Can You Buy Lottery Tickets with a Credit Card?
With many credit card companies offering rewards, points, and other incentives to use their cards, there are many people who choose to use plastic as often as possible. However, lottery players might have to think twice before using their credit card to buy tickets. Whether or not it is even legal to do so varies by region, while other areas and financial institutions hit players with unexpected fees. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can you buy lottery tickets with a credit card?” then you have come to the right place.
Can You Buy Lottery Tickets with a Credit Card in the U.S.?
The short answer to this question is: yes and no. Whether or not you can buy lottery tickets with a credit card in the U.S. depends on what state you are trying to purchase your tickets in, and in some states, also depends on the merchant you are buying tickets from.
The reason that the legality of buying lottery tickets using plastic is controversial is that lawmakers worry that lotto players could get carried away trying to win their millions. In other words, they worry that people could rack up too much credit card debt, resulting in interest piling up, which could put many Americans at financial risk. Therefore, the decision to allow lottery players to buy tickets using a credit card is made at the state level, as each state is also responsible for regulating laws relating to gambling.
Where Is It Legal To Buy Lottery Tickets with a Credit Card in the U.S.?
It is legal to buy lottery tickets with a credit card in 21 out of 50 states in the U.S. That means 29 states prohibit the use of credit cards to buy tickets. Washington, D.C. also prohibits the use of plastic for such purchases. Though rare, a few states also prohibit the use of debit to purchase lottery tickets, only allowing cash. There are also a few states that don’t even offer a lottery of any kind to their residents.
The states that do allow the purchase of lottery tickets with a credit card are:
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
To further complicate matters, of these states that do allow lottery tickets to be purchased with credit cards, 10 of them leave the decision entirely up to lottery retailers. States who give decision-making power to stores and retailers include Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Washington.
Even in the states that do allow credit card purchases for the lottery, the places where you can use plastic could be severely limited. For example, California allows credit card purchases, but only at Play at the Pump gas stations. However, if you buy tickets for your favourite lotteries online using a credit card in California, you have to pay an additional fee.
Can You Buy Lottery Tickets with a Credit Card in Canada?
North of the border, the laws regarding buying lottery tickets with credit cards are much more lax. It is legal to purchase tickets; however, using your credit card will likely cost you extra. In Canada, financial institutions decide how to treat lottery credit card purchases and may impose an additional fee depending on how it defines the lottery retailer.
Most of the large financial institutions, including RBC, CIBC, and TD, consider lottery ticket transactions to be “cash like” or “cash equivalent,” with many retailers considered “quasi-cash” merchants. This means that lotto purchases are treated the same as a cash advance. Typically, a cash advance transaction involves using a credit card at an ATM to withdraw cash for a fee. Other cash-like transactions that are treated as a cash advance include money orders, wire transfers, travellers’ cheques, and other gaming transactions, such as off-track betting and casino chips. A cash advance fee can range anywhere from $3.50 to $10, depending on the financial institution. So, buying a $3 lottery ticket could actually cost anywhere from $6.50 to $13 simply because a player is using their credit card.
These cash advance fees also apply when players buy lottery tickets online using a credit card. In Ontario, for example, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s (OLG) online platform does not show the fee at the time of purchase, but does make it clear that financial institutions may impose a cash advance charge.
Should You Use a Credit Card to Buy Lottery Tickets?
If you live in or are visiting Canada or one of the 21 states that allow lottery tickets to be purchased using credit cards, you may find yourself wondering if it is worth it. In our opinion the answer is no. Not only is it not worth paying double or triple the amount of your ticket in credit card fees, but there is also the fact that it could be easy to get carried away buying tickets on credit. Gambling addiction is a serious issue that affects many individuals and their families, and purchasing lottery tickets using a credit card could make it easier to ignore when you are developing a problem, as money for lottery purchases are not coming directly from your bank account.
While it is ultimately up to the individual whether or not using a credit card to buy lottery tickets is worth it, we do caution players that they should never buy tickets that they cannot afford. Remember, playing the lottery is first and foremost meant for entertainment, and should always be done responsibly. If not, you could end up like Adam Osmond, who spent over $1 million on lottery tickets over a decade and lost his home and family as a result of it.
The answer to whether or not you can buy lottery tickets with a credit card depends entirely on where you are trying to purchase your tickets. The only way that you can know for certain is to ask the lottery retailer—and while you’re doing so, be sure to ask about any extra fees that may come with the purchase.
Alternatively, you can play the lottery through a wide range of online lottery sites, which allow you to deposit money into your player account using a credit card or an e-wallet like Skrill or Neteller. Since such a deposit is treated as a payment to the company running the website and not a direct payment for a lottery ticket, your payment provider won’t charge you any cash advance fees. All the more reason to play lotto online!