How to pay (almost) ANY bill with an Amex or other card, with Billhop

A couple of Head for Points readers have contacted us recently suggesting that we take a look at Billhop as an easy way of running up credit and charge card spending by paying your day-to-day bills.  It does seem interesting and, for some HFP readers, it could be very useful indeed.

Registration with Billhop is freesee here – so you have nothing to lose by signing up and seeing how it works.

When it comes to paying bills your options are limited. Most companies want you to set up a direct debit or pay by bank transfer. Credit cards are rarely accepted (although some companies do take them quietly, even if they don’t mention it on their bills, eg Thames Water, Scottish Power).  American Express is very, very rarely accepted.

You have very little chance of paying your business suppliers or personal rent with a credit card.  (Although WeWork does let us pay the rent for the HFP office on an Amex!)

However there is finally a way around that.  Thanks to Billhop you can now pay almost any bill or invoice with any Amex, Visa or MasterCard card, have it treated as a purchase and earn reward points.

More importantly to HFP readers, payments made via Billhop will also count towards spend targets on American Express cards, either for a sign-up bonus or a spending bonus such as the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

The only major exception is that you cannot use Billhop to pay instalments on loans, mortgages or credit card bills, ie anything paid to a financial services business.

Billhop pay bills on a credit card

Too good to be true?

If this sounds too good to be true, there is a catch – the service is not free.  There is a 2.95% charge on every payment you make, i.e. if you pay a bill of £100, you will pay £102.95 in total.

This means that, unless you also want the cashflow benefits of putting your bills onto a credit or charge card, this is an expensive way of earning miles or points.  It is something that you will find useful if you are struggling to hit the ‘£2000 spend in 90 days for 20000 bonus points’ target on a new American Express Gold card for example.

On the other hand remember that, if you run your own business and are paying company expenses, the Billhop fee is fully tax deductible.

About Billhop

Billhop was founded in Stockholm in 2012 – where it has proven very popular with the frequent flyer community – and has recently launched in the UK with plans to extend further in Europe in the current months.

The company is fully regulated in Sweden (which, under EU passporting rules, means they are regulated here as well) and, in any event, your money is fully protected because all payments are handled by an established bank.  Billhop never has access to your funds, apart from the fee.

How it works

You need to create an online account on the Billhop website here.

Once you are signed up, you can pay an individual person or a company using any credit card.

In order to find out how Billhop works, and how long it takes for a transaction to reach the account, we decided to give it a try.  As neither Rob nor I had any bills flying through the door, we decided that I’d transfer £200 into Rob’s account. (That’s another 200 Amex points for me).

Click ‘Get Started’ on the homepage and you will be taken to a page explaining how to use Billhop.  Click the ‘register your account now’ button.

On the next page you can choose whether you’d like to register as a company (with company number) or as an individual (with your date of birth).

Click on any of the images to enlarge:

homepage billhop

To create a personal account you need to fill out your details including email and postal address.  You can transfer up to £250 without providing any verified ID, but for money laundering reasons Billhop will need a scanned copy or picture of your passport before you can make larger payments.

On the dashboard you can see your past bills, scheduled bills and pay new bills with a few clicks.

How to make a payment

The payment process is very straight forward.

You enter the details on the left side of the screen including the date you would like the money to reach the recipient.  I set up a £200 payment to Rob:

pay billhop

Then click ‘add to payment’ and the payment will show on the left side. A field appears on the the right side where you can enter your card details.

As you can see, a service fee of 2.95% has been added to my £200:

payment card billhop

Then press ‘Pay’ and you’re done.

invoice paid confirmation billhop

Immediately after paying, you receive an email confirmation that the bill has been paid.

In theory, the recipient will receive the money within 6 days.  The money actually ended up reaching Rob’s account after 5 days and this included a weekend. The next day I received an email confirming my payment and my Billhop account also showed the payment.

billhop confirmed

Conclusion

Based on our own – admittedly simple – trial, and the experiences of the readers who have recommended the company to us in recent weeks, Billhop seems to be working as promised.

Billhop is not for everyone due to the 2.95% fee on every bill you pay.  However a lot of Head for Points readers will instantly see the potential for hitting a sign-up target on a new credit card or for triggering a spending target on an existing one.

If you have been putting off getting the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card, for example, because you felt you couldn’t spend £3,000 in 90 days to earn the 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus, Billhop can help.  The same goes for the big sign-up bonus on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold or American Express Platinum, both of which need £2,000 of spending within 90 days.

It you were struggling to hit your £10,000 of spending for your BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher towards the end of your card year, it may be worth making a rent payment via Billhop in order to push yourself over the line.  Paying, say, a £59 fee on a £2,000 payment (and earning 3,000 Avios back via Amex) is a far better deal than losing out on your 2-4-1 voucher.

If you have your own business, note that Billhop also works with companies – in fact, they see this as their core market – who can use the service to help with their working capital requirements.

The Billhop homepage is here if you want to give it a go.  Even if you don’t want to make a transfer immediately, it may be worth signing up so that you don’t forget about it and to receive news of special offers and other promotions.

Please let us have your feedback if you give it a try and we’ll do a follow-up in a couple of weeks.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

2 odd routes to oneworld (=BA) status - pay £190 per month or match via airberlin or Lufthansa
Bits: last day for our Scotland competition, Qatar sale and 10% off code, Cathay sale, HFP on mobile
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Comments

  1. Just had a maybe slightly different take on this.

    I have just got a new SPG Amex (thanks again Rob) which carries a £75 fee. Just as I did a year ago, I aim to meet the target as quickly as possible and then cancel the card. One would need to do some arithmetic, but using Billhop to meet the target quicker would reduce the amount of card fee paid and thus reduce the effect of the 2.95% service fee…..

    • I was thinking this too. Some numbers: Assume it would take you 3 months to spend £1,000 on the SPG card, that’d be £18.75 in card fees. Alternatively, you could spend on day 1 with Billhop you get the card and all clears within 3 weeks (the time it takes for points to post after getting the card), that’d cost £1k @2.95% + 3/52×75 = £33.82. Assuming then that the the £1k is “extra spending”, i.e. doesn’t cannibalise existing spending, you’ve spend an extra £15 or so to get the points. But assuming you’d hit the bonus anyway, that’s an extra 1,000 SPG points (@1.5p ea) = £15 so buying them for par. Does that follow?

    • hearingdouble says:

      … except that (unlike the Amex MR cards) you have to wait for Starwood points to ‘sweep’ into your SPG account at the end of your billing month, so you’ll always have to pay for (at least) one month of fees anyway, even if you can hit the spend on Day 1.

      • Not quite true – there is a 2-3 day window between your points arriving in your SPG account and the statement generating, so it’s possible to cancel in this window and not have the fee hit your account to start with meaning no fees paid 🙂

        • Agree with scallder just cancelled amex spg for me and hubby in this 2 day window and no card fee charged. Time your Marriott / spg stays for use of card and u get double points too. Nicely netted 93000 Marriott points in total on 2 cards and no fees

        • Also got a nice surprise a couple of weeks ago as went for dinner at The Berners Tavern (would highly recommend) which is at The London Edition for our wedding anniversary. The name on the credit card receipt was that of the hotel and not the restaurant, so when it hit my SPG Amex it got double points. So if eating at Marriott and SPG (which you can get points for when dining at even when not staying) hotels, chance to get double points on the SPG card.

  2. I have use Billhop 5/6 times to pay invoices, Corporation Tax and VAT returns so far had no problems at all, in all it’s about 30k.

    • I haven’t done the calculations but we can offset the service charge against the corporation tax so it becomes a bit cheaper.

  3. Thanks Rob and Annika for reporting on this excellent way to pay by card. Amex has become increasingly difficult to use, and a new card rarely comes at the right time to coincide with major expenditure at places that take it. Now, it’s possible. Paying my VAT and tax payments comes with depressing frequency but at least I can now hit that spending target more easily.

    However, we are often told not to draw cash using credit cards, as it can affect your rating. Will using Billhop affect credit ratings, or is it neutral, much like paying using Paypal when your card is linked rather than your bank account?

    • According to the blurb on Billhop it is counted as a purchase, not a cash advance. That’s why you earn points on it.

    • ‘…paying my VAT and tax payments comes with depressing frequency…’…. you mean once a month like the majority of people on PAYE? Maybe when you’ve reached the big boys league you’ll be able to shift your income around in much better ways to avoid your taxes. But until then, you’ll just have to cope with collecting a few Avios points by offsetting a small fee. 🙂 And also you might like to think about some of the public services you benefit from, and pay for, in the process 🙂

      • Now now. VAT is a pain in the bottom. I lose two full working days per year (4 x 0.5 days) completing VAT returns. I get nothing from this – all I am doing is passing on money that I have collected from advertisers on behalf of the Government, to the Government.

        You don’t even get a cashflow benefit. I am actually loaning money to the Government at 0% interest because you account for the VAT at the time of invoice whilst you may only be paid a few months later.

        • Or not, depending on how you account for it. Options available for all but the largest businesses.

        • Ouch! Dan, best not get me started on the relative luxuries of sick pay, holiday pay, pension payments, etc. Darn, I’ve started… There are 4.8 million self-employed people in the UK, though whether that was all by choice is another matter. If someone would employ me that would be lovely. But on the upside I can do my accounts any time of night I like!

          Peter, thanks for the clarification. Glad to hear that payments count as purchases. Hadn’t thought that through.

          Rob, here, here. Couldn’t put it better myself. Hadn’t thought about the interest free loans I’m giving HMRC. Now I’m even more depressed!

        • Although on the upside you do get to claim it back on your purchases – so if you’re spending plenty you can do OK out of it. Much more of a pain if you’re a consumer-facing business where becoming VAT-registered puts your prices up by 20%. If B2B then it’s a pain but won’t lose you business (indeed in some industries main gain you business due to a perception of being a more legitimate entity) and you still get to claim back against costs.

        • We spend very little, and much of what we do pay for (the servers, the mailing list company, various WordPress services, Gleam, the web security company) is bought from outside the EU so not much to reclaim there! There also isn’t any VAT to reclaim on flights.

        • Ah, damn! I used to do the VAT returns for my folks when I was younger and lots of nice IT purchases, etc. meant it was well worth the couple of hours a quarter to reclaim it all 🙂

        • Oh yes, there are upsides. A £1000 iPhone X would be nearer £450 after the VAT reclaim and tax shield.

        • Indeed – although you would have to keep gurning at it to try to get it to unlock 😉

        • Rob, you lose 2 days per year doing your VAT return? That’s too much. I use Sage one and lose about 7 minutes per quarter, to process the return, file it online (automatically) and then pay the bill by card.

        • agree online accounting programs make it easier but often at a monthly subscription which never goes down.

        • Agree – although thankfully when Quicken left the UK over a decade ago they sent out a CD to all customers with an unlocked version, so I’m still using them to manage my personal finances – very handy with lots of CCs on the go, although understandably the online currency/stock info feeds no longer work

        • If I did that it would take the same amount of time, just spread out! We literally do no day to day accounting apart from a spreadsheet of what comes in.

  4. In North America, a service called Plastiq has been offering something similar for a few years. They (Plastiq) sign up merchants so utiltity, government, rent, school fees, etc… can be paid. At times, they had / have a promotion with MasterCard or Amex where the fee drops from 2.5% to 1.75%. But haven’t seen one of those in a while.

    As sub 2%, it makes sense as 2% is the average return for some of the premium cards. 25bps is not much, but every bit helps!

  5. OT but somewhat related to the comments above. Can anyone remind me of the status of an unused 2for1 voucher when you cancel the Amex BA Prem Plus card? I’ve always used them almost immediately in the past but have one now for future use and would like to cancel the card if possible and claw back some of the fee. I will downgrade to the free card if its a problem.

    • Amex rep will tell you that you’ll lose the voucher – so far no-one has, as it’s already sitting in your BAEC account.

      • I suppose it depends which side of the fence you are on 🙂
        Amex told me, and BA confirmed, there was no way to take the voucher away once it’s been triggered , after I had inadvertently booked and then cancelled a hotel booking and triggered the 241 🙁

        • But they could insist that you pay the ‘taxes’ with the card which earned the voucher. I would be surprised if the number were not included in the data sent to BA to award the voucher.

        • Mark,
          Don’t think so. We have always used our newest Amex to pay those taxes and fees that BA impose on our 241…as Rob mentions frequently here, just to keep folks in the picture.

        • Booked yesterday and operator #1 tried to insist we had to use the BA card etc. but after he went away and spoke to operator #2 we could use any Amex card, as we already knew.

          If we hadn’t been assertive, he’d have forced us to use the card he thought was a prerequisite.

        • Although if you gave him any Amex card number I’m sure it would have gone through fine 😉

        • Nope, the system only needs an Amex, any Amex. Given Amex themselves allow a downgrade to the free BA card (which will have a different number) then we know BA won’t be forcing use of the original card – not to mention issues if card reissued due to being lost/stolen.

        • Haha close the BAPP then complain to Amex that they haven’t taken the voucher away as they promised would happen? 😉

  6. I’m a big fan of billhop. Earlier this year I/we hit a signup bonuses for gold, platinum, 2xspg and a business platinum all in about a month via billhop. I’ll be doing this again shortly however this time intending to spread the transactions over the whole month to fee free Amex using companies with top up payments via billhop to hit the targets prior to incurring the monthly fees. I make these top up payments to a Tesco bank account which generates 3%pa interest and 1club card point per £8 spent on outgoing debit card transactions. It was approx 0.1p per Avios in the last cycle once everything was factored in.

    • Can I ask how you get to 0.1p per avios? I’ve crunched some numbers for his n hers Plat (£4k spend requirement for 82k avios), SPG (£2k spend requirement for 34k avios (assuming transferred into one account and then transferred to avios straight away) and BAPP (£6k spend requirement for 70k avios (26k+9k+26k+(1.5 x 6k spend)) and calculating 2.95% on the spend, all comes out in the wash at £354 spent on Bill Hop fees for 196k avios earned or 0.18ppa.

      Surely the payments going into a Tesco bank account doesn’t affect the calculation nor does the 1 clubcard point per £8 spend as you would make that payment regardless of Bill Hop if debit card is your payment method?

      • That should read 92k avios for Plat

        • 4 factors influenced the cost per Avios.
          1. Bill hop fee is tax deductible for paying company taxes.
          2. Proportion of spend on non billhop (where no additional fee is levied for the transaction) vs billhop top up payment.
          3. The Billhop website crashed and they refunded my fee for the next transaction.
          4. A his and hers business plat churn was included with £12k of spend and Assocates fees.

        • the real harry1 says:

          so you have included the churn Avios?

        • Ah. The tax deductible factor is the most likely difference. It’s a shame employee tax deductible expenses also have to be “necessarily” incurred.

        • Yes – the ATO in Oz are much more generous in what constitutes allowable expenses compared to HMRC – was a much more satisfying tax return to submit!

        • You can get more Genghis (at least for now) if you take out the Gold and upgrade to Platinum using the link. 99k points I think (though for £6k spend as opposed to £4k which offsets the benefits).

        • Indeed. Though £5k spend (£3k+£2k) for I think 100k (22+2+20+1+18+35+2). So you get an extra 8k avios for £1k spend. The offer goes on and off so you risk it going away if you apply for the PRG initially. Another aspect is the time “wasted” until your next churn by spending the extra £1k. Ie. 92k/26 weeks wait period = 3.5k every week so if it would take you over 2.26 weeks to spend the £1k then potentially best do straight to Plat?

  7. Northern Las says:

    Broad numbers below, for using this to pay company bills.

    £100 costs £2.95

    This is paid by company and fully tax deductible. You, the individual, end up with the Miles.

    On a 2 miles per £ card e.g. Virgin & Emirates Amex, you would receive 200 miles.

    You have effectively given up £2.95 of ‘profit’ which would have cost circa half to extract after taxes I.e. You would receive £1.47

    End result you are effectively paying c.0.725p per mile.
    This compares to effective c.0.2 – 0.3p when paying HMRC with Visa/MasterCards earning 1 mile per £.

    Unless you need the points/willing to pay the extra cost, this isn’t cheapest solution for generating miles, especially in respect of HMRC.

    Note. This assumes a high rate tax payer.

    • the real harry1 says:

      yep it’s got no use for purely MS

      but where you can get to a 241 or a spend target much sooner, it has its uses

    • Good arguments. To try to expand, the expense must be “wholly and exclusively” incurred for self-employed and corporates. The business structure then affects the net cost.

      So a self employed / non-incorporated structure would result in the £2.95 actually costing £1.71 (after 40% IT for a HRTP and say 2% Class 4 NI, assuming over £45k profits) making 0.86p per point on the Virgin card.

      For an incorporated entity, net cost to owner / director after 20% CT and 32.5% divvys for HRTP comes out at 0.8p per point on the Virgin card.

      • Northern Las says:

        Agree ref ‘higher rate’.

        HMRC ‘additional rate’s’ are 45% and 38.1% respectively, which is what I based my rationale on.

        The more tax you pay, the cheaper the miles!

    • This method is fine for people who don’t spend enough on their Amex cards to meet sign ups bonuses, I am sure there maybe other opportunities for it in the long run.

  8. Plastiq is a recommended alternative should you want to compare.

  9. O/T What should my next card be to earn avios,? have hit the £10k spend for my BA 2-4-1 and only cancelled my Amex gold two months ago. Partner has recently hit her 2-4-1 as well and still has a gold card so the supplementary option isn’t available.

  10. We’ve already got the Lloyds with a supplementary, will take a look at the SPG, didn’t know you can covert to Avios, we book all our hotels through Hotels.com for the rewards nights.
    Thanks

    • If you both do SPG you can get above 20K SPG, then they give you another 5K for free when transferring to air miles.

      (12K SPG for being referred + £1K spend, 5K for referring wife, she will also get 12K, netting 29K SPG that then converts to 34K Avios or many other providers that MR do not transfer into, like American airlines etc.).

      However transferring to Marriott may work out better, so very good value redemptions and it transfers at 3 to 1 SPG. Especially good in Asia, but found good option in USA as well). If you can get loads then the Travel packages are very good (over about 200K Marriott, ideally 270K marriott gets 7 nights cat 1 to 5 and 120,000 airmiles, basically works out a free hotel stay for 7 nights).

      • Just to add SPGs are free to transfer between accounts with the same address.

        • Would we still get the sign up bonus if we both already hold a BA Amex? ( and golds with in the last 6 months)

        • Yes, completely different card group (of one).
          I only used to collect airline points, but last holiday we had 10 nights free, five in a suite in Vancouver (paid with by SPG points transferred to Marriott)..

        • No, you would have to wait the six moths for new bonus. But you could be running the spa in the meantime, and keep,earning. It’s always advisable to slow the rotation down a bit, try to have a new card every 8- 10 months instead of 6. Our structure is one has the gold of plat, whilst the other has the bapp > bacc, with an spg alongside to balance it up. Then refer each other again.

        • Sorry Anthony, l meant. No to another gold or bapp bonus! Just saw you were asking about spg….

  11. Has anyone had any experience crediting a Nutmeg account? I’m thinking that it might be counted as a financial institution under the Amex rules but might be tempted to try a small amount…

  12. But does this mean we can pay everything by just paying the money to our own bank account then pay whatever we want using our debit cards/bank transfer?

    • Yes ….

    • Just paid my OH today into our own bank account so we can reach the 241 £10k next week. Then two bills are being paid. Def worth the £8 in fees…a great asset to reach bonus target, and get our pro rata refund sooner. Plus already prepaid our EEx2 and – couple of hundred into BT at the coop so this compliments the bonus or 241 target spend very nicely indeed. Thank you, guys..

      • the real harry1 says:

        definitely gives people more flexibility & obviously 241s & spend targets to hit bonus – sooner/ cut fcard feesgoing forward – are obvious uses where the means/ fees justify the ends – but some people seemed to get excited about MS and unless you can account for the costs elsewhere/ let the business absorb the fees this is a non-starter

        my Lloyds example at the thread start one of the best I feel, works out about £70 for an upgrade from WT+ to Business

        • Harry,
          Fully agree with your Lloyds example. For MS a total waste of cash unless it’s deductible. But in my case, timing was perfect. Get that cash back 1000 fold when booking our next F 241. Think people need to be smart and not get too excited about overusing this facility, but it has real positive uses, in time limited examples.

          On another note ROB, have you booked our Xmas party date yet? Or are you planning another, as last years was such a success.!

    • Steve, yes you can, but wouldn’t push it, unless you can absolutely justify the fees.

      OR more importantly, if Amex withdraw from the scheme, as we have seen happen elsewhere.

      See below. If the end justifies the means. But routinely most people can use Amex lots of places. And on line. Notice more and more l am given the pay pal option now when Amex is not accepted. Was amazed at how much l could use our Amex recently with the PP option. But it’s def a big plus to bill pay too. Will definitely do our council tax next year, as they resolutely refuse to issue a pay point card! Very annoying.

  13. Perhaps a stupid question, but how do you pay HMRC using Billhop? When I login and its shows my amount due I can’t see what sort code or account number I’d need to transfer to using Billhop.

  14. How can you succeed in paying your OH using Billhop? I just tried using it to pay my kids’ tennis coach and Billhop asked me for an invoice because they said remittance is not allowed. When you paid your OH, did Billhop ask for an invoice? 🙂

    • the real harry1 says:

      looks like Billhop had to stop ‘naked’ remittances pretty sharpish!

      doesn’t surprise me, rather close to various money laundering tricks otherwise

    • I had the same problem they didn’t mind taking the money before asking though I asked them for refund ASAP not Impressed