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Credit cards are useful financial tools that you can use for both your daily expenses, such as groceries, gas and bills, as well as emergency situations like when your car needs an unexpected repair. However, it’s important to keep up on your monthly credit card bill to ensure that you aren’t carrying a balance that leads to a pile of accumulated interest. In the direst of circumstances, you might find yourself unable to make at least the minimum monthly payment.
In this kind of situation, you might wonder whether it’s possible to make a credit card payment using another credit card. The short answer is yes — sort of, but you should probably avoid it.
Technically, it is possible to pay your credit card bill using another credit card; however, it’s not as straightforward as you might hope. Few, if any, credit card issuers allow payments to be made directly with a credit card, preferring cash from your bank account instead — usually by automatic electronic transfer or a written check.
There are some ways to get around this, but they can be costly and time-consuming, and you might not find them worthwhile in the end.
What are your options for paying your credit card bill?
If you lack the available funds to make your monthly payment and time is running out, there are some options available to you. Here’s what you can do:
Use a cash advance or convenience check from another card
This is the closest you’ll likely be able to come to using a credit card to pay your credit card bill. Most card issuers allow cardholders to withdraw cash directly from a compatible ATM, a transaction known as a cash advance. However, the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for doing so can be steep and you may also have to pay a fee for the transaction on top of the interest. Cash advances also begin accruing interest the same date you withdraw the money, so there is no grace period, which can lead you to spend far more in the long run — not something you want when you’re already struggling to pay your bills.
Another option is to use what’s known as a convenience check, a paper check issued by your credit card issuer to be drawn against your account. Not all credit card owners can get these checks, but you’ll want to be careful with them if you do, because they can carry high APRs and fees just like cash advances. Some card issuers will provide checks for use when transferring a balance, and these may carry different terms and conditions from convenience checks. Thus, it’s best before using or requesting this type of transaction that you call your card’s customer service hotline to make sure you understand all the fine print associated with it.
Transfer your balance to a 0% intro APR credit card
If you’re struggling to make the minimum payments on your credit card, transferring the entire balance to another credit card is one way to give yourself some breathing room. You can choose a card with a 0% intro APR on balance transfers, or a card with a lower interest rate, to accomplish this. It should be noted, though, that this does not pay off your balance — it merely moves it from one card to another. Additionally, 0% intro APR means that you won’t accrue interest for the promotional time period, but you’ll still be required to make minimum payments on the new card (as well as the old, until the transfer processes).
Balance transfers also often come with a processing fee, also known as a balance transfer fee, which is typically 3%-5% of the total amount you’re transferring. This gets added to the total balance on the new card, and it is thus worth considering when looking at your options.
Find the best balance transfer card for your needs by using Bankrate’s Credit Card Balance Transfer Calculator.
Consolidate your debt with a personal loan
Most credit cards have a variable APR, which means that the amount of interest you pay can change depending on multiple factors — including paying late (also known as a penalty APR) and changes to the federal interest rate. If you are struggling to pay your credit card bill, chances are interest might be playing a role, and it might be beneficial for you to take out a personal loan for debt consolidation.
Typically, personal loans have fixed-rate APRs that are lower than most credit cards. Plus, you get the entire lump sum at once, which will enable you to pay off your credit card and any other debt you’re struggling with, lowering it to a single monthly payment.
You can calculate how best to pay down your credit card debt by using the Bankrate Credit Card Payoff Calculator.
How can you avoid this situation in the future?
Almost everyone finds themselves in a financial bind at least once, but you probably don’t want to end up in a situation where you can’t pay your credit card bill again. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to make sure you can always make at least your minimum payment, while also striving to pay it off in full. This prevents interest from accruing, which is where many people find their credit card debt stems from, and keeps your overall goal to be debt-free in the forefront.
You can try some strategies for getting out of debt. If you find yourself constantly carrying a balance and unable to make the minimum payment or pay your full balance, it’s probably time to take a look at your spending habits. Create or revise your budget, cutting back on unnecessary expenses, to match your income.
Ultimately, it’s best to understand that while you can technically pay your credit card bill with another credit card, you can’t do so directly and the methods available are complicated and potentially costly. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t make your monthly payment and all else fails, call your issuer and see if something can be worked out. Rather than take the hit of a late or missed payment, you might be able to get an extension or have your APR lowered, both of which could help you get back on your feet.