Credit cards are a smart choice when you're spending money online - but what about if you want to gamble? Do online casinos accept credit cards?
Well, it depends where you live - let's take a look at where credit card casino payments are no longer legal, and what online casino payment methods you can use instead.
Credit Cards for Online Gambling Sites
Most countries allow the use of credit cards as an online casino payment method. And if you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.
For most people, online gambling such as UK casinos and sportsbooks is just another leisure expense - like paying to stream a movie or buying a digital video game. And just like these forms of entertainment, online gambling is much more convenient than physical casinos when using credit cards. Credit cards are a safe and convenient way of managing your online spending, especially if you pay the balance off in full each month - and many provide rewards or cashback.
Credit cards are a safe choice for online purchases and real money gambling. You are much better protected if someone steals your credit card information than if they get hold of your debit card details. In fact, a sign of a safe casino is their support for credit card payments.
In many countries, laws limit or exclude your liability for fraudulent credit card charges - for example, the Fair Credit Billing Act in the US limits your liability to $50, and most credit card providers won't even charge you at all. This is how US online casino players get minor protection from problem gambling.
In the UK, your liability is limited to £50, unless the credit card provider can show you were grossly negligent. And the credit card provider is jointly liable with the seller if you have problems with any goods or services you purchase over £100. This makes disputing casino charges and getting compensation a lot easier.
But it's not all good news. There is one significant downside to using a credit card to fund your online gambling: most banks treat credit card casino payments as cash advances. Cash advances on credit cards are expensive. Usually, interest is applied immediately, and a one-time fee is charged as well.
And of course, some people do not gamble healthily. They use credit to gamble and get themselves into serious amounts of debt. Some countries believe these people need to be protected from themselves.
Do UK Online Casinos Accept Credit Cards?
Since April 2020, the UKGC has banned the use of credit cards for gambling in any UK online gambling sites - whether online or in-person. You can't even buy a lottery ticket on a credit card unless it's part of a wider shop of other non-gambling products. For long-time punters who are wondering why their credit card withdrawals are rejected, this is the reason why.
The UK Gambling Commission believes that the significant danger posed to problem gamblers outweighs the slight inconvenience the ban causes everyone else.
The UK gambling regulator's Chief Executive, Neil McArthur, justified the decision by saying: "Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimize the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.
"Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm."
Around 800,000 UK gamblers used a credit card to fund their wagering in 2018, so that means around 176,000 problem gamblers will be helped by this restriction.
The fact is gambling on credit is very risky. You are gambling with other people's money. That's fine if you win, but a disaster if you lose.
As Mr. McArthur explains: "There are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability."
And don't forget that by credit card gambling you're getting stung with cash advance fees and immediate interest - which means you have to win quite a bit more than you borrowed. Even if you have an edge in a skill-based game like poker or sports betting, that's still making things difficult for yourself.
Just banning credit card gambling won't stop problem gamblers from getting into trouble - after all, they can always take out other forms of credit. But it will make it a lot less convenient for them.
The UK is not the only country to restrict online credit card gambling. Germany has also banned online casinos from taking credit card payments - unless the money is for sports betting. Ireland is also planning to bring in a ban on credit card gambling, and Australia and Spain are reportedly considering it as well.
For those who are thinking of using a VPN to mask their IP address from online casinos in order to use their credit card, this is simply not possible. Casinos track the payment through a banking system and they will automatically know someone from the UK is using a credit card based on their transaction. In addition, there is always the risk of getting your account blocked when using a VPN.
Alternative Payment Methods for UK Online Casinos
Credit cards aren't the only banking method available for UK casino players. There are plenty of other options. Let's take a look at some of the most common.
The obvious alternative to credit card casino payments is to use your debit card instead. There are downsides: reduced fraud protection, and the charges showing up on your bank statements which may make mortgage lenders wary. But if you are using a legitimate regulated site and gambling responsibly, you have nothing to worry about.
Another thing to be wary of is that most online casinos allow you to store your card details - this makes it very easy to top up with the click of a button. Don't spend more than you have set aside for gambling, especially if it means you won't be able to pay other bills.
If you think you might succumb to temptation then delete your card details after you make your first deposit. At least that way you have to go to the effort of finding your wallet and inputting all the details again - giving you time to reconsider.
Pre-paid cards are like debit cards but instead of being attached to your bank account, you load up a certain amount of money onto them.
They are essentially pay-as-you-go debit cards. You can use them online and in person. You also have the comfort of knowing you can't go overboard in the heat of the moment, because once the money is gone then you have to go through the loading process again.
However, pre-paid cards also have various charges attached to them - opening fees, monthly fees, transaction fees, and even inactivity fees.
Yes, you will get charged to spend your own money - but that's what makes it worthwhile for companies to offer them.
An E-wallet is an online account that you top up like a pre-paid card, or link your bank card to. It provides extra convenience and safety when shopping online. Examples include Paypal, Skrill, and Neteller. There is even one designed specifically for online gambling called MuchBetter.
Not every e-wallet is accepted by every casino. If you have linked a credit card to your account then usually the e-wallet will not allow you to deposit gambling funds. There are various fees involved with many e-wallets, much like pre-paid cards. And of course, you can't use your e-wallet if you want to gamble in real life rather than online.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are all the rage right now - but they aren't just for speculating or other activities. You can use them to gamble online too.
Most mainstream regulated online casinos don't accept cryptocurrency, but there are "grey-area" sites that do, such as Betonline. And there are even sites that only accept cryptocurrency - but you have to be extremely careful that they are legit!
There are many downsides to cryptocurrency-based gambling. First of all, buying and transferring crypto can be quite complicated if you don't know what you're doing. If you use one of the main exchanges like Coinbase it makes things easier, but they may suspend your account if you try to transfer funds to a gambling site.
And if the online casino steals your cryptocurrency - or you send it to the wrong address - then good luck trying to get it back!
Crypto is very volatile, so you may end up regretting any losses a whole lot more if the price goes up - or if you win and the price goes down then you haven't made any money.
Another factor to consider with Bitcoin is the impact on the environment - a recent estimate by Cambridge University suggests it consumes more energy than the nation of Argentina. Pretty crazy for magic internet money.
Credit card casino payments can work out very costly, and not just because of the additional charges they incur. There is the risk of getting into debt - and that's the reason some countries have banned online casinos from accepting credit cards. But there are still plenty of other payment options available!
This article was published on July 16, 2022, and last updated on July 29, 2022.