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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. Slightly o/t – lots of talk of council tax and bills etc. But – Has anyone ever worked out how to pay their rent via a reward earning card (I have BAPP, Virgin Atlantic Reward+, Amex Plat, and the ability to put the Virgin card through curve)? It is a large chunk of our income transferred via direct debit every month to the estate agent and i am thinking there has to be a better way but i can’t work one out!!

    • I’m amazed you are in an income bracket where you can justify having a BAPP VA+ and Plat and are still paying rent!

      Pay it via Paypal?

      • Renting makes sense if you are wealthy and in London. Yields are laughably low (my old Wapping flat – worth about £1m – rents for £24k per year) and stamp duty is high (10% for a £1m house, or 13% if you have another property elsewhere). Throw in another 1.75% for agency fees if you think you’ll sell again in a few years. Prices continue to fall sharply. Unless it is your ‘home for life’ – and not many people in London decide to stay in the centre for their entire lives – the maths doesn’t work.

      • People rent for many reasons; being in an industry where geographic mobility is required, 2nd home due to family spread, etc etc.
        Not sure you can make the link that just because they are renting, that they are not in an income bracket to afford those cards.

      • Mr Dee says:

        It depends if the person has a better use for the money rather then keeping it held up in housing

      • Yeah i live in a £700k one bed flat in the city – no chance ill buy it purely because i don’t want to not because i couldn’t afford it. Rent is £2.5k a month so looking to earn points on that £30k pa spend. I have owned before but looking to live as close to work as possible (long hours, investment industry) for the next few years before children “force” me to move out of the city 🙂

        Also Rob is right, London prices falling and one bed luxury flats are actually pretty illiquid at the moment (I know because my landlord is trying to sell and can’t!)

        I don’t think the estate agent accepts paypal but i like the revolut idea as an option i will open an account and try that. If anyone has any other ideas let me know!!

        • But how can you top up Revolut from rewards credit cards? It’s not like Curve unless I’m missing something

        • You use Curve to top-up.

        • Nick_C says:

          I’ve topped up Revolut from CCs (Virgin and Lloyd’s Avios MC). Why do people think it shouldn’t work? Revolut advertise free credit card top ups. Just not Amex.

          • Revolut doesn’t charge you. It is totally up to Virgin and Lloyds whether or not they want to treat this as a cash withdrawal equivalent and charge you.

        • @Alex Sm you just topup direct from credit card, haven’t your tried that?

    • Michael says:

      Try Curve and link your Virgin card. Worst that can happen is they decline it i think.

    • Just got a Revolut card/account. I’m funding it with a Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card and thinking about trying the bank transfer feature to pay my rent this month.

      • How are Virgin treating these quasi cash transactions? I’m assuming no fee, but are they (as Creation do with my IHG card) limiting the top-ups in any way or can you smash a few £k through in one hit?

  2. 2k not unusual in london ! not very celubrious areas of Swansea have rates bills of that magnitude so 2k in london you should be saying thanks very much .

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      There is a long and amusing history of comments on HfP that paints anywhere outside of the M25 as a sort of waste land operating on a barter system. Here in Cheshire I’d gladly pay just £2k for my Council Tax.

      • Rui N. says:

        Yep, me too! Although I’m trying to get it just slightly under £2k with a valuation appeal!

        • DerekH says:

          Here in Eastbourne mine is over £300 and with an increase due next month probably. And I only live in an apartment! Even my brother doesn’t pay that for his flat overlooking the Thames in London!!

    • Mine is £500 … Anually :p

  3. DerekH says:

    That should read £3000……. I wish it was £300!

  4. I’ve put another spin on our bill to make it more palatable. I’m on Gold amex free year so not paying the £140. Paying this through bilhop for an extra 2.95% is less than I’d have to pay for an amex upfront fee card. Rationalization barometer on full charge today.

    • Going forward with that, if you can’t pay via Paypal and can pay the council tax over 5 months or less, you could get a new card each April, pay the council tax, claim the sign up bonus and cancel. Repeat next April.

  5. Andrew says:

    ‘£2k not uncommon in London’…. Rob, I’m nowhere near London, actually in the north east, and our council tax bill is almost £4K/year!!!

    Why are Londoners having such a free ride of it??!

    • SimonW says:

      Because we are piled on top of eachother like sardines! I’m guessing many council services are fixed cost, so more of us to spread it around. I think I read a few London boroughs – Westminster?? – have some of the lowest council tax rates in the country.

      • And Chelsea has the highest population density in the UK, I believe, due to the huge number of mansion blocks. You basically have street after street with eight storey terraced blocks of flats.

  6. Could I add how about paying your water rates bill for the year , here we get 1.5 per cent off for the privilege of paying all at once , so on our 860 bill and a few points for use of card its worthwhile relative to interest rates .

    • Shoestring says:

      no discount with Southwestwater but you can pay with Paypoint/ Amex – same with TV Licence.

    • Thames Water accepts Visa / Mastercard for no fee.

    • Genghis says:

      That’s an expensive bill! I’m pleased Thames Water said earlier in the year that we’re unmeterable (London has to have meters installed). My garden will continue to be appropriately watered in the summer.

    • Wow, my water charge is £300 and that’s included in the council tax bill (so 2% off the lot!)

  7. I am buying a new home next month is there anyway to pay my deposit on credit card. I know most won’t accept mortgage payments for sale of points etc but it isn’t exactly a mortgage payment.

    • Shoestring says:

      Legally there won’t be a problem but as to whether your house builder/ supplier is set up to accept credit card payments, I somehow doubt this is widely available.

      Even with a debit card (ie Tesco Clubcard points from current a/c), you might find it pretty difficult to get them to accept it.

    • I paid for the extras with a credit card with Redrow; in fact I think they insisted. But I would say that the deposit is best left in the solicitor’s hands.

  8. Still no luck with New Forest District Council or Surrey Heath, my husband is sticking them on IHG each month. I would like to be proved wrong and get them onto Amex.

  9. That’s great!

    I spent all evening trying to figure out how to get avios and then read this. I switched bank last month to NatWest rewards to get a switching payment and that’s the account my Council Tax comes out of so I think that’s job sorted!!!

    • Shoestring says:

      NatWest doesn’t seem *that* attractive to me, certainly not a miracle answer. The absence of sign up bonus/ churn option also a negative!

      • They had a 150 switch incentive on the current account until recently. I’m sure it will come back at some point.

      • Indeed, I couldn’t get it as already with RBS but definitely had an offer on. For 2% off phone, internet, gas, electricity, council tax I find the benefits rapidly mount up! Currently have over £400 sitting in my My Rewards account!

      • Shoestring says:

        for internet, you’re better off investing some time in finding a great deal

        if you remember, my BT fibre deal 52 gigs with free BT Sports for a year works out at £12.82/ month & free weekend calls

        • No you get whatever deal you want but then get another 2% off via the direct debit 😉

      • Shoestring says:

        similarly, with gas/ elec, investing the time in switching to a better deal & with new customer bonuses attached will beat the 2% many times over

        I was on the absolute best deal in the market last year (Avro) and have already switched this year as that Avro fixed deal expired in Feb

        • I don’t follow, Harry – you obviously still switch, etc to get the best deal, this is 2% FURTHER discount on top of whatever deal you get!

      • Shoestring says:

        well I’m not sold on this NatWest card so just sticking up objections lol

  10. For council tax, you can pay via paypoint using Amex – that is what I do. I go to a co-op every month.The limit I believe is £200 per transaction. But think you can do multiple £200 payments in one day – so I guess you can technically pay £2000 of council tax via AMEX in one day.

    • Genghis says:

      The limit might be £200 per Paypoint transaction but multiple can be rung up then you just pay one lump sum on card.

    • ‘For council tax, you can pay via PayPoint using Amex’.
      This only applies to councils which accept PayPoint which is not all of them

  11. I think the maths stacks up on the Platinum card too.

    £450 annual fee
    Pay £2927 to HMRC via Billhop +2.5% fee to hit spend target for sign up bonus.
    Cancel for pro rata refund of annual fee
    Outlay of £73 +£37.50 = £110.50

    Vs.

    Let’s say it takes you 2 months and 1 day to hit the spend target and then wait til next statement to cash out your MR then with pro rata refund it’s going to be 3x£37.50 = £111.50

    Fire off a self referral for 18k MR and pocket the hotel statuses and it’s a winner

    • Genghis says:

      Why “wait til next statement to cash out your MR“?

      They can be cashed out straight away, unlike the points from monthly cycle co-brand cards.

      • Agreed. Apologies. Am I right in saying the pro rata refund is calculated on a monthly basis?

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