Can I Use One Credit Card to Pay Off Another?
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When you’re transferring a balance, you can use one credit card to pay off another.
You can’t pay direct monthly payments for one card with another card.
It’s possible to take out a cash advance on one credit card to pay off another, but it’s not a good idea.
Paying your credit card bill with another credit card in an instant, fee-free way generally isn't possible. If you're looking to earn more rewards or carry debt more easily, don't count on this option.
And while it's possible to pay a credit card indirectly with a cash advance — for example, by using a different credit card to get cash at an ATM — doing so would be extremely expensive and inefficient, making it a poor choice.
But there's at least one way you could potentially use one card to pay off another and come out ahead: You could do a balance transfer, essentially moving debt from one card to another. Rules and restrictions apply, though.
When transferring a balance: Yes
You can save money on interest by moving debt from a high-interest credit card to one with an introductory 0% APR offer or low-interest promotion on balance transfers, then paying it off at a lower rate.
With some exceptions, credit cards generally charge balance transfer fees of 3% to 5% of the amount transferred. Balance transfers aren't instant, either; they can take weeks to go through. Also, they generally don't earn rewards.
For cards with long 0% intro APR periods for balance transfers and low or no balance transfer fees, check out NerdWallet's best balance transfer credit cards.
For direct monthly payments: No
Paying monthly credit card bills with different credit cards generally isn't an option. Don't expect to earn easy points and miles in a never-ending cycle or quickly buy yourself more time to pay off debt this way.
Credit card issuers usually require you to pay credit card bills with a bank account when you're making payments online or over the phone. You'll have to provide information like an account number and routing number — and you can't just substitute a credit card number instead.
In part, these restrictions exist because issuers want to limit their risk. A customer who pays one credit card with another may be more likely to default on payments.
After getting a cash advance: Yes, but it’s a bad idea
It's possible to use your credit card to get cash out of an ATM, then use that money to pay off another card. But such a transaction — a cash advance — typically comes with high fees and interest rates, making it an incredibly expensive way to get fast cash.
It's also not the way to go if raking in rewards is your goal. Cash advances generally don't earn rewards. And even if they did, the high fees and interest charges associated with them would likely eclipse the value of any benefits you might earn.
Can't pay your minimum? What to do
When money is tight, not having the option to pay one credit card with another might leave you with the lingering question of how to cover your minimum payment — especially when your credit card payments are taking a back seat to bad-things-will-happen-if-you-don't-pay-them bills, such as rent, car payments and child care.
If this is the case for you, here's where to start.
Assess your situation. Review your credit card accounts and overall budget. Knowing the amounts owed, the interest rates and how much you can afford to pay each month can help you get a better idea of how serious your cash shortfall is and help you decide how to prioritize each bill.
Communicate with your creditors. You may qualify for a credit card hardship program, which might lower your monthly payments and provide temporary relief. This could be a good way to go if your money trouble is temporary and you think you can pay down your balance with more time or adjusted terms.
For chronic money trouble, consider other options. If you're constantly struggling to pay the minimums and feeling overwhelmed by debt — for example, if your debt (excluding a mortgage) is greater than 40% of your income and you see no way to pay it off within five years — bankruptcy might be your best option. Consider consulting with a bankruptcy attorney to review your situation.
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