Can You Pay For a Car Lease With a Credit Card?
By Eric Rosenberg, MBA
Reviewed by Lauren Bringle, AFC®
If you took home a car financed with a lease, you might want to know: can you pay a car lease with a credit card? In many cases, you can easily pay your lease with a credit card.
However, just because you can pay a lease agreement with a credit card doesn’t make it a great idea for everyone.
If you are wondering, “Can you make a car payment with a credit card?” you have come to the right place. Keep reading to learn how to pay a lease with a credit card and important pros and cons to consider before making your monthly payment with your card.
Why you might want to pay for a car lease with a credit cardDepending on the kind of car you have and whether you got it used or new, you may have paid anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars for a cheap used car up to tens of thousands for a brand new one.
Because most of us can’t afford to pay for a car in cash, auto loans and leases are popular methods to finance a vehicle purchase, according to Consumer Reports.
If you are short on cash, you may want to use a credit card to make your monthly lease payment). Some lenders are happy to take a payment with a card, though others would require you to use an outside service.
This may be a good idea on a very short-term basis, but generally should be avoided if you can.
The other reason to pay with a card is to earn cash back or travel rewards. This makes sense if the rewards you earn are worth more than any transaction costs and interest payments.
If you want to use a credit card to pay your lease for rewards, it’s important to do the math to make sure you’ll come out ahead before making that first payment.
How to pay a car lease with a credit cardThere are a few ways to pay a lease with a credit card. Here are some of the most common:
1 - Pay your lease company directlyIf your lease company will take a credit card payment directly, it’s the easiest way to use a credit card to pay. Some lease companies charge a big fee for credit card payments, so ensure you are not paying extra if you pay them with a card.
2 - Use a third-party serviceThere are third-party services like Plastiqthat will charge your credit card and send a check for the lease payment. Again, however, there are likely going to be fees that drive up your costs.
3 - Use credit card convenience checksYour credit card may give you checks that allow you to make payments from your credit card account. These usually come with cash advance fees and could even come with a higher interest rate, so check your credit card agreement before paying this way.
Tips for paying for a car lease with a credit cardTo pay your car lease with a credit card, most people will want to work to keep costs as low as possible and avoid hurting your credit score.
Tip 1: keep costs lowTo keep costs low, talk to your lease company, third party payment processor, or credit card company to make sure you won’t pay any extra fees if you pay your lease with your card.
After all, the biggest reason you picked car financing was to make the car more affordable. Adding on more fees and costs just drains your bank account without giving you any added benefits.
Tip 2: Pay attention to your credit scoreFor your credit score, it’s important to keep your credit card balances as low as possible. Because car payments can make up a big chunk of your credit card limit, do your best to pay off your card in full as quickly as possible to preserve your credit.
Paying off your card in full by the due date will also help you avoid credit card interest. If you carry a balance from month to month, it could drag down your credit score while increasing your monthly expenses.
Like any other purchase with a credit card, it’s best only to spend what you can afford to pay off in full by the next monthly due date.
When should you avoid paying for a car lease with a credit card?If you expect any added fees, interest, or other costs related to making a car lease payment with a credit card, you may want to avoid it. After all, any extra car payment-related costs essentially increase the cost of your lease.
When using a credit card to earn points, you may be willing to pay a small fee. Just make sure the rewards are worth more than the costs or you’ll come out behind.
Most important, as far as your credit is concerned, is that you only use a credit card when you can afford to pay it off in full the next month. If you can’t and you carry a credit card balance each month, you may want to stick with a bank account where you won’t go into additional debt to make car payments.
What can happen if you do not pay your car lease?A car lease is an agreement to make regularly scheduled payments and follow any other rules in your lease to keep your car. If you don’t make your payments, the leasing company may add repossess your vehicle.
Many leases show up on a credit report just like an auto loan or any other type of loan. Missed payments can quickly lower your credit score. If you miss so many that your vehicle is repossessed, the default will keep on hurting your credit for seven years in most cases.
If you can use a credit card to avoid late payments, it could be worth it, even with extra interest costs. Just make sure you’re only going to need the credit card temporarily. Carrying lease payments on your credit card for several months or longer would likely be very expensive.
If you are making lease payments with your card on a regular basis to earn rewards, be sure to update your information with the leasing company if your card number changes so you don't miss a car payment without realizing it.
What credit cards are best to use for a car lease?The best credit cards to use for a car payment are either rewards credit cards or credit cards with a long 0% APR introductory period.
You should never take on a lease you can't afford to pay every month, so using a rewards credit card to pay for your lease can earn you cash back or travel rewards with no added costs. The key to making this work is paying off your card in full every month by the due date so you don’t have to pay a high interest rate from your card issuer.
Using a 0% APR offer could give you some time effectively payment-free with no added costs on your loan payment. Just be sure you can pay off the entire balance before the end of the 0% period when interest kicks in.
Pros and cons of paying for a car lease with a credit cardAs you can see, making lease payments with a credit card has some benefits and some drawbacks. Here are some major pros and cons of making car lease payments with a credit card to consider:
- Make on-time payments when you are short on cash
- Earn credit card rewards
- Better control of monthly cash flow
- Build credit with a recurring payment on your credit card (as long as you pay at least the minimum amount on your card’s billing statement each month too)
- Added credit card processing fees
- Might need a third-party service to process
- Can hurt credit score by running up your credit utilization
- Can lead to additional credit card interest costs
Be careful making car payments with a credit cardNow you know that you can use a credit card to make your car lease payment, but it isn’t always a good idea. If you are able to keep costs low, it can make sense to use a credit card to make your lease payment in some rare situations.
But for most people, it’s best to avoid using a credit cardfor your car payments.
Learn more about getting an auto loan and leasing a car with these resources
- Credit Karma. "Can I make a car payment with a credit card?". https://www.creditkarma.com/auto/i/can-you-make-car-payment-with-credit-card
- Credit Kard Insider. "Can You Buy a Car With a Credit Card? Pros, Cons, and Smart Strategies". https://www.creditcardinsider.com/blog/can-you-buy-car-with-credit-card/
- Experian. "Can I Buy a Car With a Credit Card?". https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/can-i-buy-a-car-with-a-credit-card/
About the authorEric Rosenberg is a former bank manager and corporate finance worker with a Bachelor’s degree and MBA in finance. His work is featured at Business Insider, Credit Karma, The Balance, Investopedia, and many other websites and publications. See Eric's profile on LinkedIn.
About the reviewerLauren Bringle is an Accredited Financial Counselor®with Self Financial– a financial technology company with a mission to help people build credit and savings. See Lauren on Linkedinand Twitter.
Editorial PolicyOur goal at Self is to provide readers with current and unbiased information on credit, financial health, and related topics. This content is based on research and other related articles from trusted sources. All content at Self is written by experienced contributors in the finance industry and reviewed by an accredited person(s).
Written on September 29, 2020
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings. Comments? Questions? Send us a note at [email protected]
Disclaimer: Self is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.
Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
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Depending on your lender, you may be able to make a car payment with a credit card. But think twice before you go this route.
You could end up paying credit card interest on the transaction and get hit with a fee, making your car payment even more expensive. And, on top of the added costs, racking up debt on your credit card could lower your credit scores.
Let’s take a look at some ways you might be able to make a car payment with a credit card, as well as the associated drawbacks.Check for auto loan refinance offers View Estimated Loan Terms
How can I use a credit card to make my car payment?
Whether you can make a car payment with a credit card depends on your lender. Some only accept certain payment methods, such as checks, debit cards, electronic checks or fund transfers from a bank account, or money orders. Others accept credit cards, but they may require you to make the payment through a third-party payment processing company that charges a transaction fee.
There are other ways you may be able to make a car payment with a credit card, but they could cost you.
A cash advance — borrowing money against your credit card’s limit — is another way you can use your credit card to make a car loan payment. You can get a cash advance several ways, including withdrawing cash at an ATM or a bank branch. Keep in mind that if you use an ATM, you might be charged an ATM fee. And with a cash advance, your credit card issuer will likely charge a cash advance fee and a higher interest rate than it would on purchases.Check for auto loan refinance offers View Estimated Loan Terms
Some lenders accept payments through money transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. You may be able to fund the transaction using a credit card, but keep in mind that your credit card issuer may treat it as a cash advance. That means you’d be subject to credit card interest and cash advance fees on top of any fees charged by the money transfer service.
These costs can add to your loan payment
The costs associated with using a money transfer service or getting a cash advance can add up. Let’s say your monthly car loan payment is $300. You decide to use a money transfer service to make your payment, and the service charges a transfer fee of $21.50. Your credit card issuer treats the transaction as a cash advance and charges a cash advance fee of $10 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater. That means you’d end up paying an estimated $331.50 — an additional 10.5% of your monthly car loan payment, plus interest — on your cash advance if you don’t pay the full amount before the next billing period.
Drawbacks of making a car payment with a credit card
In addition to the potential fees and cash advance interest charges, paying your car loan with a credit card can come with other drawbacks.
Additional interest charges
Using a can you pay your car bill with a credit card card to make a car loan payment could mean you pay two types of interest charges. Unless you have a 0% APR on your car loan, your car payment will include a mix of principal (the amount you borrowed to buy your vehicle), interest and any loan charges. If you use a credit card to make a car loan payment and make the minimum payment — versus paying your credit card balance in full by the next payment due date — you’ll end up paying credit card interest on the transaction as well.
If you make a car payment with a credit card, another can you pay your car bill with a credit card to avoid interest charges is by using a card with an introductory 0% APR offer and paying the balance in full before the intro period ends.
May negatively affect your credit scores
Putting one or more car loan payments on a credit card can increase your credit utilization, or how much of your available credit you’re using. This number factors heavily into many credit scores, and a high ratio can negatively affect your scores. It’s generally a good idea to use as little of your credit as you can — experts recommend that can you pay your car bill with a credit card aim for using less than 30% of your total credit limit.
Making a car payment with a credit card could end up being an expensive move and should be avoided, if possible.
If you don’t have enough cash in hand to make a one-time car payment, consider asking a friend or family member if you can borrow the money. Even if they charge you interest on the loan, you may be able to pay less in interest than if you made the payment with a credit card.
But if you find that you’re struggling to come up with the cash for your car payment each month, here are a couple of things to consider.
- Reach out to your lender. Your lender may be willing to renegotiate your loan terms, defer your payment or offer other forms of financial assistance.
- Refinance your auto loan. You might be able to get a lower interest rate or lower monthly payments that could make your loan more affordable.
About the author: Rebecca Giantonio Moran is a senior editor at Credit Karma with a focus on auto. She has nearly 20 years of experience in brand development, content and website strategy, copywriting, marketing and public relations. T… Read more.
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How do I pay bills using the Western Union® app?
1. If you already have the Western Union® app, log in with Touch ID or your credentials. If you don’t have our app yet, simply download it on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. New users can follow the steps to register a profile with your email address. You can verify your profile using your driver’s license, can you pay your car bill with a credit card or government-issued ID.
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Car Rental Payment Options
Alamo offers several flexible payment options for customers including credit and debit card, cash, and pre-payment.
Renting a Car with a Credit Card
A credit card must be presented with available credit, in the renter's name. The signature must match the name imprinted on the card and the signature on the car rental agreement. For online reservations, the number and name printed on the card presented must match the name and number stored for the online reservation.
- Credit Cards accepted: American Express®, Mastercard®, VISA® and Discover® Network
- Credit Cards accepted in Canada: American Express®, MasterCard®, and VISA®
- Credit Cards accepted in Puerto Rico: American Express, Mastercard, VISA, Diners Club and Discover Network.
See below for information on how to rent a car without a credit card.
Renting a Car with a Debit Card
Debit/Check cards are considered to be any non-credit card bearing the VISA, Mastercard® or Discover logo. Pre-paid cards or any other non-credit card without one of these logos is not accepted. (Discover not accepted in Canada.)
At airport locations, debit card deposits are only accepted at the time of rental if accompanied by a ticketed return travel itinerary. The name and address shown on the renter’s driver’s license must match their current home address. Active duty military personnel are exempt from address requirements. Other than the renter’s spouse or domestic partner, no other additional drivers are allowed. At the time of rental, charges will be placed on the debit card which reduces the available funds in the account associated with the card used. Renter is responsible for any overdraft fees incurred. Disembarking passengers will be asked to provide a credit card or debit card with funds to cover the cost of the rental. Renters without a ticketed return travel itinerary will need to provide a credit card with sufficient funds to cover the cost of the rental plus an additional amount between $200 to $400 based on rental location. Debit cards are only accepted at the time of rental if accompanied by a ticketed return travel itinerary.
Canadian locations will only accept US and International Debit Cards at the time of rental with a round trip travel ticket, e-ticket, or travel itinerary that shows the renters name and discloses the return date and flight itinerary; Canadian Debit Cards are NOT accepted.
Does Alamo Accept Gift Cards?
Alamo accepts pre-paid gift cards with a Visa, Mastercard® or Amex symbol as a form of payment at the end of a rental. We do not accept gift cards to secure a rental*. Payment is never required when making a reservation.
*Alamo does not issue gift cards and will never ask you for credit card or other payment information over the phone. For more information, visit our pre-paid gift card alert page.
Renting a Car with Cash
Cash is not accepted as a deposit at the beginning of a rental at any location. For security reasons, many locations do not accept cash at any time.
Note: Some tour can you pay your car bill with a credit card are exempt from certain cash rental restrictions due to the pre-paid nature of their travel packages.
Note: For rentals in Canada, only customers on a pre-paid tour or renting on corporate accounts that have negotiated the option to use cash are allowed to use cash to qualify for a rental.
Prepaying for Rental Car (Pay Now)
Alamo offers car rental discounts for customers who take advantage of pre-payment options. Since your car rental reservation is prepaid, you'll spend less time at the rental counter and get on the road faster! Your credit card will be charged at time of reservation and the Pre-Pay discount will automatically be applied to your rate. This discount is 5% off.
Note: Debit cards are not accepted for Advance Pay reservations.
To qualify for Pre-Pay:
A major credit card and a valid driver's license in the name of the renter will be required at the time of rental. The credit card presented must be the same credit card used to pre-pay for the reservation.
Alamo does not accept online-only, virtual credit cards or any other type of ""single-use"" card number security product or one-time use credit card number that may be provided by credit card companies for online use.
Advance reservation is required (generally 24 hours) to can you pay your car bill with a credit card advantage of pre-payment options.
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Additional Driver: Additional charges will apply for additional drivers. Additional driver fees must be paid for at the rental counter at pick-up.
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Any optional insurance or CDW product selected at the time of reservation may be cancelled at the counter at the time of rental without incurring a cancellation fee."
Can you pay your auto loan with a credit card? Well, yes… technically you can. Most lenders won’t allow you to use a credit card to pay your loan directly, can you pay your car bill with a credit card you know those convenience checks your credit card company sends in the mail, encouraging you to transfer a balance? You can use one of those in a pinch – just be prepared to bite the bullet and pay whatever fee it entails.
Likewise, tapping your credit card’s cash advance limit is another way to make your car payment when money’s tight – but remember there’s no grace period for cash advances, so that balance starts accruing sky-high interest charges immediately. And these days there are services that allow you to pay just about anything with a credit card, even your rent — for a fee, of course.
So no, the question isn’t whether you can pay your car loan with a credit card. It’s whether you’d want to.
There are some cases where it could make sense. Imagine you open your mailbox and find two pieces of mail – one is your car payment, and the other is a 0% APR credit card offer. As you open both and compare them side-by-side, a lightbulb goes off. In the perfect world, you would transfer your car loan to a 0% APR credit card, avoid interest charges, and pay off your car loan off, right?
Paying your auto loan with a credit card might sound crazy, but this strategy isn’t that off-the-wall. In fact, many people do this for various reasons all the time.
Some people do it for the savings; by paying off their expensive car loan with a card that charges 0% APR, they can save money on interest and get their car paid off faster. Others do it for the flexibility; perhaps they’re unhappy with the monthly payment on their vehicle and want the option to pay more or less can you pay your car bill with a credit card month. And of course, some do it out of desperation: If money’s tight one month, it’s probably better to pay your auto loan with a credit card than to miss a payment and suffer the ding on your credit report or risk default.
As with most financial strategies, however, there are notable downsides to consider when you pay your auto loan with a credit card. What are they? Keep reading to learn more.
The Problem With Paying Your Auto Loan With a Credit Card
While saving money is almost always a good thing, paying your auto loan with a credit card isn’t the no-brainer it sounds like. For starters, this financial move changes the nature of the loan itself. By transferring your auto loan to a credit card, you’re taking a secured loan and turning it into revolving credit. On the upside, this means your car can’t be repossessed if you quit paying your bill. However, simply moving the debt can wreak havoc on your credit score – in a number of ways.
For starters, credit scoring companies view revolving debt (such as credit card balances) very differently from installment loans — and not in a good way. In general, steady installment loans (like car payments, can you pay your car bill with a credit card loans, and mortgages) are better for your credit score.
Another impact on your credit score could be the result of increased credit utilization. By transferring your car loan to a credit card, you’re charging up a huge balance that wasn’t there before. Since how much you owe on your credit cards helps determine your score, increasing your credit utilization could cause your score to drop.
Yet another reason you might want to refrain from charging your auto loan on a credit card is that it may not save first citizens credit union customer service money in the long run. Scoring a 0% APR offer and transferring your balance might save you money in the short term, but what happens when your introductory APR resets? If you can you pay your car bill with a credit card have a plan to pay off your car within your credit card’s 0% APR introductory period, you could end up paying huge interest payments every month — far higher than the typical auto loan.
Another important drawback to consider is the precedent set by paying your auto loan with a credit card. While moving balances around might make you feel like you’ve paid off debt, you haven’t really accomplished much – yet. In reality, balance transfers are really nothing more than a shell can you pay your car bill with a credit card if you don’t take your debts seriously. And if you let your balances grow as you bounce them around, you won’t end up any better off.
How to Pay Off Your Auto Loan Without a Credit Card
If you don’t have a concrete plan to pay your auto loan off, chances are good transferring your balance won’t really help you. Instead of moving money around, you might be better off changing your money mindset. To really handle your debts, you need to pay them off – not just move them from place to place.
Fortunately, most auto loans allow you to prepay your bill without a penalty. What this means is, you can pay more than your car’s minimum monthly payment if you can afford it.
This may not be easy, but hardly anything worth doing is. If you’re struggling to scrape together the cash for your car payment, consider these steps to leave some wiggle room in your budget:
- Look for easy ways to reduce your spending. If you’re tight on cash, look for ways to spend less. Easy categories to cut are food and entertainment. Could you save money by cooking at home and dining out less? Could you shop sales and save money on food? If you’re heading to the movies a few times each month, you could save considerable sums of money by renting a movie from Redbox or watching old DVDs instead. Take a look at all of your spending to find easy ways to save, then follow through.
- Start using a monthly budget. While nobody likes the idea of budgeting, the act of planning your spending can make a huge impact on your finances. Zero-sum budgeting, for example, helps you give each dollar a “job” and reduces waste in the process.
- Try to earn more money. Killing your car payment could be as easy as picking up part-time work, more hours at your current job, or a side hustle during your spare time. Any extra cash you earn can – and should – be thrown at your car loan if you’re serious about paying it off.
Too long, didn’t read?
While you can absolutely pay your car loan with a credit card, it’s not always the best idea. If your plan backfires and you can’t pay your credit card bill as quickly as you thought, you could end up paying considerably more interest over time. And since moving debts around doesn’t pay them off, you might be tricking yourself into thinking you’re making progress when you’re not.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to pick a strategy to get out of debt. If you choose to pay your auto loan with a credit card, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Would you pay off your car loan with a credit card? Why or why not?
Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view our disclosures, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.
Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.