Evolve devolves (developing story…)

I’ve written a few times before about the online service Evolve Money (see, for example: “Pay bills online with debit and prepaid cards”).  Evolve has been a great service for paying bills with debit cards (including Visa and MasterCard gift cards) that can’t usually be paid with a credit card.  In the past few days, though, I’ve heard from numerous readers and friends that have received unpleasant emails from Evolve.  The messages come in two forms: 1) You are banned from paying this biller due to volume processed; and 2) You are limited to 4 payments per month.  Here are sample emails…

You are banned from paying this biller:

Good morning,

This email is to inform you that your account with this biller at Evolve Money has been closed due to the volume processed.  We are unable to allow future payments to this account.  We regret any inconvenience this causes, but hope that you will continue to pay other billers that are available to you through Evolve Money.

Thank you,

Evolve Support

Limit 4 per month:

Good afternoon,

This email is to inform you that your account with this biller at Evolve Money has been suspended due to the volume processed, there is now a 4 payment limit on this account per month.  We are unable to allow future payments to this account until July 1, 2014.  Please be advised that future attempts to make a payment to this account prior to this date will result in an authorization hold of funds on your attempted payment method.  We regret any inconvenience this causes, but hope that you will continue to pay other billers that are available to you through Evolve Money.

Thank you,

Evolve Support

At least Evolve delivers this news in a friendly way: “Good afternoon,” “Thank you”…

Word from Evolve

Through multiple channels I’ve requested official word from Evolve Money about these changes, but have yet to hear back. I did talk with an Evolve Support employee, though, who gave me the following information:

  • They do have new rules in place in order to prevent fraud.
  • The primary new rule is: you may only make up to 4 payments to one biller per month (presumably calendar month since some emails reference July 1 as the date that they may resume payments)
  • As always, each payment can be no more than $999

There was no word from this employee about whether people who were banned from a biller altogether have any recourse to get that option reinstated.

Limit to 4 payments

The four payment rule appears to be in place for all users, not just those who received emails (I’ll post an update if I hear otherwise).  I believe that this means, the following:

  • For each unique account that you pay via Evolve (such as a car loan, for example), you can make no more than 4 separate payments per calendar month.
  • Even if you and your spouse have separate Evolve accounts, no more than 4 payments per month can be made to the same biller account (e.g. to that same car loan). 
  • If you have multiple accounts with one biller, you may make up to 4 payments per account.  For example, if you own two homes and have mortgages on each with the same bank, you can make a total of 8 payments per month to that bank: 4 to each mortgage.

Payment size is limited to $999, or the balance on your gift card, whichever is lower

  • If you have $200 Visa gift cards, for example, then each payment made with these gift cards can be no more than $200.  There is no way to split tender and make a single payment with multiple gift cards.
  • If you pay with a debit card that has a balance over $999, you are still limited to Evolve’s $999 per payment limit.

Summary

It appears that Evolve Money has added a new limitation to their service: no more than 4 payments per month can be made to each biller account.  Unfortunately, it looks like many people who exceeded this limit (which they were not aware of) have been completely banned from paying that biller anymore through Evolve.  I’m still hopeful that Evolve will back off a bit and give those users a chance to comply with the new rules going forward.  We’ll see.  I’ll update soon with more information if/when it becomes available.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. I am one of those that got the hard bad, certainly seems very rough to get shutdown for a limit that wasn’t even in place. I certainly would’ve stayed within bounds if I had know. Very frustrating.

  2. The part that I don’t like is 4 payments to each biller account, PERIOD. It would make sense to allow 4 from me, 4 from my wife, for example. But I do understand the potential for abuse. I just think a limit of 4×2 would make sense.

  3. Wow! That means I cannot use Visa GC from staples for my Chase mortgage payments. What if I pay half the payment one calendar month and half another calendar month?

  4. I presume this is because people were making $4000 mortgage payments with (20) $200 GCs and Evolve was getting charged a swipe fee for each card. Does anyone know how evolve makes money at all? Do they get paid anything by the receiver of the payment?

  5. Seems pretty reasonable to me. The average consumer doesn’t make a dozen $200 payments to a single bill.

  6. It was only matter of time for this kind of restriction to happen.
    There’s only so much swipe fee that they can absorb, and as you all know from FT, there are some people who love to take anything to the limit and abuse it.
    Now one can argue that they were playing along within the restriction set by Evolve. What many people forget is the “restriction” isn’t a safety line. It’s more of a line that the business will tolerate given the right context. If you max out to the maximum line set by the company, unless you have a good excuse, they will restrict you. Chase will do that if you max out their $50,000 5x points on the ink card without other significant purchases. If you keep spending all the way to your spending limit set by AMEX, you might get FR.
    IMO, it’s always better to play safe far from the restriction rather than play near it.

  7. Just got this notice yesterday with limiting to 4 transactions per month.

    Have one question in terms of paying the same biller from multiple accounts. It looks like in some cases you can’t submit the same amount within 10 minutes or it locks the card. I know this happens on the same account so i usually wait. Has this happened to anyone else?

    • I had something similar happen. I had 3, $500 gift cards and when I used #2 the transaction failed for insufficient funds. When I looked online it said Evolve had a hold on the funds. I called MC who said I had to take it up with Evolve. Evolve said there was a timeout by MC after which the funds would go back on the card. MC confirmed and a week later the funds were back on the card. I tried again and the funds went through to Evolve just fine. The only thing I can think of is that either I submitted that card too soon after a transaction, or I hadn’t registered it and it was looking up my name (which I don’t actually happens).

  8. Got lucky I guess that I sent some payments for this month’s mortgage on the last day of last month, or else I would have been over the 4 payments limit as well, as my usual mortgage payment is 5 or 6 gift cards.

  9. I’m glad they are placing restrictions rather than just continuing to shut people down for violating unwritten rules. I think the restrictions are reasonable and I hope they make Evolve’s business model more viable.

  10. Not a surprise. Knew some doing 6 figures a month to certain financial institutions. As if that wasn’t going to set off alarm bells…

  11. Fm, I made 6 debit payments to my car loan yesterday so obviously still pending. The amounts were small though, $200, 50, 40, 30, 7, & 4, as I was draining some rebate debit cards. It was just my 2nd month using evolve. Hopefully I wouldn’t get banned.

  12. And so what is the NEW strategy for using Evolve to pay a $2000 mortgage? It would seem that the only viable option is 4 x $500 GC purchased from Gift Card Mall, etc. That would mean 2000 points with a cost of around $20, which is a $0.01 per point. Boo. I was enjoying my 1000 pts per $200 GC at a cost of $0.00488 per pt. Well crap. 🙁

    • Tom: Try to find $500 gift cards at a grocery store or drug store then buy them with a cc that has a category bonus at those locations.

  13. Yikes, my mortgage payments just go shut down by Evolve. Oh well, life goee on…

    This is a good example of why it is important to hit MS opportunities hard when they arise. They will not last, so you should maximize them while you can.

    • I think that is the wrong approach. If everyone hits every deal hard, the deals/tricks die quickly. Slow and steady is the better approach. Of course there will always be people who try to max out everything, but there will be no way to stop them. There is at least 1 credit card you can pay with Evolve…

  14. Evolve was never great for paying larging bills, to much risk involved. I did a mortgage payment with is but I much rather stick with BB for my bigger bills. However evolve is still the go to for utilities that don’t except cc. Like Rza says, its all about diversifying.

  15. I didn’t get an email notice but my payments weren’t going thru – thought it was related to an open case i had with them of a payment that didn’t go thru. just got off the phone with the agent and she said the account with that biller indeed was suspended but that it would automatically clear up next month. She said they started this new limit last week which i don’t know if that’s accurate as i think i made some payments on the weekend – so i think it started on monday. She also said it was to deter fraud – whether that’s true or not, i don’t know but you can’t really argue with them if they say that line vs something else. was asking if her if there was any way around the 4x/month because if you have small prepaid cards then you’re screwed vs should just be a $ limit and she was promoting the money paks that work with evolve but have the $4.95 fee.

    • are you sure thats what she said? So what you saying that next month you can pay again that account that got shut down? i got my two mortgages closed so now i cant pay. i have to say it was a great way to burn money to earn points.

    • I haven’t received confirmation of anything from Evolve yet, but I think we need to proceed with out best understanding of the current situation. And, yes, my understanding is that two accounts from one biller mean you can make a total of eight payments to that biller per month by paying each account four times

  16. I haven’t used Evolve yet, and I hope someone can answer these noob questions related to the 4-payments issue.

    a. If I have a Citi MC and a Citi Visa, is that 1 or 2 billers?

    b. If I have a Chase personal card and a Chase business card, is that 1 or 2 billers?

    Thank you.

    • You can’t pay those credit card bills with Evolve. If you could,then since each card has its own account number, you would be able to make up to 4 payments per month to each. That said,you can’t make payments to those citi or chase credit cards from evolve anyway

  17. I am in Europe on a miles-based jaunt – so I have not worried about paying my mortgage this month – but I did get an email reminder from them reminding me to be sure I use their service to pay the mortgage. No other emails. I do 5 cards on my account, 5 on my wife’s account and 2 on another account to pay it all. But, it’s the only thing I pay with their service. Wonder if there’s a second variable like a capital crime.. that you can’t do X, if you’re also doing Y.

  18. Good for Evolve. I’m glad they set a limit. Too many people have been abusing this great service. How many times have we seen unlimited services get abused and get killed. Hopefully, with limits in place, Evolve is sustainable and can stick around for a while – similar to Bluebird.

  19. They did what they needed to. serves people right that were abusing the site. sites that listed using cc instead of debit to make payments helped cause this as well.

  20. Thank you for the update. I was burning off some old gift cards and had and would have pushed the limit had I not seen this. I will follow the limits, I also don’t understand how they make money unless it is on the float of 2 days but I can’t imagine that is of any real use.

    I did try an AMEX gift card and it would not work with evolve. When I went to staples all they had were the 200 card, they do not have the Vanilla cards that allow for up to $500.00. This will be important based on the limitation if I want the 5P per dollar.

    Leave No Point Uncollected

  21. Evolve’s communications director should be moved to a position having nothing to do with communications unless a more senior exec ordered this policy change without giving Communications a chance to advise customers. Evolve blocking me from paying my mortgage account is the only notice I received that Evolve has a new policy, and when I called and emailed to ask about it, Customer Service did not even advise that there’s now a 4 payment per month limit but would say only that I had made too many payments (without telling me, despite my asking, what the monthly limit is). Evolve asked me to send them my last two mortgage statements as a check against fraud. I sent the statements even though I do not see the relevance. My payments have been to reduce my own mortgage, but what if I were making payments to reduce my daughter’s mortgage? There’d be nothing wrong with that yet in that case the names on the payor and payee accounts would differ. The most frustrating and annoying thing is that it was a waste of time to provide the mortgage statements as Evolve’s only reply was the same \we encourage you to continue to use our service to make payments to other accounts, but we will no longer accept payments to this payee account because you made too many payments to it\ — all still without saying how many payments were too many. Why would Evolve waste my time asking for documentation if it weren’t going to unblock my account upon finding the documentation in order?

  22. Is this confirmed to be the case for every evolve user, or have they just cracked down on specific people?

    At least for my ed loans, I’ve made well more than 4 payments to one biller, and that’s just in the past couple days. Am I about to be throttled?

  23. I never quite got the attraction to “evolve” in the first place. Now, with the practical apparent inability to pay bills larger than $200, it pales even more so to BlueBird — assuming one can still load BB readily. (via vrc or debit cards @ a wally world)

    W. the BBird, I routinely pay large mortgage, taxes, and other bills I can’t pay ordinarily by credit card. (and size of transaction not an issue)

    Tell me again why I should consider evolve at all?

    • @Will can you load BB with gift cards ? Any gift cards ? It is all about the points or do you earn points when paying with the BB card ?

      Leave No Point Uncollected

      • Hi Leaonard. I load BB with “debit cards” — (including the Visa V gift cards) and yes, I’m earning points in the process, though no doubt there’s more to be earned than I’m not yet comprehending. (I’m keen to learn) For example, if I were to start buying the $200 Visa (debit) “gift” cards with new Ink card via Staples, I comprehend there will be more points to made that way. (yet can I not also load those gift/debit cards also via BB?)

        That said, your quip does alert me to read again and I see that you can load ordinary gift cards into evolve….. now THAT is interesting.

        Still, back on the payments side, evolve seems much more limited that BB. (in addition to mortgage & taxes, paid w/ the free checks provided, I’ve also been able to pay life insurance and even credit cards bills with it — and then there’s the ready e-linking for transfers to my bank checking account)

        • you can load ordinary gift cards into evolve….. now THAT is interesting

          What do you mean “ordinary gift cards”? Like store gift cards? How can you load those???

  24. Thank You for the information, with point devaluations I want to make certain I am earning where I can. The Evolve in the short time I have used it works well with gift cards I get at staples using my Chase Ink card. I also purchased AMEX gift cards and it did not work with evolve. If I get the BB card and can purchase cards at Supermarkets with my Amex gold rewards, I can get 2 points and then pay other services not available through evolve. It can’t hurt to try.

  25. I ordered $2k of Visa gift cards online from Staples immediately before Evolve changed the rules. This was to be my first Evolve payment, my $2k mortgage.

    After I received the cards and activated them I called Evolve to see if they’d allow me to make my $2k mortgage payment with my 10 $200 cards. The CS agent was VERY rude, not interested in my position at all, and simply stated that they reserved the right to change their rules at any time.

    Fair enough. However, I informed her that I also reserve the right to not only never use them, but to alert everyone I know that they are a financial institution that makes completely changes their rules without forewarning or accommodation. I let her know that gives me, as a customer, a very distrustful feeling when someone is moving my money.

    I will never, ever use Evolve. I will always discourage those I know from using them. I don’t trust them. I don’t churn hard, simply, I get points where I can.

    It is reasonable for me to pay my $2k mortgage. Evolve is unreasonable.

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