Luke Sims – 10xTravel Contributor
About twice a year I get into an argument with my mom about why she is not using a credit card for her purchases. “You do realize you could be earning miles to fly to Cancun next winter, right?”
(Being sassy with your mom is never a good idea…)
Traveling the world using points and miles can be chiseled down to two very basic ideas:
- Earn as many points and miles as possible
- Accomplish goal #1 with as little spending as possible
The absolute best way to earn points and miles is by taking advantage of points earning credit cards (so listen up, momma).
Plastiq is an online bill payment service that lets you pay just about any bill with a credit card, and that’s a big deal to those of us in the points/miles world.
If you’re going to pay a bill you might as well get rewarded for it, right?
How Plastiq Works
Let’s start from the top.
Plastiq gives you the ability to use your credit and debit cards to make any payment for a very small fee.
What makes Plastiq unique from other online payment options is that you are able to use your credit and debit cards for almost any bill payment – not just the ones already listed in their database.
Which means you can start earning valuable credit card points for paying things like your mortgage, rent, utilities, student loans, and more.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Standard credit card fee is 2.5% and US debit card fee is 1% (lower promotional rates are sometimes available)
- Amex, Visa, and MasterCard gift cards are accepted (2.5% fee)
- Credit card payments count as purchases, not as cash advances
- You can pay any business, institution, or person who has provided a good or service in the US or Canada – even if they don’t accept cards
- You cannot pay a friend or relative unless it’s for a good or service (for example, you can pay your friend for walking your lizard, but not for happy hour drinks)
When You Should Use Plastiq
Plastiq gives you the ability to turn any payment into a points/miles earning opportunity, but paying a fee to earn rewards isn’t always a good idea.
When should you be using Plastiq? Here’s your cheat sheet:
- To earn sign-up bonuses – In most circumstances, you must meet a minimum spend requirement to earn a credit card sign-up bonus (for example, you must spend $3,000 in the first 3 months to earn 50,000 points). Credit card sign-up bonuses are easily the best points/miles earning opportunity in the game, so if you need help hitting your bonus you should suck it up and pay the fee.
- To hit an annual bonus – Many credit cards offer an annual bonus for spending a certain amount throughout the year. For example, you can earn Starwood Gold status by spending $30,000 on the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card in a calendar year. If the bonus has significant value and you need help hitting the threshold, you should consider using Plastiq to help you get there.
- The rewards outweigh the fee – In order for the 2.5% fee Plastiq charges for credit cards to make sense, the points or miles you are earning must be worth more than 2.5 cents apiece (unless you are trying to earn a bonus, as talked about above). You should determine the value of the points or miles you will be receiving before you decide to absorb that fee or not.
- Gift cards through shopping portals – Plastiq allows you to make payments with gift cards, but it comes with a 2.5% fee. Some shopping portals offer cash back for buying gift cards and by using a points earning credit card to make your purchase, you are receiving points or miles as well.
One last thing to note – Plastiq payments can take a while to process.
So be sure to pay any bills at least a week before they are due. Two weeks would be even better.
Plastiq provides you with the ability to turn almost any payment into a points/miles earning opportunity. If you determine the value of the rewards you will be earning is higher than the service fee, Plastiq could become your best friend.