Sending cash to friends and family? Before you reach for that credit card, keep in mind that you could incur fees or interest and lose the right to initiate chargebacks. Here’s what you need to know about sending money with a credit card.
If you’re wondering how to send money with a credit card but are worried you’ll face hidden fees or charges, you’re right to be concerned. After all, various apps and tools you can use to send money with a credit card do tack on extra charges, although the amount you’ll pay varies and may be worth it in an emergency.
If you’re trying to figure out how to send someone money with a credit card but you aren’t sure which options work best, read on to learn which tools and platforms do allow it, what they charge and what to consider before you charge a money transfer to your credit card.
Ways to send money with a credit card
There are several popular tools and strategies you can use to send someone money with a credit card, and each one comes with its share of pros and cons. If you owe someone money but don’t have any cash to spare, these apps and steps could be what you’re looking for.
Cash App is an online and mobile banking app that lets you manage your money, send cash to friends and invest in stocks and cryptocurrency starting at just $1. You can use the app to pay anyone instantly for free if you have a cash balance, but you can also connect a credit card and execute money transfers with plastic.
If you do send someone else money using your credit card, Cash App adds a 3% fee to your transfer. This means transferring a friend $100 through Cash App with a credit card will actually set you back $103, and that doesn’t include any additional charges you rack up if you fail to pay your credit card balance in full by your payment due date.
Venmo is a user-friendly mobile app that was originally set up to support social payments between family, friends and acquaintances. Not only can you send and receive money through Venmo, but you can express yourself in a payment note with each transaction.
While Venmo is free to use and doesn’t charge any fees if you send money using a cash balance, it does tack on a 3% fee if you send money using a linked credit card. In other words, you can use a credit card to send money with Venmo, but it will cost you.
PayPal also makes it easy to shop or transfer money to people for nearly any reason, and you can fund your transfers with a cash balance, a debit card or a credit card. Getting started with a PayPal account is absolutely free, and the steps required to open an account can be completed in five minutes or less.
If you decide to send someone money with a credit card using a PayPal consumer account, you’ll be charged a 30 cent fee plus 2.90% of the transaction amount.
Take out a cash advance
Finally, don’t forget that you may be able to take out cash from your credit card at an ATM if you have available credit. You’ll need a credit card PIN number to do so, but you can find out your current PIN or set one up by calling the number on the back of your credit card.
Credit card cash advances are expensive, so they should only be used to facilitate in-person money transfers as a last resort. Not only will your credit card charge you a cash advance fee that usually works out to around 5% of the withdrawal amount, but you won’t get a grace period of your cash advance. This means credit card interest will begin accruing on your cash advance balance from day one.
What to consider before sending money with a credit card
Can you send money with a credit card? Absolutely. Should you send money with a credit card? That’s an entirely different question.
The fact is, there are pros and cons that come with using a credit card to send money to someone else.
Choose a credit card to send money and you will likely end up paying additional fees to your card issuer. That’s because the combination of some peer-to-peer apps with certain cards are coded as cash advances, rather than purchases. And remember, these fees are charged on top of the fees the platform itself charges.
For many cards, that cash advance code triggers a higher interest rate that kicks in the moment you make the transaction, as well as a separate cash advance fee that’s often $10 or 5% of the transaction – whichever is higher.
So the combination of peer-to-peer service fees, credit card cash advance fees and that higher interest rate (with no grace period) could make sending a few hundred dollars a bit more costly than you’d planned.
No chargeback rights with credit cards
Unlike other venues, you don’t have chargeback rights when you use credit cards to make peer-to-peer money transfers.
When you present your credit card in an online or brick-and-mortar store, there’s a merchant involved – and the law provides chargeback rights for your protection in case you don’t get what you were promised in the deal. But in a peer-to-peer money transfer, there’s no merchant, so currently, the laws don’t give consumers any chargeback rights, says Christina Tetreault, former manager of financial policy for Consumer Reports.
“The chargeback right requires a merchant,” says Tetreault. “One of the hoops a consumer has to jump through is to try and work it out with the merchant.”
If you use a peer-to-peer service and send the wrong amount or send the money to the wrong person, most platforms advise that the only way to get it back is to contact the recipient and ask them to return it. And that’s often the same whether you use a credit card, debit card, bank account or funded account on the platform.
Questionable rewards value
Some consumers may think they can beat the system by sending money with a rewards credit card in order to rack up points or cash back. However, the fees required to send someone money with a credit card usually outweigh the benefit of any rewards points you earn. In addition to platform fees, there are also the previously mentioned hidden fees to watch out for.
As an example, let’s say you have a cash back credit card that earns 2% cash back with no annual fee. If you use a money transfer app to send cash and pay a 3% fee in order to use a credit card, you’ll pay $3 in fees for each $100 you transfer but only rack up $2 in rewards. Of course, you’ll pay even more fees and interest charges if your credit card happens to code the transaction as a cash advance.
That’s a losing proposition either way, which is why it rarely makes sense to use money transfers to rack up rewards points.
It pays to do some research
If you’re sending money and want to use a credit card, take some time to do a little sleuthing first. For starters, spend some time checking out the peer-to-peer site. Fortunately, the majority of peer-to-peer platforms clearly disclose it when there’s an extra charge to use a credit card, says Tetreault. With Venmo, for example, you’ll even get a pop-up message.
Also, find out if credit card transactions on the platform will be treated as a cash advance by your credit card issuer. If your preferred platform doesn’t post this information, you might need to contact customer service to inquire.
Ask your card issuer the same question: Are peer-to-peer money transfers on the platform you’ve chosen treated as a cash advance? If they are, what’s the interest rate, and what’s the cash advance fee?
“The hard truth is you may not be able to find out ahead of time,” says Tetreault.
There are a number of options for sending money with a credit card, but they all come with strings attached. To avoid getting caught out with unexpected fees and excessive interest, do your research, understand the steps involved with your chosen platform and make sure you know the true cost of sending money with your credit card.