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Is an American Express Cash Advance Worth It?

The answer to that question will depend on how badly you need the cash and how quickly you are prepared to repay it. That’s because initial fees will apply to withdraw cash through your American Express Credit Card and your interest charges will apply immediately to any sum of your cash advance. Not only that, but the interest charges on cash advances are almost invariably higher than those on credit card purchases. These are all factors you’ll need to bear in mind if you’re thinking about using your AmEx for a cash advance.

Before you consider using the cash advance program through your American Express credit card, we would advise checking out a few more cost effective ways to keep extra cash on hand. However, if you do feel that a cash advance is your best choice, read on to learn more about how the American Express cash advance program works.

What is a cash advance?

A cash advance is a program that allows you to access cash through your American Express credit card at a participating ATM using a PIN. There is usually a cash advance limit, which means you only have access to a certain amount of cash this way. That limit will typically be considerably lower than your overall spending limit. 

In addition to cash advance limits, there are usually cash advance fees that are higher than those which apply to credit card purchases. An educational resource from American Express notes that “when you withdraw cash from a credit card, you are charged funds advance fee, a higher interest rate based on the funds advance rate applicable to that card, and you will start paying interest from the time you withdraw the cash.”

Can I use my American Express card to take cash out at an ATM?

Yes, there are actually two different ways you can use your American Express to access cash at an ATM: a cash advance; or an Express Cash advance. With Express Cash, you can enroll in a program which allows you to use your American Express card in order to access a designated bank account at any participating ATM. Fees and interest charges will be lower with this option but it does require special enrollment. With a Cash Advance, you can access cash at participating ATMs but this sum is borrowed against your credit card account and comes with all applicable fees.

What is the cash advance fee through American Express?

According to the American Express table of fees, you can expect to pay either a cash advance fee of $10, or 5% of the cash advance amount–whichever sum is higher. While some fees–like annual fees–may vary from one credit card offer to another, the fee to get a cash advance is the same whether you hold an American Express Platinum, Gold, or Green Card. 

It’s also common for ATMs to charge their own fees, which can vary widely from $2 to $5 or more per transaction depending on your location. So be prepared to pay as much as $10 to $15 at a minimum just to access your money. And of course, be prepared to pay much more as the base number of your cash advance goes up.

What kinds of interest rates apply to the cash advance option?

In addition to the fee you’ll pay on a cash advance with American Express, it’s important to note that interest rates for repayment on your cash advance work a little differently as well. When you use your American Express credit card to make purchases, you only begin to accrue interest charges if you carry a balance forward after the first month.

By contrast, with American Express cash advance, there is no grace period. Interest rates apply to the borrowed amount immediately. This means that you will begin accruing additional charges from the moment you receive your cash advance. 

The APR for repaying cash advances is usually higher as well. You can expect to pay an APR somewhere in the range of 25%. And again, these chargers are unavoidable, even if you do pay your full cash advance balance by your monthly due date. So if possible, it is highly advisable to repay this borrowed sum as soon as possible. You may be able to do so by signing into your online account and paying early rather than waiting for your next billing statement to arrive.

What are the cash advance limits on my American Express cards?

While many American Express charge cards are noteworthy for their absence of preset spending limits, there are actually some limitations on cash advance allowances. They do vary from one card to another though. The cash advance limit for the American Express® Green Card is $3,000 whereas the American Express® Gold Card offers a $6,000 cash advance limit and the The Platinum Card® from American Express gives account holders a cash advance limit of $8,000. This offers holders a fairly extensive line of credit for emergency situations requiring cash advances.

However, in any of these instances, you’ll want to think very carefully about using this as a way to access cash. For one moment, let’s assume you are facing an emergency situation that requires a $5000 cash advance through your Gold Card. The initial fee alone, at 5%, means that you’ll spend $250 just to access that money. Your interest charges will depend on your personal APR and how long it takes you to repay the borrowed sum.

So is a cash advance worth it?

If you find yourself in a difficult situation where cash is absolutely required–for instance, to pay rent, a babysitter, or an auto mechanic without delay–a cash advance may be your only option. If this is the case, it may be comforting to know that you always have your American Express card as a convenient source of immediate cash. But most financial advisors will strongly advise of this move only as a last resort.

This is because, however you slice it, taking out a cash advance is a costly proposition. This is perhaps why American Express actually offers fewer pathways to a cash advance than some of its competitors. In essence, the only option for an American Express cash advance is by withdrawing cash through participating ATMs. And in order to do this, cardholders must contact American Express customer service in order to acquire a PIN.


While we generally discourage using your American Express credit card for cash advances, you may wish to direct any further questions about using your Amex credit card at participating ATMs to customer service. Check out our index of contact numbers to learn more.