Author Topic: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?  (Read 46334 times)

socaso

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We are trying to accumulate miles to take a trip next year and we have some minimum spends to reach on a couple of points cards. I've done the math very carefully and we can meet the minimum with bills and expenses that I know accept credit cards but we'd get there even faster if we could charge our rent and daycare bills. I've done some searching around the internet and I know about things like Vanilla and Bluebird but I kind of balk and paying fee to pay my bills so I thought I'd see if anyone on this forum had any clever hacks before I throw in the towel on the idea.

And fear not, gentle reader, we have no debt, pay all our expenses in cash every month and have no plans to buy a house in the next year or two.

peaceandprosperity

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2014, 12:55:34 PM »
I have the same question. I got a little carried away and signed up for three different points and miles cards at the same time. The total spend i need to do in 3 months is a bit beyond my needs. But if i can roll the bills in there, all would be well. The total potential for gain over those 3 months is 1500 dollars in cash and travel points though. So it's worth it for me to find a solution to be sure i qualify. With utility bills and the like, you pay a 3% premium. But the way i am looking at it, i only pay that for 3 months. So it's a small amount compared to what i would gain. And my utility companies do offer an option. I just have to remember to switch it back to a bank draw after 3 months time. I am also using it for cell phone bills and of course gas and groceries. I hope to make it but the nicest thing would be if i could pay for mortgage on it for 3 months. Then i'd pretty much be set. I am also looking for a used car. under 10k. If i could figure out a way to put the car on a credit card (to be paid off in cash of course immediately) then i'd also have no worries. But i haven't worked that out either. Appreciate the OP and looking forward to others ideas.

daveydinner

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2014, 01:14:35 PM »
You could have a friend sell you a few grand worth of stuff via Paypal (using your credit card), then sell it back to them!

Frugal Father

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2014, 01:20:08 PM »
I have the same question. I got a little carried away and signed up for three different points and miles cards at the same time. The total spend i need to do in 3 months is a bit beyond my needs. But if i can roll the bills in there, all would be well. The total potential for gain over those 3 months is 1500 dollars in cash and travel points though. So it's worth it for me to find a solution to be sure i qualify. With utility bills and the like, you pay a 3% premium. But the way i am looking at it, i only pay that for 3 months. So it's a small amount compared to what i would gain. And my utility companies do offer an option. I just have to remember to switch it back to a bank draw after 3 months time. I am also using it for cell phone bills and of course gas and groceries. I hope to make it but the nicest thing would be if i could pay for mortgage on it for 3 months. Then i'd pretty much be set. I am also looking for a used car. under 10k. If i could figure out a way to put the car on a credit card (to be paid off in cash of course immediately) then i'd also have no worries. But i haven't worked that out either. Appreciate the OP and looking forward to others ideas.
Check with the dealership. When we bought our used car, when we went to the counter to pay, we asked if we could pay by CC without an additional fee and they said yes (although you could tell they thought we were crazy for putting it on a CC), so we charged it through, reaped the rewards, and paid it off.

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2014, 06:21:03 PM »
Quote
I've done some searching around the internet and I know about things like Vanilla and Bluebird but I kind of balk and paying fee to pay my bills

You can fee-free manufacture 2k spending/mo/person by sending 1k from a CC through Amazon payments, and fee free load 1k onto Amex Serve online (200/day max for 5 days, 1k/mo max), as long as your card isn't an Amex but a Visa or Mastercard.

I wouldn't mix the cards between accounts, and I wouldn't send A->B->A on Amazon, but add in a third party if you're doing more than one card (A->B is fine if you're just doing one card).

Then of course you can pay a little to manufacture spending, but given the quote above it seems like you don't want to do that.  But if you have two cards you're working, you can "spend" 2k on one of them fee free w/ Amazon (1k) and Serve (1k), and 2k on the other doing the same thing, under your spouse's name.

MilesDividendMD is an expert on MS, so hopefully he'll chime in here as well.

Here's a recent post on his site related to the topic:
http://www.milesdividendmd.com/addition-by-subtraction/

And the category on his site on MS that has all his manufactured spending posts:
http://www.milesdividendmd.com/category/manufactured-spend/

I just signed up for a ton of cards, and right now I have to spend $37,000 in the next three to six months (for about half of it I have three months, the other half I have six months).  We spend just under 1k per month "naturally."  So I'm diving into this stuff.  :D
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 06:56:28 PM by arebelspy »
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peaceandprosperity

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2014, 08:17:39 PM »
Just finished my Amex Serve App. Been meaning to do that anyway to help my spouse with some of the fixed budget items. Great idea. I am not sure i understand the Amazon payments idea. Have to think about that some more.

jpdcpajd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2014, 08:27:40 PM »
You can still buy 40+ stocks on Loyal3 up to $50 each transaction each month

Also my utilities allow me to pay via Western Union for $2.50 so I pay 6 months plus to make it worth while

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2014, 09:45:22 PM »
Just finished my Amex Serve App. Been meaning to do that anyway to help my spouse with some of the fixed budget items. Great idea. I am not sure i understand the Amazon payments idea. Have to think about that some more.

Amazon payments is the easiest one.  If you just have one card you're working, you send $1000 through Amazon Payments (it's like Amazon's version of PayPal) fee free from one spouse to the other.  The spouse that received it withdraws it to their attached bank account, and uses that bank account to pay the credit card.  $1k/mo with no fee and about 30 seconds of work.

If you and the spouse each have a card you want to manufacture spending on, you need a trusted third party (parent, child, sibling, whatever).

In this scenario spouses are persons A and B, and truster person is person C: You send it from person A to B (using card #1), B withdraws the 1k to their bank, then sends a new 1k (using card #2) to person C.  Person C sends the 1k (not using a card, just the amount they received) back to person A, who withdraws it.

Is that clearer?  :)
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arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2014, 09:46:06 PM »
You can still buy 40+ stocks on Loyal3 up to $50 each transaction each month

Also my utilities allow me to pay via Western Union for $2.50 so I pay 6 months plus to make it worth while

I'd consider that if it was more automated.. logging on to purchase individual stocks one at a time sounds time intensive.  I may have to at some point though.  For now I'm okay paying a few bucks to do the Visa Gift card -> money order route.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

jpdcpajd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2014, 09:52:27 PM »
You can still buy 40+ stocks on Loyal3 up to $50 each transaction each month

Also my utilities allow me to pay via Western Union for $2.50 so I pay 6 months plus to make it worth while

I'd consider that if it was more automated.. logging on to purchase individual stocks one at a time sounds time intensive.  I may have to at some point though.  For now I'm okay paying a few bucks to do the Visa Gift card -> money order route.

Loyal3 is completely automated.  I have it set up to charge day after my cc statement date to defer a little.

milesdividendmd

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Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2014, 10:05:21 PM »
Quote
I've done some searching around the internet and I know about things like Vanilla and Bluebird but I kind of balk and paying fee to pay my bills

You can fee-free manufacture 2k spending/mo/person by sending 1k from a CC through Amazon payments, and fee free load 1k onto Amex Serve online (200/day max for 5 days, 1k/mo max), as long as your card isn't an Amex but a Visa or Mastercard.

I wouldn't mix the cards between accounts, and I wouldn't send A->B->A on Amazon, but add in a third party if you're doing more than one card (A->B is fine if you're just doing one card).

Then of course you can pay a little to manufacture spending, but given the quote above it seems like you don't want to do that.  But if you have two cards you're working, you can "spend" 2k on one of them fee free w/ Amazon (1k) and Serve (1k), and 2k on the other doing the same thing, under your spouse's name.

MilesDividendMD is an expert on MS, so hopefully he'll chime in here as well.

Here's a recent post on his site related to the topic:
http://www.milesdividendmd.com/addition-by-subtraction/

And the category on his site on MS that has all his manufactured spending posts:
http://www.milesdividendmd.com/category/manufactured-spend/

I just signed up for a ton of cards, and right now I have to spend $37,000 in the next three to six months (for about half of it I have three months, the other half I have six months).  We spend just under 1k per month "naturally."  So I'm diving into this stuff.  :D

Thanks arebelspy. That's very exciting to hear that you've put together such an ambitious churn. You will not regret it.

In terms of paying bills, rent and childcare are very difficult to do without going the Bluebird/Serve route. With Bluebird you can actually write paper checks from your Bluebird account so there is literally no bill you cannot pay by this method.

For bills such as student loans, mortgage payments, and car payments, you can often pay the bills through evolvemoney.com, using Visa gift cards with a PIN as a debit card. But this method does not get around the issue of paying fees for this approach.

In terms of the paying fee issue, it is actually not so much of an issue. The reason that I say this is that with an appropriately chosen cashback card you can often offset your fees for all of your other credit card spending.

My personal go to card for this purpose is the "old" American Express blue Cash preferred card which gives you five percent cashback at drug stores, grocery stores, and gas stations after your first $6500 of spend.

So let's say I buy $3000 worth of Visa gift cards at Rite Aid, and each $500 gift card costs five dollars in fees. I will end up owing $30 in fees for the "right" to put all of my spending on credit cards. If instead of spending $3000 on my other credit cards I spend $2000 on my other credit cards and $1000 on my cashback card, I actually get $50 cashback. In other words I run up $2000 in credit card spend in order to hit bonuses, and end up making $20 on top of it!

I've written about this approach (and others such as using fuel points… Very lucrative) here:

http://www.milesdividendmd.com/dont-pay-do-play/

If you choose to go this route, the best bluebird type account out there right now is the ISIS Serve account. With this single card you can store $8000 of manufactured spending a month. It's also quite hasslefree if you can find somewhere to buy Green dot moneypaks with a credit card. (I buy mine at Rite Aid.)

I wrote about the ISIS serve account first here:

http://www.milesdividendmd.com/better-than-sliced-bread/

And also in the post that Arabelspy linked above.

Finally, I would echo that Amazon payments is an absolute no-brainer.

My article with references on that approach can be found here:

http://www.milesdividendmd.com/low-hanging-fruit/

Hope that helps.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 10:11:24 PM by milesdividendmd »

brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2014, 10:35:30 PM »
Rebs - I guess you got tired of waiting for some enterprising mustachian to launch a credit card churner-for-hire business? :)

Doc - do you not have trouble finding retailers that will accept credit card payments for "cash equivalent" type products in your neck of the woods?  I know NYC is often thought of as something of a manufactured spending desert, but I would have thought national chains like Rite Aid would have nation-wide policies on this stuff.  I'm currently on a buying spree of purchasing Paypal cash cards at Duane Reade stores in Manhattan, but I can't find any local supermarkets or drugstores that will accept credit card payments for other cash-like gift cards.

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2014, 10:46:32 PM »
Rebs - I guess you got tired of waiting for some enterprising mustachian to launch a credit card churner-for-hire business? :)

Doc - do you not have trouble finding retailers that will accept credit card payments for "cash equivalent" type products in your neck of the woods?  I know NYC is often thought of as something of a manufactured spending desert, but I would have thought national chains like Rite Aid would have nation-wide policies on this stuff.  I'm currently on a buying spree of purchasing Paypal cash cards at Duane Reade stores in Manhattan, but I can't find any local supermarkets or drugstores that will accept credit card payments for other cash-like gift cards.

Brooklyn,

Although we were locked out of the vanilla reloads opportunity here in Portland, as we have no CVS stores, Rite Aid has been a pretty consistent source of Visa gift cards, green dot money packs, and PayPal my cash cards purchased with credit cards.

I know that the miles professor has reported success buying PayPal products in New York City. But as you mentioned manufactured spending opportunities are often fleeting, and region specific.


arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2014, 10:59:19 PM »
Rebs - I guess you got tired of waiting for some enterprising mustachian to launch a credit card churner-for-hire business? :)

Indeed.  One person did PM me about it, but we didn't get very far.  I'm more than happy to pay someone for it, but it appears it doesn't make sense to do it for someone else, just yourself?  IDK, that's one of two reasons I can think of (security being the other one) that I can think of.

Although we were locked out of the vanilla reloads opportunity here in Portland, as we have no CVS stores, Rite Aid has been a pretty consistent source of Visa gift cards, green dot money packs, and PayPal my cash cards purchased with credit cards.

I know that the miles professor has reported success buying PayPal products in New York City. But as you mentioned manufactured spending opportunities are often fleeting, and region specific.

I've just been buying Visa Gift Cards with a PIN through GiftCardMall via TopCashBack.com - IDK yet that it will work (haven't received my first order yet, but just placed a few days ago), but a friend recommended it.

No visiting Rite Aid/CVS necessary.

Is there an advantage to going to RA/CVS and getting Pay Pal products over Visa Gift Cards with a PIN?  I'm not sure what green dot money packs are - will probably google it in a few. :)
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arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2014, 11:14:51 PM »
You can still buy 40+ stocks on Loyal3 up to $50 each transaction each month

Also my utilities allow me to pay via Western Union for $2.50 so I pay 6 months plus to make it worth while

I'd consider that if it was more automated.. logging on to purchase individual stocks one at a time sounds time intensive.  I may have to at some point though.  For now I'm okay paying a few bucks to do the Visa Gift card -> money order route.

Loyal3 is completely automated.  I have it set up to charge day after my cc statement date to defer a little.

So I can set up, say, 10 stocks to charge $50/day, and it'll automatically, every day, charge me that $500 x 30 days in a month = 15k.  Then at the end of the month go on and sell them?  And it's a one time login at the beginning of the month to turn it on, and one time at the end of the month to sell/turn it off?

EDIT: Oh, is it $50/stock/month?  That's quite a bit worse.  So you can do, say 40 stocks @ 50 each = 2000/mo?  Does it still work the way I described above?  Minus the turning it off thing, 2k is small enough that you'd just leave it on, maybe just change the CC it's using every 2-3 months.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 11:16:46 PM by arebelspy »
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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jpdcpajd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2014, 11:20:58 PM »
You can still buy 40+ stocks on Loyal3 up to $50 each transaction each month

Also my utilities allow me to pay via Western Union for $2.50 so I pay 6 months plus to make it worth while

I'd consider that if it was more automated.. logging on to purchase individual stocks one at a time sounds time intensive.  I may have to at some point though.  For now I'm okay paying a few bucks to do the Visa Gift card -> money order route.

Loyal3 is completely automated.  I have it set up to charge day after my cc statement date to defer a little.
x

So I can set up, say, 10 stocks to charge $50/day, and it'll automatically, every day, charge me that $500 x 30 days in a month = 15k.  Then at the end of the month go on and sell them?  And it's a one time login at the beginning of the month to turn it on, and one time at the end of the month to sell/turn it off?

EDIT: Oh, is it $50/stock/month?  That's quite a bit worse.  So you can do, say 40 stocks @ 50 each = 2000/mo?  Does it still work the way I described above?  Minus the turning it off thing, 2k is small enough that you'd just leave it on, maybe just change the CC it's using every 2-3 months.

Honestly because of the churners that got tossed off i haven't tried too much more than once a month.  but I have bought more that $50 on cc for an individual stock in a month.  but you can only setup 1 automatic monthly plan per stock which gets me around 2k per month.  like I said I do go on and do manual trades some times at $50 a pop but because the monthly plan is setup it is two clicks thru.

FrugalZony

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2014, 11:24:10 PM »
If you get groceries at Safeway/Vons, they currently have a promo, where you buy a prepaid MasterCard $100 and they give you a $10 coupon for your groceries.
You loose the activation fee, but you still get $10 worth of groceries, so net $6
In some states they are true $10 coupons in some states they are $10 off $25, not quite as good, but if you coupon,
they are easy to get to threshold wise

Last Christmas they had a deal where they waved the fees and gave your $$ off when you bought one, it was like $90 for a $100 card, no brainer, and I churned a few of those.
One store even gave you $20 in free groceries when you bought one. I did that deal several times,
each time paying with the previous MasterCard...paid more than for itself ;) plus all my holiday groceries and several get togethers at our house

It's a bit more cumbersome than some of your bulk buys and it will only get you $100 in spend on your CC, but then as an added bonus you get free groceries and the opportunity to roll these into new cards and get more free groceries


Another thing people mentioned was to prepay those utilities that let you pay with a card, as in your next couple of months worth of electricity or phone bill etc.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 11:25:50 PM by FrugalZony »

milesdividendmd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2014, 11:40:29 PM »

Rebs - I guess you got tired of waiting for some enterprising mustachian to launch a credit card churner-for-hire business? :)

Indeed.  One person did PM me about it, but we didn't get very far.  I'm more than happy to pay someone for it, but it appears it doesn't make sense to do it for someone else, just yourself?  IDK, that's one of two reasons I can think of (security being the other one) that I can think of.

Although we were locked out of the vanilla reloads opportunity here in Portland, as we have no CVS stores, Rite Aid has been a pretty consistent source of Visa gift cards, green dot money packs, and PayPal my cash cards purchased with credit cards.

I know that the miles professor has reported success buying PayPal products in New York City. But as you mentioned manufactured spending opportunities are often fleeting, and region specific.

I've just been buying Visa Gift Cards with a PIN through GiftCardMall via TopCashBack.com - IDK yet that it will work (haven't received my first order yet, but just placed a few days ago), but a friend recommended it.

No visiting Rite Aid/CVS necessary.

Is there an advantage to going to RA/CVS and getting Pay Pal products over Visa Gift Cards with a PIN?  I'm not sure what green dot money packs are - will probably google it in a few. :)

There's nothing wrong with gift card mall via top cashback. I've used that method myself.

The only negatives are the long lag time between purchase and receiving the cards, The hassle of dealing with shipping when cards get lost, and excessive amount of time it takes top cashback to post your rebate.

For me, it's just easier to stop off at the drugstore on the way home and buy a bunch of cards.

Green dot moneypaks are essentially the same thing as the old vanilla reloads. You buy them in $500 increments for a $4.95 purchase fee and can load them directly onto your Serve account via computer.

The PayPal my cash cards are nice because you can load up your PayPal account and then use the PayPal debit card to load your PayPal balance onto your serve account for 1% cashback.

I use loyal3 as well with automatic stock purchases for both me and my wife's account each month. But their user interface is intentionally clunky in order to dissuade Churners. There are easier ways to manufacture spend.

Incidentally The latest intelligence says that you should purchase your loyal3 Stocks in batches of 10 or so to avoid getting shut down. See here:

http://yourpfpro.com/racking-miles-points-loyal3/



arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2014, 11:52:25 PM »
Green dot moneypaks are essentially the same thing as the old vanilla reloads. You buy them in $500 increments for a $4.95 purchase fee and can load them directly onto your Serve account via computer.

The biggest problem is I'm going to have so much frikkin money in my Serve account.  I mean, yeah, I can pay my mortgage and bills out of it and stuff, but that totals like 1k/mo.  Does Serve shut people down for withdrawing big chunks to their bank account?  I feel like I'm going to get 20 grand stuck in Serve or something.

The PayPal my cash cards are nice because you can load up your PayPal account and then use the PayPal debit card to load your PayPal balance onto your serve account for 1% cashback.

That's a neat trick.  I'm not really looking to regularly MS month after month, just trying to hit signup bonuses.. I don't plan to MS after I've hit them all, except for new ones, so I'm okay with quick and dirty.

Incidentally The latest intelligence says that you should purchase your loyal3 Stocks in batches of 10 or so to avoid getting shut down. See here:
http://yourpfpro.com/racking-miles-points-loyal3/

Wow, the cancelling it right away, getting the 450 fee back (especially after 200 of it was already credited back) was ridiculous.  Wonder how long that'll last until they shut it down (at the very least only refund you 250 if you've already got the 200).
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milesdividendmd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2014, 11:55:36 PM »
I routinely withdraw big chunks of money to my bank account from bluebird/serve. No issues yet.

And don't forget, you can always just write checks to your Credit card companies for the gift cards you purchased.



milesdividendmd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2014, 11:57:17 PM »
And the canceling the Aadvantage card angle crosses my own personal line of comfort, for what it's worth. (To each his own.)



arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2014, 12:06:39 AM »
I routinely withdraw big chunks of money to my bank account from bluebird/serve. No issues yet.

And don't forget, you can always just write checks to your Credit card companies for the gift cards you purchased.

Good call, thanks.

And the canceling the Aadvantage card angle crosses my own personal line of comfort, for what it's worth. (To each his own.)

Yeah, I wouldn't do it either, but I have to tip my hat to the guy for the cleverness of it.
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Rube

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2014, 06:20:30 AM »

Check with the dealership. When we bought our used car, when we went to the counter to pay, we asked if we could pay by CC without an additional fee and they said yes (although you could tell they thought we were crazy for putting it on a CC), so we charged it through, reaped the rewards, and paid it off.
[/quote]

My in-laws did this and were met with resistance at first. Obviously this not appealing to the dealer because they have to pay the transaction fee on a large amount. My guess is that it gets subtracted from the salesperson's commission. So they said they don't accept credit cards. Obviously they accelt credit cards as payment in the service department. So my FIL called the credit card company who told the dealer they'd better take the card as part of their agreement. DONE!

brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2014, 07:10:51 AM »
Indeed.  One person did PM me about it, but we didn't get very far.  I'm more than happy to pay someone for it, but it appears it doesn't make sense to do it for someone else, just yourself?  IDK, that's one of two reasons I can think of (security being the other one) that I can think of.

Yes, besides the security issues, I think a major hurdle is that doing this on someone else's behalf takes away most of the reasons to do it.  It would have to be a low margin business for it to make sense for both parties, and to make it up in volume would require herculean organizational efforts (it's difficult enough to keep track of a single person's churning).  As the Good Doctor points out in his blog, part of what turns it from an intolerable chore into a fun hobby is that it stimulates many of the brain's same pleasure centers as shopping and gambling, and I suspect these effects would be lost if you were doing it on someone else's behalf.

Is there an advantage to going to RA/CVS and getting Pay Pal products over Visa Gift Cards with a PIN?  I'm not sure what green dot money packs are - will probably google it in a few. :)

The principal advantage is being able to take advantage of category-specific rewards.  I'm currently using a Wells Fargo card that offers 5% cash back at pharmacies and supermarkets for the first six months.  That's an immediate 5.26% return net of gift card fees when you use the PayPal debit card trick (4.25% return w/out it).  Depending on how quickly you can liquidate the gift cards and not keep your cash tied up in them, that's an insanely high return on an annualized basis.  And there is no cap and I have a high credit limit on the card, so we're talking real money.

I routinely withdraw big chunks of money to my bank account from bluebird/serve. No issues yet.

And don't forget, you can always just write checks to your Credit card companies for the gift cards you purchased.

I'm not following this.  How does writing checks come into the picture and how does it help?

shadowmoss

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #24 on: July 02, 2014, 07:29:38 AM »
I am not understanding the problem.  I do understand if you pay rent to an individual landlord they might not take credit cards.  However, I pay all my bills online and use my credit card for everything.  My lot rent goes to a corporation, so I pay it with a credit card as well.  All gas and utilities and cell and internet and groceries and basically everything else is a no brainer.  What is the problem that has such intricate solutions?  I haven't written a check in years, and don't carry cash for even small purchases.  That is more that I can't carry cash, it burns a hole in my pocket.

peaceandprosperity

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2014, 07:35:49 AM »
Amazon payments is the easiest one.  If you just have one card you're working, you send $1000 through Amazon Payments (it's like Amazon's version of PayPal) fee free from one spouse to the other.  The spouse that received it withdraws it to their attached bank account, and uses that bank account to pay the credit card.  $1k/mo with no fee and about 30 seconds of work.

Question - For Amazon payments to the spouse, do you just send it to their email address then?

If you and the spouse each have a card you want to manufacture spending on, you need a trusted third party (parent, child, sibling, whatever).

We have three new cards we are working right now, so it sounds like i can use Amazon for 3K of that spend over the next 90 days. And look at Bluebird and Paypal, gift cards and other options for the rest. I think I am getting that you are loaning money from your credit card to your bank account (an account that is accepted more readily for many kinds of payments) and paying it right back or paying bills with it out of checking/bank accounts.



Is that clearer?  :)


Yes and thank you for spelling it out. MilesDividend has also provided some great links and I will be thoroughly reading through those. I love life hacks!

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2014, 08:44:10 AM »
Indeed.  One person did PM me about it, but we didn't get very far.  I'm more than happy to pay someone for it, but it appears it doesn't make sense to do it for someone else, just yourself?  IDK, that's one of two reasons I can think of (security being the other one) that I can think of.

Yes, besides the security issues, I think a major hurdle is that doing this on someone else's behalf takes away most of the reasons to do it.  It would have to be a low margin business for it to make sense for both parties, and to make it up in volume would require herculean organizational efforts (it's difficult enough to keep track of a single person's churning).  As the Good Doctor points out in his blog, part of what turns it from an intolerable chore into a fun hobby is that it stimulates many of the brain's same pleasure centers as shopping and gambling, and I suspect these effects would be lost if you were doing it on someone else's behalf.

Right, I don't think it's worth it for just the standard churning/MS stuff at a few percent, but I think it would be at the signup bonus level.  E.g. Me paying you 5% of the amount you churn does nothing for me unless there's huge bonuses (that you have already all tapped out yourself).

Is there an advantage to going to RA/CVS and getting Pay Pal products over Visa Gift Cards with a PIN?  I'm not sure what green dot money packs are - will probably google it in a few. :)

The principal advantage is being able to take advantage of category-specific rewards.  I'm currently using a Wells Fargo card that offers 5% cash back at pharmacies and supermarkets for the first six months.  That's an immediate 5.26% return net of gift card fees when you use the PayPal debit card trick (4.25% return w/out it).  Depending on how quickly you can liquidate the gift cards and not keep your cash tied up in them, that's an insanely high return on an annualized basis.  And there is no cap and I have a high credit limit on the card, so we're talking real money.

Ah.  Sure.  I'm not doing any MS to gain 4-5% here and there, but for the big signup bonuses.  So for that I'm just looking to churn with as little effort as possible, even if I net less money due to not getting 5% cash back because of the individual category bonuses for the quarter or whatever.

I routinely withdraw big chunks of money to my bank account from bluebird/serve. No issues yet.

And don't forget, you can always just write checks to your Credit card companies for the gift cards you purchased.

I'm not following this.  How does writing checks come into the picture and how does it help?

Bluebird lets you write checks (actual physical checks). Serve does not (but you can through the online billpay).  But it helps with my question of getting money stuck in the Serve account - I was worried about loading up all this money into it and not having enough legit bills to pay with it, and if trying to withdraw it all would get me shut down, and totally blanked on the idea that you can send money from Serve to the CCs themselves.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #27 on: July 02, 2014, 08:47:23 AM »
Amazon payments is the easiest one.  If you just have one card you're working, you send $1000 through Amazon Payments (it's like Amazon's version of PayPal) fee free from one spouse to the other.  The spouse that received it withdraws it to their attached bank account, and uses that bank account to pay the credit card.  $1k/mo with no fee and about 30 seconds of work.

Question - For Amazon payments to the spouse, do you just send it to their email address then?

Correct.  If they don't have an account, Amazon will ask them to create one (it'll send them an email notifying them they've received money.)

If you and the spouse each have a card you want to manufacture spending on, you need a trusted third party (parent, child, sibling, whatever).

We have three new cards we are working right now, so it sounds like i can use Amazon for 3K of that spend over the next 90 days.

Maybe.  I'm not sure if the name on the card has to match that third account, so right now the wife and I are just doing 2, and then sending back the 1k from the 3rd party without using a 3rd card, as described above.

And look at Bluebird and Paypal, gift cards and other options for the rest. I think I am getting that you are loaning money from your credit card to your bank account (an account that is accepted more readily for many kinds of payments) and paying it right back or paying bills with it out of checking/bank accounts.

Sure, that's one way to look at it.

Is that clearer?  :)
Yes and thank you for spelling it out. MilesDividend has also provided some great links and I will be thoroughly reading through those. I love life hacks!

Yeah, I know a lot of the blogs can get confusing (I know because I get confused all the time reading them) because they don't spell things out step by step, but assume you already know what you're doing, and just "update" you with the latest tip or trick or wrinkle that makes no sense if you haven't done it before.  So hopefully the above was clear enough.  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
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Paul der Krake

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2014, 08:55:07 AM »
Yeah, I know a lot of the blogs can get confusing (I know because I get confused all the time reading them) because they don't spell things out step by step, but assume you already know what you're doing, and just "update" you with the latest tip or trick or wrinkle that makes no sense if you haven't done it before.  So hopefully the above was clear enough.  :)
You don't say. I just spent half of my morning reading milesdividendmd's posts and navigating around other blogs, and it's still not super-clear to me what all the steps are.

I'm excited to try all these new tricks and hopefully reduce my Christmas airfare to Europe, though.

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2014, 09:10:16 AM »
You don't say. I just spent half of my morning reading milesdividendmd's posts and navigating around other blogs, and it's still not super-clear to me what all the steps are.

Yeah, and MDMD is one of the more clear ones.  Some of them are so opaque I have no idea what they're saying.

If I can "spend" 37k in the next 3-6 months though, the wife and I will have around 530k miles combined for a real cost of ~$650 USD (most of that being CC annual fees that aren't waived the first year, a little of it being estimates on what the MS will cost me).

That's probably worth 5-10k in travel, depending on how it's redeemed.  So something like 90% off my travel costs.. or, in other words, for the price of less than one round trip ticket to Europe, I can get about 10 round trip tickets to Europe, or more during the off peak season.

I mentioned this in another thread, but let me add it again here:
Brad at Richmond Savers does free (literally free) coaching on travel hacking.  He emails you, will chat with you on the phone, etc.  He recorded three 5 minute each screencasts of his computer the other day to show me how he might look for flights out of Vegas to various cities based on a question I asked.

He has nothing to sell, all he asks is if you sign up for a CC to use his referral code (but he doesn't push them).

By far the most amazing resource, and a very friendly and awesome guy to boot.  http://www.richmondsavers.com/

He doesn't really do the manufactured spending stuff so much, but if you want to know the best way to earn points and redeem them, talk to him!

It came to my mind because I was mentioning how many points I'll have, and what they're approximately worth (5-10k USD), and it reminded me that he showed me a trick to fly to Seattle (where I'm from, and where all my family lives) by going through British Airways points (to Alaska Airlines, but they also work with American and United or US Airways, I forget which), which let you book based on Distance "zones," so I can book for 15k miles round trip instead of a more typical 25k miles (if I didn't go through BA, but went directly to Alaska, it'd cost 25k).  Little tricks like booking through British Airways instead of Alaska to make the flight 40% off in terms of mileage is huge.  That'd be like if I used all my miles to just go to Seattle and back to get 35 flights instead of 21, or 14 extra for free!  Ridiculous.

Can you tell I'm excited about all this stuff?  ;)

I'm excited to try all these new tricks and hopefully reduce my Christmas airfare to Europe, though.

You should be able to get to Europe basically free, and without having to do much MS at all (at least should be able to do all free MS, like Amazon Payments).  Email Brad about what you're trying to do.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 09:27:10 AM by arebelspy »
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
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brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2014, 09:15:34 AM »
Bluebird lets you write checks (actual physical checks). Serve does not (but you can through the online billpay).  But it helps with my question of getting money stuck in the Serve account - I was worried about loading up all this money into it and not having enough legit bills to pay with it, and if trying to withdraw it all would get me shut down, and totally blanked on the idea that you can send money from Serve to the CCs themselves.

Got it.  Thanks.  But how are you planning on getting so much money into your Serve account in the first place?  If you have been buying Visa gift cards and not green dot (or equivalent) cards, I'm not sure there's a way to get that money into your Serve account.  Maybe you can load them as a debit transaction, but each card will be a new debit card and Amex does not make it easy to constantly switch (plus there's a $1000 monthly limit on debit loads ($1500 if you have Serve w/ Isis).

Thedudeabides

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #31 on: July 02, 2014, 09:22:20 AM »
I love using BA points to book on Alaska. In the spring, I booked a flight to Hawaii using BA points on Alaska and it was 12,500 Avios each way :D

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #32 on: July 02, 2014, 09:25:20 AM »
But how are you planning on getting so much money into your Serve account in the first place?  If you have been buying Visa gift cards and not green dot (or equivalent) cards, I'm not sure there's a way to get that money into your Serve account.  Maybe you can load them as a debit transaction, but each card will be a new debit card and Amex does not make it easy to constantly switch (plus there's a $1000 monthly limit on debit loads ($1500 if you have Serve w/ Isis).

So if I load 1k/mo credit card, 1k/mo visa gift card as a debit card (or paypal, either way), $5k/mo with stuff like moneypaks (limit just went up from 1k/day to 2500/day, but overall monthly limit stayed at 5k).  Now imagine I do that with both mine and my wife's account, so we're shoving 14k/mo into serve.  Can't you see how I was worried about getting money stuck in there?
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

milesdividendmd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #33 on: July 02, 2014, 09:38:04 AM »

Bluebird lets you write checks (actual physical checks). Serve does not (but you can through the online billpay).  But it helps with my question of getting money stuck in the Serve account - I was worried about loading up all this money into it and not having enough legit bills to pay with it, and if trying to withdraw it all would get me shut down, and totally blanked on the idea that you can send money from Serve to the CCs themselves.

Got it.  Thanks.  But how are you planning on getting so much money into your Serve account in the first place?  If you have been buying Visa gift cards and not green dot (or equivalent) cards, I'm not sure there's a way to get that money into your Serve account.  Maybe you can load them as a debit transaction, but each card will be a new debit card and Amex does not make it easy to constantly switch (plus there's a $1000 monthly limit on debit loads ($1500 if you have Serve w/ Isis).

You can load visa gift cards with a PIN on to your Bluebird/serve account at Walmart. A new exception to this technique, is that you cannot use "vanilla" brand visa products for this maneuver anymore.

Using an ISIS serve account you can also load $1500 a month online by credit card, and $1500 a month online by debit card onto your account.



brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #34 on: July 02, 2014, 09:40:30 AM »
So if I load 1k/mo credit card, 1k/mo visa gift card as a debit card (or paypal, either way), $5k/mo with stuff like moneypaks (limit just went up from 1k/day to 2500/day, but overall monthly limit stayed at 5k).  Now imagine I do that with both mine and my wife's account, so we're shoving 14k/mo into serve.  Can't you see how I was worried about getting money stuck in there?
Yep.  Just thought you may have been under the false impression that you could get there solely through combination of Visa gift cards + Serve.  As far as I know, liquidating Visa gift cards through Serve is a hassle at best (and impossible at worst).  Personally I use evolvemoney to liquidate Visa gift cards, and fill my Serve capacity with direct credit card loads and Paypal debit.  MDMD's relatively recent post on using Serve in conjunction with Paypal was a very good one.

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #35 on: July 02, 2014, 09:45:45 AM »
You can load visa gift cards with a PIN on to your Bluebird/serve account at Walmart. A new exception to this technique, is that you cannot use "vanilla" brand visa products for this maneuver anymore.

Does that count as loading "cash" basically?  It's not counted as the debt card load limit, right?

So if I load 1k/mo credit card, 1k/mo visa gift card as a debit card (or paypal, either way), $5k/mo with stuff like moneypaks (limit just went up from 1k/day to 2500/day, but overall monthly limit stayed at 5k).  Now imagine I do that with both mine and my wife's account, so we're shoving 14k/mo into serve.  Can't you see how I was worried about getting money stuck in there?
Yep.  Just thought you may have been under the false impression that you could get there solely through combination of Visa gift cards + Serve.  As far as I know, liquidating Visa gift cards through Serve is a hassle at best (and impossible at worst).  Personally I use evolvemoney to liquidate Visa gift cards, and fill my Serve capacity with direct credit card loads and Paypal debit.  MDMD's relatively recent post on using Serve in conjunction with Paypal was a very good one.

Thanks for the info.  I don't really know what I'm doing, trying to figure it out as I go.  I'll have to check out that blog post.  I've never done anything with evolve money, or PayPal.  All I've done is very basic: Amazon Payments and loading serve 1k/mo with a CC.  Just ordered my first Visa Gift cards, so trying to figure out what to do with them (load to Serve and/or buy money orders, it seems).  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
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brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #36 on: July 02, 2014, 10:03:10 AM »
Thanks for the info.  I don't really know what I'm doing, trying to figure it out as I go.  I'll have to check out that blog post.  I've never done anything with evolve money, or PayPal.  All I've done is very basic: Amazon Payments and loading serve 1k/mo with a CC.  Just ordered my first Visa Gift cards, so trying to figure out what to do with them (load to Serve and/or buy money orders, it seems).  :)

I was in the same boat myself less than a year ago.  Same goes for MDMD himself, I believe, and now he's a bona fide expert.  You'll probably find that as you get deeper into it, you'll quickly become an expert yourself.  It's quite addictive.  I was also only in it for the big sign-up bonuses at first, but now that I'm realizing I can pull five figures out of this without much effort (tax free!), I'm going after the higher-hanging fruit too.

MDMD, thanks for the info about loading Visa cards onto Serve at Walmart.  I wasn't aware of that, but I tend to tune out the Walmart tricks because we don't have any in NYC.

milesdividendmd

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #37 on: July 02, 2014, 10:10:20 AM »

You can load visa gift cards with a PIN on to your Bluebird/serve account at Walmart. A new exception to this technique, is that you cannot use "vanilla" brand visa products for this maneuver anymore.

Does that count as loading "cash" basically?  It's not counted as the debt card load limit, right?

So if I load 1k/mo credit card, 1k/mo visa gift card as a debit card (or paypal, either way), $5k/mo with stuff like moneypaks (limit just went up from 1k/day to 2500/day, but overall monthly limit stayed at 5k).  Now imagine I do that with both mine and my wife's account, so we're shoving 14k/mo into serve.  Can't you see how I was worried about getting money stuck in there?
Yep.  Just thought you may have been under the false impression that you could get there solely through combination of Visa gift cards + Serve.  As far as I know, liquidating Visa gift cards through Serve is a hassle at best (and impossible at worst).  Personally I use evolvemoney to liquidate Visa gift cards, and fill my Serve capacity with direct credit card loads and Paypal debit.  MDMD's relatively recent post on using Serve in conjunction with Paypal was a very good one.

Thanks for the info.  I don't really know what I'm doing, trying to figure it out as I go.  I'll have to check out that blog post.  I've never done anything with evolve money, or PayPal.  All I've done is very basic: Amazon Payments and loading serve 1k/mo with a CC.  Just ordered my first Visa Gift cards, so trying to figure out what to do with them (load to Serve and/or buy money orders, it seems).  :)

Debit loading at Walmart counts as "Cash."

In other words, with a single Isis serve account, you can load $5000 via debit card at Walmart, $1500 via direct online debit card loading, and $1500 via direct online credit card loading.

So there is the potential to load a total capacity of $8000 a month, per ISIS serve card.

In terms of the risks of manufactured spending,  putting aside unforced errors, like losing gift cards, the main risk is one of illiquidity. If an account gets frozen, your money does not disappear, it simply becomes inaccessible for a month or two.

It is for this reason that I recommend not manufacturing spending with any money that you cannot afford to be without for a couple of months.

My own "rule" is that I do not manufacture spending with  more money than I make in a month. This means my emergency fund will more than cover any account freeze.



arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2014, 10:16:45 AM »
Debit loading at Walmart counts as "Cash."

That's what I thought, thanks. So I'll probably load the Visa Gift Cards from GiftCardMall to Serve, rather than do the money order stuff.

In other words, with a single Isis serve account, you can load $5000 via debit card at Walmart, $1500 via direct online debit card loading, and $1500 via direct online credit card loading.

So there is the potential to load a total capacity of $8000 a month, per ISIS serve card.

I only have a regular serve account, because I don't have a phone that supports the ISIS case (iPhone 4S on Sprint).  Can you get the ISIS card without the phone case?

In terms of the risks of manufactured spending,  putting aside unforced errors, like losing gift cards, the main risk is one of illiquidity. If an account gets frozen, your money does not disappear, it simply becomes inaccessible for a month or two.

It is for this reason that I recommend not manufacturing spending with any money that you cannot afford to be without for a couple of months.

My own "rule" is that I do not manufacture spending with  more money than I make in a month. This means my emergency fund will more than cover any account freeze.

Good advice.  I'm not worried about liquidity personally, but that's definitely something people who have low cash flow should note (you don't want to be stuck paying CC interest).
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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Brian Fellows

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2014, 10:41:07 AM »
I feel like I need to ask as a PSA:

Arebelspy, do you NEED all of those miles in the near future?  The conventional wisdom is to burn and churn.  Looks like you're doing a crazy amount of churning obviously, which is good.  But the problem is that miles/points get devalued so often (ALL FOUR (three now) of the major US airlines devalued massively within the last 1.5 years) that it's a bad idea to earn a TON of points if you don't have a plan for using them in the near term future (say, less than three years if you're not being conservative).

Especially in your case, where you're spending money you wouldn't, it just seems insanely risky to me.  I've got nowhere near the miles you're talking about accruing right now, but I've still got more than I'll be able to use in the next three years.  Since some of the credit cards are harder to get if you've had them before, and in some case you can only get the signup bonus once in a lifetime now, you might want to spread your earning out over a larger amount of time.

It's basically like having a ton of money in a savings account - it'll lose spending power due to inflation.  Except with miles/points instead of controlled inflation, you're leaving your assets in the hands of corporations that can play with the value of the points at their whim.  All it takes is AA removing a sweet spot award routing or United charging more mileage to fly on a partner's plane than theirs and suddenly you need more miles to do what you wanted to do.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 10:43:14 AM by Brian Fellows »

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #40 on: July 02, 2014, 10:58:38 AM »
I understand that, but does it hurt to have the miles, even if they do get devalued somewhat?

In other words, if I was going to spend $600 on travel in the next six months, and instead I spend $600 earning 500k+ miles, and use 60k miles of travel in the next six months, I've spent the same amount that I would otherwise, but now have an extra 450k miles available.  If they get devalued to half, I still have hundreds of thousands of miles for free.

I hear the "it'd suck if it gets devalued," but in my mind there's no downside to having them anyways.  If I'm going to travel a bunch in three years, I can use whatever's left, even if some has been devalued, and earn more then as well, with whatever travel hacking methods are available at that time.  Will it have hurt me to have those old miles that I'm earning today?

Also, I guess Amex points and Chase UR points could get devalued, but I haven't heard of it happening - so keeping the points in those systems and only transferring them once you need them seems like a good idea, but it's still good to rack them up, no?

This is a genuine question, I'm not trying to defend myself - like I said, I have no idea what I'm doing.  That's just my line of thinking on it - why not rack them up, even if they do get somewhat devalued?  Doesn't that make sense?
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TrMama

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2014, 11:13:30 AM »
Bumping so I can find this later.

brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2014, 11:16:58 AM »
Rebs, everything you just said makes sense and is the same approach I take, except that I try VERY hard to avoid sunk costs (like unwaived annual fees) for any rewards that I don't have a definite plan to use in the near future.  The risks of the approach are basically what Brian alluded to:  the sunk costs spent and the "political capital" used up with the card issuers (meaning your churning activity today (when you have no definite plan for the rewards) may prevent you from earning optimal awards in the future (when you actually need them)).  But for me, there's a tension between this and the knowledge that when I FIRE in a few years, it will be MUCH harder to successfully apply for new cards (and continue racking up the rewards) when I don't have permanent employment.  I've discussed this with the Mad Fientist and his approach was also to rack up as much as he can before FIRE.  It sounds like you are doing the right thing by focusing on the most flexible (and least likely to be devalued) rewards like Amex and Chase UR.

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2014, 11:20:39 AM »
Rebs, everything you just said makes sense and is the same approach I take, except that I try VERY hard to avoid sunk costs (like unwaived annual fees) for any rewards that I don't have a definite plan to use in the near future.  The risks of the approach are basically what Brian alluded to:  the sunk costs spent and the "political capital" used up with the card issuers (meaning your churning activity today (when you have no definite plan for the rewards) may prevent you from earning optimal awards in the future (when you actually need them)).  But for me, there's a tension between this and the knowledge that when I FIRE in a few years, it will be MUCH harder to successfully apply for new cards (and continue racking up the rewards) when I don't have permanent employment.  I've discussed this with the Mad Fientist and his approach was also to rack up as much as he can before FIRE.  It sounds like you are doing the right thing by focusing on the most flexible (and least likely to be devalued) rewards like Amex and Chase UR.

Thanks, appreciate the confirmation.  You are correct on using up the offers now, rather than later, when you can (theoretically) earn more in "real" points after a devaluation (by real I mean rather than nominal, talking in an inflation sense), but I also am not sure about getting them in the future.

I'm not as worried about getting accepted for the cards (I'll have lots of rental income after FIRE, so I think we'll be able to get approved), I just think the opportunities for MS will be a lot less, since we'll be overseas a lot, so no opportunity to go to WalMart/CVS/whatever.

I do think I'll start to use a little more now in the next year or two than I had been planning though because of this conversation.  Not too much, but some.

Thanks for the thoughts BG & BF.
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Brian Fellows

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #44 on: July 02, 2014, 11:26:48 AM »
No everything you said is correct.  Diminishing returns is the only thing I'd worry about - some credit cards you can apply for, meet the spend, get the bonus, cancel, and then a year later reapply for that same card, get the bonus, and repeat.

With Chase cards, you can't do that (though I've heard their policy just recently changed so you could), except in the case where they can consider it a new product (IE - in the past there was a Mastercard version of the Sapphire Preferred, and if you'd had that one, you could cance and apply for the Visa version and it was a "new product").  I believe AMEX just changed their cards so you can only get one signup bonus in your lifetime per card, as opposed to the 1.5 or 2 years (I don't remember which) that they used to be.

So the tradeoff is that it'll be harder to get the signup bonuses on the cards, and that's a massive part of how most people get points.  That won't affect manufactured spend so much, but that's risky in itself as credit card companies have been known to change their policies or even cancel accounts if the activity is too obvious/abuses a policy.  Usually you'll see them close up a loophole more often than outright cancelling accounts, but, like Paypal, they can pretty much say at any point that your account is closed because you're abusing a system.

There's definitely no problem with just having a ton of miles points like you're talking about.  And I agree with you on AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards - they're not likely to "devalue" themselves.  The points/miles they can be transferred to can always devalue.  I won't transfer points out of those accounts until I know I need them, because they provide a safe floor for me.  So right now when most of my hotel and airline accounts are higher than I'll be able to use, I'll always default to earning Ultimate Rewards points before AAdvantage Miles or Starpoints unless I'm getting waaaay more miles/points than I would Ultimate Rewards bux.

Pre-post-edit: That's a great point about not being able to get cards as easily if you FIRE or drastically lower your income at some point, but I'm still going to post this as an affirmation of what we're all talking about. 

There's also the worry that someone, somewhere is going to decide to start taxing miles/points or at least signup bonuses specifically, so if you're tinfoil hat worried about that (it's honestly a legit fear in my opinion), then stockpiling while you can is a great hedge.

brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #45 on: July 02, 2014, 11:42:46 AM »
I do think I'll start to use a little more now in the next year or two than I had been planning though because of this conversation.  Not too much, but some.

Thanks for the thoughts BG & BF.

My pleasure.  I'm still grateful for when you persuaded me to stop paying down my mortgage.  I'm happy to be able to reciprocate (in a small way) and cause you to change your behavior on the basis of advice received on an internet forum :) 

iamlindoro

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #46 on: July 02, 2014, 11:52:44 AM »
Very very timely thread.  I just did my first App-O-Rama this week and have to do ~$20K of credit card spending in the next 90 days.  I figure since I have a $10K Estimated tax bill in September, I can always use that as an "out," even if I ended up paying the 1.88% credit card fee to use the card directly.  It seems that using the Card -> MoneyPak/MyCash -> Serve -> bill Pay route should easily allow me to cover the rest in that time.

Like you, ARS, I'll be sitting on ~350K miles across a few providers at that point for a total cost of about $799.  The goal is to be able to cobble together four round trip tickets to Europe for next summer.  The Citi AAdvantage card should help take care of two of those, and hopefully the Amex miles + US Airways merge miles will help me cover the other two.

Very interesting stuff.  I admit to being a little nervous about the MS-- I don't think I'll move more than a few thousand around at a time.

cbgg

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #47 on: July 02, 2014, 12:04:53 PM »
... I am also looking for a used car. under 10k. If i could figure out a way to put the car on a credit card (to be paid off in cash of course immediately) then i'd also have no worries. But i haven't worked that out either. Appreciate the OP and looking forward to others ideas.

I bought a used car from a dealership last year and they allowed me to put up to $5000 of the cost on my CC.  My card isn't too fancy, but with 1% cash back its a nice little $50 bonus for money I was spending anyway.

Frugal Father

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #48 on: July 02, 2014, 12:54:14 PM »
I just signed up for a ton of cards, and right now I have to spend $37,000 in the next three to six months (for about half of it I have three months, the other half I have six months).  We spend just under 1k per month "naturally."  So I'm diving into this stuff.  :D
Holy cow. So over $30k of MS? Make sure you update us and let us know how successful your venture was after you get through the 6 months. It would be awesome to hear how you pull it off.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 12:57:07 PM by Frugal Father »

Worsted Skeins

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Re: Does anyone have a clever hack for paying bills with a credit card?
« Reply #49 on: July 02, 2014, 12:56:03 PM »
This is one of the most interesting threads I have read on this board!  Thank you for the posts and links.