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How to use Billhop to pay your new council tax bill by Amex

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Council tax bills for the new tax year are dropping through letterboxes at the moment. For a lot of people these are chunky (£2,000 is not uncommon in London) and obviously it would be great to pick rack up some miles and points.

Following the law change in January, many local authorities will now be accepting Visa and Mastercard credit cards with no fee.

If you want to use a Visa or Mastercard credit card and they are not accepted by your local authority, the Curve Card is the obvious way to go.  Curve is treated as a debit card but will recharge your bill as a purchase to any other Visa or Mastercard you have.  You can find out more about Curve here – they are still paying you £5 to try it out if you use our HFP referral code.

This doesn’t help if you want to rack up some American Express spending, of course.  There is a way around this, for a fee – using Billhop.

We have covered Billhop a couple of times over the last few months.  It is as an easy way of running up credit and charge card spending by paying your day-to-day bills or at this time of year paying your council tax bill for the entire year upfront via your Amex card.  This gives you a head start on triggering a sign-up bonus or your next British Airways American Express 241 voucher.

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

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 cash flow benefits of putting your council tax bill 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, or need to pump up your spending towards your next 241 voucher.

About Billhop

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

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 your council tax bill using your American Express card.  Simply give Billhop the bank account details for your council, and your payment reference, and they will make the payment on your behalf.

Note that you can no longer use Billhop to pay private individuals unless you have an invoice from that person for a service provided, such as music lessons.

How to set up your account

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 picture of your passport before you can make larger payments.

On the dashboard you can see your past bills and scheduled bills and pay new bills.

In theory, the recipient will receive the money within 6 days.  When we tested the service last year, the money actually arrived after 5 days and that included a weekend.  You receive an email when the money has been sent.

Conclusion

Based on the experiences of HFP readers who have tried the company so far, Billhop seems to be working as promised.  The only minor issue is the need to send a scan of your ID before you can make a transfer of over £250, which will be the case if you are paying your council tax bill for the year.

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.  Your council tax bill could almost hit this target in one go.

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 your council tax 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 pay your council tax this month, it is worth signing up so that you don’t forget about it and to receive news of special offers and other 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.)

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Comments

  1. I read that some ppl managed to pay via pay point. How do u do this? Is that for free with Amex?

    • Genghis says:

      Councils differ in approach. For ours there’s a Paypoint barcode on the bill if there’s no DD set up (others send Paypoint cards). I take the bill to the Co Op, it gets scanned and I pay with Amex. No fees. Payments take a few more days to clear than paying direct.

      • Thanks genghis does the co-op guy balk at the amount being paid?

        • Genghis says:

          I never put the annual fee through in one go. I’ve scheduled to pay monthly. When I need to hit a sign up bonus, I’ll then pay as much as I need over a few instalments (generally in £300 chunks as the limit is £199 per Paypoint ticket for our CT IIRC)

      • Lucinda says:

        My Council bill states I can pay through Payzone.

        Tried it on Sat with Amex but no luck-transaction did not go through.

        Any idea if I would I be able to pay at Paypoint?

        Don’t want to embarrass myself in CoOp 🙂
        Thanks

    • Some Co-Op stores have not trained their staff and they allow Amex payment. It is strictly not allowed in theory.

  2. Louise says:

    Some co-ops local to me have signs up saying cash only for paypoint, so I end up doing mine on my lunch break from work (inner London)

    • wally1976 says:

      Similar for me – my council says cash only for PayPoint but I do it in a Co-op near where I work (outside the area) and they don’t bat an eyelid at taking the Amex.

  3. Some councils take paypal to pay council tax and other fees which of course can be re-directed to Amex. I pay mine this way so it’s worth checking out to see if yours does.

  4. Rob – let me tell you that CT of £2000 plus is VERY common outside London!

  5. Regarding the ID requires, my first payment was under £250, but I still had to provide ID. But I have to say the whole process of using Billhop has been very smooth and all the payments I have been delivered on time.

    Until 31st March there is a referral programme for Billhop. Your transactions up to £250 will be fee-free, so a small saving if you are referred by an existing user. Surprised this was not mentioned in Rob’s post as I understand he is a member. I have posted about the Billhop referral on MoneySavingExpert forum.

  6. O/T as no bits today.

    Does anyone have experience of using FlyBe Get More tickets?

    Supposedly offers on the day flexibility. Tickets have to be changed with the call centre on the day of travel, which doesn’t open until 9am CET.
    For the situation I am looking at, the flight I am booked for is 10.30am CET, Which means I would have to have left the hotel for the airport before the call centre opens – defeating the flexibility.

    Does anyone know if they would allow changes the day before in this case?

  7. filipino_chino says:

    big co-op and amex fan here…. Tv licence, Water bill and council tax all through Amex and Co-Op.

    I make sure i use a co-op without a post office as the payments don’t go through, as the post office allows you to pay what ever you want in one go, while pay point at a normal c-op can only pay off 99.99 for water per transaction and 150 for council tax.

    Most staff know me in the local co-op, as i run a small family business where we cover the bills, so i often need to pop in a pay a council tax / water bill etc.

  8. I was on first name terms with the Surrey Heath council tax reconciliations lady as my many £25 payments over a weekend used to break her system. Unfortunately neither Surrey Heath nor New Forest District Council seem to allow Paypoint or Paypal. I suppose fee free Visa or MasterCard is marginally better than using Tesco debit.

  9. Regarding the Co-Op paypoint route:
    I use this regularly, never had problems with putting £2-300 through London Co-Ops.
    However, be aware that the Co-Op has a regional stucture so what works in London may not work elsewhere. I was in Lincoln recently and the Co-Op store didn’t accept Amex.

  10. Marlene says:

    Rob – can I pay my stamp duty with Billhop? That would be a life saver!

  11. wally1976 says:

    One other thing, I registered the other day as a private individual and saw no evidence of this:

    “Note that you can no longer use Billhop to pay private individuals unless you have an invoice from that person for a service provided, such as music lessons.”

  12. Billhop is useful for paying anyone/company for services via BACS, so it has many uses.

  13. James knox says:

    Is there any likelihood that Curve will re-ignite their partnership with AMEX?

    • Not short term though in theory the interchange fee cap means there is no reason not to on cobrand cards.

      • James knox says:

        thanks for replying so quickly (and from lapland – must have good wifi!)
        Would be great if Curve and AMEX were friends again, I would use my curve card even more….

        • 4G wherever you go, bizarrely even the 15 hours on the train through the middle of nowhere had 3G or 4G phone reception for 90% of it.

  14. Scallder says:

    Have noticed that Billhop are now rounding their sevice fee to whole Pounds. So the 2.95% fee isn’t really that – I paid £4 on a £120 payment today and £4 on a £150 payment yesterday so those two amounts roughly net out – but it’s not in reality 2.95% anymore…

    • It is. You are referring to the receipt page, which does round all amounts (including amount paid) to the nearest £. If you click on PDF receipt, you’ll see the correct amount.

  15. How would a refund for the council tax work if I paid by billhop, eg if I moved during the year?

    • Peter K says:

      I imagine as the council will see it as a bank transfer into their account they would pay you back into a bank account of your choice. As far as they would know you may have closed one account and opened another

    • Mine made a BACS payment for the amount over-paid.

  16. I’ve signed up to billhop, and sent my council tax payment. I haven’t been asked to supply my ID. As I dont want it to be delayed, when has anyone else been asked for ID?

    • I got asked the following day and supplied it the same day, it did not delay my payment.

  17. waleed says:

    Is there an alterative to Billhop which offer the same services?

  18. roberto says:

    Question….

    Has anybody RECEIVED a Billhop payment? If so what did it say on your bank statement? Did it have (a) from Billhop and the payment reference or (b) From “whoever the sender was” and the payment reference?

  19. filipino_chino says:

    FYI in a new Co-Op near me, they have a daily limit of £100 i can put through in one go, but other older co-op’s don’t have this limit..

    Just for your info..

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