Can You Pay Student Loans with a Credit Card? Let's Find Out

People struggling to make ends meet may not be able to afford their student loans and wonder if they can pay student loans with a credit card.


Feb. 23 2023, Published 3:41 p.m. ET

A woman calculating her student loan payment
Source: Getty Images

Between layoffs, inflation, and sky-high interest rates, it seems like the average American can’t catch a break when it comes to finances.

With high prices chipping away at people's finances, many are turning to credit cards to pay bills and keep their heads above water. And while this is only a temporary solution, for many it’s the only solution right now if they can’t afford to pay monthly bills like their student loans.

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If you're struggling to make ends meet, let's find out if you can pay student loans with a credit card. Are other options available?

Can you pay student loans with a credit card?

While you can’t directly pay student loans with a credit card, you have other options like using a third-party payment service or a line of credit.

You can transfer your student loans to a card with a 0 percent APR period or take out a cash advance, but these options are pricey because you’ll pay extra fees and your interest rate may increase too.

If you’re really having a hard time paying off your loans, you should look into other ways to reduce or pause your payments.

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Why can't I use a credit card to pay student loans?

Many of the student loan companies won’t allow you to pay your loan using a credit card because they simply don’t have that payment option set up. And that’s why a balance transfer from a credit card is your best bet IF you have no other options.

So, which student loans can you pay with a credit card? Turns out you can’t pay off federal student loans with a credit card, but you may be able to use a credit card to pay off your private student loans.

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What can I do if I can’t afford my student loan payments?

We’re all looking to catch a break these days, but turning to a credit card only adds debt as interest rates continue to rise. Luckily, if you can’t afford your student loan payments, you’ve got options.

You can pay off your student loans according to your original agreement, which will provide you with the most flexible terms and interest rates. You can get a cash advance from one of your credit cards, which will also trigger a high APR.

Or you could work with your loan issuer to negotiate a repayment plan to either extend your repayment, graduate the repayment, or create an income-based repayment plan.

Does it hurt your credit to pay off your student loans early?

Yes and no. Paying off your student loan looks good on your credit history, but it may cause a slight dip in your credit score due to the change to your credit report. You may also see a slight increase after making your final payment or no change at all. No matter what, paying off your student loan is a good thing and the change is only temporary.

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