Picture this: you’re surfing the internet, you come across an article about Bitcoin and think, “Hmm, I should get in on that!” Well, slow down there, friend. Most major credit card companies actually prohibit buying cryptocurrencies with their cards. Why, you might ask? Well, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are known for their wild price swings, which make them highly volatile and risky. In other words, if you buy Bitcoin with your credit card today and its value plunges tomorrow, your card issuer doesn’t want to be left holding the bag!
2. Casino Chips
Imagine you’re in Las Vegas, neon lights are flashing, slot machines are chiming, and you want to try your luck at the poker table. As you reach for your credit card to buy some chips, hold on! Many credit card companies categorize buying casino chips as a cash advance. That can come with high fees and interest rates that start accruing immediately – certainly not a gamble you’d want to take!
3. Lottery Tickets
You’re at your local convenience store, and the billboard says the lottery jackpot is at a record high. Tempting, right? Just remember that in many places, it’s either illegal or discouraged to buy lottery tickets with a credit card. This is to prevent people from wagering more than they can afford to lose.
4. Certain Gift Cards
Let’s say it’s holiday season, and you’re thinking of buying gift cards for your loved ones. Well, some retailers and online platforms don’t allow you to buy gift cards with a credit card. This policy is usually in place to prevent fraudulent activities, like quickly maxing out a stolen credit card on easily transferrable assets.
5. Money Orders
Suppose you need to send a payment to someone who only accepts cash or check. You might think of purchasing a money order with your credit card. But wait a moment! Buying money orders is often considered a cash advance, just like those casino chips. You’ll likely face additional fees and immediate interest charges.
6. Certain Debt Repayments
Imagine you’re looking at a hefty student loan bill and thinking about paying it off with your credit card. This is usually a no-go. Most lenders—including those for mortgages, car loans, and even other credit cards—won’t let you transfer the debt to a credit card.
7. Bail Payments
In the unfortunate event that you or someone you know needs to post bail, you should know that many jurisdictions do not allow bail payments to be made with a credit card. This rule is in place to prevent potential abuses of the system.
8. Stocks and Other Investments
If you fancy becoming a Wall Street whizz and investing in stocks and bonds, be aware that most brokerage firms won’t let you purchase investments with a credit card. This is because investing involves risk, and if you were to lose money on your investment, you’d still be responsible for paying back your credit card balance, which could lead to spiraling debt.
9. Tuition Fees
Picture yourself heading back to school, ready to pay your tuition with your credit card and rake in those rewards. Hold up! Some educational institutions won’t accept credit card payments for tuition. Those that do often charge convenience fees that can outweigh the benefits of any rewards earned. So, while it might seem like a good idea initially, the extra fees could make it a less attractive option.
10. Large, Recurring Medical Bills
Now, imagine a situation where you have a large medical bill. Yes, you could pay it with your credit card, but it’s worth thinking twice. Large balances can accrue significant interest and take a long time to pay off. Furthermore, maxing out your credit card could hurt your credit utilization ratio, which can negatively affect your credit score.
11. Down Payment for a House or a Car
You’re ready to take the plunge and put a down payment on that dream house or car. While it may be tempting to charge it to your credit card, most mortgage companies and auto loan lenders won’t allow it. Even if they did, maxing out your credit card could drastically affect your credit score and could potentially affect your loan’s approval and interest rate.
12. “Card Not Present” Transactions
Finally, some transactions require the card to be physically present, and these transactions cannot be done with credit cards. This includes certain in-person services or situations where the card must be inserted into a machine to perform a function, such as starting a gas pump or paying for parking at an automated kiosk.
Q1: Why can’t I buy cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin with my credit card?
A: The main reason is risk. Cryptocurrencies are known for their volatility. If you bought Bitcoin with your credit card and its value plummeted, you’d still have to pay off the amount you initially charged on your card, which could lead to substantial debt. That’s a risk many card issuers just aren’t willing to take. Additionally, some card issuers view buying cryptocurrencies as a cash advance, which usually carries hefty fees and high interest rates.
Q2: I was planning to buy casino chips with my credit card. Why might that be a problem?
A: The key reason is that credit card companies often categorize buying casino chips as a cash advance, meaning it’s treated as a loan of cash rather than a purchase. Cash advances usually come with high fees and interest rates, which often start accruing immediately rather than at the end of your billing cycle. It’s also worth noting that cash advances aren’t generally eligible for the grace period that applies to regular purchases, meaning interest starts accruing right away.
Q3: Why can’t I buy lottery tickets with a credit card?
A: The restriction on buying lottery tickets with credit cards is generally in place to prevent people from gambling with money they don’t have. In many jurisdictions, it’s illegal to buy lottery tickets with a credit card. Even where it’s not outright illegal, it’s often discouraged to avoid promoting potentially harmful gambling habits.
Q4: Why might a retailer not allow me to buy gift cards with a credit card?
A: The policy against buying gift cards with a credit card is usually in place to prevent fraudulent activities. For instance, someone with a stolen credit card could buy a bunch of gift cards and then dispose of the credit card, making it harder for the original owner or the authorities to trace the purchases.
Q5: Why can’t I pay my loans, mortgages, or other forms of debt with a credit card?
A: This is usually a no-go because it can be seen as “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” i.e., transferring debt from one place to another without actually reducing it. This could lead to a dangerous debt cycle. Moreover, it could potentially be a red flag to lenders, as it might suggest that you’re struggling to manage your debt.
Q6: Why aren’t bail payments usually allowed to be made with a credit card?
A: The restriction on bail payments being made with a credit card is to prevent potential abuses of the system and to ensure the seriousness of the situation is recognized. Bail is meant to ensure a defendant appears in court, and allowing it to be paid with a credit card could potentially diminish its importance and effectiveness.