Paying off a credit card cash advance

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Dear Dr. Don,
I used an AT&T universal credit card to get euros from an ATM in France in May because I had no other way to change money, not because I wanted a cash advance. Interest for this advance is on my bill every month since May. I have not been able to pay the principal off even by sending extra money over and above my full monthly payment. How long can they keep this charge on my account? Are they deliberately not letting me pay this back? How do I solve this?
— Marcia Mon Dieux

Dear Marcia,
The payment amount on your credit card bill is a minimum payment required by the card provider. Making a payment for more than the minimum will reduce your outstanding card balance.

The card agreement I reviewed for the AT&T universal savings platinum card states, “Payments in excess of the Minimum Payment Due are applied in accordance with law. This means that we will generally apply payments in excess of the Minimum Payment Due to balances with higher APRs before balances with lower APRs. We generally apply payments equal to or less than the Minimum Payment Due and credits to lower APR balances first.”

Odds are the card provider is doing this right and you’re misunderstanding how to pay down the balance on your card. Talk to the credit card company about your account. Then work on a plan to pay off this cash advance as quickly as you reasonably can.

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