Can I buy lottery tickets with a credit card?

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Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Key points

  • Depending on where you live and the merchant you buy from, you may technically be allowed to use a credit card to purchase lottery tickets.
  • However, your credit card issuer may treat such a purchase as the equivalent of a cash advance, which comes with higher interest charges and often fees.
  • Since you’re going into debt to gamble, it’s not a good idea to buy lottery tickets with your credit card.

Lots of people like to play the lottery, and it’s often as easy as possible to buy tickets at your local convenience store in any of the 45 states and three other US jurisdictions (Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) who have lottery games. . If you’ve ever been to a store, looking for a snack and a scratch off ticket, it might have occurred to you that you could just pull out your credit card to pay when you arrive in head of line. But can you? And above all, is it a good idea to pay for a lottery ticket with a credit card?

Some states and merchants may allow it

Depending on where you are trying to buy lottery tickets with a credit card, the state you are in may or may not allow it. Some states have specific laws against using a credit card for these purchases. And while others may technically allow it, the merchant you’re buying from may not, as they can set their own rules for accepted payment methods.

Your credit card company will probably contact you

Many credit card companies do not specifically prohibit the purchase of lottery tickets with their cards. But since scratch tickets and the like can easily be converted to cash, a credit card company will consider them a cash advance or cash-equivalent transaction. A cash advance is a way to get money from your credit card issuer; this is usually less than your actual credit limit for the card (usually 20% to 50% of that limit), and can be withdrawn at an ATM if you have an advance PIN of funds (you will need to obtain this from the company).

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Cash advances will cost you though, as they both come with a fee (often 3-5% of the amount you’ve withdrawn) and also don’t have a grace period before you start earning interest on they. And to make matters worse, that APR will more often than not be even higher than the one you accrue by simply using your credit card to make purchases. Finally, cash advances don’t even allow you to earn credit card rewards like card purchases do.

Well it’s a bad idea

Even setting aside the expense of cash advances and the likely possibility that your credit card company will treat a lottery ticket purchase as if you were taking one, the fact remains that you are going into debt to gamble. The odds of winning the lottery are infinitesimal, and while it’s okay to play games of chance, it’s just not a good financial decision to pay for them with your credit card.

Credit cards are an incredibly useful tool for financing large purchases, earning rewards on your daily expenses, and building your credit. So the next time you’re in the mood to buy a little dream in the form of a lottery ticket, pay cash and don’t go into debt for it.

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