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Can You Pay a Credit Card With a Credit Card?

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It’s best to pay off your credit cards in full each month to maintain a good credit score. However, emergencies can happen — and you may not have enough to make your minimum payment. If you’re scrambling for cash, turning to another card to make your minimum payment may seem like a good quick fix. Unfortunately, card issuers won’t let you pay a credit card with another credit card.

That doesn’t mean you have to miss payments and let your credit score drop. You have alternatives to pay down your card balance, including balance transfers, emergency loans or a cash advance.

You can’t use a credit card to pay another card, but you can do the following to pay down your credit card balance:

Ways to pay off a credit card without upfront cash

If you’re not able to pay your entire balance each month, it’s not the end of the world. However, you should try to make at least the minimum payment on your credit card to avoid late fees and negative marks on your credit. You have many options to keep your account current and make progress toward eliminating credit card debt.

Apply for a balance transfer credit card

A balance transfer is the process of transferring debt from one credit card to another — usually to take advantage of a lower APR. Some cards offer a 0% APR for a limited time and can be an excellent option for people who need more time to pay off their balance. Intro APR promotions vary by card, but balance transfer cards can provide up to 24 months of interest-free financing. When the promotional period expires, any unpaid balance starts to accrue interest at standard rates from that day forward.

Although balance transfer fees are usually 3% to 5% of the amount transferred, the savings typically outweigh the upfront, one-time costs.

With a new credit card, you can request a balance transfer during the application process or once your account has been approved. After your account is open, you may be able to request a balance transfer by calling customer service or through your online account.

From time to time, banks may offer balance transfer promotions to existing customers as well. You may receive a promotion through an email when you log into your online account, or through the mail. Sometimes banks issue balance transfer checks that you can use to pay off credit card debt.

Apply for an emergency loan

When you’re facing a difficult financial situation, an emergency loan may be a valid option. These loans provide quick access to money with rates, terms and payback periods that can vary widely by lender. In general, emergency loans are best for people who are waiting for a paycheck or other large payment to come through and can pay the loan back quickly.

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Tip

Beware of predatory lenders that offer payday loans, car title loans, pawn shop loans and other quick cash loan providers. They typically charge exorbitant interest rates and fees that can make repaying them challenging.

Depending on the lender and type of loan, collateral may be required. By securing the loan with an asset, the lender may be more willing to lend to someone with a lower credit score or income that’s harder to prove.

Many emergency loans are available through online lenders. To get an emergency loan, complete your application online and wait for a decision. Some lenders provide instant decisions, while others may take several days before approving or declining your application. Once your loan is approved, the money will often be deposited into your bank account as soon as the same day.

Get a credit card cash advance

Most people use their credit cards to make purchases. However, it is possible to withdraw cash from your credit card by taking a cash advance. These transactions typically come with extra fees and higher interest rates, so should be avoided if possible. When you’re in a tough financial position, however, a cash advance may be the best available option.

Cash advance fees typically cost $10 or 3% to 6% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater.

Another disadvantage of cash advances is that banks typically do not provide a grace period. This means that interest charges start accruing immediately, even if you had a zero balance or paid your previous statement balance in full.

To get a cash advance, visit a bank or ATM with your credit card. If you don’t already have a PIN for your card, contact customer service to request one.

  • For a cash advance in a branch, speak with a teller and request a cash advance from your credit card. They’ll request your card and ask you to enter your PIN to verify your identity. In some cases, they may also ask for identification that matches the name on your credit card.
  • For a cash advance at an ATM, insert your credit card into the machine and enter your PIN. Select how much cash you’d like and receive your money from the machine.

Pay your minimum balance

If you don’t have enough cash to cover your full credit card balance, consider whether you can cover at least the minimum payment due. Unless you have a 0% intro APR offer on purchases, you’ll still accrue interest with this method. However, at least you’ll avoid late fees and other penalties, as well as a negative impact to your credit score.

While this is a reasonable short-term fix, you should avoid paying only the minimum payment over the long term.

It may take years to pay off your balance by making only the minimum payment, and you may end up paying thousands of dollars in interest. You should make additional payments to your card as soon as you’re able to do so and create a plan to pay off the full balance as quickly as possible.

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Payments that are more than 30 days late are reported to the three major credit bureaus and can lower your credit score. While the impact to your score diminishes over time, missed payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Making the minimum payment on time can help you avoid this.

How to lower your credit card balance

If you’re struggling with paying off your credit cards, taking proactive steps will help you reach your goal. Requesting a lower APR or getting a debt consolidation loan, for example, are one-time actions that can help you dramatically reduce your debt.

Setting up a budget and tracking your spending requires an initial setup and follow-up each month, but are key to gaining more control of your spending so you won’t have to worry about your next credit card bill.

Ask your issuer for a lower APR

High interest rates mean more of your monthly payment goes toward interest rather than paying down your balance. You may be able to lower your APR simply by calling customer service and asking. A recent LendingTree survey found that 70% of cardholders who asked for a reduced APR were successful.

Even if your issuer says no, there’s no penalty for asking. When calling customer service, mention how long you’ve been a customer and your positive payment history. Depending on the bank and your relationship, your bank may offer a temporary or permanent reduction. Lowering your credit card’s interest rate may not affect your monthly payment amount since payments are often based on your balance. However, a lower APR allows more of your monthly payment toward the amount owed to pay off your balance faster.

Apply for a debt consolidation loan

A debt consolidation loan can eliminate your debt faster with consistent monthly payments and a fixed interest rate. In many cases, you’ll also reduce interest charges because these loans typically have lower APRs than a credit card.

Debt consolidation loans are also easier to keep track of with one simple monthly payment. These loans typically vary in length from 12 to 60 months, based on how much you owe and what monthly payment fits your budget.

Stick to a budget

Being mindful with your money can help you get out of debt faster. Many people consider budgeting restrictive, but creating a budget helps you make proactive decisions about how and where you’re spending your paycheck. Review your spending to determine if there are any areas where you can cut back or eliminate monthly expenses, like streaming services or monthly subscriptions.

With a refined spending plan that aligns with your goals, you’ll have more money to tackle your debt. The extra cash found by reducing expenses can accelerate paying off your credit card balances. Once your debt is paid off, you’ll have more money to build up your emergency savings, retirement contributions and other goals.

If you aren’t already budgeting, using a formal system can help you identify areas for improvement to reach your goals more quickly. The most common debt payoff and budgeting strategies are:

  • Debt snowball method: The debt snowball tackles your lowest balance debts first. This quick win provides an emotional victory that sustains your efforts over the long term. As you pay off one account, you’ll shift the extra payments toward the next-lowest balance. Continue until all debts are paid off.
  • Debt avalanche method: Arrange your debts based on their interest rate, then focus your payments on the account with the highest APR. This method provides the biggest savings by tackling the highest-interest debt first. As you pay off each account, shift your payments to the account with the next highest interest rate until all debts are paid off.
  • 50/30/20 method: With this budgeting method, you’ll assign 50% of your take-home pay toward needs, 30% on wants and 20% for savings. When working to pay off debt, cut back on wants to focus that portion of your income on reducing your balances. Opinions differ on the 20% portion for savings — some suggest continuing to save to avoid future debt or take advantage of employer 401(k) matching, and others advise that this money should also go toward paying off your debt.
  • Zero-based method: A zero-based budget assigns every dollar of your paycheck toward an expense or goal. By being proactive and intentional with your money, you can avoid unwanted spending that doesn’t align with your priorities.

Banks generally do not allow you to pay your credit card bill directly with another credit card. However, you can access your credit card limit to pay some or all of your balance owed through a balance transfer or a cash advance. Be aware that both options typically charge fees based on the transaction amount and may charge higher interest rates on these balances.

Most banks allow customers to use a debit card to pay their credit card bills. Debit cards tap directly into your bank account, so these transactions operate similarly to a check or EFT payment.

Credit cards can be used to pay a variety of everyday expenses and monthly bills, which makes them popular for consumers and businesses. Households often pay utility bills, insurance premiums, cell phone bills and other recurring charges with their credit cards. Take note that some providers charge a convenience fee when using a credit card, so factor that into your decision before making your payment.

A balance transfer is a simple way to reduce or eliminate interest charges on your credit card debt. With most banks, you can perform a balance transfer online, over the phone or with convenience checks. You’ll be charged a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the transaction amount (usually with a minimum fee of $5). Customers who qualify for an intro APR promotion will receive a lower rate through the expiration date. If there’s a remaining balance at expiration, the standard APR applies going forward.

For balance transfers online or over the phone, you’ll log in to your new account or call customer service to provide the transaction amount and credit card number of the account with a balance. The new bank will send payment to the old bank. If you have a convenience check, you’ll fill it out and mail it to the bank that you owe money.