Guide to Metal Credit Cards: What You Need to Know

Guide to Metal Credit Cards: What You Need to Know

Pulling a metal credit card out of your wallet was once considered a status symbol. Today, however, more card issuers have added credit card metal options to their card offerings for customers who prefer a sleek — and heavier — plastic alternative.

But beyond being metal instead of plastic, you may wonder what is a metal credit card exactly and are they better? We delve into the similarities and differences between plastic and metal credit cards, as well as how to get a metal credit card if you’re looking to add some heft to your wallet.

What Is a Metal Credit Card?

A metal credit card functions much in the same way as its plastic cousin. You can swipe a metal card at a point-of-sale terminal, or if the card is chip- or RFID-enabled, you can insert or tap it for payment.

Additionally, cardholders who have a metal credit card but prefer to use their digital wallets, can use their digital metal card the same way as other credit cards in their digital wallet. To use a credit card in this manner, simply tap your device toward the card reader to activate the transaction.

A key distinction with metal credit cards, however, is the material that the physical card is made of. They’re typically composed of some type of hard, durable metal.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

A Brief History of Metal Credit Cards

The credit card issuer to spark buzz with its metal credit card was American Express. In 1999, it launched the Centurion Card — colloquially called the Black Card — which was the first metal card of the time.

The innovative, invite-only card was offered to the highest spenders of AmEx’s Platinum Card. Its exclusivity, coveted benefits, and unique credit card metal material set an impressive bar for the luxury credit card market moving forward.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

What Are Metal Credit Cards Made Of?

The transition from traditional, lightweight plastic to various metals is why some credit cards are heavy. Specific materials that are used for metal credit cards vary across card issuers, with many companies keeping information about their credit card metal materials under lock and key.

As an example, the metal used for the Apple Card is titanium, while some cards use stainless steel, metal alloys, 24 karat gold, palladium and other metals, as well as hybrid cards that have a metal exterior with a plastic core.

Why Metal Credit Cards Are Popular

Since AmEx launched its metal Centurion Card, metal cards have oozed a sense of luxury and prestige. This premium metal card phenomenon went mainstream when Chase announced its metal Sapphire Reserve credit card in 2016.

The heavier material of metal credit cards has a noticeable in-hand feel that some cardholders prefer. Metal credit cards are also generally associated with elite status. For some, the perk of carrying a card that feels and looks special can be attractive.

Differences Between Metal and Plastic Credit Cards

Although metal credit cards have grown in popularity in the market, traditional credit cards made out of plastic are still commonly available. Below are the main differences to know between a metal versus plastic card:

Metal Credit Card

Plastic Credit Card

Made of various metal materials Commonly made of PVC plastic
Weighs more (10.5 grams and up) Weighs less (approximately 5 grams)
Some have a higher barrier of entry Can be more accessible to consumers
Highly durable Less durable
May need to mail back to the issuer for safe disposal Can dispose of using commercial-grade tools

Similarities Between Metal and Plastic Credit Cards

As mentioned earlier, how a credit card works doesn’t vary whether it’s metal or plastic. You can add both metal and plastic cards into a digital wallet for convenience and use them in the same way to make purchases.

Further, both options offer the same bank-level security features you’ve come to expect from a credit card since encryption isn’t dependent on the material of the card. Rather, it’s contained within other features of the card, like the magnetic strip or chip-and-PIN technology.

Finally, despite the noticeable added weight of a metal credit card, their dimensions are roughly the same as those of a plastic credit card. Both a metal and plastic credit card fit into a standard wallet’s card slot, although metal cards might be slightly thicker.

How to Get a Metal Credit Card

Various card companies offer credit card products that issue a metal card, if you qualify. A good credit card rule of thumb to find the right card — whether metal or otherwise — is to compare various features, such as annual fees, rewards programs, sign-up bonus incentives and minimum required spend, and other card benefits.

Here are some examples of where to get a metal credit card and its specific card product name(s):

•   Amazon: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

•   American Express: Gold Card, Platinum Card, Centurion Card

•   Apple: Apple Card

•   Capital One: Savor, Venture X

•   Chase: Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve

•   Citi: Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

•   HSBC: Elite World Elite Mastercard

•   JP Morgan: Reserve Credit Card

•   MasterCard: Gold Card, Titanium Card, Black Card

•   U.S. Bank: Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card

Factors to Consider Before Getting a Metal Credit Card

Flashing credit card metal when dining out might seem intriguing, but the bells and whistles of a premium metal card will also cost you. And, at the end of the day, a credit card’s material doesn’t affect what a credit card is and how it serves you.

Generally, credit card companies offer a metal credit card for its premium card products that charge steep annual fees. For example, for the privilege of using a swanky metal card, you might have to pay an annual fee of $95, with some cards charging up to a $550 annual fee.

If that’s within your budget, take a closer look at the benefits and incentives that the metal card offers, compared to non-metal cards. Whichever card you get next should serve your needs, whether that’s preference for high bonus reward categories in your top monthly spending categories or unique travel benefits and protections.

Also, consider that getting rid of your metal card takes a bit more effort than a standard plastic card. Whether you close your account or you’re issued a replacement for an expired card, you’ll usually have to mail your old metal card to the issuer for disposal. They’ll issue you a dedicated envelope to do so, but it’s an extra step that doesn’t exist with a plastic card.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Pros and Cons of Metal Credit Cards

As you can see, there are both upsides and downsides to metal credit cards. Here are the pros and cons to take into consideration before you get a metal credit card:

Pros

Cons

Sleek style Slightly bulkier in wallet
Less prone to damage May need to mail in for disposal
Typically offers premium card benefits Typically has a high annual fee
Associated with luxury Novelty is fading

How to Destroy a Metal Credit Card

If your existing metal credit card has passed its credit card expiration date, you won’t be able to destroy it using a standard pair of scissors, nor can you put it in a shredder that could typically handle your plastic cards.

To effectively destroy a metal credit card, you must either:

1.    Return it to your card issuer by mail. Your issuer will provide you with a prepaid mailing envelope.

2.    Drop it off at a local branch. If your issuer has a brick-and-mortar location, it might be able to dispose of it or mail it to the correct department.

Since the card is made of metal, it requires industrial-grade tools to dispose of securely. Additionally, shredding it yourself might result in injury. Consider relinquishing the metal card to your issuer for safe disposal.

The Takeaway

Metal credit cards might add panache to your credit card rotation, but their aesthetic appeal shouldn’t be the only reason to seek one out. A plastic card that has a generous rewards program might be more valuable in the long run than a metal credit card that has limited perks. Always consider your own credit card habits, the types of purchases you make, and the benefits that are most valuable to you when shopping for a new credit card.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

Can anyone get a metal credit card?

Everyday consumers who meet a card issuer’s lending criteria can be eligible for a metal credit card. Unlike decades prior when metal credit cards were accessible to a select few by invitation only, today more card issuers offer their own metal credit card.

Are metal credit cards safe?

Yes, metal credit cards are safe to use. They have the same security features as their plastic credit card counterparts. The main difference is that the credit card metal material is more durable.

Can I request a metal credit card?

No, generally, a metal credit card is not a feature you can choose. Instead, metal credit cards are offered for specific credit card products that you can apply for.

Why are some metal credit cards heavy?

Credit card metal materials vary depending on the card. Some card companies use materials like stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, or a blended mix of metals to create the card. Different metals have different weights, some of which may feel heavier.

Are metal credit cards generally better?

No, metal credit cards aren’t better than plastic cards in terms of how the card functions or its features. Metal credit cards do have an edge when it comes to durability, however.


Photo credit: iStock/VioletaStoimenova

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Why Credit Cards Get Declined: 7 Common Reasons and Solutions

Why Credit Cards Get Declined: 7 Common Reasons and Solutions

There are several reasons why your credit card might get declined when trying to make a purchase. For instance, it could happen due to insufficient funds or because you’ve maxed out your card. Ultimately, the reason why your card is being declined depends on the particulars of your situation.

Awkward? Frustrating? Embarrassing? You bet. And in some instances, having your card get declined — especially when you have money — can be worrisome and costly. Let’s take a look at seven common reasons why your credit card may get declined and what you can do if it happens to you.

What Does It Mean for Your Credit Card to Be Declined?

When a credit card is declined, something went awry, and your transaction wasn’t processed. In turn, you won’t be able to make a purchase with that card. That’s because the credit card issuer did not provide authorization on your account — an essential component to what a credit card is and how credit card transactions function.

Sometimes, your credit card is declined due to what turns out to be an easy fix — for instance, a simple blunder like punching in the wrong ZIP code or a chip malfunction. In other cases, the reason might be something more complex and require steps to resolve before you can resume using a credit card.

7 Reasons Why Your Credit Card May Have Been Declined

Standing at the register wondering, ‘Why is my card being declined?’ Knowing the reason can help prevent the situation from happening again and ensure that future transactions go through smoothly.

1. You’ve Met Your Credit Limit

If you’ve maxed out your card — meaning you reached your credit limit — the issuer might block further purchases from going through.

Your credit limit is how much credit a card issuer extends you on a particular card. This amount varies from cardholder to cardholder, and it hinges on a handful of financial factors. You can find your credit limit on your credit card statement as well as in your cardholder agreement.

You’re more likely to reach your upper credit limit if you’re carrying an existing credit card balance. Beyond causing your credit card to get declined maxing out on your card — or getting close to it — can ding your credit. That’s because it increases your credit utilization rate, which is a factor in determining your credit score. It’s generally recommended to keep your credit usage below 30%.

What to do: Pay down your balance. You can also request a higher credit limit, but this could open the door to racking up more debt.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

2. Your Transaction Was Flagged as Suspicious

Wondering ‘why is my card getting declined when I have money?’ In this scenario, it could be due to something entirely out of your control. For instance, the card issuer might block a transaction from going through to protect you from fraudulent activity.

Fishy purchases might include a transaction for a big-ticket item or a first-time purchase from a website or app. Or, it may raise a red flag to the card issuer if you use a card after a long dormant, or if there’s a cascade of purchases made in different locations within a short period of time.

What to do: Often, the card issuer will contact you to let you know that there’s been suspicious activity on your card and that your card has been temporarily blocked. You’ll be asked to review the last few transactions to make sure they’re indeed legitimate and that they were made by you. You can also reach out to the credit card company to see why your card has been blocked.

3. There’s a Large Transaction Pending

A merchant might request a credit card hold on your account if you make a large-ticket purchase. That’s because the merchant wants to ensure it will get paid what it’s owed. If there’s a hold on your card, that means that a portion of your credit limit is set aside, which could prevent further transactions from being authorized.

Holds are also common for transactions where the grand total might not be determined when you make an initial payment — think hotels, resort fees, purchases on cruise ships, and car rentals. The hold is usually lifted a few days after a transaction is cleared, if not sooner.

What to do: You can clear a hold by either reaching out to your credit card issuer or the merchant and requesting that it’s lifted. While there are no guarantees, it’s worth asking.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

4. You Provided Incorrect Payment Details

Punching in incorrect payment details — think your billing address, card number, credit card expiration date, or security code — can result in your card not going through. And when you’re trying to use your card at the gas pump or at a brick-and-mortar store, entering the wrong ZIP code on the keypad can also trigger a “card declined” message.

What to do: Double-check all information before attempting to resubmit payment. Or, if you’re making an in-store purchase, consider using a mobile payment platform.

5. You’ve Defaulted on Payment

One of the significant consequences of a credit card late payment is that your card issuer might block you from making further purchases. A single late payment usually won’t trigger this result, but if you’re late for several months in a row, you might default on your card. In turn, your transactions might not go through.

Not only does falling behind on your payments impact your ability to tap into your card to pay for things, but it also dings your credit. Plus, it can trigger late fees.

What to do: Make a credit card payment as soon as you can. Once your payment is posted, your card should be unblocked and you can start using it again.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

6. Your Credit Card Is Deactivated or Expired

Cards usually expire three to five years from its issue date, after which point you can no longer use the card. Because the period until expiration varies, don’t forget to glance at the expiration date on a credit card if it’s been some time since it’s gotten some use.

You also won’t be able to use a credit card that’s been idle for a long stint or deactivated entirely. How long it takes for your card to be deactivated due to a lack of use will vary.

What to do: If you’re juggling multiple credit cards, remember to routinely check the expiration dates. You might also consider keeping a log of when each card expires, or when you last used it.

7. Your Purchase Was Attempted While Traveling

If a purchase was made in Prague and you live in Pittsburgh, this could alert the card issuer of potentially suspicious activity. In turn, a temporary freeze might be placed on your account.

What to do: Set a travel notification before you depart. Some card companies make it easy for you to set a notification on its mobile app. Otherwise, give the issuer a call to give them a heads-up of your travel dates and planned destinations.

What to Do if Your Credit Card Is Declined

The steps you’ll need to take to get to the bottom of a credit card getting declined largely depends on why it happened. In general, however, here are some moves you should make if your card was declined.

Contact the Credit Card Company

Reaching out to the credit card company can help you figure out exactly why your card was declined. If it was due to reasons such as suspicious activity or because you were traveling, you can verify the transactions. In turn, your hold can get lifted.

Verify Account Details

Incorrect information stored on retailer accounts, payment platforms, and your digital wallet could result in a failed transaction. Check to make sure the details on the cards on file are accurate.

Make a Card Payment

If you’re behind on your payments, make a credit card minimum payment as soon as possible. Once the payment goes through, the card issuer will likely unblock your card.

Preventing Your Credit Card From Being Declined

To avoid a declined credit card in the first place, mind these steps:

•   Set card alerts. Signing up for email or text alerts for your credit card transactions will help you stay on the lookout for suspicious activity. You can get notifications when purchases are made over a certain threshold or for any in-store, online, or over-the-phone purchases.

•   Keep tabs on your card balances. Monitor your spending and check how much of a balance you have on your cards. Stay below your credit limit to remain in the clear. As discussed previously, maxing out your cards — or nearing the threshold — will put you in danger of a declined credit card.

•   Stay on top of your payments. Make it a priority to stay on top of paying off your cards. Pay at least the minimum amount required by the credit card payment due date. Consider putting your card payments on autopay, which will help you ensure you make your payments on time. On-time payments will also help boost your credit score and avoid late or returned payment fees.

•   Set travel notifications. Some credit cards have a travel notification feature on their app. Before you depart, reach out to your card issuer to let them know when and where you’ll be traveling.

The Takeaway

Having your credit card declined while trying to pay for something can feel frustrating. It’s important to figure out why your card is being declined, whether it’s due to late payment or an expired card. From there, you’ll know what steps to take to prevent it from happening again and ensure that you can use your card when you need it.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

Can a credit card be unblocked?

Yes, you can unblock a credit card. How you’ll do so depends on the reason it was blocked in the first place. As such, you’ll first want to get to the bottom of why your credit card was blocked. Then, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to release the block. For example, if your card was blocked due to suspicious activity, you’ll need to call the card issuer and confirm you made the last few purchases.

How long does it take to unblock a credit card?

It depends. If it’s a temporary block, your card can get unblocked immediately. But in other instances, it can take a couple days or even a couple weeks to unblock a credit card.

How can I check the status of my card?

You can check the status of your card by logging onto your account via a computer or mobile app. You can also check its status by calling the customer service number listed on the back of the credit card and inquiring.

How long does it take for a declined transaction to come back?

It depends on the card issuer and the reason why the transaction was declined. In some cases, it can take a few days. And in other cases, it can take longer.


Photo credit: iStock/bernardbodo

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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A Guide to How a Credit Score Simulator Works

A Guide to How a Credit Score Simulator Works

A credit score simulator is an online tool that can help you see how certain behaviors and decisions might impact your credit score in the future. It might take your existing credit history into account and how certain actions could affect your credit score.

For example, perhaps you open a new credit card or have an account sent to collections. A credit score simulator would take these marks into consideration and help you estimate the impact they may have on your credit score.

What Is a Credit Score Simulator?

A credit score simulator is an online, interactive tool that can help you assess how certain decisions or events will affect your credit score. Because everyone has a unique credit history, these tools can only help you to estimate the impact of changes to your credit score, rather than making this determination for certain.

Nevertheless, credit simulators can be useful, especially if you are working to improve your credit. There are many actions you could take that may affect your credit score — here are just a few examples:

•   Financing a home or car

•   Using a balance transfer credit card to consolidate your debt

•   Closing a credit card

•   Declaring bankruptcy

These are just a handful of the ways your credit score could rise or fall; there are many more examples. With so many possibilities, it can be difficult to predict how changes to your credit history will affect your credit score. Once you know what a credit card is, it quickly becomes apparent how a credit score simulator can help.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

How Does a Credit Score Simulator Work?

After gaining an understanding of how credit cards work, you can start to understand how a credit simulator works. Each credit score simulator is different, but there are some commonalities in how they work.

Some start with your current credit score provided by a credit reporting bureau, then let you see how some of the changes mentioned previously would affect your score if you were to make them. While there’s no guarantee they will be completely accurate, they should give you an idea of the potential impact on your credit score.

Other credit score simulators might guide you through several questions about your credit profile. The result estimates your current credit score based on your responses. For example, the myFICO credit score estimator asks you about things like how many credit cards you have, how long ago you opened your first card, and whether you’ve missed a payment.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

How Your Credit Score Is Calculated

Credit score simulators generally use popular credit scoring models to estimate your current or future credit score. For instance, they might use FICO® Score 8 or VantageScore 3.0. These models use certain credit factors to calculate your score.

While each credit scoring model is different, certain behaviors tend to have a positive influence on your credit score, regardless of the model. Typically, some of the factors affecting credit score are:

•   Payment history: This is usually one of the most important factors in the calculation of your credit score. To avoid a negative impact on your credit score, you’ll want to avoid being more than 30 days late on any credit card payments.

•   Credit utilization ratio: This ratio is simply the total outstanding balance on all of your credit cards divided by their total credit limit. One of the credit card rules is that you should aim to keep this ratio below 30%.

•   Derogatory marks: These are items like bankruptcies, tax liens, and collections. It’s best to avoid these altogether if possible, especially since they can stay on your credit report for seven to 10 years.

•   Credit age: Creditors like to see that you have a long history of responsible credit use. Thus, your credit score may be slightly more favorable if your oldest credit card is decades old. The same holds true for loans.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

What a Credit Simulator Can Do

A credit score simulator can help estimate either your current credit score or what your credit score might be in the future. The result is that they can help you better understand how different actions will increase or decrease your score.

Thus, they can help you prioritize which actions to take. Should you pay off your credit cards quickly, or should you focus more on your loans for now? Credit score simulators can help you answer these questions when the answer isn’t so obvious.

What a Credit Simulator Cannot Do

The main thing that credit simulators cannot do is tell you exactly what credit score you should expect to have at a given point in the future. There are simply too many variables at play to know with absolute certainty what your score will be.

For one, your credit card issuer might use a different credit scoring model. Another possibility is that there are other changes to your credit profile that could impact your score. Perhaps you finish paying off a credit card six months from now, but an emergency suddenly arises that results in you taking out a personal loan.

The fact that there are so many possible scenarios is why we say credit simulators can only help you estimate your score rather than tell you exactly what it will be.

When It Makes Sense to Use a Credit Simulator

It makes sense to use a credit simulator in certain situations. For example, suppose you plan to finance the purchase of a new car. That will certainly have some impact on your credit, but the effect will vary depending on your credit history. A credit simulator can help you estimate what that impact will be.

Credit simulators can also help you decide which actions to prioritize if you have a bad credit score. Many of these possible actions might improve your score, but chances are, some will help more than others. Over time, you can gain a better understanding of which kinds of actions tend to have the largest impact.

Other Tools to Monitor Your Financial Health

Credit simulators are not the only thing that can help you monitor your financial health. Here are some other tools to consider:

•   Credit score monitoring: While credit simulators can help you estimate how changes to your credit report will affect your score, credit monitoring tools give you credit score updates on an ongoing basis. They can also give you a breakdown of your credit factors and how your score has changed over time.

•   Budgeting tools: Budgeting tools are useful because they often let you sync all of your bank accounts and credit cards in one dashboard. You can then see all of your balances in real-time.

•   Identity theft protection: If your identity is stolen, it can have a major impact on your credit and your finances as a whole. Thus, it’s not a bad idea to have this protection just in case.

What Makes a Good Credit Score?

It’s tough to overstate the importance of having good credit. Nevertheless, what constitutes good credit will vary from person to person. The general idea is you must show creditors that you are a responsible borrower and that you aren’t going to default on your debt (in this case, your credit card).

This is why things like late payments and high credit utilization can drastically lower your credit score. Late payments suggest you may not be able to reliably make your payments. And a high credit utilization suggests you may have a higher risk of default as you are using a high percentage of the credit available to you.

The Takeaway

Credit score simulators are one tool that can help you assess how different behaviors can affect your credit score. Because they are just simulators, they may not be completely accurate. Still, they can give you an idea of what to expect and help you reach your financial pals.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

Are the changes made by a credit score simulator guaranteed?

In short, no. Credit scores are complex and other factors could affect your score in the meantime. Nevertheless, credit simulators can help you better understand how various changes may affect your credit score.

How long do credit score changes usually last?

How long changes to your credit score last depends on reporting to credit bureaus. Each bureau has its own schedule, but credit card updates usually happen every 30 to 45 days. However, some changes — such as a bankruptcy declaration — can remain on your credit report for as long as 10 years.

How accurate is a credit score simulator?

Credit score simulators should be relatively good at estimating credit score changes based on the information provided or available to them at any given moment. However, credit reports can change frequently, and simulators can’t usually predict what will happen with your credit a day, a week, or a month from now.


Photo credit: iStock/millann

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take?

How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take?

You made a purchase on your credit card and then decided you no longer wanted the item and returned it — but how long does a credit card refund take? Credit card refund times vary based on a number of factors. This includes the speed at which the merchant processes the refund, how soon you requested the refund, and the length of time it takes for your credit card issuer to credit the amount to your account.

If you’re feeling antsy about how long it takes for a refund to appear on your credit card, however, there are ways that you can speed up the process.

How Do Credit Card Refunds Work?

When you make a purchase on a credit card, your credit card issuer pays the merchant and the amount will go onto your account for repayment. Since the issuer technically paid for the purchase, any requests for a refund will go back to the credit card account. In other words, you won’t receive other forms of payment like cash for refunds when you use a credit card since you didn’t directly pay for the purchase.

There are two types of refunds — one for purchases and ones due to fraud.

In the case of purchases, you’ll deal with the merchant with whom you made the purchase. Once the merchant approves the refund, the credit card company will process it. Then, the amount refunded will show up on your credit card statement. The credited amount may not appear in the current billing cycle if you made a return in between billing cycles (the end of a billing cycle also tends to be when credit card companies report to credit bureaus).

As for fraud, these are charges to your account that you didn’t authorize. Most credit card companies will offer some form of fraud protection as long as you notify them within a certain period of time, usually 60 days. Once the issuer is notified of the fraudulent transaction, it will reverse the charges. You’ll then receive a credit for the amount charged, or the charge will get taken off your account completely, assuming you’re not falsely disputing a credit card charge.

Do All Credit Card Refunds Take the Same Amount of Time?

Not all credit card refunds will take the same amount of time. To get an idea of how a particular merchant accepts and processes returns, you can look at the merchant’s refund policy. Some items to note in this statement include:

•   Types of refunds offered: Some merchants may be lenient on their return policies, while others may only offer store credit for returns, for instance.

•   Refund times: Merchants typically state when they’ll issue a refund, such as within a few business days or weeks.

•   How to make a return: Check to see whether you can make a return in person or if you can ship back the item. If you’re shipping, make sure to see if you or the merchant pays for shipping.

After the refund is processed, you’ll need to wait on your credit card company to post the refund or credit to your account. How long this takes will also vary depending on the issuer.

How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take?

A credit card refund usually takes up to seven business days after the customer makes the request.

Keep in mind that the rules for refunds can vary depending on your credit card issuer and how long it takes the merchant to process the refund. The faster the merchant processes the refund, the faster it will hit your account.

However, the above timeframe assumes that the merchant agrees to process the refund. If you were to dispute a credit charge, the process of getting a refund could take much longer. Notifying your credit card company as soon as you can is helpful because it could take some time for them to complete their investigation — they have up to 90 days to do so.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Factors That Determine How Long a Credit Card Refund Takes

The two main factors that determine how long a credit card refund takes is the type of refund you’re requesting and where you made the purchase.

The Type of Refund It Is

As mentioned before, credit card disputes — whether for fraud or a credit card chargeback request for a product you never received — may take longer compared to refunds for purchases. Plus, you’ll need to make sure you contact the credit card company within 60 days of the billing or fraud dispute. From there, the issuer should have the dispute resolved within two billing cycles, or up to 90 days.

Where You Made Your Purchase

Different merchants have varying refund policies — the longer it takes the merchant, the longer it will take for the refund request to reach your credit card issuer. Here’s a sampling of some of the refund policies at popular retailers:

•   Amazon: It can take up to 30 days to process a refund. After an item arrives at the fulfillment center, credit card refunds are typically processed within three to five days. Once a return is processed, the funds will appear in your account, usually within three to five business days.

•   Square: Any merchant that uses Square to accept purchases will take two to seven business days to process a refund. It can then take an additional two to seven business days for the refunded amount to appear in your account, resulting in a total credit card refund time of nine to 14 business days.

•   Walmart: Refunds tend to take up to 10 business days to process.

How to Speed up the Refund Process

The good news is that there are some ways you can help to speed up the refund process.

Get It There Faster

Some retailers have multiple ways to return items, and certain methods have faster processing times than others. For instance, many major retailers process refunds faster (in some cases, immediately) if you make a return in-person at one of their store locations instead of mailing back the item.

Make Use of Loyalty Benefits and Store Credit

You may be able to receive expedited shipping for returns or faster refund processing times if you belong to a merchant’s loyalty program. Often, you also may be able to get a refund faster if you opt to receive a store credit instead of getting a refund issued to your credit card.

How Does a Refund Affect Your Credit Card Account?

Refunds are typically treated as an account credit. There’s no credit card refund issued in the form of cash since you borrowed the money from the credit card issuer to make the purchase in the first place.

While the purchase is still billed to your account, you’re technically responsible for payment. If you made the purchase, paid it off once the billing cycle ended, and then requested a refund, you’d get a credit to your account. Due to credit card rules, the refund does not count as a partial payment.

No matter how long you wait for a refund, it’s important to manage your account wisely and make sure you’re using a credit card responsibly so you don’t end up overextending yourself. As long as you pay your bill by the due date, you won’t risk hurting your credit score while you’re waiting for your refund.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Refunds on Rewards and Fees

Credit card companies usually won’t refund any interest or fees you may have paid because you carried a balance for a purchase that you’re now trying to get a refund for. Similarly, if you made a purchase while you were overseas and were charged a foreign transaction fee, you most likely won’t get a refund for that either.

When it comes to rewards, whatever you earned for the purchase will get deducted from your earnings after the refund is processed and posted to your account. You end up with a negative rewards balance if you redeemed all of your points before requesting a refund.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

The Takeaway

Being aware of how credit refunds work helps you to understand how to keep better track of your credit card statements and rewards earnings. It can also help you to determine which credit cards are better used for certain situations.

Earning rewards is a great way to maximize your credit card purchases.

FAQ

What happens to my rewards if I request a refund?

Your rewards will be deducted from your current balance after your request for a refund is processed.

How long does it take for a refund to appear on a credit card?

A refund may take up to seven days to appear on your credit card statement. However, this timeframe can vary depending on your card issuer, the merchant, and what type of refund request it is.

Are credit card refunds instant?

Credit card refunds typically aren’t instant. This is because it takes time for the merchant and credit card company to process it.

Will a delayed refund hurt your credit?

A delayed refund typically won’t hurt your credit as long as you continue to make on-time payments and are generally responsible with your credit card usage.


Photo credit: iStock/MBezvodinskikh



Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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Guide to Buying Real Estate With a Credit Card

Guide to Buying Real Estate With a Credit Card

Investing in real estate can be a lucrative endeavor, especially in today’s hot real estate market. But if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars saved in cash to put toward a property, using a credit card to secure a real estate investment might be an option.

There are ways to execute this investment approach. However, there are also serious caveats to consider before moving forward with using a credit card to invest in real estate.

Can You Buy Real Estate With a Credit Card?

You can’t purchase a physical real estate property outright with a credit card the way you would when using a credit card to buy lunch or a new television. One reason for this is because a typical consumer credit card likely doesn’t offer a credit line large enough to cover the entire home price.

Even if you do qualify for a credit line to cover all or a significant portion of the home price, you’ll face another challenge. The title company or real estate agency that’s facilitating the deal requires that payment is provided using bank-certified funds — such as a cashier’s check, certified bank check, or wire transfer — to finalize your investment transaction. Given what a credit card is, it won’t meet those standards.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

How to Finance Real Estate Investments With a Credit Card

While you can’t swipe your credit card to purchase real estate, there are ways that you can leverage your credit card to help fund your real estate investments.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Through a Cash Advance

If you have a high enough credit limit, a viable way to buy real estate with a credit card is by getting a cash advance against your card. By doing this, the funds you borrow from your credit card will become quickly available for use on a real estate investment, which might be helpful if you’re buying real estate in a red-hot market.

Keep in mind that fees typically apply for cash advances. Typically, you’ll pay a fee in the range 3% to 5% of the transaction amount, depending on your particular card.

Also know that cash advances typically come with interest rates that are higher than the card’s standard annual percentage rate (APR). Plus, interest begins to accrue immediately rather than at the end of the grace period like it does on regular credit card purchases.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

For Related Real Estate Costs

Some investors also use credit cards to invest in real estate by using their card for renovation project expenses. If you purchased a low-cost investment property and want to update it for passive rental income, for example, you might be able to invest in your property by putting charges for contractors and materials on your credit card.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

By Using Credit Card Rewards

Another unconventional approach to buying real estate with credit cards is directly redeeming earned rewards as cash. Cash redemption values are typically lower compared to redeeming rewards toward travel, for example, but this approach can still unearth the capital you need to invest in your next property.

This strategy is particularly effective if you’ve already amassed years of rewards through a business credit card, and are willing to pool earned rewards from your personal credit card rewards programs, too.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

Advantages of Using a Credit Card to Invest in Real Estate

Although buying real estate with a credit card is an unconventional approach, there are some benefits in doing so. In particular, the advantages include that:

•   You can invest faster: If you don’t have a lump sum of cash savings ready, it might take years to save up enough capital to get your foot into real estate investing. Using a credit card to invest in real estate can help you realize your investment goals faster.

•   You’ll have fewer costs at closing: Since you’re not financing through a mortgage lender, there are fewer fees to worry about. Unlike when buying a home as your primary residence through a mortgage loan, costs like origination fees, appraisals, and escrow fees aren’t a required part of a real estate investment transaction done in cash.

•   You might earn rewards in the process: Most card issuers don’t let you earn credit card rewards from cash advances. However, you can accelerate your rewards earnings by using your card for spending associated with your property investment. For example, materials and contractor costs for renovation projects, like a kitchen update or a room addition, can help you rack up rewards faster.

Downsides of Using a Credit Card to Buy Real Estate

There are major disadvantages to using a credit card to invest in real estate. If you’re considering how to buy rental property with credit cards, keep in mind the following drawbacks:

•   You’ll have a hard time using credit cards directly to invest in real estate: A notable downside to buying real estate with credit cards is that you’ll likely be unable to throw a credit card onto the table to close a real estate transaction. You’ll have to undergo the extra step of getting a credit card cash advance. But be aware that card issuers might set a lower available limit for cash advances and will impose a higher APR. Plus, you’ll pay cash advance fees.

•   You’ll face high interest rates: If you have to draw a cash advance against your credit card to buy real estate, you’ll face expensive APRs, compared to other financing sources, like a personal loan. According to the latest Federal Reserve data, the average credit card rate across all account types is 15.13%. By comparison, the average personal loan rate for a 24-month term is 8.73%.

•   You’re taking on a lot of risk: How credit cards work is that they let you purchase goods and services, even if you don’t have the cash to cover the full amount, immediately. The caveat, however, is that you’ll need to repay the amount either in a lump sum when your statement is due or over time.

   If you successfully buy real estate with a credit card, you’re legally liable for that debt and must repay it based on the rate and terms of your credit card agreement. This holds true regardless of whether your investment turns a profit. Plus, if you choose to pay back the funds you borrowed over many months, you’ll incur exorbitant interest charges in addition to the principal balance.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Factors to Consider Before Using Your Credit Card to Invest in Real Estate

After assessing the pros and cons of investing in real estate using a credit card, also consider the following factors that might impact your investment:

•   Whether you’ll need additional funding sources: If your credit card doesn’t provide a sufficient amount for your real estate investment, you’ll need to seek funds elsewhere.

•   What the local real estate market is like: Whether your goal is buying a property to flip and sell, or buying rental real estate, do your homework. This includes finding a desirable neighborhood and a suitable property, as well as assessing renovation projects and other repairs necessary to set your investment up for profitability.

•   If you can repay your credit card bill: At best, consider your credit card as a short-term loan tool. Plan to put profits you’ve earned toward paying down your debt ASAP.

Alternatives to Buying Real Estate With Credit Cards

If you don’t have hard cash stowed away for your next real estate investment, but aren’t ready to leverage your credit cards for the investment, you have a couple of other options:

•   Personal loans: A personal loan is another financing option, particularly if you have strong credit. It offers a higher borrowing limit and longer repayment timeline compared to a credit card. Also, as mentioned earlier, personal loan interest rates are generally lower than credit card APRs.

•   Personal savings: Another option is using cash and avoiding credit cards and other methods of borrowing altogether. If you have personal savings that you can tap into or are willing to hold off on investing in real estate until you’ve built up enough savings, you can potentially avoid costly finance charges.

The Takeaway

Tread carefully when using a credit card (i.e. borrowed money) to fund any investment, including real estate. Adhering to important credit card rules — like staying on top of your credit utilization and paying your credit card statements in full — can help you avoid going into debt for your investment.

If you’re looking for a possible real estate investment card, a SoFi Credit Card lets you earn rewards from eligible purchases.

FAQ

How can I buy rental property with a credit card?

If done strategically, you can use a credit card to buy rental property either through a credit card cash advance or by using the credit card to finance renovations on an investment property flip.

Can I use a business credit card to buy real estate?

Yes, you may be able to use a business credit card to invest in real estate. Doing so separates the debt from your personal credit profile, so the high credit utilization on the business credit card doesn’t affect your personal credit score.

Is it a good idea to buy real estate with a credit card?

Whether buying real estate with credit cards is a good idea depends on your investment risk tolerance. A credit card might work as a short-term funding option, but plan on repaying the debt with your profits quickly to avoid an underwater investment.


Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions



Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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