What Convenience Checks Are And When You Should/Shouldn't Use Them

November 17, 2015, Written By Lynn Oldshue
Paying a credit card bill with a check.
** Note: Shallow depth of field

With the holidays around the corner, the convenience checks your credit card company is offering look pretty appealing. The 0% offer, often written in bold print, makes these promotional checks seem like a good way to pay for gifts.

As with all contracts, though, it is important to read the fine print below that bolded APR rate so that you know exactly what you’re getting.

The promotional letter included with your convenience checks, which are linked to your credit card account, describe them as an easy way to get cash, transfer balances or a make a purchase. However, these checks can end up costing you in the long run.

  • While the offer letter many advertise a 0% APR, there is usually a 3-4% fee for using the checks.
  • There is no grace period with convenience checks, so you will be paying interest immediately.
  • Generally speaking, you will not earn rewards on purchases made with these checks.
  • You will not be given the same purchase protections that you would if you used your credit card to make the purchase.
  • The check’s APR is likely an introductory rate. After the promotional period has passed, you may end up paying a higher interest rate than you would if you had used your credit card, as you will be charged the APR rate for a cash advance.
  • Similarly, look for the expiration date on the checks. The check must be posted to your account by this date for the promotional APR to apply.
  • Make sure you know your available credit. If your checks, transactions and fees exceed your credit limit, your credit card company may not honor the check, which will leave you owing returned-check fees to the merchant and possibly over-limit fees to your card issuer. Going over the limit on your credit card may also slightly lower your credit score.

Promotional checks aren’t all bad. They can be used to pay off the balance of another credit card with a higher interest rate. However, if you do decide to take advantage of these offers, make sure you carefully read the fine print to protect yourself against fees and inflated interest rates. Having a repayment plan in place is also important.

If you decide not to use the checks, make sure you shred them to protect yourself from fraud. If you no longer want to receive these promotions, simply call your credit card company and tell them to stop sending them.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of November 17, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.