An easier (and now cheaper) way to increase credit card spend: Plastiq

PlastiqThere are many reasons why you might be interested in increasing credit card spend, such as:

  1. Meet minimum spend requirements to secure big credit card signup bonuses.
  2. Earn credit card big spend bonuses.
  3. Earn credit card rewards, ideally when the cost of increasing credit card spend is less than the value of the rewards.  See: Best rewards for everyday spend.

On the page, “How to increase credit card spend,” I list many options for manufacturing spend.  Most are fairly complicated.  One that stands out as easy, though, is Plastiq.  If you have large expenses that can’t normally be paid via credit card, Plastiq offers a simple solution: Use their service to pay bills.  In exchange for a fee (normally 2.5%), you can pay those bills with credit cards.  Here are example uses:

  • Car payments (monthly leases)
  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Tuition
  • Contractors
  • Nannies, babysitters
  • Landscapers
  • Purchase car, boat
  • Professional services: Law firms, Accounting firms, PR agencies, etc.
  • (more examples can be found here)

Unlike a few similar services, Plastiq is not limited to payees in their database.  If the payee (AKA biller) is not in the database, you can pay them through Plastiq by check or by bank transfer (ACH).  In fact, as a test, I recently succeeded in paying a landscaper through Plastiq. I gave him the choice of receiving the money by check or direct deposit to his bank account.  He chose the latter and he gave me his account number and routing number so that I could pay him.  I initiated payment on a Saturday evening and the money appeared in his account the following Friday morning (or possibly sometime on Thursday).

For detailed information about Plastiq, please see: The Complete guide to Plastiq credit card payments.  The guide includes complete information about types of bills that can (and cannot) be paid through Plastiq, reasons businesses may be interested in Plastiq, gift card usage with Plastiq, and more.

Promotional Rates

As announced via Quick Deals, Plastiq is currently offering reduced rates for bills paid by MasterCard or American Express credit cards. To get this rate, you must sign up for Plastiq using my link or a similar link from another publisher (Disclosure: I will receive a $5 referral fee for each person who signs up with my promo link).

Plastiq 1.99%

Please refer to this Quick Deals post for full information about the promotional rate, including how to lock in those rates long-term:

Pay mortgage, rent, and more by credit card. Plastiq offers 1.99% Amex and MasterCard promo rate

When it makes sense to use Plastiq

Even when cash flow isn’t a motivator, there are times when it can make sense to pay Plastiq’s fees in order to earn credit card rewards:

  • Use Plastiq only for bills that cannot already be paid by credit card.  Many billers accept credit cards and usually do not charge a fee for accepting them. In those cases, I’d argue that it’s almost always better to pay those billers directly by credit card rather than going through a service like Plastiq.  Note: one exception is when the biller does not accept a certain type of payment, such as American Express.
  • Use Plastiq when credit card rewards outweigh fees.  Unfortunately, there are very few cards that earn significantly more than 1.99% for non-bonus spend (see: Best rewards for everyday spend).  That said, there are times when a card’s earnings are better than usual.  For example, Shawn at Miles to Memories recently reported getting a retention offer for his wife’s Citi ThankYou Preferred MasterCard.  For the next 6 months, the card will earn an extra 2 points per dollar for all spend.  This means that Shawn’s wife would earn 3 points per dollar paying bills with Plastiq.  With a 1.99% fee, that’s like buying ThankYou points for .66 cents each.  And, considering that ThankYou points are worth between 1.33 and 1.6 cents per point for flights when you have a Citi Prestige card (which Shawn does have), that’s a great deal!
  • Use Plastiq with gift cards bought at a discount (or with cash back).  It is often possible to get up to 2.25% cash back when buying Amex gift cards.  Similarly, Visa and MasterCard gift cards are often available at discount from certain stores (such as with this recent deal).
  • Use Plastiq to meet large spend requirements for new credit card signup bonuses – if you can’t meet that spend in ways that incur no fees.  It may also make sense just for peace of mind of knowing that you can meet those spend requirements quickly, despite the fees.
  • Use Plastiq to help meet spend thresholds in order to secure big spend bonuses.  Make sure that the benefits outweigh the fees.

Caution!

A number of readers have complained to me about their experiences with Plastiq.  A common issue is that payments take longer than expected.  Some readers reportedly have had to pay late fees as a result.  My impression is that Plastiq is a young company that has been overwhelmed by demand since I and a few other bloggers started writing about them.  I believe that they are working towards rectifying issues, but that is little consolation for those who experience these issues.

If you plan to try out Plastiq, I highly recommend sending in payments far in advance of their due date until you get a better idea of how long those payments take to process by Plastiq and by the payee.

Related posts and resources

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. Do you know if there is a way to get the AMEX promotional rates for those of us who already have an account with Plastiq.

    • Yes, full details are in the Quick Deals post where I wrote the following:

      If you have previously signed up for Plastiq, you have two options for securing these promotional rates:
      1) Re-register with a different email address; or
      2) Send a note to support@plastiq.com saying that you would like to sign up for the promotion found on the Frequent Miler site. They will then update your existing account.

  2. We wary of them:

    My first ever payment — to my mortgage company — took 23 days to arrive. After having to send in my DL, and then a selfie-picture (seriously?) and a copy of the actual mortgage statement.

    My second ever payment — to the same mortgage company — took 17 days to arrive. After being told that this was a payment to a credit card company and they do not support that. Huh? The account number is not even 16 digits long and it’s a mortgage company. Was asked to send in mortgage statement and copy of my DL — until I told them they already asked me that last time.

    I had set up other payments — condo fees — but might send in a separate check since I just don’t trust that they will arrive in a timely matter, no matter what Plastiq promises.

    Another nonsensical practice: You get an email saying your payment has been successfully processed. Then another email a week later saying, ok funds approved, we sent out payment to your biller today. Huh? Why would it take a week between “payment sucessfully processed” to “payment sent out”?

    • Yikes. That all sounds bad. Thanks for the warning. I’ve had a very different experience:
      Since I knew this promo was coming up, I ran a number of test payments to different billers in July. I used an account that was not associated with my blog in order to avoid getting special treatment. I didn’t have any problems with Plastiq itself. That said, all of my tests used ACH rather than check. One biller inexplicably refused the ACH deposit on my 2nd payment, but not on my first. Plastiq called me to tell me what happened and they refunded the entire amount (including their fee) to the credit card I had used. I actually was impressed with how well Plastiq handled that situation.
      .
      Was your experience a while ago? Maybe they’ve improved since then?

      • No, this was very recent (past couple of weeks). Their customer service rep (Beatrice) actually responds pretty quickly and is nice and polite, but I think their back of the house infrastructure seems very slow.

        But questioning me whether a 10 digit account number is a credit card account or not was pretty galling. I’ll try a few more times to see if they’ve ironed out their kinks. But I’m still waiting on confirmation that they have actually even sent out payment that I initiated last week (and that was “successfully processed” last week). At this point it seems saver to send another check to my payee to avoid a late fee. (They have since claimed that it may take up to 10 BUSINESS DAYS for a check to arrive AFTER it’s actually sent — meaning a week after it’s initiated and “Processed”. That’s a total of up to 3 weeks to get somebody paid.)

        • Yeah Ken I had similar experience. Sent a rent payment via ACH to my landlord as i was out of state on vacation. Trying my best to avoid the late fees racking up, seen at it was going to be cheaper and faster than radpad. Payment was successfully processed. 2 days ago i got a message from Beatrice asking for me to provide a copy of my rentals agreement and a selfie. I was given 48 hours to present said documents or the transaction would be cancelled.
          Well the late fees are now racking up and i now have to use radpad. So much for providing an easier way to pay bills.
          Note to everyone have your rentals agreement, a selfie and whatever other document you might be paying for ready or your transaction will get declined after it has shown processed and accepted.

  3. I don’t get it. What can Plastiq do that my Amex Bluebird account can’t already do — and with NO FEE? I pay most of my bills (including the mortgage) with BlueBird already. Those times when I had a bill not in the BlueBird data base, like my local elec coop, I called up BlueBird — and within hours, they had the payee added to their system. When that doesn’t work, like when paying my taxes, or local bills, I use one of my bluebird checks, write out it out, and again, NO FEE.

    So what possible advantage does this “plastique” plastic have over bluebird? As in ever?

    Seems to me you and others are pushing this too hard.

    • I’m personally excited about this, independent of the $5 referral fee. I asked Plastiq to skip the fee and lower rates even more, but they didn’t want to do that.
      .
      For people that are happily using Bluebird (or other “birds”), the reason to use Plastiq is to increase spend beyond the $5K / month allowed by Bluebird. Use Bluebird to pay bills that are not allowed by Plastiq (such as credit card bills), then use Plastiq in conjunction with Amex gift cards (after getting portal cash back) to pay regular bills (such as your mortgage). Now you’ve increased your credit card spend beyond what is possible with Bluebird alone.
      .
      There are also many readers who don’t use bluebird, redbird, Serve for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:
      1. They think it is too complicated
      2. They don’t have (or know of) a good source for buying Visa/MC gift cards with a credit card
      3. They don’t want to make frequent visits to Walmart/Target/etc.
      4. Their local Walmart/Target/whatever specifically won’t accept gift cards as debit cards.

    • I agree with Will S.
      if you have access to BB you would never have a reason to use this.
      Anything with a 2%- 2.5% fee is counterproductive….might as well go back to paypal, amazon payments, and get a creditcard swipe pay gadget for your phone.

  4. I wonder if paying off “marker’s” (casino) or front money would be a possible use? The payments look like management companies anyway. (for example : MDDC LLC, or the full name : Marina District Development Company, LLC?) Would be a “super easy” way to deal with a very large spend requirement for a new card, all in one transaction.

    Thoughts? Would you just call it “real estate?” – You do have an account #.

      • I am complaining about referral fee. I support that 100%. It’s the 1.99% I am gagging on. But if they move ACH money with speed then I am all in

  5. Will I be able to pay off a credit card payment using Plastiq? To be more specific, Citi Double Cash. If American Express gift cards can be used, it would be a great way to increase spending.

      • I read through the terms and didn’t see that. How do you know it isn’t allowed?

        Are there other services that will allow it?

      • Yes, credit card payments would be ideal for manufactured spending to get the big sign up bonuses. Would ANY credit card-ANY-let you buy $500 VISA/MC gift debit cards and then let you use them with Plastiq to pay off the minimum spending charge? Alternately, let you use the credit card directly to load Plastiq to pay off the credit card? ANY?

  6. Using Amex everyday, it seems like a no brainer. If I can set it and forget it to pay my mortgage, I’m a buyer all year long at $1.99 for 150 Amex points. A 23 day delay, though, sounds like something I want no part of, so I think I will wait to hear more about check payment experiences.

    • I’d recommend also checking to see if your mortgage has a direct deposit option where you can use a routing number and account number to pay your bill. If so, your payments from Plastiq will get deposited directly (it took about a week in my tests)

  7. I used them once a couple months ago when this deal first surfaced…it was a major PITA. They froze my payment for weeks and asked me to submit a bill of sale proving that it was legit.

    I don’t really get why they are so aggressively targeting the blogs when they have to know people that read these blogs are MS’ers. Maybe this means they are going to relax a bit and turn a bit of a blind eye to MS activities…but I wouldn’t count on it.

    • See my response to Ken, above. I ran a number of tests without any trouble so I’m guessing/hoping that they’ve fixed the issues you and Ken reported. As long as you use Plastiq to pay the types of bills that they allow, they want your business.

      • Yea as with any deal one of the first questions I think needs to be asked is: how much can this be scaled?

        If they are going to continue to be super aggressive on stopping anything they consider illegitimate then this has limited ability to scale…if they are going to make this a bit of a wink wink nod nod arrangement then perhaps we can actually move some real volume.

  8. Pretty disappointed after hearing these stories. I had Plastiq in mind to help me meet required spend for CSP. Planning the app around November to take advantage of christmas spending. I figured my landlord would let me pay a few months with Plastiq if I explained the need. Now I’m hesitant.
    Have to look more closely at BB but, here in New York, walmart is an absolute disaster and local retailers are usually the first to catch on to anything they consider “unsavory” and clamp down on it.

  9. Are you sure AMEX gift cards can be used? I just looked through the website, I think I remember seeing a required name for the credit card. You think we can just put our name on there even though the card is unpersonalized?

    • Yes, I’ve done so several times with regular non-customized gift cards. I put in my own address. Plus, in talks with the CEO, I’ve been told that they are fully committed to continuing to support gift cards as a payment source.

  10. Greg, how do the charges show up on your credit card bill? Any idea if Plastiq would show up as an online retailer? It would be very beneficial for a certain credit card I have

  11. Any idea if this will count for the 3x online merchant bonus of the Citi AT&T Access More card? Probably still worth it to get the 10k annual bonus but it’d be a nice cherry.

  12. Unlike others, i’m all over the potential here. Just struggling big time to get the site to work. I’ve spent about 2 hours so far trying to get an ACH to my mortgage company to work (CitiMortgage). Have called in twice now but for some reason i’m getting an error when submitting payment. I thought at first it might be because the account number I put in memo field had a hyphen. That didn’t work, called back CSR and she’s asking me if i put in the CSV on my credit card – there is no field for CSV that I can see. If anyone else runs into same problems and figures out, let me know.

      • Figured it out – I was trying to set up recurring payments, and for some reason it does not show the CSV field when doing that. As soon as I switched to one-time payment, the CSV field pops up and all worked fine this time.

  13. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve used another service like this before. The way I see it, the benefits outweigh the cost. I suppose it all depends on how you value things.

    —I don’t want to go through the trouble of buying gift cards.
    —I don’t want to have to take said gift cards to a Walmart to load them onto Bluebird.
    —I want to be able to use an AmEx to get the spend bonus that I otherwise wouldn’t necessarily get.
    —I don’t want to feel like I’m at the fringes of what’s acceptable as it relates to T&C’s. I understand that it may not be breaking any rules, but at this point in my life I try to stay as far outside the gray areas as I can.

    All of that is CERTAINLY worth a 1.99% fee to me. It may not be to others. I get it. Do what works for you.

  14. I’m confused about something and I hope someone will respond. A lot of you seem to always want to get literally every dollar out of a deal. An example is buying using a credit card to buy Amex gc in order to buy Visa gc in order to load Redbird/Serve/Bluebird. Why would any of you that do that pay 1.99% instead of the 1% or so that a Visa gc costs? If it’s convenience then why would you buy the Amex gc in the first place? Isn’t it much more convenient to simply use your credit card to pay Plastiq directly? I realize you wouldn’t be making any (or much) money that way but that’s the whole point of my question. Why pay 1.99% instead of 1%? Am I missing something?

    • My answer is that I’ll do both: load REDbird AND pay bills with Amex gift cards through Plastiq. That way I maximize credit card spend. And, Plastiq is so easy that it adds very little work to my routine. True, there are other ways I could liquidate Amex gift cards for less money than Plastiq, but they’re more work. I could do those too if I wanted to though.

  15. I am a complete newbie to all this manufactured spending and travel hacking stuff, but wouldn’t Plastiq be an excellent choice to pay off my rent, as long as that payment goes toward satisfying the credit cards with the bonus miles deals attached to them? And also to pay off, let’s say, my Medical Insurance montlies that already charge me to make automatic deductions via credit cards?

    Thanks,

    Matthew

  16. How long after mortgage payment is submitted is my credit card actually charged? I want to meet minimum spend within the next 4-6 days.

  17. My experience has not been a good one, payments taking forever to get there that made me nervous. I mean what happens if you send a payment and then these guys fold? You can kiss your money goodbye.

  18. I signed up for Plastiq a month ago. I’ve never used it. Can I still get the promo offer? How do I ensure that I get the 1.99% offer? Thanks! I really want to give this a try…

  19. FM, I’ve been a long time supporter and always follow your links for my AORs. I’m so disappointed by this recommendation. Plastiq has been a nightmare. The payments are late, their CSRs are clueless (They “escalate” promising a phone call response in 24 hours but it never comes.) I was excited about this opportunity and jumped on it immediately because you backed it but now I’m in trouble with my mortgage and car payments and have late fees for utilities. Either they are completely incompetent or have crashed under the weight of new customers. Either way, you need to distance yourself from this as it has blemished my experience with you.

    • I’m sorry to hear about that! I’ve heard similar complaints from maybe 5 or 6 people, but my own experience has been fine. Clearly I should continue to provide cautions about what can go wrong (as I’ve done in a couple of newer posts about Plastiq). And, I’ll edit some of the older posts with cautions as well.
      .
      The interesting question, to me, is whether I should really distance myself from opportunities based on reader experiences? When I first started writing about double dip opportunities at Sears, I heard a number of horror stories from readers about Sears’ terrible service and I even published a reader’s story. Since then, though, Sears has continued to be a great option for earning points & miles for many people. Same story with TopCashBack. Many people told me that they would never use TCB again after initial poor experiences. Years later, many of the same people have been happily earning 2.25% cash back from Amex gift cards via TCB (until the recent change in terms).

  20. Honestly, with as piss poor as my experience has been (12 business days-still waiting for ACH payments to show up!), they’re toast in my opinion. If they can’t fix their problems soon, all of their venture capital will go toward fighting off the class-action lawyers.

  21. I signed up for Plastiq during their recent 0% fee promo for utility payments. I set up 12 recurring monthly payments, entered my credit card info, confirmed the 0% promo fee and waited for first payment to occur. But things did not occur as expected.

    The situation with my utility payments is that the amount varies each month depending on how much water or electricity I use. For electricity, I could pay $250 in the summer but only $70 in the winter, but Plastiq requires you to setup recurring payments that cannot be changed to qualify for the 0% fee promo. If you change the recurring amount for this promo after you set it up, the 0% fee promo no longer qualifies and you would get charged up to 3%.

    So, Plastiq only worked for this promo if you had static (non changing) utility payments every month.

    In addition, Plastiq messed up on my first payment saying “our processor encountered issues that caused one or more of your payment to fail.” That’s a vague way of saying that we are not going to make the payment for you, because I could not find any payment history on my Plastiq account. Luckily I discovered this prior to my utility payments due date because I scheduled the Plastiq payment to occur 7 days prior to due date.

    I promptly cancelled my Plastiq account and have no intentions of using this unreliable service again.

  22. I recently tried Plastiq to pay my power bill on 9/28 to see if I can get double points on my Barclay Rewards. Today it finally showed up complete on my transactions. I did get double points. Under the category when you pick what it is, I picked Utility. I hope this helps.

    • That’s great. I’d be interested to hear what happens when you pay something that is not really a utility. does it still get coded as a Utility by the credit card when paying through Plastiq?

      • Here in Dallas, Texas, all my utilities + cable & cell phone accept credit cards. I make big prepayments to meet minimum spending for sign up bonuses and get it back from no monthly payments for some months. A no cost manufactured spending. Also, insurances.

  23. I made some payments via Plastiq and it is taking more than a month. Their service is deplorable. Anyone know any other alternative to Plastiq?

  24. Very unreliable. Caused my payment to be late and I was charged fees by both plastic and $50 late payment by my complex! Payment was received days after the 5-7 day promise.

  25. I agree — even in 2017, Plastiq is still super slow in processing its payments. It should be noted that they send their “checks” from a payment processor in Florida (despite their corporate headquarters being in SF, California), so their 5-7 promise is a bit optimistic when there is inclement weather.

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