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New council tax bill arrived? Use Billhop to pay it 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 up some miles and points.

Following the law change in January 2018, many local authorities are now 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 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. It is 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 Billhop 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 cannot use Billhop to pay private individuals unless you have an invoice from that person for a service provided, such as music lessons.  With an invoice, Billhop is happy to make the payment via Visa or Mastercard.

American Express cannot be used to pay private individuals under any scenario, even if you have an invoice. You are perfectly fine to use Amex for paying companies, HMRC, your local authority etc.

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).

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 the many HFP readers who have tried the company so far, Billhop is 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.

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.

The Billhop homepage is here if you want to sign up.

(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’m in Nottingham City and pay council tax with Amex at Paypoint.

    • Genghis says:

      … for free!

      • Shoestring says:

        1. In the absence of Co-Op, try your local Texaco garage for a Paypoint machine.

        • Shoestring says:

          2. You can use the Halifax 10% off @Co-Op offer to get a handy £30 reduction on your CT bill, twice a year. My wife & I both get these (different online Halifax a/cs), so £120 off.

        • Shoestring says:

          2. You can use the Halifax 10% off Co-Op offer to get a handy £30 reduction on your CT bill, twice a year. My wife & I both get these (different online Halifax a/cs), so £120 off.

        • Used the Santander 10% off coop in February, £30 cash back 🙂
          This month it’s only 5% but better than nothing….

      • My local sainsburys in central London allows me to pay all my bills via paypoint using Amex without any questions. I thought everyone was on this bandwagon?

        Rob – Where is our HFP promo code for a 50% discount on the fee?

        • You learn something new every day! My Council Tax for the year is £2,650, do you have to pay the full amount when using Paypoint as currently we are paying by direct debit? My local Co-Op is about 20 meters from my front door!

        • Genghis says:

          @Paul. Cancel the DD. You’ll then be sent a bill with a code on / be able to request a paypoint card if not. Split into 10 payments across the year which you need to pay before due (note it takes a few days for paypoint payments to clear)

        • All your bills? I doubt that!

  2. Yep. Paypoint at my local co-op accepts amex. It’s FREE and I don’t need to complicate my life with another ‘service’.

    • Only slight complication is that the store manager for my local co-op has forbidden card payments for paypoint! Go figure?

      (Luckily another co – op is located nearby)

    • Are Paypoint payments limited to certain registered companies? Could I pay for my holiday using Amex via Paypoint by entering the bank details of the independent travel agent?

      • The ITA is a business, so,should be no problem there.

        I often use Billhop for one off payments to get to a bonus, or 241, if it’s a slow 3 mth, which can happen. Usually equates with the fee saved anyway, when dropping down to free BA card, for instance.

      • Shoestring says:

        Unlikely. The payee needs to sign up to accept Paypoint payments and most smaller companies won’t have done this.

  3. Also, check if your council takes pay-pal, ours does which is very handy (and free).

    • Yep so much easier than messing around with paypoints if it’s available.
      Haringey accepts PayPal was a great discovery last year.

    • I pay mine with Paypal linked to my BAPP, every year it counts as a big chunk of my 2 4 1 spend.

  4. Peter King says:

    The number if councils that dont use paypoint must be pretty small. In manchester the barcodes on every bill.

    • I have bar code but only accepts PayZone not PayPoint!

      • Ditto – my council stopped accepting PayPoint this time last year, making Payzone the only choice (and meaning I can no longer pay by Amex). I now pay online via CC using my IHG card, as paying the extra 3% to pay via Billhop doesn’t make it worthwhile.

  5. I am in central London 1-5/5 when I need to pay my Edinburgh CT by amex via paypoint. Can one of our London residents please suggest a convenient store please?

    • Problem solved, just searched co-op and was a little surprised to find quite a few in central London 🙂

  6. Billhop lost it for me after deciding Amex couldn’t be used to pay individuals. I’d happily been paying for childcare and the cleaner – but no more.

    • Agreed – It was really useful for paying direct into an individuals account for cleaner, gardener etc plus paying into another of your own accounts for manufactured spend albeit with a cost of 2.95%

      • The MS probably caused compliance issues, so they put a quick stop to personal payments as a result. Otherwise why would they turn down regulate income flow of 2.9t%. Would have suited them just fine…money flowing in…

    • Your cleaner could register as a business like mine – she is a one woman operation but seemed to find it quite straightforward. Once you have a company name and a registration number there’s no issue in paying via Billhop.

  7. You can pay your council tax in
    Aberdeen as well with Amex through PayPoint at the co-op

  8. Jeremy Gautrey says:

    Brighton and Hove Council takes Amex (probably because their HQ is in Brighton)

  9. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Cheshire East accept Paypoint, terminals for which are easily found, and as others have said, it is FREE.

    It does get mentioned on HfP a lot so I am slightly surprised it doesn’t get a mention in the article.

    • I think the article is more about Billhop! I do use Billhop but my council takes Paypal which is obviously a better option.

    • Charlieface says:

      Sorry to be a little cynical but it seems HfP is being paid for a Billhop advert, you can’t expect to see advice contrary to it.

      • You are not meant to use Amex with PayPoint. It is blocked by the scheme rules. The fact that some shop staff are too stupid to know this is not a reason to promote it.

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          There are lot’s of things that are not supposed to work they way they do that HfP “promotes”. Isn’t that the game that we are all playing?

        • (and as with more and more HfP articles they get some sort of commission)

        • Charlieface says:

          Can’t believe it’s against Amex merchant rules, it’s not hiding a cash withdrawal as a purchase, it’s just paying a bill similar to utility bills which can often be paid directly with Amex. And it’s obvs not against Visa and Mastercard merchant rules as councils accept them directly.
          It may be against Paypoint rules, I have no idea on that.

  10. filipino_chino says:

    York is also via paypoint and co-op, but just found out the small ASDA also takes paypoint too… all for free with AMEX

    • Shoestring says:

      Have you tested whether you can actually used your Amex card with Paypoint in Asda? Our Asda doesn’t allow this.

      • Do they check Harry, or would you just put the Amex in without asking?

        • Shoestring says:

          Our Asda *was* cash only – admittedly I didn’t check it again in the last year or so.

          But the point is valid – elsewhere, if cards are accepted, don’t even ask if they accept Amex, just put the card in & see if the till is set up for it. They can definitely set it up to exclude Amex – our Co-Op changed hands and still had a Paypoint till, but overnight stopped accepting Amex, I had a friendly girl on the till who tried it for me & it spat out the card with computer sez no.

        • Shoestring says:
  11. We are stuck with our stubborn council, no barcode, so no amex at pay point, which works for all other utilities, thankfully. So Curve it is, currently linked to WE. Takes the pain out of it slightly.

    And we finally got our letter from lloyds yesterday so soon have to decide how to go forward. Might drop WE, as don’t use all their benefits anyway. Or drop to HSBC free Premier or use new
    lloyds mc with Curev for free forex. HSBC c/s a real pain to del with…still.

    Hawaii. Over on TLFL. £1455. One World and Star Alliance. Good TP run from ARN. Covers UK school hols too.

    • Don’t they issue payment cards for paypoint and post office? Edinburgh doesn’t have barcodes but will provide a payment card on request.

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