Why You Shouldn’t Pay for your Lottery Ticket with your Credit Card

Mr. youngandthrifty kindly bought me a scratch and win lottery ticket a few months back. It was one of those expensive $20 scratch and win tickets that has a 1/3 chance of winning (I didn't win by the way).

He paid for it with his credit card at one of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation booths.  He paid for it with the credit card so in hopes of accumulating more travel reward points with the now defunct MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest Mastercard.  You can get the same scratch-and-win tickets at a gas station, convenience store, etc.

He was diligently reading his online statement (I trained him well) to make sure there weren't any weird charges on his card, when he saw this:

CASH EQUIVALENT TRANSACTION FEE:……………………………………………………………………….$7.50

He ended up calling the credit card company to inquire about this charge.

The credit card company said that it's charged automatically when you purchase any lottery ticket at a lottery booth with your credit card. They charge you this so it protects them with the “potential” winnings of the ticket you bought cost them money when you redeem your winnings.

From the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Website, it says that credit card companies will ask you to:

“pay charges or fees for some other types of transactions that are like cash advances. These are sometimes called “cash-like transactions”, “cash-equivalent transactions” or “quasi-cash transactions”. These include wire transfers, money orders, travellers' cheques and gaming transactions (including betting, off-track betting, racetrack wagers, casino gaming chips and lottery tickets).”

The FCAC also has a handy chart that shows which credit card companies/ banks charge service fees for these transactions, and how much.  I was surprised to see that different banks have different charges.  Some don't charge anything and some have no maximums(GASP!)!

If you purchased this at a convenience store or at the gas station, the transaction will only read: CONVENIENCE STORE or GAS STATION so the credit car companies can't tell that you're secretly buying a lottery ticket with your credit card.

That $20 lottery ticket became a $27.50 lottery ticket that got me just a fleeting moment of excitement as I scratched the windows feverishly in hopes of winning.

Not worth it IMO.  Gambling with lottery tickets isn't worth it either!

Did you know about this? Or should I have known this and was  just living under a rock?

26 Comments

  1. Paul@Quantisan on March 30, 2010 at 9:10 am

    That’s one expensive lottery ticket. I didn’t know about this credit card clause. Thanks for the information!
    .-= Paul@Quantisan



  2. Money Beagle on March 30, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Wow, that sucks. I once tried to pay for some stuff and add a lottery ticket onto my order (at a grocery or convenience store) and they wouldn’t let me buy the lottery ticket on a card. I had to give them cash for that. Maybe that was the reason?
    .-= Money Beagle



  3. young on March 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    @Paul Yeah, it was the most expensive scratch and win EVER. I didn’t know about this clause either until my boyfriend did some sleuthing =) Those sneaky CC companies!

    @Money Beagle That probably was the reason! Are you in Canada or in the US? I wonder if the same rules apply in the US?



  4. Andrew Hallam on March 31, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Ha! That’s crazy!

    You’re not living under a rock. In fact, if you did a poll of 100 people, I’ll bet you’d be lucky to find 1 that knew about that. Do others agree with me on that one?
    .-= Andrew Hallam



  5. Simple in France on March 31, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Weird! I’d be really ticked if I had to pay 7.50 for a purchase!



  6. Money Reasons on March 31, 2010 at 6:27 am

    That’s pretty sneaky! I would have been nice if the person selling the lottery ticket would have told your husband!

    Interesting article, I’ll make sure to never buy lottery tickets when I’m in Canada! At least with a credit card anyway…
    .-= Money Reasons



  7. Mrs. Accountability on March 31, 2010 at 6:31 am

    That’s horrible! I too wonder if this would happen in the US. OUCH!



  8. young on March 31, 2010 at 7:52 am

    @Money Reasons I know! That’s what my boyfriend (not husband lol) said to the credit card company… why didn’t the BC lottery corporation tell him? I don’t think the CC company gave a straight answer.

    @Mrs. Accountability Hmm yeah, I wonder if credit card companies have the same rules in the US. Do you have booths/ kiosks just selling lottery tickets too?

    @Andrew Hallam haha thanks for validating my feelings =) Well, now 5/100 people know lol =)



  9. Bank Guru on March 31, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Definitely something I’ve never heard of, thanks for the heads up. Going to look more into this, you definitely have me interested in this now.
    .-= Bank Guru



  10. AnnieA on March 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Sounds like a new version of a Sin Tax…



  11. young on March 31, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    @InsureCan Yeah, I can’t believe it was a $27.50 scratch ticket- never buying that one again- darn enticing commercials on TV!

    @AnnieA haha, our government taxes everything from cigarettes, to alcohol, except the ones behind the lottery corporation is our own government =) so ironic!



  12. Little House on April 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I read the title and thought, “Well, no kidding!” But when I read why it’s not a good idea, it just confirmed that credit companies stink! They have so many little inexplicable fees and hidden costs, I wonder how the executives sleep at night?
    .-= Little House



  13. Financial Cents on April 1, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Ouch! Sorry to hear. I didn’t know about that…so it must be a big rock you’re under!

    I play 6/49 every week, bad I know, but I’m hopeful. I’ve always paid cash for those tickets; $2 here and there.
    .-= Financial Cents



  14. young on April 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    @Bank Guru Hey thanks for stopping by!

    @Financial Cents LOL, thanks- yes, I think it was like the size of a meteor. Good luck on your 6/49! We have a lottery pool at work where we chip in for the really big jackpots. You can’t help but be hopeful with all those commercials! (Have you seen the ones for Lotto Max?)

    @Little House I think the executives sleep preeettty well. These are banks (It was an MBNA card) that are imposing this charge. Whatt’s funny that the fees they charge vary between institutions.



  15. The Rat on April 2, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    WTF!?! I’ve never heard of that in my life; what a crock! That just doesn’t sound right; I’m astounded that a charge like that can happen. Sorry to hear you were victimized like that – what a shame.
    .-= The Rat



  16. Four Pillars on April 3, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Bizarre – I’ve never heard of this. Seems pretty unfair since a lottery ticket isn’t anything close to a “cash equivalent”.
    .-= Four Pillars



  17. Mrs. Frugal on April 3, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Ouch! A head’s up from the store would have been nice.
    .-= Mrs. Frugal



  18. young on April 3, 2010 at 9:38 am

    @The Rat-I know eh? Who knew?? I guess it’s kind of silly to pay for EVERYTHING with your credit card, but still..

    @Four Pillars- LOL yeah, agree!

    @Mrs. Frugal-Especially since the store was the BC LOTTERY CORPORATION!! (aka the government!)



  19. Austin on April 5, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Wow, I had no idea. I have friends who buy lottery tickets a lot and this will definitely help them out.

    Thanks!

    Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances
    .-= Austin



  20. young on April 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Hey Austin, Thanks! Not sure if they have the same rules in the US with the credit card companies though. =) What about Pachinko in Japan? Do they accept ‘cards’? =)



  21. eemusings on April 9, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    HUH? How sneaky! I’ve never heard of anything like that.

    On somewhat a related note, retailers here can now charge extra fees to cover the costs of accepting CCs. Boo.
    .-= eemusings



  22. young on April 10, 2010 at 12:28 am

    @eemusings I vaguely heard about that! Did it pass? That would suck!! Getting charged an extra 2% would ameliorate the credit card rewards business!! =(



  23. KelownaCustomerServiceDude on February 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Since you’ve looked into this one, have you heard the one about if you win BIG on a lottery ticket paid for by credit card, the credit card could claim the winnings since it was their money paying for it? Please, confirm or deny this one for me, so I don’t look like a jerk at my workplace denying someone a lottery ticket because of something unconfirmed.



  24. Jorja on October 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I never knew about this either until I checked my Visa statement and I had already paid for two tickets with my CC. I called and complained and the charges were refunded. Next time I bought tickets I told the lady at the lottery booth and she never knew either. Banks suck enough money out of customers as it is!



  25. Jason on June 26, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Never buy lottery tickets at the lottery booth or at a casino – they are marked as cash merchants with the terminals and you will be charged the cash advance fee’s by the c/c companies.

    You can purchase lottery tickets at grocery stores, gas stations etc where the terminals are marked as consumer shopping, merchants etc and there will be no cash advance fee’s for the lottery tickets purchased with gas, grocery etc.



  26. Gerry Kirk on June 27, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I have been caught by this too at two locations (2nd time before I noticed the fee on my statement). I complained to the Lottery booth operators that do they not feel obligated to advise people. Obviously when someone buys a $5 ticket and the “cash Equivalent fee” is $5 or more, the person does not know (a lot of $ for low income folks to waste.) Greed, the operator might lose the commission on the sale so keeps mute. My credit card Co. waived the fees.



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