Plastiq is an online bill payment service that lets you pay almost all of your bills by credit card. The usual fee is 2.5%, but they often run promotions with reduced rates for Mastercard payments (such as the Mastercard/Masterpass promo that ends 9/30/2018). It’s also possible to reduce the rate by earning Fee Free Dollars through friend referrals. Full details about Plastiq can be found in our guide: Complete Guide to Plastiq Bill Payments.
I recently covered the topic of which cards to use with Plastiq in the post “With Plastiq 3X dead, what’s next?” but I left out a few key options: retention offers, the Barclays Arrival Premier card, a Bank of America Mastercard, and the Amex Blue Business Plus…
If you call a bank to say that you want to cancel your credit card, they may offer you an incentive to keep the card. These retention offers often require some amount of spend in order to earn extra points or cash back. One of the banks that frequently makes such offers is Citibank. That’s convenient since most (all?) Citibank cards are Mastercards. Mastercards are especially good to use with Plastiq since Plastiq often discounts their fees with Mastercard, and Mastercard doesn’t impose restrictions on the types of payments that can be made through Plastiq the way that Amex and Visa do (again, see our Plastiq guide for details).
I have quite a few Citibank cards: I’ve never seen any reason to cancel old no-fee cards even if I no longer use them. And whenever I’ve wanted to stop paying for a premium card, I’ve downgraded it to a no-fee card rather than cancel.
Last week, I called Citibank and told them that I wanted to cancel one of my cards but first I wanted to see if any retention offers were available (I made sure I was speaking with a person first, otherwise the computer might just close the card without checking for offers). The first agent I spoke with didn’t see any offers on the first two cards I asked about, but on the third one she saw something that led her to transfer me to a retention specialist. The retention specialist then found an offer on that card (AT&T Access More) and one additional card (ThankYou Preferred). Both cards had the same offer:
Earn 2 additional ThankYou Points for the next 6 months, up to a maximum of 35,000 bonus points.
I happily accepted both offers and told her not to close any of my accounts. Thanks to this offer, I can now earn 3 ThankYou points per dollar on $17,500 spend per card ($35K spend total) over the next 6 months.
Even without Mastercard deals or Fee Free Dollars to reduce Plastiq’s 2.5% fee, 3X ThankYou points per dollar is a great deal. You can think of it as buying ThankYou points cheaply: 2.5 cents per dollar / 3 points per dollar = 0.83 cents per point. That’s a great price whether you use ThankYou points to purchase travel at 1.25 cents per point or transfer points to airline miles (see: Citi Transfer Partners).
Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard
This is a weird card that can’t seem to find it’s place in the world. On the surface it looks similar to the Arrival Plus card: both offer 2X “miles” per dollar and the ability to get 1 cent per Arrival mile value when redeeming for travel awards. But the Arrival Premier has significant disadvantages over the Arrival Plus: no signup bonus, no 5% rebate on travel awards, and a higher annual fee ($150 vs. $89). On the other hand, the Arrival Premier has two features that make it interesting: bonus miles for spend, and the ability to transfer Arrival miles to airline miles.
Bonus Arrival miles for spend: Earn 15K bonus Arrival miles after $15K spend, and 10K additional bonus miles after additional $10K spend. Since the card already earns 2X miles per dollar, this means that you can earn 3X Arrival miles per dollar with exactly $15K or $25K membership year spend.
Transfer to airline miles: The Arrival Premier offers less than 1 to 1 transfer rates, as follows:
- 1.4 Arrival miles to 1 airline mile: Aeromexico, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, China Eastern, Etihad, EVA Air, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas
- 1.7 Arrival miles to 1 airline mile: Air Canada Aeroplan, Japan Airlines (JAL)
Airline mile earning rate: If you spend exactly $15K or $25K per membership year and always transfer to airline miles, then you will earn at the following rate:
- 2.14 airline miles per dollar: Aeromexico, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, China Eastern, Etihad, EVA Air, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas
- 1.76 airline miles per dollar: Air Canada Aeroplan, Japan Airlines (JAL)
Cost per mile via Plastiq (first year)
If you use the Arrival Premier in your first membership year to pay bills via Plastiq, and you spend exactly $15K or $25K, then you’ll incur the following costs per mile:
- Arrival Miles (3X): 2.5 cents per dollar / 3 Arrival miles per dollar = 0.83 cents per Arrival mile. Arrival miles are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel purchases, so that’s not a bad return.
- Airline Miles (at 2.14 miles per dollar): 2.5 cents per dollar / 2.14 miles per dollar = 1.17 cents per airline mile. That’s not a bad price if you need the miles.
- Airline Miles (at 1.76 miles per dollar): 2.5 cents per dollar / 1.76 miles per dollar = 1.42 cents per airline mile. That’s also not a bad price if you have a valuable award in mind.
Cost per mile via Plastiq (after the first year)
After your first year with the Arrival Premium card, you’ll have to pay the $150 annual fee. Let’s look at what it would cost per mile if you pay the annual fee, and spend exactly $25K each membership year. In each of the following scenarios we’ll assume $760 in fees: $150 annual fee, plus 2.5% of $24,390 from Plastiq (in order to spend $25K total).
- Arrival Miles (3X):
- Arrival Miles earned: 25K x 3 = 75K
- Cost per Arrival Mile: $760 / 75K = 1.01 cents per Arrival mile. Since Arrival miles are worth, at most, 1 cent each towards travel, this is a terrible deal.
- Airline Miles (2.14X):
- Airline Miles earned at 2.14X: 25K x 2.14 = 53,500
- Cost per airline mile: $760 / 53.5K = 1.42 cents per airline mile. That’s not a bad price if you have a valuable award in mind.
- Airline Miles (1.76X):
- Airline Miles earned at 1.76X: 25K x 1.76 = 44K
- Cost per airline mile: $760 / 44K = 1.73 cents per airline mile. That’s not terrible if you have a very good use in mind for the miles.
Bottom line regarding the Arrival Premier
I do not recommend getting this card for the equivalent of cash back. If you want cash back, you can do better in your first year with the Discover It Miles card, Discover It Business card, or the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card. All three offer the equivalent of 3% cash back, uncapped, in your first year. The Arrival Premier, meanwhile, requires spending exactly $15K or $25K to get the same results and you still can’t use the rewards for cash back at full value (you have to redeem for travel to 1 cent per Arrival mile in value).
If you want airline miles from one or more of the airlines supported by the Arrival Premier, it isn’t a bad deal. Via Plastiq, you can indirectly buy these miles for anywhere from 1.17 to 1.73 cents per mile (see above for details). Since most airlines sell their miles for 3 cents per mile or more, this appears to be a very good option.
On the other hand, the Arrival Premier forces you to spend exactly $15K or $25K per membership year to get full value from the card. So, you’re really limited to “buying” 44K or 53.5K airline miles per year with this approach at top value. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth juggling spend on another credit card just to be able to indirectly buy miles at a half decent price.
For most people, I do not recommend getting the Arrival Premier to make Plastiq payments, but if you have the Arrival Premier and you need help in reaching the $15K or $25K threshold, then Plastiq makes sense.
Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard
Bank of America’s consumer Travel Rewards card isn’t a good choice for Plastiq because it is a consumer Visa card, but a reader named Bob reminded me that the business version is a Mastercard. Therefore, it’s worth looking at…
|Caution: Plastiq has announced a temporary change to the way Visa credit cards are handled:
Normally the Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard earns only 1.5 points per dollar. With points worth 1 cent each towards travel, it’s similar to a 1.5% cash back card. In other words, it’s not interesting at all.
Things get interesting when you consider BOA’s Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program. This program rewards business clients with various perks based on how much money they have in Bank of America or Merrill Edge business accounts. With $100,000, business customers get a 75% rewards bonus on select business credit cards. This means that the Business Advantage Travel Rewards card then earns 2.62% back towards travel on all purchases.
Those with $100K invested would come out slightly ahead with every Plastiq payment with a 2.5% fee. Better yet, when they make Plastiq payments for business purposes, the Plastiq fee is a legitimate business expense and would therefore reduce taxes accordingly. In that case, earning 2.62% could be quite a big win.
Amex Blue Business Plus
In my previous post on this topic, I left out this card on purpose. Amex allows only a very limited set of bills to be paid through Plastiq: Government (e.g. taxes), Utilities, Education, Residential Rent, and Club Fees and Memberships. For that reason, I didn’t include any Amex cards in my previous roundup.
That said, if you have bills in those categories and if you highly value Amex Membership Rewards points, then this is a great option.
The Blue Business Plus offers 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on all purchases, up to $50K spend per calendar year.
Using this card to pay bills via Plastiq can be considered a way to buy Membership Rewards points cheaply: 2.5 cents per dollar / 2 points per dollar = 1.25 cents per point. That’s an excellent price for Membership Rewards points which can be transferred to quite a few airline partners (see: Amex Transfer Partners).
Including recommendations from my prior post on this topic, we are left with the following recommended cards to use with Plastiq:
- Cards with great signup bonuses. Use Plastiq to meet spend requirements. See: Best Credit Card Offers
- Cards with great retention offers. Call to see how much they want to keep your business.
- Cards with great big spend bonuses. See: Best Big Spend Bonuses. One example is the Chase World of Hyatt card that offers a free category 1-4 night with $15K spend (and also offers 2 elite nights credit with each $5K spend). Another example, as discussed above, is the Arrival Premier card which offers bonus points at $15K and $25K spend.
- Cards offering great rewards with everyday spend. See: Best Rewards for Everyday Spend. Good options for Plastiq include:
- Discover It Miles (year 1) or Discover It Business (year 1)
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited
- Bank of America’s Business Advantage Travel Rewards card if you have $100K stored in Bank of America business accounts
- Amex Blue Business Plus if the majority of your bills fall into the accepted categories for Amex bill payments: Government (e.g. taxes), Utilities, Education, Residential Rent, and Club Fees and Memberships.