Home > Managing Debt > Why Can’t I Pay Off My Credit Card With a Credit Card?

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


These days you can use a credit card to buy just about everything. In fact, convenience is a big selling point when it comes to paying with plastic. But there are some things you generally can’t charge. Lottery tickets. Gambling chips. College tuition (at least not without forking over a fee).

And, yes, more often than not, you can’t use a credit card to simply pay off another credit card. One commenter appears to have encountered this issue.

“Tell me why I could not [pay] my clothing store credit card with other credit cards, and yes both [are in] my name and I do [pay] my bills,” they wrote.

The Reason Behind the Restriction

Issuers will rarely take a credit card as payment, said Eric Lindeen, vice president of marketing for ID Analytics in San Diego, California, which offers fraud prevention tools and credit risk management scores to credit card companies. The restriction is usually tied to interchange, or swipe, fees.

“Payment types are limited due to the cost of processing,” Lindeen wrote in an email. “A checking account transfer costs pennies compared to $20 for a $1,000 payment on a card.”

Issuers also want to prohibit anyone from gaming or “double-dipping” on their rewards program. Think about it: Were you able to pay one credit card directly with another, you could charge a big purchase to one rewards card, then rack up points, miles or cash back when you pay with another rewards card, which would rack up more points, miles or cash back once paid off as well.

“The rule of thumb is you can only collect the benefit once,” Lindeen said.

Still a Way to Pay 

There are some options, however, that will let you indirectly pay for plastic with plastic. You can technically take out a cash advance on one credit card, then use those funds to pay another — though this could seriously cost you. Cash advances typically come with a convenience fee and, if you can’t pay off the balance quickly, also come with a higher interest rate. And while balance-transfer credit cards let you move high-interest debt from one credit card to another that features a low-to-no introductory annual percentage rate, you’ll pay for that, too, via a balance-transfer fee. (This option, incidentally, may appeal to our commenter, who could be looking to pay off those purchases with a different credit card to minimize interest, given that store cards are known to carry high APRs.)

Both cash advances and balance transfers “can be valuable tools but can be dangerous if not used carefully,” Lindeen said. “Additional fees and upfront charges add up quickly. Also, terms for balance transfers vary dramatically between companies, cards, and even offers presented for the same card.”

Dealing With Debt

Of course, at the end of the day, paying a credit card with another credit card means exchanging one debt for another. So, if you find yourself needing to pay this way, you may want to come up with a debt management plan. High credit card balances can cost you in interest. (You can calculate the lifetime cost of your current debt here.) They can also hurt your credit score. (You can see how your debt levels are affecting your credit by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing two of your scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

To start paying down high debts, you can make a written list of what you owe, look into securing a lower interest rate (via refinancing, balance transfers or consolidation loans, for instance) and choose specific debt targets. For credit cards, you can prioritize payments by the card carrying the lowest balance or highest interest rate. This credit card payoff calculator can show you how long it will take to pay off your current balances.

Image: andresr

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team