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When looking at your student loan debt, you might be tempted to find ways to pay it off quicker – and maybe even earn credit card rewards on it. After all, your student loan debt is just sitting there, providing no tangible benefit to you.
Before you decide to move forward, though, it’s important to understand whether you can pay student loans with a credit card and what the implications are if you move forward with the plan.
Is it a good idea to pay your student loans with a credit card?
Pay your monthly bill with a credit card: You might try to pay your recurring student loan bill with a credit card – particularly if you could earn valuable credit card points by making your regular student loan payments.
But even if you can get rewards points or transfer your student loan balance to a no-interest credit card, you could actually lose out in the long run.
For those interested in the first strategy, there are typically extra costs associated with paying your student loan bill with a credit card – potentially cancelling out the rewards points you could earn with your payment. Plus, if you don’t pay off your credit card bill in full each month, you’ll be stuck with costly interest payments.
Those who pursue the second strategy ount as large as a student loan debt during the promotional period for a 0% APR. If you don’t pay off the debt in full before the 0% interest expires, you could be stuck paying the high rates that are typical with credit cards.
“Interest rates on credit cards are usually much higher than on private student loans,” Kantrowitz says. “Ultimately, this can cost the borrower more.”
Additionally, with your student loans entirely transferred to a credit card, you lose the protections that come with federal loans, including income-driven repayment and the tax deduction that comes on all student loan interest. For many borrowers, the second strategy is a particularly risky option that may not offer much benefit.
What are some of the costs of paying student loans with a credit card?
If you decide to set up credit card payments for your monthly student loan bill, you might have additional costs to contend with. First of all, Kantrowitz points out that you can’t pay your federal loans with a credit card. Unless you use a workaround, it’s not a possibility for federal student debt.
On the other hand, if a private lender allows it, you could see steep fees associated with a credit card payment. Kantrowitz points out that merchant fees on such transactions can be high – and lenders are likely to pass them on to you.
If you use a credit card check to make your payment and avoid the transaction fees, there might still be additional costs. Some creditors might charge a fee for using the check, or you might be cash advances in Ohio subject to a higher interest rate.
“A credit card check is often treated like a cash advance,” says Kantrowitz. “It is much more expensive to the cardholder.”
Before you decide to use a credit card to pay your student loan bill, it’s important to review the potential costs. In many cases, the rewards you earn or the interest you save might be less than the extra costs involved.