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How to indirectly pay your January tax bill with an American Express card

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If you are self-employed or pay tax outside PAYE for other reasons, 31st January is the day that you will need to make your final tax payment for the 2013-2014 tax year.

(EDIT:  This article is now out of date.  Please click here to read our 2020 article on cunning ways of paying your HMRC tax bills with an American Express, Visa or Mastercard.)

HMRC accepts credit cards for tax payment. However, they do not accept American Express – only Visa and MasterCard. And there is a 1.4% fee for the privilege.

To be honest, no current Visa or MasterCard products have a generous enough reward scheme to justify paying 1.4%. I have the old BMI MasterCard which earns 2.5 Avios per £1, so that is OK – I am effectively buying Avios points for 0.56p.

The ONLY justification for using a Visa or MasterCard would be to hit a spending target.  The IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa offers a free night when you spend £10,000 on their card whilst the Hilton Visa gives you Hilton Gold status for spending £10,000.  Either of these may justify a £140 fee to HMRC, especially as you will also earn some IHG or Hilton points as well.

There is one way around this, although it is very fiddly except for small amounts.

3V Virtual Visa gift cards, available from Tesco, are no longer accepted by the Revenue. However, the ‘premium’ prepaid Visa cards sold in Tesco – see the image below – are still accepted. These cost £53.95 for a £50 card.

Visa gift card

The maths would work like this:

You buy £1,000 of premium Visa cards at Tesco for £1,079, paying with your American Express.

(Do not buy more than four per transaction, though, as the Tesco tills tend to throw a wobbly beyond that.)

Tesco gives 150 bonus Clubcard points for every £50 of giftcards you buy. This means you receive 3,000 Clubcard points (7,200 Avios) which offsets the £79.

You would also get points on your Amex credit card from the spending, and it would count towards any sign-up bonus and / or your BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher. If you use an American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, you would earn 2 Amex points per £1 as supermarket spend earns double points.

You can then redeem the Visa gift cards via the HMRC website – only do a few at a time, though, or it locks you out. They are treated as debit cards so there is no additional fee.

Assuming you used an Amex Gold and are in your first year of membership (and so getting double points at supermarkets) buying £1,000 of the premium gift cards would generate:

3,000 Clubcard points from the gift card promotion (7,200 Avios)

2,160 Amex Membership Rewards points (2,160 Avios)

That is 9,160 Avios for £79 plus quite a bit of running around.  It is an acceptable deal but not one that I will be rushing to use.  However, if you have a spending target to hit on a new American Express card then it is a different matter altogether.

This strategy will not necessarily work for everyone, but it is worth thinking about.  You may also want to consider the IHG or Hilton cards – you still have enough time to apply and receive the card before the end of the month.

(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.)

(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.)

Comments (83)

  • Jo says:

    First time posting on any forum, hope I spell everything correctly. Thank you so much for this post, I took the plunge in January and applied for my first AMEX card. This article has gone a long way to helping me meet my AMEX target. I was cautions and only bought one Tesco’s card to try it out and as it worked I went and cleared the store out. If I find myself a bit short on my AMEX target I’m going to get a head start on 14/15 financial year’s bill. Thank you again

  • mark2 says:

    Welcome Jo. Remember that you can also probably pay your council tax and utilities in this way. Even better with 3V/pay.com with no charge.