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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week — Mondays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
Most folks use credit cards entirely for making purchases, and if you’re smart, you pay your balance in full every single month. But what about those credit card checks that sometimes arrive in the mail? Will using those checks also help you earn travel rewards, as TPG reader Dave asked us in an email…
A lot of credit cards will give you checks to use in addition to the plastic card. Do those checks usually count toward rewards points?TPG Reader Dave
Credit card checks, which banks variously refer to as “convenience checks” or “access checks” or “balance transfer checks,” can look really tempting, right? Well, there are two great reasons not to use them in an effort to earn points or miles.
The first reason is straightforward — you will not earn travel rewards when using a credit card check. Almost every credit card account specifically notes in its terms and conditions that only purchases earn rewards, and many specifically state that checks are excluded. Even the checks themselves will often have disclaimers along the lines of “miles cannot be earned with this offer.”
But the other reason not to use credit card checks — and this is separate from points and miles — is that unlike normal purchases made with a credit card, interest gets charged on credit card checks as soon as the transaction posts. That means you won’t get the usual “grace period” — the time between the purchase posting, your statement closing, and then up to as many as 30 days to actually pay the bill — before getting hit with interest. Instead, you’ll be paying interest right from day one.
Even if you got offered a low teaser rate with your checks or even 0% to start, the transaction fee for using the check — which can range from 1% to as high as 5% — means it’ll cost more to use the checks than it’s worth, especially since you’re not going to earn any points for the transaction anyway.
So, Dave, we don’t recommend using credit card checks at all since you can’t use them without paying some sort of interest or fee. But even if you decide to go ahead and use one, you can definitely assume you won’t get any travel rewards for doing so. Sorry for the bad news, but thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at email@example.com.
Featured image by Tetra Images via Getty Images.
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