When money is tight, a credit card cash advance can seem like an easy solution. But it comes at a cost. In many cases, a cash advance comes with a higher interest rate than that for credit card purchases. And there’s no grace period; the interest begins to accrue right away. When you begin to see a cash advance for what it really is — a short-term, high-interest loan — you’ll probably think twice about going for it. So what should you do instead? Let’s take a look at several alternatives to credit card cash advances.
Get a Personal Loan from a Bank or Credit Union
If you’re a customer in good standing at a bank or credit union, consider applying for a personal loan. There’s a good chance you’ll be approved, and at a lower interest rate than you’d pay on credit card cash advances. To avoid getting into unmanageable debt, borrow only the minimum amount you need (even if they offer you more) and come up with a plan to pay it off quickly.
Dip Into Your Emergency Fund
If the expense is the result of an emergency, such as a major car or home repair, or a sudden illness, it’s perfectly OK to use the money you have saved in your emergency fund to pay for it. After all, that’s exactly why you have it. Again, only take out as much as you need to pay for the immediate expense. And be sure to start making contributions to your emergency fund again as soon as you can afford to.
Borrow Money from Family or Friends
Although we don’t always recommend it, borrowing small amounts of money from family or friends can help you out of a short-term cash crunch. To avoid awkwardness and hurt feelings, draw up a simple contract to outline the terms and conditions of the loan and be sure all parties agree on them. Then, be diligent about paying back the money; don’t put your friend or family member in the position of having to remind you that you owe them for the loan.
Sell Some Assets
If you start looking at your possessions differently, you might find you’re already surrounded by the cash you need. Selling off assets you no longer need or use is a great way to make money quickly. Think of things like collectibles, jewelry, and sports equipment as well as clothing, shoes and handbags. Spend a day cleaning out closets, the garage or the attic (or all of them) and you’ll be amazed at what you find. For the quickest return, sell items to local resale shops that pay cash or host your own yard sale. If you have a little more time, use eBay, Swip Swap, Craigslist, Depop or a direct selling app like OfferUp or LetGo to make money on your items.
Charge the Purchase
Rather than taking out a cash advance to pay for the expense, simply charge it on the credit card instead. You’ll avoid the higher interest rate, and the grace period will give you time to get the cash together to start paying off the purchase right away. Just be sure you don’t let that one charge spiral into a spending spree. Keeping it under control is key to eliminating the debt quickly.