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The average U.S. millennial spends about $976 a year on lottery tickets. The allure of the lottery is understandable; for a few bucks, you have the chance to become wealthier. That said, the overall odds of winning a large sum of money—for example, any Powerball prize—are 1 in 24.9 million.
In addition to long odds, you may also be restricted to certain payment methods if you purchase a lottery ticket. Before you try to buy a lottery ticket with a credit card, here’s what you need to know about state rules and the downsides of charging lotto on plastic.
Can you buy lottery tickets with a credit card?
Sometimes—it depends where you live. There are a few reasons many states prohibit using your credit card for lottery ticket purchases.
There are about two dozen states that outright ban the use of credit cards to buy lottery tickets to prevent people from gambling with money they don’t have in their accounts.
There are also six states that don’t even sell lottery tickets because they don’t have state lotteries and don’t participate in multi-state lotteries: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah.
That leaves the following 21 states that permit the use of credit cards to buy lottery tickets:
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
Although it’s technically not prohibited to buy lottery tickets with a credit card in these states, many state legislatures have complicated the matter. You can still be barred from purchasing lottery tickets if a specific merchant decides they don’t want to accept credit card payments for lottery tickets.
For example, you can’t go out and buy lottery tickets with a credit card at Safeway. Can you buy lottery tickets with a debit card then? Perhaps. But some retailers and states even prohibit debit cards for purchasing lotto tickets.
Reasons to avoid buying lottery tickets with a credit card
You probably won’t earn rewards
Using a credit card for lottery tickets likely won’t yield rewards for many types of rewards credit cards. This is because reward structures are usually based around points or cash back where gambling isn’t an earning category. You’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your specific credit card to find out whether you’ll earn points or not.
You’re taking on debt to finance gambling
It’s easy to get sucked into the promise of riches. But if you’re using a credit card to pay for a chance at winning the lottery, you’re adding to your overall debt. If you buy multiple tickets regularly, your yearly costs can quickly snowball.
If you’re struggling with debt to cover the cost of your gambling, call the confidential National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700), available 24/7.
You’ll get a better return by investing or saving
Buying low-risk stocks that you can expect steady growth from is a better financial strategy than playing the lottery to help you grow your wealth. You can also put your money in a high-yield savings account or even just into a regular savings account as an emergency fund to help you cover living expenses during a medical crisis or to pay for a car repair.