Earn Credit Card Points, Miles, and Cash Back by Paying Your Bills

The Rest / Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Do you enjoy paying bills?

If you stopped the average man or woman on the street and asked that question, I’m thinking the response would be a big no.

I’m the exception, I actually enjoy bill paying. I look forward to it even.

Not the money leaving our checking account part, but the financial organizing part. The balancing accounts, transferring money, paying off some things (mortgage, car loan) and funding others (IRAs, HSA) part.

And I can add another to that list: the earning credit card perks part.

The two-step strategy to maximize credit card rewards looks like this:

1. Use your credit card to pay for everything you can.

2. Pay your bill in full by the due date each month to avoid interest charges.

And if that’s the strategy you’re pursuing (we are), paying monthly bills – not just buying things – with your credit card should be part of it.

First a couple of points:

  • Not all bills can be paid with a credit card (i.e. it’s not one of the payment options offered).
  • Of those that can, some will charge a fee that will eliminate the benefit of paying that way. (I have the option of paying my son’s college tuition with a credit card but the fee charged to do that would greatly exceed any credit card reward.)

These two considerations actually eliminate a lot of bill-paying possibilities. But not all of them.

What kind of bills can you pay by credit card without a fee?

Last month when I sat down to pay bills, two of them were medical bills: the $533 balance to the surgery center for my wrist surgery and a $103 balance due to our eye doctor. Both offered the option to pay by credit card and I’ve found that to be pretty common with medical providers.

I didn’t even bother to fill out the payment stub and put it in the mail. I just called the billing office at each place and they were happy to take my info over the phone.

I also had a $101 bill for our lawn service and a $65 renewal notice to our college alumni association to pay and both offered a credit card payment option with no fee. I paid the lawn service bill online and called the alumni association to pay over the phone.

Normally I would have paid these bills with our Costco American Express to earn the cash back. But I recently signed up for two Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards with 50,000 mile signup bonuses (more on that soon), so I used one of those cards to pay to help reach the spending requirement for the bonus.

I did use our American Express to pay our cable bill because it’s automatically charged to the AmEx each month. Our cable provider is another example of a company that lets you pay via credit card without a fee.

So I suggest looking carefully at the statements and bills you receive to see if the credit card payment is an option. If it is, and there’s no fee…go for it. And start earning.

P.S. Do you like to pay bills?

2 Replies to “Earn Credit Card Points, Miles, and Cash Back by Paying Your Bills”

  1. Hi Julie! While I don’t love paying bills, I do like paying them knowing the funds are ready and waiting – thanks to taking your tips. Recently went on vacation and used my cc for everything – earning 1.5% back and knowing that when the bill came in the money would come from my CapitalOne vacation account and I earned money while having fun on vacation. Keep your great tips coming. Thanks!

  2. I love using my CC because I get a ton of freebies through my CC company. I get a lot of my makeup from my points and it really helps me establish credit and save money on makeup at the same time!

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