Chase Ink 5X? Send check to self? Pay credit card bill? Combine payments? Is Plastiq reliable? Top 5 Plastiq questions answered…

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This morning, via Frequent Miler’s Quick Deals,  I posted a new Plastiq credit card bill payment offer: Pay Utilities by credit card for free.  To get this deal, you must sign up with a promo link (found in the Quick Deal), schedule 6 or more utility payments, and pay with a MasterCard.  As I wrote in that post, I can already pay all of my utilities with a  credit card for free, so this new deal doesn’t excite me, but others may find it helpful.  And, in case you’re wondering, the earlier deal (Pay mortgage, rent, and other bills for only 1.99% fee with Amex or MasterCard) is still available.  Even though the two deals have slightly different signup links, my understanding is that if you sign up for one you will be automatically enrolled in the other.

On the topic of Plastiq, in today’s post, the top 5 answers are on the board…

Plastiq Questions

Question: Will I earn 5 points per dollar by using my Chase Ink card to pay?

Answer: No

Plastiq payments are coded as utilities, and Chase Ink offers 5X points for some purchases that Chase categorizes as utilities (e.g. phone and cable), so this was a sensible question.  I ran a test payment, though, and used the technique I described in another post to check whether or not I earned 5X (see: How to see which purchases qualify for Chase Ink and Freedom bonus categories).  My test purchase didn’t qualify for 5X.

Question: I need to include a pay stub with my payment. Can I have Plastiq send the bill payment to my house so that I can send the check to the payee along with the pay stub?

Answer: No

Here is Plastiq’s longer response:

In short, this is not allowed. The workaround here is that there is a memo section included on the check where the cardholder can put their name, account number, and other critical information the payee requires from the pay stub. We’ve found that this works more often than not for all parties.

Question: Can I use Plastiq to pay my credit card bill?

Answer: No

Question: Can I combine payment sources into one payment?

Answer: No

Many readers have asked about this.  When paying with gift cards, you can’t make a single payment that is larger than the value of the gift card minus Plastiq fees.  This is a problem for those who need to make large payments.  The only solution is to make multiple payments.  In most cases, payees have no problem accepting multiple payments for one bill.  With loan payments (such as mortgages), though, payments may be applied to principal rather than to the monthly bill.  Usually, if you have all payments sent on the same day, this won’t happen, but it really depends upon the bank that handles your loan.  I’d recommend calling your mortgage or loan broker to ask them how it will be handled.

Question: Is Plastiq reliable?

Answer: _______________ (please fill in the blank with your own experience)

I’ve made many bill payments through Plastiq and haven’t had any serious problems. Most of my bill payments have been electronic deposits (ACH), but I made one payment by check.  All payments were delivered in about a week for ACH payments, and two weeks for the check payment.  So, from my own experience, the answer is yes, Plastiq is reliable.

However, quite a few readers have reported problems with Plastiq.  Reported issues include:

  • Errors when trying to make payments (Note: this happened to me when I tried to schedule a recurring payment with a new payment source. After I made a single immediate payment, the problem cleared up)
  • Extremely long payment delivery times
  • Extremely long wait for a returned payment to be re-credited (Note: I had one cancelled payment which was re-credited immediately so YMMV)
  • Requirement to send rental agreement or invoice when paying individuals (Note: this hasn’t happened to me, but YMMV)
  • The worst complaint I’ve read is one in which Plastiq supposedly withdrew money from the payees bank account without permission!  MileNerd passed along the story here.

Another issue with Plastiq is how they’ve changed the rules as stated to me via email and phone conversations multiple times.  Here are a few examples:

  • Initially I was told that contributions to 529 plans were allowed. Later, they reversed course and stopped allowing them.
  • Initially I was told that people could lock in promotional rates long term by scheduling recurring payments and that those rates would be honored even if the customer changed the funding source.  Since then they found that, due to a technical limitation, changing the funding source will cause the rate to be recalculated.
  • Initially I was told that people could use Plastiq to pay their roommate for their share of the rent.  It turned out that wasn’t true.  Plastiq does not allow payments to individuals unless that individual has provided goods or services.

Plastiq is clearly experiencing growing pains, and a number of customers have suffered for it.  However, based on my own experience, I’d guess that most people have little or no trouble.  Is the potential for trouble a good reason to avoid Plastiq?  Obviously each person should make up their own minds about that, but for me its worth the risk.

Consider that almost everything I write about on this blog has potential problems and risks:

  • Credit card applications may be denied
  • Credit card companies, prepaid companies, or banks may forcibly shut down your accounts
  • Shopping portals may not correctly track your purchases
  • Gift cards may be improperly activated
  • Deal purchases may be cancelled
  • Reward flights may be hard or impossible to find

I could go on and on.  All of the things listed above have happened to me at one time or another. And, yes, they’re a pain to deal with.  However, the rewards in this hobby can be fantastic.  So, I keep plugging away despite the problems and risks.  And, obviously, each reader should evaluate their own tolerance for trouble and risk before diving into any of these endeavors.

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