Last week, a number of blogs revealed that Evolve Money accepts credit cards for payment. In my opinion, it was irresponsible to blog about it, and it is risky to do it. Here’s why…
It is a glitch, not a feature
Yes, the website says that they accept MasterCard and Visa, but what they mean is that they accept MasterCard and Visa debit cards. The ability to accept MasterCard credit cards is, I strongly believe, an accident. In fact, a Vice President at Evolve has been quoted as saying that they will accept credit cards in the future, but will charge a fee. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Evolve at The Free-quent Flyer blog:
…one thing we’re going to add in the future, is the ability for you to use your credit card to make payments. Unfortunately, we’re gonna charge for using a credit card.
It is risky
Some people have claimed that when they used credit cards with Evolve Money, they were charged cash advance fees. I don’t know if that is true, but it seems plausible that some banks would do that. It is also plausible that people are simply trying to scare the masses away so that this deal can live on. Either way, it is a fair warning.
More concerning, in my mind, is the chance of banks shutting down your accounts. I personally know at least two people who have had their bank accounts abruptly shut down from using Evolve Money in ways that were clearly not intended. If you pay bills through Evolve with a credit card, it may be just a matter of time until your bank decides something fishy is going on. You don’t want that.
Please read this plea Evolve made on Flyertalk in February (bolding is mine):
It sounds like people on this forum find Evolve Money very useful for paying all of their bills. All we ask is that you don’t abuse the system by trying to “churn” money – it doesn’t help us, the service providers and institutions we provide payments for. And most importantly, it doesn’t help you. In the long run, all financial institutions are required to share information and these kind of activities can get you in hot water. Not to mention that there may be tax implications when paying into financial institutions. Keep it to paying your regular bills like mortgage, gas, water, electricity, car loan, insurance, cable, wireless, internet and others like that and you’ll be fine.
Evolve is great for its intended use. Please don’t kill it.
Evolve is great for paying bills that can’t normally be paid by credit card such as mortgages, student loans, education savings programs, etc. And, better yet, Evolve has publicly stated that they are committed to accepting MasterCard and Visa gift cards, and awards earning debit cards. With those supported options, there are fantastic point earning opportunities out there. If we abuse their service, they may have to cut back on what they’ll accept and/or stop offering the service altogether.
My thoughts on blogging “deals” like this
Many bloggers (including me) have known about this glitch for a while, but we didn’t blog about it. For some background about how I decide what is blog-able or not, please see “Blogging the line.” In this case, blogging could harm the company involved (Evolve), kill not only the specific deal but also the ability to use gift cards and debit cards, and could harm readers who may get caught up in bank shutdowns and the like. I couldn’t imagine any upside to blogging about it. I realize that all bloggers draw the line differently, and I accept that, but this line should have been visible to all.
When a prominent blogger (who is a friend of mine, by the way) recently wrote about this deal, I was upset but still kept silent on my blog because I didn’t want to add to the publicity. Then, many other blogs started writing about it as well. Even then, I wasn’t going to write about it. Every single additional mention adds to the publicity and to the risk. Upon reflection, though, I decided that I needed to warn people of these risks. So, I wrote this post.
Am I being hypocritical? Some will point out that my blog kills deals too. For example, I recently wrote quite a bit about amazing opportunities to buy $200 gift cards at Staples.com and earn both points and money along the way. Then, Staples apparently stopped paying out to portals for Staples’ gift card purchases. The jury is still out on whether all portals have stopped paying out, but it does seem that some have stopped. Some will point to this and say that I killed the deal. Others will say that I accurately predicted the end of the deal (see “A great disturbance in the Force”). It’s possible that both are true. The difference between the Staples’ deal and Evolve credit card use is that the former was made up of publicly advertised offers, whereas the latter is a stumbled upon glitch. I write about miles and points deals. That’s what I do. If the elements of those deals are publicly available and I feel that they’re worth writing about, I will. Yes, public exposure from my blog and others will occasionally kill such deals. That sucks, but that’s the reality of it.
By the way, I leave you with this, which is still (as of Sunday afternoon) front and center in the uPromise portal:
Notice what they still say about gift cards? “Give the gift of easy, gift cards now available at Staples.” My guess is that they simply haven’t fixed the text yet, but we’ll see.