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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. My local council takes Payzone but not Paypoint.

    Is trying to pay with AMEX at a Co-op likely to work?

    • Shoestring says:

      Quite possibly if your CT bill has a barcode on it

      • Hmmm, I’ll give it a try. When I look on the store finder on the ‘Payzone’ website all of the stores near me seem to be independent newsagents / off-licenses…

        • Didn’t work for me.
          Tried that last year, the payment went through but the transaction didn’t.
          So ended up getting a refund!

        • Charlieface says:

          There are some newsagents who take Amex, or claim they don’t but do if you stuff in the card. It’s worth trying your locals, also useful for Shop Small.

  2. Luckily my council accepts PayPal so no fee at all for me to pay be Amex.

  3. Victor says:

    Just a minor observation, but council tax bills are, on average, lower in London than the rest of the country. So the singling out of London to reference £2,000 bills being common, might reinforce the perception of a ‘media bubble’ in London.

    Just saying 😉

    • I get my bins emptied twice a week too. Used to be 3 times a week but that’s austerity for you. And as you will seen post Grenfell, our council sits on more cash reserves than many small countries ….

      That said, they recently flogged an old peoples home round the corner from us for £70m which is unlikely to be doable in Sheffield. It is being replaced by the world’s most luxurious retirement home, which will offer caviar for dinner every day (seriously) etc.

      • Yeah, but that’s because of the rats and foxes in London Rob, It’s become an ever growing issue across many boroughs. Food storage is being impacted.

    • Matt B says:

      I thought £2k seemed quite low, mine is a few hundred quid less in deprived South Wales and know plenty of people paying in excess of that in Cardiff

      • Matt B says:

        Back on topic though I noticed the statement I received yesterday had a paypiount logo so I will look into it.

        • Matt B says:

          Also had the option of paying by card at the post office, another Amex option?

        • Paul Stevens says:

          I also want to know if anyone has had success paying with Amex at the postoffice. Our council website accepts paypoint but it says you have to pay with cash at paypoint.

      • LewisB says:

        My best mates council tax in Radyr is just shy of £3,400 a year.

        • My CT in Dundee this year is up to £3300 – more than I ever paid for my mortgage! Makes me weep every month when I go to pay it. 2 years ago it hiked up £40 per month just as hubby retired. I also pay my MIL’s very month so at least I earn a few points over the year across various cards.

  4. Nick_C says:

    “£2,000 is not uncommon in London”

    Lucky Londoners. Mine is £2700. I wouldn’t move back to London for the cheap Council Tax though.

  5. Will Post Office take AMEX for paying Council Tax? My bill says Post Office or PayPoint

    • Not mine, flatly refused.
      said CASH only!

    • Shoestring says:

      At the Post Office it will be cash, cheque or debit card only

    • Never used PayPoint before – is it just as simple as scanning a barcode, sticking card in machine and telling cashier how much if say I am paying a monthly instalment of an annual CT bill?

  6. Anyone within Wokinghamc Council?
    No option to pay it via PayPoint!
    Bill hop only worth, if vying for 241 voucher on BA

  7. 2% cash back on my current account beats paying it by any other means as far as I am concerned. Of course if you need to hit signups that moves the dial

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      Yep – 2% back on Natwest current account on council tax and other bills as a direct debit. Really easy without ever needing to leave the house !

    • Absolutely! Way way better and zero hassle.

      • Shoestring says:

        yep £30 on £300 spend, it repeats in the year, my wife & I both get it independently

        • Nice one. I don’t have that so RBS Rewards account works out extremely well for me! (esp with 2 flats so double the costs but only one £2 fee lol)

      • Shoestring says:

        The bad news is my CT bill arrived this week, the good news is I already paid off over half of it as Halifax/ Co-Op/ Amex spend bonus won’t wait 🙂

        • Haha I do love it when an offer works out. One of the best I had recently was 10% off on one transaction at Hilton – it happened to be the 6/52 I’d spent in the hotel at my building insurance company’s cost while they carried out repairs 😛

      • Shoestring says:

        double whammy!

      • Genghis says:

        I’ve got another 5% back at co op on Halifax. Good times.

      • Shoestring says:

        leaving the 5% to go sing gets you 10% next month or 2 months later

  8. Hmm my council tax bills have all gone onlline (Southwark) and I can’t figure out where I can see a bill with a barcode which I can use to pay the Co-op down the road (Paypoint)! Any suggestions?

    • Shoestring says:

      From their website: Paypoint outlets
      From the 1st April 2019 we no longer issue swipe cards for you to make payment. You can now use the barcode on the front of your bill to pay at any PayPoint outlet or Post Office so please keep it safe. There is no charge to pay like this.

    • Genghis says:

      Like I’ve said elsewhere, if you currently pay by DD you need to cancel it for a bill with a barcode to be generated online.

  9. Anybody tried using bill hop with the new Miles and More Diners/MCard combo? I can pay small bills (did it as a ‘test’) but it simply will not accept the MasterCard for payment on larger bills. Endless phonecalls to both organisations (Diners and Bill Hop) resulted in a blame game on both sides but no solution. I tried again a month or so later after I had built up a bit of payment history on the Diners but still no joy. Diners seems to automatically reject large payments and their office does not seem to be able to override it (even though they are apparently trying). The last time I tried I was literally on the phone to Diners while pressing the ‘pay’ button on Bill Hop. The payment (£3000 which was within my credit limit) was rejected and Diners had no idea why or how to prevent it happening.

    I’d be interested to know if any of you have had more joy?

    • It must be something to do with the weird ‘prepaid Mastercard’ nature of the MC. It ISN’T a credit card, remember. You also can’t link this card to Curve.

      • Thanks for the reply… I presumed that was the case, however it strangely accepts smaller payments (I put £30 through it as a tester and it worked fine). There is some sort of ‘security’ block on larger one-off payments – and even the Diners people can’t get their heads around it :(. I am just a few thousand M&M points off 2 F class on LH and I am trying as hard as I might to get those miles!

      • That is interesting as I had been planning to get this card and link to Curve.

  10. Genghis says:

    On the topic of council tax, a reminder to do the analysis to see if you’re in the right council tax banding. We now save a few hundred quid a year after I challenged it on moving in. Didn’t tell the previous occupant she could claim thousands as she was a right cow in the moving process…

    • I got a £1500 refund a few years ago when I found out one of our neighbours had had their council tax band revised but not told anyone else on the development! Naturally I passed the good news on to the whole estate…As Ghenghis says, it’s well worth checking, especially if you live in a new build as the local authority seems to just guess the banding and leave it up to residents to challenge it.

      • Same here, I got ours down from band F to E and saved @£250pa in the process. Must be done within 6 months of moving in and is easily done online via the Valuations Office website. We bought our flat off a lovely couple and they were really pleased to get an unexpected windfall when they also claimed for 5 years overpayment.

        • Shoestring says:

          Wouldn’t that mean there isn’t a rule about claiming within 6 months? 🙂 – otherwise how could the lovely couple get back the overpayments? Just sayin’…

        • You can only challenge as a new tenant within 6 months but if successful anyone entitled to a backdated claim can submit one. As Genghis says, they might not know so it is up to you and how generous towards them that you are feeling!

      • LewisB says:

        @Anna What evidence did you use to challenge it from a new build?

        • It was about 5 years after we moved in and there was no issue claiming. I’d always felt that we were paying too much so one day went online and found something which showed the selling prices of all the houses on the estate and their council tax bandings. There are only 4 (identical) houses on our close so they should all be in the same band, but the neighbour’s was showing as D whereas the rest of us were in E. I contacted the council and had to be quite firm with them as they tried to say we must have modified our house to raise the value and rubbish like that (we hadn’t, and the neighbours had had a conservatory built which would have presumably increased theirs!). I’m just trying to think back, I had to put something in writing but can’t remember if it was a letter or a form to fill in. However, in the end they gave in and refunded the extra money we’d paid and revised the banding without even inspecting any of the properties. Because they had the plans for the development they could see the houses were identical, so that’s what they went off. I assume they try and fob you off to start with to see if you’ll give up and go away – like some airlines lol!

        • LewisB says:

          @Anna same with most things in life, persistence is key. Only a few months back AXA Travel Insurance palmed me off but quickly changed their view once I got the FOS involved. I think in your case it’s a lot easier because somebody else has clearly given the evidence to get the banding changed, it’s difficult to challenge on a new build. It’s even more difficult in Wales as it’s based on April 2003 values. I’ll get diggin’.

        • Shoestring says:

          Do your research. I appealed our banding D 10 years ago based on valuation and some similar properties enjoying C. Got rejected and they pointed out that other similar properties were E, and did I want to appeal to next stage? Ie with explicit threat they could also turn us into E.

          I think the problem was that round here some daft folk had earlier appealed their valuation *UP* (maybe 2000-2005) on the basis that it meant their property must be worth more!

          Retired hurt with my D intact.

  11. illuminatus says:

    I highly recommended Billhop, works like a charm.

    • Nigel Edwards says:

      how do the repayments work with billhop? can you make monthly payments or do you have to repay in full?

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