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How to earn Avios on your July tax bill via debit card (Tesco), Amex (Billhop) or Visa/MC (Curve)

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When HMRC stopped accepting personal credit cards for tax payments in January, it was a blow for many HFP readers who used the Inland Revenue to rack up a substantial number of miles and points.  Even a relatively small business like Head for Points has a chunky liability when you factor in our VAT payments, PAYE and my own personal tax and national insurance – over 70p of every £1 HFP receives goes to the Government.

There are still three ways to earn miles and points when paying your 31st July self-assessment tax bill.

Tesco Bank debit card earn Clubcard points

METHOD ONE – Via a debit card, using a Tesco Bank current account

We have mentioned this a few times but it falls through the cracks of our usual credit card coverage.  Not a lot of people know that, if you have a Tesco Bank current account, you earn Clubcard points when you use your DEBIT card.

Surprisingly, the rate is OK – 1 Clubcard point for every £8 you spend.  1 Clubcard point is worth 2.4 Avios, 2.5 Virgin Flying Club miles, 3p of Uber credit or various other deals.

You cannot earn points when using a Tesco Bank debit card to pay a ‘financial services institution’.  You won’t earn anything paying off your credit card bill or transferring money into a savings account.  HMRC is NOT classified as a financial services institution though.

For every £1000 of tax you pay, you would earn 125 Clubcard points which is 300 Avios.  There is no fee to pay as this is a debit card, but of course you do need a Tesco Bank current account.  You obviously won’t be able to set this up for a July tax payment but it would work OK for future bills.

Full details of how this offer works are in this HFP article.

Billhop pay bills on a credit card

METHOD TWO – Via an American Express card, using Billhop

We have covered Billhop a couple of times and a lot of readers have used it.

Basically, Billhop pays your bills for you – directly into the bank account of the recipient – and charges your credit or charge card.  The transaction goes through as a purchase.  You earn miles and points and it counts towards spend bonuses such as the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

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

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 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.

This HFP article explains in step-by-step detail how to set up a Billhop account.

The company was founded in Stockholm in 2012 – where it has proven very popular with the frequent flyer community – and launched in the UK in 2016.  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.

Curve Card

METHOD THREE – Via a Visa or Mastercard card, using Curve

Curve is a Mastercard DEBIT card that recharges every purchase you make to a linked Visa or Mastercard.

This is why Curve Card is worth having:

You make your debit card purchase – including tax payments – using Curve Card

Curve recharges it to your linked Visa or Mastercard credit card

It goes through your linked Visa or Mastercard credit card as a purchase

It therefore earns points from your linked Visa or Mastercard

You have just earned credit card points from making a debit card transaction

And the best bit is that Curve Card is free.  In fact, it is better than free – Curve Card will pay you £5 for taking it out.

It actually gets even better, due to two additional Curve Card benefits:

You can withdraw £200 of cash per month from an ATM and have it charged to your credit card as a purchase – this means it earns miles and points. 

Foreign currency transactions made on Curve are recharged to your linked Visa or Mastercard in Sterling with a 1% foreign exchange adjustment.  This makes it a better deal than using the underlying card which is likely to have a 3% FX fee.  Foreign currency ATM withdrawals incur an additional £2 fee.

One thing you CANNOT do with Curve is pay a financial services institution.  As with Billhop, HMRC is NOT treated as a financial services institution so you are fine.

Curve Card has an annual payment limit of £50,000.  This is fine for most people.  You won’t get this ‘out of the box’ however – you need to use the card for a few months until your limits build up as the company begins to trust you.

The Curve Card is FREE so there is no harm in trying it out.  If you use a refer-a-friend code when you sign up – my code is OQB4J – you will receive £5 off your first transaction with the card.  You must use a referral code to get the £5 credit.

The Curve website is here if you want to know more.  You need to download the Curve app for your phone and order a card from there if you want to try it out.

Conclusion

The good news is that it wasn’t totally ‘game over’ for earning miles and points from HMRC when the Inland Revenue stopped accepting personal credit cards.

All of the three routes above are a bit fiddly, but if you are the sort of person who doesn’t like leaving miles on the table then they are worth a look.

PS.  What is NOT worth a look is using a Corporate Visa or Corporate Mastercard, which HMRC still accepts.  I don’t know of any with decent rewards and the HMRC fee is roughly 1.5%.  This is where I think we will see developments in the loyalty credit card space …. interchange fees are not capped on corporate cards so real potential to develop strong products.

(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. Chris says:

    OT: Applied for Virgin MasterCard, got rejected. I recall there were comments on here before about people being unfairly rejected for it and that you had a contact who could potentially set things right Rob. Is that still the case?

    • Mark2 says:

      I was rejected and wrote to them with scans of my other cards an they accepted me.

    • No, can’t do that now. You need to appeal in writing via Jubilee House. You will be accepted (80% chance) if you do.

      Only do this if you’ve had a full rejection. The pre-check thing they have is rubbish and is not callibrated for the VA cards (eg it rejects solvent people who won’t pay interest) which is why it has now been pulled from the VA cards application page.

  2. Slightly OT, how good is Revolut in terms of earning miles?

    If you load £500 onto the card from your Emirates MBNA or other MBNA Visa card, will that earn you the usual 500 miles?

    • Jimbob says:

      Isn’t there the risk this will be treated as a cash advance?

      • George says:

        Depends on the card issuer – while Tesco backtracked on Curve they still treat this as a cash transaction. Barclaycard were okay last time I topped up (a few months ago). MBNA also okay IME. Best to do a small transaction, see what posts, and then a bigger one.

      • You need to test it. Most cards treat Revolut as a purchase but, as we saw this Tesco, they are starting to change their rules and it won’t last long.

      • the_real_a says:

        MBNA charged me a cash advance.

  3. OT..
    Looking to get a Marriott Travel Package with American Airlines miles but cannot see them here https://www.marriott.co.uk/rewards/usepoints/morepack.mi
    Is an AA travel package still available?

  4. Tracy says:

    I received the MBNA horizon email today that my virgin card account has now changed to the horizon account. If I use my virgin mbna card does it now work with the horizon benefits?

  5. Roger says:

    OT- SPG points transfer

    I have a strange problem for my and wife’s SPG account.
    Points would transfer from A to B all the time, but for some reason (this is my second attempt and already a week has passed), it would not transfer from B to A.

    Anyone in similar situation?

    • I am having the same issue. Have 3 family accounts and my own. Have moved points from the 3 accounts to mine with no problem in June. But over the last couple of weeks I am having no luck despite getting the email from SPG saying we are working on your request.

      Looked into doing the transfers in Marriott instead but there is a 50k points limit and you have to call.

  6. Roger says:

    Another OT-

    Can you pay Lloyds Avios using debit card online?
    There does not seem to be any option, if you have already signed up for DD.

  7. Tilly71 says:

    OT:
    Anyone else getting error messages in their Marriott account when trying to transfer to SPG? Keeps stating technical error, please try again later? Tried how different machines but no joy…

  8. Graham Walsh says:

    OT

    Arrive home today to find a big red box from a virgin advertising the new credit cards with the bonus. I had the email the other week and applied. Also got an email today saying I’ve not been approved for the Virgin money card.

    Also, I came back from LAX on American in their premium cabin and it wasn’t bad at all. Very similar to BA WTP+ on the way out. Think the IFE was better on AA.

    • VM will probably approve you – write to them at the Jubilee House address and it should be sorted.

  9. Peter K says:

    For those interested, when I changed my curve card to debit from credit earlier this year my spending limits didn’t change but the amounts spent reset to zero.

  10. Julia says:

    Will the Curve Card work for paying school fees if anyone had experience?

  11. Does Black Curve Card need to have DEBIT inscription on it? Or do they count as debit by default?

    • Apparently not…
      I received the email today

      Thank you for your continued support as one of Curve’s first users! We’re getting in touch to let you know that we recently launched our debit card programme and would like to invite you to upgrade your current prepaid card (free of charge) to a Mastercard® debit card. The Curve debit card works in the same way as the prepaid card, and is accepted at more merchants worldwide.

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