

Cash advance rates and fees compared

Here are the fees and rates on cash advances from Australia’s major credit card providers on credit cards that allow cash advances (not all cards do).

Cash advance feeCash advance interest rate

American Express (only enrolled cardholders approved before 2008 can access cash advances)

$2.50 or 2% of the cash advance amount (whichever is greater), or $1.25 per withdrawal on charge cards.

23.99% p.a.


3% of any cash advance (a minimum fee of $4 applies to cash advances made outside Australia)

21.99% p.a.

Bank of Melbourne

3% of cash advance amount

21.49% p.a.


3% of cash advance amount

21.49% p.a.


3% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)

21.99% p.a.

Bendigo bank

$3.00 or 3% of the transaction amount (in AUD), whichever is greater

19.99% p.a. - 21.99% p.a. depending on the card


3.5% of the transaction amount (minimum of $3.50 applies)

22.24% p.a.


$4.00 or 3.00% of the transaction amount whichever is greater (up to a maximum of $300)

21.99% p.a.


The higher of 3% or $4

21.99% p.a.


3% of the cash advance (a minimum fee of $3 applies)

11.99% p.a. (One Orange Low rate) or 16.99% p.a. (Orange One Rewards Platinum)


3% of the cash advance (a minimum fee of $3 applies). NAB also issues for a range of other provider, such as Citi, BOQ, Coles and Qantas Credit Cards.

21.74% p.a.

St.George Bank

3% of cash advance amount

21.49% p.a.


3.5% of transaction amount (minimum charge of $3.50 applies)

21.99% p.a.


3% of the value of the transaction

21.49% p.a.

Virgin Money

2.7% (minimum of $2.70 applies)

20.99% p.a. on all cards except the low rate card (21.69% p.a.)

Correct as at 10 Oct 2023. Check with the provider for current cash advance rates, fees, terms and conditions.

How to avoid cash advance fees

  • Check which transactions your provider counts as cash advances and avoid using your credit card for those purposes if at all possible.
  • If you absolutely do need to access a cash advance through your credit card (e.g. you need cash in an emergency), pay it off as soon as possible (interest will build up daily).
  • Ask your bank to apply a rule to your credit card that blocks it from being used for certain transactions that count as a cash advance (e.g. gambling).
  • If you are struggling financially and need to access cash, get advice before you borrow money. There may be other solutions. You can ask your bank for help, or contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

More frequently asked questions about cash advances

Yes, most credit cards allow cash advances. But it comes at significant costs to you as a cardholder, due to the fees charged, the interest applied and the fact that cash advances usually do not come with any interest-free days.

However, some credit cards (such as basic interest-free credit cards) do not offer a cash advance facility.

A cash advance is when you use your credit card to withdraw cash, transfer money, buy foreign currency or carry out any other cash-like transactions.

You’ll generally be charged a fee for this based on the cash advance amount and you will begin to be charged interest immediately (at a high rate), until the full amount is repaid.

There is usually a limit on how much money you can access through credit card cash advance per day.

Whether or not you have used your credit card to access a cash advance is not recorded in your credit report and therefore won’t impact your credit score.

But if you are applying for a loan, you may need to provide your credit card statements as part of the application process. If there are cash advance transactions on your statement, this could be a red flag for potential lenders.

Written by

Sean Callery Editor Money.com.au


Sean Callery

Reviewed by

Brad Kelly, Payment Services

Credit Cards Expert

Brad Kelly