credit cards

5 naughty things your credit card won't buy

Credit Cards » 5 Naughty Things Your Credit Card Won't Buy

What won't my credit card buy?
What won't my credit card buy? © silver-john/

Credit card brands always brag about their cards' ability to expand your purchasing power and vie with each other for the greatest universal acceptance worldwide. Remember MasterCard's priceless slogan: "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard"? Or Visa's: "It's everywhere you want to be"?

It turns out there are some things credit cards won't buy. So you can leave home without it, to riff off of American Express' catchphrase.

While credit companies typically want you to pull out their credit card for a purchase, the payment networks -- American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa -- won't approve so-called naughty purchases. These transactions are treated as high-risk activities or run afoul of federal law, even if state laws allow it.

As a consumer, "it pays to discover" the five items that can't be bought with your credit card and the reasons behind the policy.

Listen to audio
Show Show Transcript

Remember that slogan about how there are some things money can't buy, but a certain credit card can get you everything else? Well, not necessarily, because there are some things you just can't purchase with plastic.

In some states, it's now legal to buy marijuana for medicinal or even recreational purposes, but you'll need to pay cash for your pot. Credit cards won't touch the stuff. You can't use an American Express card to buy online pornography, in a policy in place since 2000, and don't bet on picking up gambling chips with your plastic. States have restrictions on that, and so do the credit card companies.

American Express and Discover don't want you using their cards to pay for lottery tickets, and some states ban the general practice of charging your chance at the next big jackpot. Finally, fans of the rogue whistleblowing website WikiLeaks have been barred from making donations to it using Visa or MasterCard.


Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 15.77% --0.00 15.77%
Cash Back Cards 16.48% --0.00 16.48%
Low Interest Cards 10.96% --0.00 10.96%
Credit cards on a table

Get advice for managing credit cards, building your credit history and improving your credit score. Delivered weekly.


Credit Card Blog

Jeanine Skowronski

1 in 5 need credit card to survive

A new survey finds some cardholders are still overly reliant on the payment method.  ... Read more

Partner Center

Connect with us