Can You Pay Bail With A Credit Card?

By Bruce Boswell •  Updated: 12/14/21 •  6 min read
Filed under: Credit Cards

Dealing with a bail situation can be hard for anyone. Arranging bail for either yourself or a loved one is difficult at the best of times, however, if you are unsure how to pay for the bail then you will be looking at where you can get money.

It is a difficult time and one that involves a great deal of stress or strain on any family. 

Can you pay bail with a credit cards

Questions will surely be racing through your mind – how can you afford to pay for the bail? Where can you get the money to pay it? Can you pay bail with a credit card? How often to do you have to pay bail? 

These questions and more will be explained in this piece and allow you to feel at ease with your bail situation, whatever it is. 

Why Do You Have To Pay Money For Bail?

In the United States as in many other countries you have to pay for bail. This is because the US government and court system believe that you have to put down some kind of money to ensure that you will not skip the country or fail to turn up for your court hearings. 

Whilst this is of course, in many cases, unnecessary, it is an unfortunate part of the United States justice system. 

The amount of bail that is set depends upon the crime and also upon the judge taking into account any previous offences that may be held against you. The more offences you have in your past, the greater a flight risk you or whoever you are paying bail for will be deemed.

This means that the amount of money that you or the other person might have to pay for bail will be higher. 

This of course can result in you feeling that you cannot pay the bail. This means you might feel like you have to resort to considering using a credit card rather than paying for the bail via some other means.

This can put you into a difficult position and it is something you have to consider – whether you want to use a credit card or not. Of course, the question is – can you use a credit card to pay for bail?

Can You Pay Bail With A Credit Card? 

The simple answer is that you can indeed pay for bail with a credit card. This is because, although it is credit rather than direct cash, the payment to the bon bearer (aka the US government) is still valid and an easy way to deal with your bail situation. 

However, of course, there is a downside. Simple because you can pay for bail with a credit card doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The issue isn’t so much the payment for the bail itself but rather what it can do to your credit rating and what costs you might incur as a result. 

For example, if your bail is a relatively low sum such as $10 or $20 then using a credit card to pay for your or your family member’s bail shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Even with the factors of a low increase on the amount of credit you took, you will almost certainly be able to pay the bail off via your credit card. 

However, if your bail is set at a much higher amount such as $700 or $1000 or an even higher sum then you will likely feel as if it shouldn’t be such a good idea to pay off your bail using a credit card. You’d be right.

This is because given the rates of interest that you could incur for such a large payment you wouldn’t just be ending up paying off the original amount but interest that you would have incurred thanks to the original credit transaction. 

Alternative Means Of Paying Bail 

As outlined above, it is perhaps wise to only use your credit card to pay off your bail if the amount is relatively small and you are not having to deal with large interest rates on large repayments.

If you bail does not fall into the category of being a smaller amount that can be easily paid off a credit card if you have to use it, then you might be thinking what alternative methods there are to pay for bail. 

The best way, regardless of the amount, is to pay in cash or via your debit card. Whilst this might seem like it means you are paying out your hard earned money simply for your freedom at the end of the day it will work out better for you. 

This is because unlike with a credit card, once you have made your bail payment in full then you can be on your way and save your money for any court proceedings you may be involved with.

It is better that you save the money you have in readiness for any legal action than it is to allow it to all be flittered away in paying off your credit card. 

Another alternative is not to pay the bail in one lump sum but to make an arrangement to pay it in instalments. Whilst not all jurisdictions will accept this as a means of paying for your bail, some will and it is worth a try attempting to convince them as it will allow you to pay for the bail in a way that helps you rather than hinders you and your future. 

Finally, you might be able to find payment for yourself or your friend through an in help fund or something similar. Whilst you or your family member or friend might not always qualify for such a charity to stand you bail, they equally might be able to help.

This will also of course depend on the amount and the alleged crime. 

Cash Bail And The US Justice System

Whilst many would defend the use of cash bail as part of the American justice system, it ultimately is a harmful way of ensuring that the streets are kept clean. It predominantly hits the poorest whilst letting the richest walk out without any harm being done to them or their character. 

It is a system that you can use your credit card to get out of but really it is one that you shouldn’t have to. 

Bruce BoswellBruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell enjoys researching and writing about all things related to investing and saving money. Whenever he has a chance, Bruce loves travelling all around the world with his wife and trying new foods.