5 Things You Can’t Pay for With a Credit Card

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 9, 2017

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close up of a credit card symbolizing credit scores
January 22, 2016

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

We use credit cards so often they sometimes feel the same as cash – but unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

When you use a credit card, you’re taking out a loan from a financial institution. Every time you swipe, you’re asking for authorization to spend money that’s not really yours. In fact, there are some purchases for which card issuers won’t lend money. Check out these five things you can’t pay for with credit cards:

If you’re in the mood to take chances, you’ll probably have to use cold, hard cash. State laws and casino policies often forbid the use of credit cards, and if not, card issuers themselves sometimes refuse to cover such high-risk spending. While these lenders profit from the interest you accrue when carrying a balance, they don’t want you to get carried away and run up charges you can’t afford to pay back.

Even if your credit card comes with a high limit, you can’t pay your mortgage with it. Mortgage lenders won’t encourage buyers to pay off debt by accumulating more debt at higher interest rates. The possibility of future default is too high.

You probably won’t be able to use credit cards to pay your student loans. Policies regarding these loans vary between lenders, though, and may depend on your personal situation (i.e. type of student loans you borrowed).

You generally can’t use credit cards to buy a car, either – although once you have your auto loan, you may be able to do a balance transfer. This would only benefit you if you take advantage of a zero-interest offer on a credit card and pay off the balance before interest kicks in.

The fact your credit cards can’t cover every possible expense is a good reminder there’s still a place for cash in your pocket, as well as for lower-interest forms of borrowing. The best money management includes a flexible blend of all forms of payment.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

  • Yeah I guess the general rule of thumb with credit cards is you can’t finance financing! It makes perfect sense for credit card companies not to want customers paying their car payment with a credit card. How could that NOT go wrong long term?

    I do wish they would allow it though so that I could get some sweet reward points from more of my normal expenses 🙂

    Thanks for the info

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