Earning Avios for paying your council tax – and other utilities

Your council tax bill for 2017/8 will be dropping through your letterbox in the next few days. Earning Avios or other points by paying your day-to-day bills is something that a lot of people ignore.

Unfortunately, because of the huge range of utility companies, it is difficult to write a detailed post on paying utility bills by credit card. I have been doing this for years, though, when I can. There are a couple of things always worth remembering:

Some utility companies keep quiet about their willingness to take credit cards. Thames Water bills do not mention that they accept Visa or MasterCard credit cards. They presumably want to avoid paying the processing cost if they can. Yet, head over to the Thames Water website and you’ll see that Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted – with NO surcharge.

Some companies do add a surcharge for paying with a credit card. You need to do the maths to see if it is worthwhile.  When we had Sky for our broadband, there was a 50p credit card surcharge.  Depending on what card you pay with, these small surcharges may be worthwhile.

Council tax bill

Most interesting, though, is this one: It seems, very occasionally, that some companies who do NOT take credit cards do let the odd one slip through! My local authority is Kensington & Chelsea. They are adamant that only debit cards are accepted for online payment – the website says:

“we accept British-issued debit cards for MasterCard and Visa and Switch, Solo, Visa Electron, Delta and Maestro Debit cards”

However, for the last five years, I successfully used my bmi MasterCard (RIP) or my Marriott MasterCard to pay my bill!  This is very attractive for me as there is no surcharge at all.

It doesn’t work with all cards. I once tried using a Tesco MasterCard and the system recognised, correctly, that it was a credit card and not a debit card. I have no idea why some cards work – presumably there is a database somewhere that tells the payment system which cards are credit cards, and some must have been missed off!

It is all very odd, when you think about it.  Because of the cut taken by the card processor, my council presumably receives less money than it is expecting.  I am credited with having paid the full amount, however, and the council clearly never bothers to try to reconcile the difference.

If you have any interesting stories about settling utility bills on points-earning plastic, please post them below.

PS.  There is an interesting loophole in using PayPoint to pay bills.  Most Co-Op stores have a PayPoint terminal which you can use to settle council tax or other bills.  For some odd reason, the Co-Op has never clamped down on the use of credit cards with PayPoint.  Reportedly (I’ve never tried it myself) you can use this facility with an Amex or other credit card and the staff are unlikely to stop you.  A list of PayPoint locations is here.  Depending on your council or the utility involved, you may need to request a PayPoint payment card first which can be scanned in.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Avios drops Tristar as a partner - how else can you earn travelling to Heathrow?
Bits: Barclays / IHG compensation payments, BA toilet trouble
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Wally1976 says:

    To share my experiences and ask a couple of questions (if anyone’s still reading this thread!):

    Dudley Council tax – pay monthly at Co-op via PayPoint on Amex. Have found local Co-op won’t do it but others outside the area will.

    TV licence – paid at Co-op via PayPoint on Amex no problem.

    EDF Energy – supposedly now take Amex online but every time I try it fails. Amex blame EDF and EDF blame Amex! I asked them to send me a paper bill as they say that can be used for PayPoint. I haven’t tried it yet but there’s no barcode on it so not sure it’ll work!?

    Vodafone – FAQs on website says they accept Amex via their automated payment line on 56677. When I tried this it redirected me to a real human and I wasn’t in a position to speak (!?) so just hung up.

    Any other experiences on the last two appreciated! Thanks.

    • Use the automated phone line for EDF – works for Amex payments.

      • Wally1976 says:

        Thanks BLT but I’ve tried that and it seems that unless you are phoning to give a meter reading it redirects you through to a person. The number I’m calling is 0800 015 1736.

  2. Anyone have experience with Barnet? Looks like they’re on it. CC fee for CT.

    • the real harry1 says:

      they say they only take cash @ Paypoint – I’d be testing that to see if card payments go through OK

    • Yeah, try it and see if you get charged. You might not.

  3. Graham Walsh says:

    I thought the utility companies provide a discount on DD rather than paid when sent a bill. Tempted to move them this way if I can earn some more miles.

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Great. Thanks. I’ll read on a proper screen later then.

      • Graham, as Harry said l went through it on the earlier page. And a couple others too. Its quite useful. But some companies need persuading that it’s ok. They think it’s weird, and it can depend who answers the phone. But we have been doing that system for years now, and prefer getting avios than none. Manage to use Amex or HSBC now for all bills, get great satisfaction out of the process.

        • Graham Walsh says:

          Thanks Polly. Certainly a fun way of looking at it.

          Currently deciding if 3k points via Kaligo or double hotels.com reward points for my next 1 night non change hotel booking 🙂

        • Graham, where is that 3k kaligo offer? Last time l tried one of those they reduced me to basic avios, which was quite annoying. Insisted it was fro newbies. So Kaligo haven’t got our business since their first year. Sebastian, take note, time for some offers!

          Have now booked our hotels via avios.com, which l only started doing recently. Had forgotten about it, actually. Even small numbers of avios add up, esp via groupon etc. Last weekend during it was 20/£, brilliant. Easy to earn the odd RFS that way.

  4. Graham Walsh says:

    Polly, I am seeing it when I log in and select Virgin as my preferred earning partner. How odd, price has gone down £11 and the points have gone down to 2,100.

  5. Is there any way to pay council tax using Amex credit card with using council’s sort code and account number?

    I know this may sound weird but not sure when you cancel card, Amex always says that make sure you cancel all your standing order, subscription etc. So just trying to figure out how can one setup payment from credit card with a payment going to a sort code and account number?