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Get your numbers ready. From Powerball and Mega Millions to scratch-offs and pull-tabs, lotto players spent a whopping $80.1 billion dollars in 2020 across the 45 states that administer a lottery, according to the United States Census Bureau. Of those states, 23 legally allow lottery tickets to be purchased with a credit card.
But as the saying goes, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
A lottery ticket purchased with a credit card is likely to be processed as a cash advance, which comes with high fees and starts to accrue immediate interest. Gambling on credit can also lead to debt if you fall behind on your card payments. This is why 22 states (and the District of Columbia) legally prohibit the use of credit cards for lottery purchases.
Here’s what you need to know about buying lottery tickets with a credit card.
There are 5 states — Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah — that do not offer government-operated lotteries or participate in interstate drawings like Powerball or Mega Millions.
Where can you buy lottery tickets with a credit card?
A total of 23 states permit the purchase of lottery tickets with a credit card. However, even if a state allows it, you’ll still have to find a lotto retailer that accepts credit cards as a form of payment. That means it may not be as easy as walking into your local grocery store or gas station and reaching for your card for your chance at that next lottery jackpot.
The remaining 22 state lotteries that don’t allow credit card payments vary from accepting only cash to allowing many other forms of payment, including debit cards, gift cards, checks and even PayPal.
Do credit card issuers allow buying lottery tickets with a credit card?
Most credit card issuers don’t have explicit rules against using a card for lottery products. However, even if a lotto retailer accepts credit card payments, card issuers like Chase, Citi and Bank of America may process the transaction as a cash advance, which increases the dangers of gambling on credit:
Will you earn credit card rewards by purchasing lottery tickets?
Probably not. Credit card issuers don’t dole out rewards for transactions that process as cash advance. That means swiping your plastic for scratch-offs most likely won’t earn cash back, points or miles. Cash advances also do not count toward the spending requirements to earn a lucrative sign-up bonus on a new card.
What are the risks of buying lottery tickets with a credit card?
Any form of gambling on credit can lead to debt. Whether it's sports betting or playing the lottery, it's important to remember the chances of winning money are less than not winning, so never play with money you don't have.
Plus, you're likely to incur cash-advance fees and high APR interest as soon as you make the purchase with a credit card. The odds are stacked against you coming out ahead after accounting for the cost of the ticket plus fees and interest.