Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation—maybe even an emergency—where you need cash. If there’s no other way to get it, you might be able to use your credit card to get a cash advance, but first make sure you know the potential cost of getting that cash in hand.

Know the basics

A cash advance lets you borrow up to a certain amount of cash with your credit card, either from an ATM or with checks sent to you by your credit card company. Either way, the cash is a short-term loan.

Be aware of the costs

A cash advance may come with a higher APR (annual percentage rate) than a regular credit card purchase. Depending on your credit card company, there may also be a separate cash advance fee.

Understand the fine print

There are other transactions that credit card companies consider to be cash advances—even if actual cash never touches your hands—like buying casino chips, purchasing lottery tickets or exchanging dollars for foreign currency. Avoid charges by checking with your credit card company first to see how it defines a cash advance.

If you’re a credit card holder, there might be times when a cash advance is an option you consider, but it’s important to understand what it could cost you.

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