What Are Credit Card Checks & How Do You Use Them?
Credit card checks, also known as “convenience” or “access” checks, are one way to perform a cash advance. In other words, they allow you to tap into your credit line to make purchases for which plastic is not an option. But it’s best to avoid convenience checks because rather than making your life easier, they’ll just make it more expensive.
Credit card checks certainly aren’t free. In most cases, you’ll be charged a cash advance fee when such a check is cashed. And interest will immediately begin to accrue on the amount of the check at a very high rate. You’re not receiving a blank check, either. Your account’s cash advance limit will apply. And that’s usually much lower than you overall spending limit.
With that being said, there are a couple other types of credit card check that you might come across. Some credit card companies also offer so-called balance transfer checks, which allow you to pay off another lender and shift your debt to a new card. There’s no problem with using such checks, as long as standard balance transfer rates and fees apply. In addition, credit card issuers will obviously check your credit before approving you for an account. And you can check your latest credit score for free on WalletHub if you want to see what type of credit card you can qualify for.Check Your Latest Credit Score – 100% Free
Below, you can learn more about credit card convenience checks, including how to use them and what alternatives may be available.
Using Credit Card Checks
Credit card companies often mail convenience checks to customers as a way of encouraging account use. If you haven’t received any, you can call your issuer’s customer service department to request some. Her
Once you have your credit card checks, using them is easy. You just fill in the amount and recipient info and either mail it or give it directly to the recipient. Below, you can see an example of how such a check may appear.
Unfortunately, things get more complicated after you use a convenience check. You’ll have to pay a fee, which is usually $10+ or 3%-5% of the check’s amount (whichever is higher). And that amount will start racking up interest charges at a rate above 25%. So you’d better have a plan for repaying this balance. A credit card payoff calculator can help with that.
For your convenience, here’s a quick overview of the top credit card companies’ cash advance terms as well as how to contact them to order convenience checks:
|Issuer||Cash Advance Fee||Cash Advance APR||Customer Service Number|
|American Express||3% (min $5)||26.24% (V)||800-528-4800|
|Bank of America||Up to 5% (min $10)||Up to 25.99% (V)||800-732-9194|
|Barclays||Up to 5% (min $10)||Up to 28.24% (V)||302-622-8990|
|Capital One||3% (min $10)||Up to 25.90% (V)||800-955-7070|
|Chase||Up to 5% (min $15)||25.99% (V)||800-432-3117|
|Citi||Up to 5% (min $10)||Up to 29.99% (V)||800-950-5114|
|Discover||5% (min $10)||25.99% (V)||800-347-2683|
|USAA||3% (max $200)||Up to 29.90% (V)||800-531-8722|
|U.S. Bank||Up to 5% (min $10)||Up to 26.24% (V)||800-285-8585|
|Wells Fargo||Up to 5% (min $10)||Up to 27.99% (V)||800-642-4720|
Finally, it’s worth reiterating that credit card checks should be avoided whenever possible. You can check out some cheaper alternatives below.
Convenience Check Alternatives
- Prepaid Cards – Many prepaid cards offer free online bill pay, allowing you to send checks to monthly billers that don’t accept plastic. Some offer free check cashing, too. For more information, check out WalletHub’s latest Prepaid Card Report, which highlights the various fees and features associated with the most popular cards.
- Checking Accounts – Any checking account will do, if you just want check-writing privileges. But checking accounts from credit unions offer the highest rates. And online checking accounts are worth looking into, if you’re not keen on conversing with bank tellers.
- Balance Transfers – 0% balance transfer credit cards can be used to repay most types of debt. And the best offers give you a 0% intro APR for the first 15+ months, with no annual fee and often no balance transfer fee. We recommend requesting your transfer when you apply for your new card, as the best terms are sometimes available only for the first couple months after account opening.
- Money Orders – Purchasing a money order with a credit card is considered a cash advance. So that won’t help. But you can buy one with a debit card or cash, if you have either available, to pay someone who’s far away.
So to recap, credit card checks are more of a strain on your wallet than any sort of convenience. And you should avoid them whenever possible. You’ve got plenty of other options, after all.
Got more credit card questions? See if the WalletHub community has the answer.
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