A cash advance is a service provided by most credit card and charge card issuers. The service allows cardholders to withdraw cash, either through an ATM or over the counter at a bank or other financial agency, up to a certain limit. For a credit card, this will be the credit limit (or some percentage of it).
Cash advances generally incur a fee (to replace the interchange fee normally charged to the merchant on a card transaction), although this is sometimes waived if the account is in credit. When made on a credit card, they are usually charged at a higher rate of interest than a regular credit card transaction, and generally do not attract an interest-free period which is customarily given to cardholders who pay off their bill in full every month.
Some "purchases" made with a credit card of items that are viewed as cash are also considered to be cash advances in accordance with the credit card network's guidelines, thereby incurring the higher interest rate and the lack of the grace period. These often include money orders, lottery tickets, gaming chips, and certain taxes and fees paid to certain governments. However, should the merchant not disclose the actual nature of the transactions, these will be processed as regular credit card transactions. Many merchants have passed on the credit card processing fees to the credit card holders in spite of the credit card network's guidelines, which state the credit card holders should not have any extra fee for doing a transaction with a credit card.
Under card scheme rules, a credit card holder presenting an accepted form of identification must be issued a cash advance over the counter at any bank which issues that type of credit card, even if the cardholder cannot give his or her PIN.