Can You Pay Off One Credit Card with Another?

If you’re unable to make the minimum payment on your credit card, using another credit card to pay your bill might sound ideal. By paying off one credit card with another one, you can avoid paying anything out of pocket for an entire month. Does it get any better than that?

Before you move forward, however, you should know how this works, how much it costs, and the consequences that arise when you shuffle debt around instead of paying it off. While you can technically pay off one credit card with another, it’s usually a bad idea. Plus, there are better alternatives to consider if you need a lower payment and some wiggle room in your budget.

Can you pay off one credit card with another? Yes. Should you? Now, that’s an entirely different question. Keep reading to learn more.

How Can You Pay a Credit Card with Another Credit Card?

First things first; let’s talk about logistics. Whether it’s a good idea or not, the fact remains that, yes, you can pay off one credit card with another credit card.

The easiest way to do this is to take out a cash advance with one of your credit cards. Once you take out a cash advance online or at an ATM, you can use that cash to pay off your other credit card bill. If you don’t want to take out a cash advance, you can also use those handy convenience checks your card issuer sends in the mail. By writing a check to yourself and cashing it, you’ll gain access to the money you need to pay your other bills.

While both of these options are easy, the costs involved should give you pause. For starters, you’ll generally pay at least 3% to  5% of your cash advance amount as an upfront fee. If your cash advance is for $500, for example, you’ll pay up to $25 the moment you get access to your cash. Second, unlike when you use your card at a store, there’s typically no grace period on a cash advance, so their (usually high) interest charges start adding up immediately. Growing the balance on your original card by taking out a cash advance will lead to higher interest charges over time. So if your interest rate is relatively high, $500 in new debt could cost you hundreds more over the years.

Also remember, you’re not really helping yourself when you shuffle debt around without really paying it off. You’re buying yourself time — literally, you’re paying quite a premium. By and large, paying off one credit card with a cash advance from another is nothing more than a shell game. Your balance might drop on one card, but it will surge on another. Over time, this could easily spiral out of hand and lead you deeper and deeper into debt.

Should You Consider a Balance Transfer Instead?

If you’re tired of settling one debt with another, a balance transfer credit card is one option to consider. By transferring all of your credit card balances to a balance transfer credit card, you can score 0% interest for anywhere from 12 to 21 months.

You’ll still need to make monthly payments on your new balance, but with a 0% APR, they should be markedly lower, and you won’t accrue new interest charges during the introductory period, allowing you to make faster progress in paying down the balance. If you’re serious about dropping your debt, you could use this time to get out of debt faster.

A few considerations should come to mind as you consider any balance transfer offer. First, some balance transfer cards charge a balance transfer fee equal to 3% to 5% in order to secure your new line of credit with an introductory 0% APR. Second, the best balance transfer cards are only available to individuals with good credit or better.

Lastly, a balance transfer credit card can’t help you get out of debt unless you stop digging. If you transfer your balances, than continue spending on your other cards, you won’t be better off in the end. To get the most out of a balance transfer credit card, you need to stop spending, get serious about your debts, and stay the course.

Final Thoughts

If you’re serious about paying one credit card off with another, it’s probably time to take a step back. Before you make a rash decision, you should ask yourself what you hope to accomplish by shuffling debt around, and if there might be a better way.

If you’re simply short on funds and can’t make your minimum payment, paying off one balance with a cash advance or convenience check can buy you time — literally – as a short-term, stop-gap measure. But really, that’s about all you’ll get.

Since you can’t pay off one credit card with another forever, you’ll need a better long-term solution. Remember, you will have to pay your balances off in their entirety eventually. The best thing you can do is avoid new debts and get serious about paying off the debts you have.

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Have you ever paid off one credit card with another? Have you ever done a balance transfer? Please share your story below. 

Holly Johnson
Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.

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