Last Updated on March 3, 2021 by pf team
There are some limits to what you can pay and buy with a credit card. Used with caution, credit cards can be a powerful financial tool.
Here are some tips on when you can use your credit card and when it’s best left in your wallet.
What can you pay with a credit card?
You can pay many types of bills or services with a credit card. You’ll also discover several types of payments you can’t make with plastic. In some cases, a third party service can make credit card payments possible. In other cases, you may have to choose another payment method.
Also, be sure to check with your credit card issuer to see how transactions will be processed. In some cases, payments might be processed as a cash advance. Cash advances usually have a much higher interest rate and can also have other costs.
1. Can you pay a credit card with a credit card?
Using a lower interest card to pay a higher interest credit card can be a tempting thought. However, banks and credit card issuers don’t allow direct payments by credit card to pay a credit card bill.
Instead, they’ll accept checks or money orders. You can also pay by electronic funds transfer. If your credit card provider has local bank branches, consider making a payment in person. With this method, you may be able to pay with cash as well.
While you can’t make a direct payment for a credit card bill with another credit card, there are some ways to get around this rule.One option is to do a balance transfer. This method pays off all or part of the credit card balance but transfers it to another card.
Typically, you’ll pay some fees to make the transfer. Fees of 3% to 5% are common.Cash advances offer another option. By taking a cash advance, you can purchase a money order to make a payment on another card.
However, cash advances often have much higher interest rates. Be sure to do your research before choosing a cash advance.
2. Can I pay my taxes with a credit card?
In most cases, you can pay your tax bill with a credit card. However, expect to pay a bit more. Whether paying the IRS, state, or local taxes, many tax authorities use a 3rd party payment processor to handle credit card payments.
These providers usually charge a fee of about 2%. For a $2,000 tax bill, expect to pay $40 or more. For larger payment amounts, fees can add up quickly.
All IRS payment providers accept payments through Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express. If you have funds available in your bank account, you can also use a debit card to pay your tax bill.
Expect to pay a fee for this method as well. However, debit card fees typically run between $2 and $4 as a flat fee. As an alternative to using a credit card to pay your taxes, you can also inquire about a payment plan.
In most cases, you can set up a payment schedule with a lower interest rate than the average credit card APR.
3. Can you pay rent with a credit card?
It’s unlikely that your landlord can accept direct payments by credit card. A number of payment services now offer ways to pay your rent by credit card, though. Fees vary, but expect to pay about an extra 3% on average for payment processing.
Of these newer payment processors, Plastiq remains the most popular. This is probably due in part to lower transaction fees. Plastiq charges a 2.5% transaction fee for credit card processing. The company then makes a payment on your behalf via ACH bank transfer, wire transfer, or by check.
Other similar services include RadPad, PlacePay, and Venmo. Expect to pay a slightly higher percentage with these other services. You can use Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express. Some services may also accept Apple Pay.
4. Can I pay my mortgage with a credit card?
Similar to rent payments, you can make mortgage payments using 3rd-party services. However, you may find some challenges in trying to pay your mortgage with a credit card directly.
Often, the roadblock is with the credit card issuer itself. Some issuing banks block mortgage payments via credit card. Also, be aware that Visa and American Express don’t allow mortgage payments. This limits your options to Discover and Mastercard.
Mortgage payments are big purchases and rewards can add up quickly. For example, Citi’s Double Cash Card pays up to 2% cash back. However, unless you catch a promotion through Plastiq, you’ll pay more in transaction fees.
Discover it Miles offers another option for those considering paying their mortgage with a credit card. You can earn 1.5X miles for every dollar you spend with the card. As an intro offer, miles credited may be doubled as well.
5. Can you pay student loans with a credit card?
In many cases, federal regulations prevent direct payments for student loans by credit card. However, you can use a payment service like Plastiq to make a payment. Plastiq charges a flat 2.5% fee, but sometimes runs promotions that can reduce your cost.
Again, you’ll need to consider the interest rate on the card and whether your card issuer might code the transaction as a cash advance.
Cash advance transactions often have higher interest rates. In many cases, payments made on your credit card get applied to cash advances last, which can add to your cost.
As an alternative, you can also look into a balance transfer. Some providers like Discover, Bank of America, and Citi offer ways to transfer your student loan balance to a credit card.
Combined with a low-interest or 0% balance transfer offer, this strategy could work.
6. Can you pay Medicare online with a credit card?
Medicare makes it easy to pay your Medicare premiums by credit card. You’ll need your login info for MyMedicare.gov, as well as your Medicare bill. This ensures you pay the correct amount.
You’ll find one caveat, though. Medicare doesn’t allow automatic payments by credit card. Instead, you'll have to login to your account each time you want to make a payment by credit card.
Medicare doesn't charge an extra fee for credit card payments. If you don't mind logging in to make your payment, paying your medicare bill by credit card can be a way to earn extra rewards.
Credit card options include Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Be aware that some plans or supplemental programs may not offer the same payment options.
7. Can you pay a credit card with a debit card?
Rules for paying credit card bills with a debit card can vary. With some credit card issuers, you may not be able to use your debit card for payments at all. However, you can use the linked bank account to make an electronic payment.
To use your linked bank account, you’ll need to know your bank routing number and account number. Other issuers, like Chase, offer ways to make a debit card payment for your credit card bill.
What you’ll find, though, is that you may not have this option online or through automated phone systems. Instead, you may have to speak with a phone representative or visit a branch in person.
8. Can you pay someone on PayPal with a credit card?
PayPal does offer ways to pay someone using your credit or debit card. However, PayPal charges fees of 2.9% for payments made by credit card or debit card.
Also, it’s important to verify that whoever you’re sending money to will accept a payment through PayPal. Unlike some other services, PayPal doesn’t convert your payment to a check or ACH transfer that then goes to the recipient.
The way PayPal’s payment fee works depends partly on who initiated the transaction. For example, for online purchases, the seller typically pays the 2.9% fee. They’ll also pay a transaction fee of 30 cents.
When sending money using your PayPal balance or linked bank account, you can send money fee-free. However, if you’re sending money funded by a credit or debit card, expect to pay about 3% for US transactions.
Rates sending money internationally vary, but are higher than for US payments. PayPal accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
9. Can you pay a car loan with a credit card?
Some lenders allow car loan payments by credit card or debit card — but not all. If your auto lender supports credit card payments, this strategy could offer a way to save on interest.
One example, might be a 10% car loan compared to a 0% introductory offer for a credit card. However, this strategy probably works best if you know you’ll be able to pay off the balance in full later.
If the introductory offer expires and the rate rises to 18%, for example, your overall interest costs might increase.
As with other types of credit card payments, check to be sure the issuer won’t treat the payment as a cash advance. If you use one of the courtesy checks your issuer provides, it’s safe to assume the transaction is a cash advance and may be more costly.
10. Can you pay a credit card with a gift card?
There isn’t a way to use a gift card to pay a credit card directly. Instead, you might consider using your gift card to pay other bills that accept credit card payments.
This strategy frees up cash in your bank account that you can use to pay your credit card bill. Of course, this only works for credit card branded gift cards, like Visa or MasterCard gift cards.
If you have store gift cards, you can sell your gift cards on a service like CardPool.com. For example, a $50 Walmart gift card currently fetches $37.50 on CardPool.
Depending on the card brand, you might be able to collect your balance within 1 day. Once your payment clears, use the cash in any way you wish — including making a payment on a credit card.
11. Can you pay property taxes with a credit card?
Yes, you can use your credit card to pay your property taxes. Credit cards can help smooth out cash flow, especially when a big bill like property taxes comes due. Most municipalities offer a way to pay online.
If there’s no online portal, you can usually just pay in person. Expect to pay a fee of 2% to 3% if you’re paying your property taxes with your credit card. This fee makes it tough to come out ahead if you’re trying to earn points with your credit card.
Points can reduce your effective cost, however. If you earn 2% on the back end, like with Citi’s Double Cash Card, you can reduce a 3% fee to 1%.
12. Can you pay tolls with a credit card?
Very few tolls allow payments by credit card — at least not at the toll itself. Instead, many people now use E-ZPass or SunPass, which use a transmitter in your car to track tolls.
You can use your credit card to fund a prepaid E-ZPass or SunPass account. When you pass through tolls for these toll networks, you usually won’t need to stop at all.
In some cases, like on sections of the PA turnpike, scanners can read your plate and you’ll be mailed a bill. You can pay this bill with your credit card.
Other sections of the PA turnpike accept credit cards for payment, including MasterCard, Discover, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and JCB. The Ohio Turnpike also accepts credit cards.
13. Can you pay with multiple credit cards on Amazon?
When buying on Amazon.com, you can’t split your purchase between multiple cards unless one of the cards is an Amazon gift card. However, there’s a way around this limitation.
You can just use credit cards (or credit card branded gift cards) to buy Amazon gift cards. This might be a great way to use up all those gift cards with small balances.
Amazon allows you to buy egift cards with amounts as low as $1. These cards can be redeemed and combined to increase your gift card balance until you have enough to make your intended purchase.
Amazon accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express — as well as Amazon’s own Rewards Visa Signature Card.
14. Can you pay car insurance with a credit card?
Sure. Nearly every auto insurer accepts credit cards. Often, you won’t even pay an extra fee for using a credit card to pay your car insurance. However, you may miss out on a key discount.
For example, Allstate offers automatic payments through credit cards or by bank debits. You’ll earn a 5% discount on some policies for automatic payments made through your bank account.
If you choose credit for your automatic payments instead, you’ll forgo the discount. With the average cost of car insurance now close to $1,600 annually, paying your car insurance with a rewards card can be a good move.
For example, with Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can earn a $150 bonus when you spend $500. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back after you earn your intro bonus. The card also offers another intro special: no interest for 15 months.
What can you buy with a credit card?
You can’t buy some things with a credit card directly, but often there’s a workaround. However, workarounds may be more costly or can invite other financial risks. Here’s what you’ll need to know.
1. Can you buy a car with a credit card?
You can buy a car with a credit card, but not at every dealership. The price of the car can also play a role. Another important question is whether you even should use a credit card to buy a car.
Auto financing is a collateralized loan. Auto loans often offer lower interest rates than credit cards. If you aren’t able to pay off the entire credit card purchase with cash, it’s important to do the math first. An auto loan probably costs less.
If you have a card with an introductory offer of 0%, buying a car with a credit card could be viable. In some cases, though, you may only be able to make part of the purchase with a credit card.
American Express offers an auto purchasing program that features auto dealers that accept American Express. The credit card portion of your purchase may be limited to $2,000, although some dealers allow higher amounts.
2. Can you buy a money order with a credit card?
For example, you can’t buy a money order with a credit card at the post office. You also can’t buy one at Walmart. If you have a 7-Eleven nearby or a Western Union, these two providers still allow money order purchases with a credit card.
But there’s another consideration as well. The transaction may be processed as a cash advance. Cash advances typically have a higher interest rate. Western Union accepts Visa or MasterCard for money order purchases.
3. Can you buy a gift card with a credit card?
Yes, you can buy a gift card with a credit card. Although once upon a time many retailers prohibited credit cards for gift card purchases, times have changed. Gift cards can make gift-giving easy, so they can pair well with a rewards card at holiday time.
For example, the Chase Freedom card offers a $150 bonus after you spend $500. This applies to new accounts and purchases made within the first 3 months. You’ll also earn 1% cash back, but there’s a bigger draw as well.
The card also offers 5% cash back in certain categories each quarter. That’s huge. Many types of gift cards require activation fees. You might pay about $4 to activate a $100 gift card, which adds to the cost of the gift.
Pairing your gift card purchases with the right rewards card can help offset the cost — at least in part.
4. Can you buy Bitcoin with a credit card?
Yes, you can buy Bitcoin with a credit card, but it still isn’t as easy as you might think. Rules can change in an instant. Cryptocurrency is a fast-moving market, so it’s best to double-check when you’re ready to buy.
Coinbase, the largest Bitcoin broker, doesn’t allow credit card purchases anymore, but you can use a debit card. Some other brokers and exchanges do offer credit card purchases.
Coinmama offers the highest purchasing limits with up to $5,000 per day. Processing fees can be high, though, approaching 6%, so you’ll want to factor that into your purchase decision. Visa and Mastercard are accepted, or you can link your debit card.
One of the biggest challenges of buying Bitcoin with your credit card is that some card issuers block the transaction. Concern over fraud and chargebacks make cryptocurrencies a risky business for some banks.
5. Can you buy lottery tickets with a credit card?
Whether you can buy lottery tickets with a credit card often depends on where you live. About half of the states in the US ban the practice. A handful of others including New York let retailers determine if you can use your credit card for lottery tickets.
Odds of winning are a long shot at best, so it’s tough to spin this purchase into a net positive by earning rewards. Seriously, you have a better chance of getting hit by falling airplane parts or struck dead by lightning than winning the Powerball.
Even the best rewards cards can’t bring you to a net profit on lottery ticket purchases. It’s best to think of this one as just a bit of fun. A few big states, allow you to buy lottery tickets with a credit card, though.
California and New York still let you use your plastic. In states where it’s prohibited, you’ll have to use cash or debit.
6. Can you buy something with a credit card and return it for cash?
In most cases, you can’t purchase with a credit card and return for cash. If you’ve had this happen, it may have been a clerk’s mistake or perhaps the clerk wasn’t aware of store policy. However, you may find exceptions for small purchases.
Stores can establish their own policies for returns, but giving cash refunds for credit card purchases is a money-loser for retailers. In most cases, a return is refunded to the same payment method.
This means a cash purchase would qualify for a cash refund and a credit card purchase would qualify for a credit card refund. Some merchants may also offer store credit. Others may only offer mailed refunds, meaning a check.
Depending on where you are in the billing cycle, a credit card refund may not appear until your next statement.
7. Can you buy a house with a credit card?
As a technical matter, you may be able to buy a house with a credit card. However, in many cases, it may not be the best idea — even for a cheap fixer-upper.
One of your first challenges will be finding a seller who will accept the payment. Let’s face it. Bank checks or cash are readily accepted for real estate purchases. Payment types outside the norm can seem a bit fishy.
If you have enough credit available, you may be able to get a cash advance from your card. Cash (or a cashier’s check) can work for many sellers.
You’d also need to be sure your cash advance limit is high enough, though. Cash advance limits are typically lower than your overall credit card limit. The downsides to using a cash advance include a higher interest rate.
Interest also accrues immediately with a cash advance. There’s no grace period like with other credit card purchases.
8. Can you buy a prepaid debit card with a credit card?
The world of finance can be confusing because some products use similar names and may even have similar functions. A prepaid debit card isn’t linked to your bank account like a standard debit card.
Instead, you have to fund the card before you can use it. This is where a prepaid card can get tricky. In most cases, you can’t use a credit card to load (or reload) a prepaid card.
However, you can use a credit card cash advance to load a prepaid card. Because cash advances can be costly, they may not be the best option, though. Instead, it may be better to buy or reload prepaid cards with cash.
With over 9,000 locations throughout the US, Walgreens is a good source for prepaid cards. The company’s Green Dot Debit Cards are a popular choice and offer both Visa and MasterCard branding.
9. Can you buy stocks with a credit card?
The short answer is no. You can’t buy stocks with a credit card. You’ll find that nearly all brokerage firms prohibit buying stocks with a credit card. Beware, according to the SEC, investment opportunities that require your credit card may be a scam.
Instead, you’ll usually have to fund your account by linking a bank account or through a bank transfer. As an alternative, you could fund your brokerage account with a cash advance from a credit card.
However, cash advances often have a higher interest rate. This is true even with 0% introductory offers. Typically, the intro rate doesn’t apply to cash advances.
Many brokerages offer margin trading as well, which is another form of credit. Expect to pay about 10% for margin trades with brokers like Ally Invest or Charles Schwab.
10. Can you buy a cashier's check with a credit card?
A cashier’s check is a check guaranteed by a bank. To guarantee funds, the bank will need a form of payment that can’t be charged back. This eliminates credit cards as a way to buy a cashier’s check. You’ll have to use cash.
As with many other things you can’t buy directly with a credit card, you have the option of taking a cash advance to buy a cashier’s check.
For example, with the Discover it Cash Back card, you would pay a cash advance fee as low as $10 for small amounts. However, the fee may be as high as 5% of the borrowed amount.
This can get pricey. Cash advance rates are also higher than the standard credit card APR. If you’re able to raise the money, it’s better to buy a cashier’s check with cash.
Credit cards can be a useful financial tool, but they aren’t the best solution for everything. consider your options carefully. Even though rewards cards can help offset the cost of some transactions, think of using credit as financial chess.
If you don’t look a few moves ahead, you might be walking into a trap. If you’re careful, though, credit cards can be a powerful ally in the game of life.