Convenience Checks 101
A convenience check (also known as a credit card check) is a pre-printed check issued by a credit card company that is linked to to your credit line. Convenience checks are used the same way as regular checks linked to your checking account.. Convenience checks can be written in any amount, to a maximum of your credit limit. Because of the risks involved, convenience checks should be used sparingly. When used, it is important to keep track of dates to avoid incurring high interest rates.
Convenience checks are considered by the credit card companies to be a cash advance (as distinguished from a purchase.) This means there is no grace period. Interest starts from the day the check is cashed.
On the plus side:
- Convenience checks are convenient, and easy to use.
- Convenience checks frequently can be used without incurring interest for a period of time.
On the other hand:
- There is usually a fee equal to 3 to 4% of the check amount
- Because the money is considered to be a cash advance, there is usually a highter interest rate than there is for purchases.
- Purchases with a convenience check do not usually earn points and do not include purchase protections.
- If you issue a check which exceeds your credit limit, it could be bounced. It could also affect your credit score.
Before using a convenience check:
- Make note of the date when the low or no interest introductory period ends.
- If possible, have a repayment plan in mind to avoid high interest charges.
- Read the terms and conditions carefully - especially about charges and the interest rate which is referred to as the APR (Annual Percentage Rate).
- Ask the credit card company what the maximum is you can use with convenience checks. It may be a lower limit than your credit limit with the company.
NOTE: To avoid theft, shred unused convenience checks before discarding them.