Is Paying Bills With Plastiq Worth It?

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One of the best ways to rack up rewards points is with credit cards. The problem for many of us is that there are only so many things we can pay by credit card. That’s where Plastiq comes into play.

I wrote about Plastiq several months ago, but wanted to revisit the value proposition, both due to the frequency with which they’ve been offering promotions, and also due to a recent change in the credit card rewards space (if you’re familiar with the basics of Plastiq already, skip down to the section about whether Plastiq is worth it for the rewards).

Plastiq Bill Pay Basics

Plastiq is a bill pay service that lets you pay virtually any expense by credit card. There are two common reasons people may want to use this:

  • Because they value the rewards offered by credit cards
  • For cash flow reasons (maybe someone has a 0% intro APR offer on a credit card, and sees this as a good opportunity to pay a bill)

I’m focusing on this entirely in terms of the rewards aspect, since in general I recommend doing everything you can to avoid credit card financing, given how high the fees can be. At the same time, I understand that some people like a 0% intro APR offer on a credit card, so no judgment.

Which Credit Cards Can You Use With Plastiq?

Plastiq allows you to pay with most major credit cards, including those issued by American Express, Mastercard, Visa, Discover, Diners Club, JCB, and Capital One (though Capital One is limited to business cards).

There are restrictions with some issuers regarding what kind of payments can be made, and you can read more about that here.

How Much Does Plastiq Charge?

Plastiq charges a fee of 2.5% for payments made by credit card. Plastiq does frequently offer promotions that can get you a better rate than that, which I’ll talk more about below.

Does Plastiq Have A Referral Program?

The easiest promotion that everyone should be eligible for is Plastiq’s referral program. The rewards currency of the referral program is “Fee Free Dollars” (FFDs). Each FFD is good for one dollar of bill pay without any sort of fees.

If you’re referred to Plastiq by someone you get 500 FFDs, and the person referring you gets 1,000 FFDs. Sometimes they have further promotions offering FFDs.

What Payments Can You Make With Plastiq?

Plastiq allows you to pay for all kinds of things, including (but not limited to) auto leases, auto purchases, business services, club fees, mortgages, contractors, employees, insurance, legal services, rent, tuition, taxes, utilities, and more.

How Does The Process Of Paying With Plastiq Work?

The process of making a payment with Plastiq is easy.

The first step is that you have to add the recipient to your Plastiq account, which includes adding their name, address, preferred payment type (checked, wire, or ACH), and some basic details about the type of payment you’re making.

Then you have to enter your payment amount, which includes entering all your credit card details (if they’re not already saved to your account).

You can save credit card details as well as information about the people you’re paying on your account, and you can even set up a recurring payment.

How Does Plastiq Pay Your Recipient?

Once you’ve gone through the process of submitting the payment, Plastiq will make the payment on your behalf, with the following options:

  • You can pay by check, and the check will be delivered within eight business days
  • You can pay by wire transfer, and domestic transfers take place same or next day, while international transfers take 1-3 days
  • You can pay by ACH bank transfer, and funds can be deposited in the recipient’s bank account as soon as next day

Is Using Plastiq Worth It For The Rewards?

Plastiq opens up a whole new world of credit card payment possibilities, though at the cost of a 2.5% fee. So the question becomes, is it worth generating credit card spending at a cost of 2.5%?

My personal take is that it could be worth generating credit card spend at a 2.5% fee, though it’s not a no brainer across the board.

Let me actually state upfront that I do pay my personal income taxes by credit card. I can do this at a cost of 1.87% through a different service (Pay1040.com), and that’s a price that’s very much worth it to me.

Historically I’d pay taxes with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review), since it earns 1.5x points per dollar spent, and in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) you can get the maximum value out of those Ultimate Rewards points.

Personally I think it’s very much worth picking up Ultimate Rewards points for ~1.25 cents each, as I value them at significantly more (~1.7 cents each).

The value proposition has gotten even better with the Citi® Double Cash Card (review), which earns 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent in conjunction with a card earning ThankYou points.

So, under what circumstances is it worth making payments with Plastiq?

If You Need To Complete Minimum Spending On A Credit Card

It could be worth using Plastiq if you’re struggling to meet the minimum spending on a credit card, but being able to pay expenses by card would help you.

For example, say you get the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review), which offers 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 within three months. If being able to pay bills by credit card would help you reach that, it could be well worth it.

Paying $325 for the ability to unlock a huge welcome bonus, plus the points you earn for that $15,000 of spending, could very well be worthwhile.

This could even work well for other credit cards with much bigger spending requirements. Take for example the British Airways Visa Signature® Card (review), which offers a bonus of 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $3,000 within the first three months, plus a further 50,000 bonus Avios after spending a total of $20,000 within the first year of account opening.

Say you could easily spend the $3,000, but would struggle to pay $20,000 without using Plastiq. Spending $17,000 with Plastiq would cost you at most $425, but you’d earn a total of 67,000 additional Avios (17,000 Avios for spending, plus 50,000 bonus Avios). I’d say that’s well worth it.

If You’re Unlocking Some Threshold Bonus

There could be huge value in generating incremental credit card spending with a 2.5% fee. In addition to the general return on spending offered by cards, some cards also have threshold bonuses, where you get a further bonus if you spend a certain amount.

To give one example, the World Of Hyatt Credit Card (review) offers a Category 1-4 free night certificate when you spend $15,000 on the card in a cardmember year, plus two additional elite nights for every $5,000 spent.

Let’s say you’re expecting to end the cardmember year having spent $10,000 on the card, and have no easy way of increasing that. It could absolutely be worth using Plastiq for that $5,000 of spending (at a fee of no more than $125) so that you can get a Category 1-4 free night certificate, 5,000 more points, and two more elite nights.

If You Value Rewards Highly/Have Really Good Cards

I’d argue that there are some cards where it could be worth outright generating spending for a 2.5% fee. For example:

Both of these cards let you generate transferable points for 1.25 cents each, which is significantly below my valuation of 1.7 cents per point. Personally I think that’s a great deal.

If Plastiq Has A Further Promotion

To me this is where the value proposition of Plastiq really comes into play. If you sign-up for Plastiq you’ll constantly be targeted for further promotions, typically offering lower transaction fees.

For example, in September 2019 I was targeted for a reduced 1% fee on up to three payments of $10,000 each.

In October 2019 I was targeted for a reduced 1.5% fee on up to three payments of $15,000 each.

In November 2019 I was targeted for a reduced 1.5% fee on up to three payments of $10,000 each.

Then in late November 2019 I was targeted for an offer to get 5,000 Fee Free Dollars if I made a payment of at least $5,000.

Those are some amazing deals, and they seem to come around constantly. If you’re paying a 1-1.5% fee, that’s like generating ThankYou points with the Citi® Double Cash Card at the rate of 0.5-0.75 cents each.

That’s spectacular, especially if you then transfer points to a ThankYou airline partner when there’s a transfer bonus.

Plastiq Summary

Plastiq is an awesome service to keep in mind in situations where you could use more credit card spending.

On the most basic level, I think Plastiq could be worth it if you’re trying to reach minimum spending on a credit card, or are trying to unlock some threshold bonus.

Even beyond that, though, Plastiq’s standard 2.5% fee can be worth it if making payments with the Citi® Double Cash Card, in my opinion, as that’s like earning ThankYou points for 1.25 cents each.

But it gets so much better than that. For three of the past four months I’ve been targeted for promos offering fees of 1-1.5%, which is incredible. That’s like earning transferrable points for 0.5-0.75 cents each, which is unarguably an amazing value.

So while some may say it’s not worth generating credit card spending for a 2.5% fee, the reality is that Plastiq constantly offers promotions, and at a 1-1.5% fee I think just about anyone would agree it’s a great deal.

At a minimum, it’s worth signing up so that you can start to be targeted for promotions.

Do you use Plastiq? If so, under what circumstances?

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Comments
  1. Two things:
    Plastiq is having problems processing capital one cards, meaning u can’t earn capital one venture double points.
    The 2.5% fee can be a tax write off if paying a small business bill. The IRS allows writing off convenience fees for business-related expenses. Thus, the 2.5% is more like a 1.8% fee. Oh, and the IRS doesn’t tax reward points as earnings ASFAIK.

  2. In a pinch, if you own property you can likely pay the property tax online for less than a 2.5% fee. My last two houses in different states had a 2.35% fee via Official Payments. This is more likely to go smoothly since there is already a link from the county taxation department to their approved payment processor and you’ll save $1.50 per $1000 to boot.

  3. About 9 months ago, I tried using Plastiq to set up the payment of my monthly mortgage using my Chase Southwest card. The goal was to create some guaranteed spending as a baseline for Companion Pass re-qualification. When I tried to enroll the SW card into Plastiq, I have received an error message indicating that Chase would not allow Plastiq transactions on that card. I inquired about this from both Chase and Plastiq, and they confirmed the “no go”. I don’t know if that is still the case, but I got a sense when I talked with Chase about the matter, that “the ban” applied to several of their cards.

  4. Thanks Ben for this article. I have almost $8K going out towards mortgage payments on a monthly basis from my personal bank accounts. Is there a good travel rewards master card that i should be targeting to get some value out of Plastiq ?

  5. I’m confused – you say that it makes sense to buy UR Points at 1.25 cents / point, but don’t describe how to buy points at that price. Then you assume it’s possible to buy at that price in the examples.

    How do you buy points at that price?

  6. I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out how to transfer car lease payments to credit cards and make it work for me but I haven’t been successful.

  7. Heads up on that 1% for 3 transactions promotion – I got the same thing for August (have it processed by August 30th). I scheduled them at the very beginning of August, so essentially one month for them to process on time. Plastiq put the process date at September 3rd for some reason. No idea why, so I didn’t get the 1% rate. Not too upset about it because my payment/fee isn’t that much, but definitely annoying.
    I had never had a problem with them before this. TBT to the days when the CSR rent payments coded as travel….

  8. @Peter, the Plastiq offer is for payments that are processed before September 26th. Before submitting a Plastiq payment, you can click on the delivery date and it will tell you when the processing date will be (for regular check delivery it is 10 days before the scheduled delivery date). So you can keep changing the delivery date until the processing date falls on or before the 26th. The 1% fee should show up in the total before submitting. I had an issue with my account and had to email Plastiq inorder to fix it to get the 1% to show up.

  9. Some payments – insurance, mortgage I have found that VISA and AMEX cannot be accepted on Plastiq.. Fortunately Mastercard is possible

    @KahunnaTravel – this might be the problem

  10. I have not read the terms and conditions. Is one permitted to have a check issued/payment made to one’s self or one’s spouse?

  11. Why is Plastiq useful? Because if you click here, here, here, here, here, here, here on my affiliate links I get thousands of fee-free spend. Only fools would pay 2.5% fees, but always plenty of them to swindle in this hobby

  12. Small whine. In Canada the same offer was/is available BUT at 2% instead of 2.5%.

    Then there is Paytm at free if using MC (but with limited payees and no checks).

  13. Paying an additional, unnecessary 2.5% on significant monthly outgoings is not merely unwise…It’s lunacy. Anyone imagine Warren Buffett’s views on this kind of BS?
    2.5% out, chicken feed points in.

  14. Setting Plastiq aside, does anyone opt to pay more on certain bills to use credit card fees?

    For example, my auto payments have the option to pay with a credit card, but it has a $5 processing fee. While I technically would come out ahead, I’ve never opted to because I’m lazy and have a slight preference to hold cash rather than points.

    I always try to remind myself that “winning” in this hobby is to earn/redeem from what you originally planned to spend anyways. The second one tries to spend more, even for good reasons, I perceive it as new level of risk. I don’t like the idea of award charts and availability determining whether I breakeven on cash I parted with.

    Regardless, I still always wonder about “what else” can I earn points on.

  15. I think it’s worth it. I use the Virgin Atlantic card (which is a MasterCard) to get 1.5x VA miles on my mortgage and that helps me hit the threshold for $25k / year for an extra 15k miles.

    On the output side, I get a free set of R/T ANA first class tickets per year (and this is part of that earn), so overall I would say it’s worth it in my situation.

    I could see why 2X MR points would be even better, but… mortgage limitations on credit cards suck. =\

  16. @Nate nate — I think he’s saying if you used the Chase Freedom card (1.5x points per $) with Pay1040 to pay your taxes. If you pay $1000, their fee of 1.87% translates to an $18.70 fee so that you’re paying a total of $1,018.70. You’d then earn 1.5x = 1,528 points. So the $18.70 fee / 1,528 points = $0.0122 per UR point. So I *think* he’s saying at Plastiq’s 2.5% rate that wouldn’t make as much sense (the same math works out to 1.6 cents/point, much closer to his valuation). But none of that math matters if you get a refund on your taxes, which I think most of us probably do?

    @Paolo — I think if you were $1k short of not hitting the minimum spend to get the Alaska card miles bonus, Warren Buffet would approve of spending $25 in fees to get 40,000 miles. To use the service on a normal basis, though, for no other reason than earning basic miles/points, of course, I agree with you that it isn’t worth it. But so does Ben, mind you.

    @Ron — Who cares if Ben gets thousands in fee-free dollars? Jealous much? I for one welcome the $500 in fee-free dollars I’ll get from signing up with his referral link. I’ll just wait until there’s a 1% (or < 2%) promo and use my Citi Double Cash 2% back card. I end up making 1% back, I get $500 in fee-free dollars to put towards my mortgage and get 2% of that back, and so I care about Ben getting $1000 … why exactly?

  17. For a business it makes a lot of sense as Plastiq fees are tax deductible, UR points tax free. The Ink Unlimited gives you UR points for under 1.2 cents per point after taxes which you can redeem for at least 1.5 cents per point.
    Amex unfortunately only allows Plastiq for very limited purposes.

  18. @Ak You had me panicked! However I checked, and my $20k in Plastiq payments on 7/31/19 did in fact get 2x Capital One points.

  19. There will be less plastiq deals offered if bloggers keep feeding plastiq customers. This is one of those situations where too much publicity is going to kill any value in doing this. Either plastiq will raise their rates or credit card companies will further curtail the types of things that can be paid with plastiq which has been a growing trend.

  20. I use Plastiq on a month-by-month basis, depending if I get the 1% or 1.5% offer that month. So far I’ve received it each month for the past 5 or 6, so fingers crossed that continues in 2020. Paying my rent in NYC has been a huge points boost for me, and I’ll gladly pay an additional ~$20-30/month for that amount of points.

  21. If my employee withhold tax for us, how can we ask them not to do it so that we can pay with our credit card? Every year, I am basically getting tax return instead of paying tax. Is it worth it to not doing tax withholding and pay yourself?

    Also, let’s say if withholding tax is a better deal, can we “overpay” tax to meet retention/signup bonus requirements? (and we will get return of those payment of course.)

  22. The math is actually better than you make it out to be. When you add the 2.5% fee to the base amount, you also earn points on those extra fee dollars. So if you pay a $1000 bill you also earn points on the $25 fee. With Amex Blue or Doublecash, you then earn 2,050 points (1000 plus 25 fee x 2) for a $25 fee. 25/2050 means your cost is 1.2195 cents per point. However, I calculate it as better because of bonuses. I have teh Rewards+ card that gives me an extra 10% back, so then I’m buying those Citi ThankYou points with my mortgage payment for only 1.11 cents each. For Amex I usually transfer points with a bonus as well (Virgin at 30% or this year Air Canada at 20% bonus) so my effective rate with good bonuses can be under one cent. For someone who is not flush with extra points and uses all that I earn, this makes Plastiq compelling. If I had more business travel and were flush with points I would not do it.

  23. During the Masterpass promo I made a mistake in the last digit of my mortgage account. Lucky for me that is the difference between my mortgage and checking account. After the first few checks cleared my account I realized this was an awesome mistake. Moving forward I have been using this loophole for every promo that comes up.

  24. @Paolo, if miles earning is just a hobby and you’re accumulating them to make trips that you wouldn’t otherwise take (ie all your mileage travel is just a “bonus” on your spend), then paying any amount of money for miles/points might not make sense. Some of us view miles/points/cash back as rebates and the miles and points have actual cash value towards travel expenses that you would make regardless. If you do the math Ben has laid out with higher earning cards, paying a 2.5% fee can net a bigger return in that investment toward travel expenses. Any economist would see the value in that.

  25. Note for Canadians with an Aeroplan TDCT card: TDCT considers Plastiq a cash advance process. No points are accrued for your Aeroplan account. It was, in my case, a costly mistake.

  26. Thoughts on using Plastiq to get elite status? For instance, using it to get globalist status with Hyatt card.

  27. I had heard of Plastiq but for pure laziness, never looked into it. Awesome guide, Ben. Might be worth putting my mortgage on the Blue Business Plus, at least during promo months. My Amex points stash was depleted recently and I agree with your 1.7 cpp valuation, so even at the full 2.5% fee I would still come out slightly ahead.

  28. Outside of occasional, low fee use, the idea of using this service on a continuous monthly basis for mortgages, taxes, etc is total lunacy.

    “Paying” a debt by going into greater debt is inherently an irresponsible action.

    While I’m sure most of us on this site pay off our cards monthly, the vast majority of Americans do not. This service takes advantage of those individuals unable to meet basic monthly expenses by shifting them to high interest credit cards.

    At best, using Plastiq is an irresponsible decision. At worst, they are no different from corner street paycheck lenders and loan sharks.

    I think it’s wrong for you to give these guys free advertising like this.

  29. Using it for car payments and house payments with the Double Cash. Yes, I will pay quite a bit in Paypal fees less their promotions. But, I call these pajama points because it takes no effort on my part, no gas, no ugly walmart people, and no suspicious bank people. That is well worth the fee for having to do nothing to earn points. Those points will go for costly business class tickets where I will get outsized value for those points.

  30. What about using the Bank of America premium rewards card if just looking for $ and not points? If platinum honors reward member you get 2.6% cash back which would always be a 0.1% minimum return and then if promotion even a better return

  31. @Manish

    There are enough promotions that my average fee is slightly below 1.5%. My total annual mortgage payments are just shy of $25k, and just over it after fees. I pay with my Virgin Atlantic Mastercard, which gives 1.5x points on any purchase, and 15k miles for 25k in annual spend.

    It costs me $370 to earn 52,750 Virgin Atlantic Miles, a cost of 0.7 cpm. They are worth at least double that – I used the points this past year to purchase a first class ticket while visiting in-laws in the Bay Area. Cash price was $1100, but I used just 45,000 miles + $11.

    The year before, my wife and I flew business class to Japan with Virgin miles, at a redemption rate of nearly 4.0 cpm.

    If you don’t travel or are bad at redeeming points, maybe it doesn’t make sense, but if you are savvy, it’s a great way to generate points.

  32. @WT

    Thanks for making my point.

    You consider yourself a points master and “savvy” but you put your bulk spend on a VA credit card rather than a transferrable one.

    You still spent extra $ to visit your in-laws. Who’s the sucker now?

  33. @Manish

    Huh? Of the transferable cards (assuming you mean Amex Plat, CSR, Citi Prestige, etc), on the Citi Prestige is eligible to pay mortgages via Plastiq. It has to be a Mastercard. Citi Prestige only gives 1 point per dollar, so although it is more flexible, I would earn less than half (25k points per year vs. 52.75k points from the VA card).

    The bulk of my spend goes on Amex Plat and CSR (depending on what I’m buying). The mortgage certainly isn’t the “bulk” of my spend, and again, is restricted to Mastercard only.

    How did I spend extra $? I paid $370 in Plastiq fees and redeemed most of the resulting points for a first class ticket that would otherwise have cost $1103 (or 130k Skymiles + $11).

    If you don’t understand that is a net savings of ~$720 ($1103 – $11 ticket fees – $370 Plastiq fees), I don’t know what to tell you.

    I redeemed my points for about 2.4cpm (a reminder, I earned them at 0.7cpm), which although not ideal was certainly better than paying cash or burning 130k Skymiles for a last second ticket.

  34. @Manish

    Unable to edit my post, but wanted to add that another good option for paying mortgages via Plastiq is the Citi Double cash card, which now allows you (since Sept ’19) to transfer your cash back to Citi ThankYou points (2% cash back becomes 2 points per $ spent).

    So, the earning rate would be ~50k points vs. 52.75k points with VA, at which point it would make sense for some to use the Citi card due to the increased flexibility.

    I live in Atlanta and am a DL PM, so end up flying DL and VS a lot. The VS card helps to qualify for VS elite status and carries additional perks, like companion tickets and upgrades to Upper Class, hence the reason to carry the VA card and put spend on it.

    If I fly less or move from Atlanta, I would definitely switch to the Double cash card. But either way, Plastiq makes sense if you are paying your card off monthly and not simply using the service to transfer mortgage debt to your credit cards.

  35. At 2.5% it doesn’t make sense. At basically around 2% it does assuming you use the Freedom Unlimited card because with the 50% bonus after you merge them with the Reserve points then you’re doing well. The real question is how you’re targeted for all of these promotions? Without this then it doesn’t make sense and myself an many others never get targeted.

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