Pay off one credit card bill with another credit card?
May 24, 2014 4:26 PM   Subscribe

So let's say a, um, "friend" of mine has done something truly boneheaded: paid off THE WRONG CREDIT CARD. Instead of putting money towards the credit card he uses all the time and actually has a balance, he has instead paid off the credit card he never touches and had a balance of ZERO DOLLARS. So now I—ahem, I mean he—has one credit card with a huge credit and a credit card with a huge balance. Are there any downsides to simply paying off the primary credit card with the credit on the secondary credit card?

I know there's such a thing as balance transfers, but this doesn't exactly seem like something I want to do—I can't tell, for example, if you can do a PARTIAL balance transfer or not. Furthermore, I don't really want to deal with the potential interest rate changes and other shenanigans, and I didn't pick either of these cards for their balance transfer rates, nor is there likely to be any introductory rates since both cards are a few years old now. But if a balance transfer truly is the way to go with this, I'd rather that than have to use the secondary credit card for everything for a few months (and take the big hit now).

My usual habit is to pay off credit cards in full as soon as I get the statement and only put on the credit card what I know I can afford, so making the payment to the wrong credit card is not the end of the world. But if I could put the payment in its rightful place it would save me a bit of headache.
posted by chrominance to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Best answer: One downside is that it'd be considered a cash advance, with a 2-4% fee.

If your friend contacts the issuer of the card with the huge credit on it, he can get the company to send him a check for the balance.

They might even do direct deposit, I don't know how it works.
posted by Hatashran at 4:34 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you don't carry a balance for a certain period of time, I know some credit card companies will automatically cut you a check to zero it out. Call them and ask. The worst they can do is say no.
posted by calistasm at 4:46 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just have the credit card you erroneously paid send you a refund, they do that all day every day.
posted by kindall at 4:48 PM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: First things first:

Call the card company you accidentally paid, as well as your own bank if the first call yields no fruit, and ask them if it's possible to have the payment returned. If it was a very recent thing, they may be able to simply reverse the payment to get your money back within a few days.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:48 PM on May 24, 2014

Best answer: I did the exact same thing a few months ago and the bank I paid incorrectly (Bank of America) sent me a check that arrived in less than a week. The didn't charge me anything to do so.

I sent the other card the monthly minimum, so I got hit with one month's interest but not a late fee.
posted by Kakkerlak at 5:35 PM on May 24, 2014

Response by poster: So I called in, and it turned out that since both the credit card in question and the bank account the money came from were from the same bank, it was super easy: just transfer the money between accounts myself via the online banking site, and apparently so long as the amount is under the amount credited to the card it doesn't count as a cash advance. We'll see in a day or two if my bank does anything squirrely (because I ain't paying no 2-4% fee on money I transfered in myself!) but it looks like that's it. Thanks!
posted by chrominance at 5:59 PM on May 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I can attest that it's not a cash advance if you're at negative (positive? depends on point of view..) balance. I was going to suggest popping the card with the accidental money on it into an ATM and then getting it as close to zero as possible, which is the fastest way to get the money back out of the card, instead of waiting for a check.
posted by defcom1 at 11:01 AM on May 27, 2014

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