Can I Use Promotional Checks to Meet Spending Requirements?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
TPG reader Christiaan sent me a message on Facebook to ask about cash advances:
“I just got some 0% APR promotional checks from my new Southwest card. Can I use those checks to help me meet the spending requirement for the sign-up bonus?”
There are plenty of credit cards that come with an introductory 0% APR on purchases, including several that earn travel rewards. I think it's best to avoid carrying a balance whenever possible, but if you're trying to manage existing credit card debt, these cards can give you some relief from more costly interest charges. That said, there are other 0% APR offers with much less favorable terms, and the ones Christiaan received are a perfect example.
Credit card companies often send out promotional checks that come with a 0% APR, but the deal isn't as good as it may seem on the surface, especially when it comes to earning rewards. For starters, payments made with these checks are generally processed as balance transfers or cash advances. That means you won't earn points or miles, and any amount you spend will not count toward meeting the spend requirement for the sign-up bonus.
Even worse, you'll likely get hit with additional fees. For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card charges at least 5% of the transacted amount for balance transfers and cash advances, as well as a higher interest rate for cash advances.
I get these promotional checks frequently, and I think the best thing to do is run them through the paper shredder. Award travel can be incredibly lucrative, but carrying a balance and incurring additional fees on a rewards credit card will eat into the value of the points and miles you earn. I recommend you think twice about applying for a card if you're going to have trouble meeting the spending requirement, and think long-term when it comes to managing your finances and credit score.
For more on managing credit and maximizing rewards, check out these posts:
- Avoiding Late Payments and Other Silly Credit Card Mistakes
- Travel Rewards Strategies for People with Low Credit Scores
- Travel Credit Card Resolutions for 2016