When I go to the grocery store I have the opportunity to get cash back (groceries cost $23, I opt for $20 cash back, and my card gets charged $43 instead of $23 leaving me with $20 cash in-hand).

My question is this: Does AMEX see the cash-back portion of this transaction as a cash advance or do they simply regard the $20 as money spent at a grocery store?

  • 1
    I'm considering getting an Amex so I don't have a statement yet.
    – rein
    Aug 24 '17 at 18:43
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    It is a cash advance - if it is even allowed. Normally only debit cards support cash-back.
    – Aganju
    Aug 24 '17 at 18:47
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    Just an FYI, Amex charge cards do not offer cash back - only points.
    – Michael
    Aug 24 '17 at 19:39
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    @SnakeDoc (and Aganju), this is not necessarily correct (see my answer). (Though being careful = always good.)
    – Joe
    Aug 24 '17 at 21:27
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    @MichaelC. A bit irrelevant? OP is not talking about "cashback" in rewards, but getting cash at register.
    – xiaomy
    Aug 24 '17 at 22:01

There may be a confusion here: I don't think you can get cash back at a register with a credit card. See http://www.cardratings.com/can-i-get-cash-back-when-i-buy-something-with-a-credit-card.html

Cash back is only available with a debit card. With a debit card, the money comes directly out of your account at the moment of the transaction. With a credit card, the CC company loans the money to you and you get a monthly bill. You can get cash advances at ATM machines, but typically comes with hefty fees and exorbitant interest rates, so I strongly advice against this.

There are "Cash Back" credit cards, but that means that you get a percentage of your purchases refunded as cash (or points).

  • Thanks that answers my question. I wasn't sure if the register would see the Amex as a credit card or a "charge card". If it's seen as a credit card then I can understand that there wouldn't be a cash-back option. (I'll mark this as correct as soon as the timer allows).
    – rein
    Aug 24 '17 at 18:51
  • 3
    @rein, the only difference between a credit card and a charge card is that the agreement on the latter assumes payment in full each month. Over the last decade Amex has really watered down the difference and now offers "flexible payment" its charge cards making them effectively no different from credit cards.
    – quid
    Aug 24 '17 at 18:53
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    This answer is flat-out wrong, unfortunately. Several cards, Discover primarily in my experience, offer a cash back option at the register identical in appearance to cash back from debit cards - except they don't even require a PIN.
    – Joe
    Aug 24 '17 at 19:10
  • 1
    I wouldn't consider the answer to be "flat out wrong" as my question deals specifically with American Express. The only part that may be wrong is the generalization of it being disallowed for all credit cards (seeing as Discover allows it) but it may still hold true for American Express. I'm going to stick with this answer unless someone who has experience with Amex refutes this.
    – rein
    Aug 24 '17 at 19:23
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    Well, that's why I say 'unfortunately'. The first two declarative statements are simply false. I think that reworded this would be a helpful answer, but as it stands it's misleading. (And of course you're welcome to give the checkmark to whomever you prefer - that's your choice as OP and has nothing to do with any of our opinions. )
    – Joe
    Aug 24 '17 at 19:25

You will have to read your credit card's terms and conditions to determine exactly how this is handled for your card, but for my Discover this is handled as a purchase (at the Purchase APR), not as an advance.

The benefits description is specific:

Get cash where you shop the most

  • Get the cash you need without an extra trip to the ATM.
  • Avoid fees- No transaction fee. No ATM fee. No bank fee.
  • Your regular purchase APR applies to the cash you get and there are no hidden fees.

They have a long list of stores (mostly grocery stores) that participate. Your credit card will have a similar page and similar list.

  • Note that as OP has clarified this is for a card they do not yet have, it's likely that non-Discover cards do not support this benefit (and thus cannot be used in this way); I don't know of any other specific card that does have this benefit (though I have no reason to believe there isn't one).
    – Joe
    Aug 24 '17 at 19:15
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    @CactusCake The Discover limit is $120 per 24 hour period (on that same page linked), but of course most stores have a lower limit (as they typically do with debit transactions).
    – Joe
    Aug 24 '17 at 20:17
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    Wow, that sounds absurdly easy to manufactured-spend - are there any Discover cards that allow this and have rewards? :D
    – neminem
    Aug 24 '17 at 22:23
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    @Joe Do you know whether the stores still pay the 2% or so merchant fees on the cashback? If they do, do they know, as it would be costing them money to provide you money (without making a profit on goods sold). If the stores don't pay, what's in it for Discover? (I doubt they're doing it out of the goodness of their hearts!)
    – TripeHound
    Aug 25 '17 at 7:25
  • 1
    Checked one of my statements where I'd taken cash over on grocery transactions. They do not award cashback rewards on the cash over portion of the transaction. I expected this would be the case.
    – CactusCake
    Aug 28 '17 at 14:19

My visa would put the goods on the current monthly balance which is no-interest, but the cash part becomes part of the immediate interest-bearing sum.

There is no option for getting cash without paying immediate interest, except perhaps for buying something then immediately returning it, but most merchants will do a refund to the card instead of cash in hand.

This is in New Zealand, other regions may have different rules.

Also, if I use the "cheque" or "savings" options at the eftpos machine instead of the "credit" option, then I can have cash immediately, withdrawn from my account, with no interest charge. However the account has to have sufficient balance to do so.

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