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Earning Avios for paying your council tax and other utilities

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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.

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.  Depending on your council or the utility involved, you may need to request a PayPoint payment card first which can be scanned in.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (149)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Anon says:

    Do any banks take mortgage payments by credit card or am I getting over-ambitious? (Though many London rents are undoubtedly higher than mortgage payments in other parts of the country).

    • Alan says:

      I’ve not heard of any recently – I managed to pay Lloyds £10k on the old Supercard, but that was because it appeared as a debit card on their system. My rate is really good anyway but felt nice earning 12,500 Avios via Diamond Club before it went!

  • John says:

    I believe there are a lot of Edinburgh folk on here – is CEC pretty strict with credit card (amex) payments? Does anyone have viable alternatives? Thanks

    • Alan says:

      Not had any luck Amex with them, although I’ve gone the RBS route the last couple of years. Massive Council Tax rises this year in Edinburgh (and I’m guessing elsewhere in Scotland too) – lots well over £2k now, £3/mo fee is definitely easily covered!

      • John says:

        Hi Alan, was it yourself in Helsinki recently? Which Hilton do you recommend there? And the direct AY flight, decent compared to flying with BA via LHR?

        Thanks! (Trinity geezer)

        • Alan says:

          Indeed it was! I stayed at Hotel Indigo in the city, then the Hilton at the airport last night.

          Finnair was excellent, mainly as I made sure to book the A350 both directions, but transfer at Helsinki was a joy compared to LHR!

        • Alan says:

          PS – I flew via LHR to get the A350 – I’d definitely consider them direct from EDI though.

  • Richard Shakeshaft says:

    Is it worth using the hive mind to put together a list of LAs etc and what cards it’s possible to use?

    • the real harry1 says:

      not really

      • Rob says:

        PTS is closing down BTW, had you heard?

        • John says:

          PTS ?

        • the real harry1 says:

          yeah well they kept on banning their best contributing members, it was a very idiosyncratic site with odd rules

          • Chris says:

            I suspect the paucity of bonus Clubcard offers and tightening of loopholes is the primary cause.

        • Waribai says:

          Is there space in the market then for an alternative to PTS?

          • Rob says:

            No. Very simple reason – the PTS crowd is very switched on and you can’t make money off them. Can you imagine trying to devise a website where you were reliant on making money off therealharry multiplied x 200 people?!

            There were a couple of not-hugely-complimentary comments about HFP and SP made by readers in the ‘we’re closing down’ thread when we were suggested as alternatives, but we’re not going anywhere and PTS is disappearing and there are good reasons for that.

          • Waribai says:

            Fair point. I think SP is a good alternative to PTS to be honest. At least the earning opportunities suggested carry much less blacklisting risk!

  • Chris says:

    Don’t forget the opportunity cost of paying by credit card in one lump sum.

    I pay my council tax via Santander 123 which gets me 1% back and then hold onto the remaining (albeit diminishing) balance earning 3% interest. Without doing an exact calculation this works out at least 2% ‘reward’ – in cash too.

    This beats using credit cards.

    Of course the RBS 3% beats this too.

  • 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.

    • BLT says:

      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.

  • Will says:

    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

    • John says:

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

  • 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.

      • Polly says:

        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 reward points for my next 1 night non change hotel booking 🙂

        • Polly says:

          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, 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.

  • 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.

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