Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Earn Avios paying your tax bill with Billhop via American Express or Visa / Mastercard

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When HMRC stopped accepting personal credit cards for tax payments in January last year, 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 a few ways to earn miles and points when paying your 31st July self-assessment tax bill or August VAT bill.  One of these is 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.

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 tax or VAT bill 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.

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 is an expensive way of earning miles or points.  It IS something that you will find useful if you are struggling to hit the ‘£3000 spend in 90 days for 10000 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 for the fee.

Exclusive reader offer for Mastercard and Visa transactions

Billhop is currently offering our readers a lower charge of just 2.25% when using a Mastercard or Visa when making a payment.

This special offer is for new and existing customers and runs until 31st August 2019.

This would work best if you were looking to hit the spend target on, say, the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard which gives you a free night voucher for spending £10,000.

You need to use the code h4psummer2019 in order to benefit from the lower charge. Existing customers can enter the promo code under ‘Settings’ whilst new customers can enter the same promo code during the registration process under the ‘How did you find out about Billhop’ section.

The code only works on desktop.  You cannot use it on the mobile app.

Unfortunately, there is no reader discount on American Express transactions due to the higher charges imposed on Billhop by Amex.  If you are looking to make very large payments, however, you can often negotiate a deal if you contact them directly.

Amex also insists that Billhop payments are to ‘proper’ organisations.  You cannot send Billhop a bill to pay an individual for, say, cleaning or piano lessons via Amex.  It is totally acceptable to us Amex to pay HMRC, your council tax, a car dealership etc.  There are no restrictions on who can be paid by Visa or Mastercard as long as an invoice is supplied.

What else?

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.

If you are self employed, Billhop is even better value as their fee is obviously tax deductible.

Even if you don’t want to pay your tax bill 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.  You need to move quickly if you want to pay your 31st July tax bill.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – October 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our October 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

The following offers will end soon:

  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)

Here are the top current deals:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (100)

  • Olly Loosemore says:

    Where can I add the code for the discount. Am on the app and can’t find anywhere under settings to add a promo code. Am an existing user

    • Sean says:

      I can’t seem to find it either. Have a few payments I want to put through.

  • John says:

    I guess this is useful for people who exceed the curve and revolut limits but not something that excites me at 2.25%

  • AndyW says:

    Surely you would just use curve for Visa/Mastercard though..

    • Mr. AC says:

      Revolut MCC (6012 – Financial Institutions) is no good for most credit cards and/or point earning cards. Curve doesn’t let you pay into a bank account (e.g. childcare or rent).

      Does anyone know what MCC or type transactions into Billhop have?

  • Spurs Debs says:

    I’m about to use billhop for first time. A new front and porch door and it’s goodbye to £2k. The supplier doesn’t take cards so I thought this would be a good way of paying him with Amex and earning a few points. I’m hoping it’s as easy to us as it’s made out to be.

  • tony says:

    I used this a few years back and it does take a few days to get everything set up, AML checks done etc, so if you’re thinking of paying the July tax instalment this way, then you need to get cracking now.

  • John Pagani says:

    As a small business owner myself, it should be a national scandal that nearly 70% of HFP income (and my own) goes to the revenue. As usual the greatest burden of this country falls on small/honest business owners who can’t afford city accountants and off shore funds to escape our tax laws.

    • Froggee says:

      I’d love to see the maths behind the “over 70p of every £1 HFP receives goes to the Government”. I did it with the most tax inefficient example I could think of and only got to 68%.

      • Genghis says:

        How sure how you can calculate it given you don’t know what are general overheads and what percentage of remaining profit goes on salaries.

      • Ken says:

        I can only presume it includes VAT which is not income in an accounting sense and PAYE and employees NI which are taxes on individuals incomes not taxes on HFP.

      • Lady London says:

        What do you mean, “only” !!!

    • callum says:

      It’s very basic common sense… If most/all of the profit from the company is paid out in wages to wealthy people, 45% personal income tax rates are going to be a huge percentage of the “company’s” tax bill.

      It’s not remotely a “national scandal” – you are being absolutely absurd. What you’re effectively arguing is that Rob, a wealthy individual, should have a low income tax rate. I vehemently disagree, as would pretty much anyone else who remotely cares about poor people.

      • Rob says:

        20% of this is VAT remember. I am just an unpaid tax collector for the Government on that.

        • RussellH says:

          But if you did not have to pay employer’s NI, then all that would happen would be that your taxable income would increase, and you would pay more income tax, which the government needs to pay benefits.
          Equally, if you were not registered for VAT, your overheads would go up, because you could not claim back the VAT paid.
          Many people argue that VAT is a regressive tax, but I have always disagreed. As food etc is zero rated, food shops can reclaim the VAT on their overheads and so reduce these, but will have little or no VAT liability themselves.
          Rich foreign visitors to the UK do not pay income tax, obviously, but they do pay VAT.
          I suspect that it is lot harder to creatively account a lower VAT base than it is for corporation tax or income tax.
          And VAT is cheap to collect, I understand.

          • Rob says:

            VAT costs the Government nothing to collect, because people like me do it for them! It takes me 75% of a working day per quarter to do it.

        • callum says:

          I didn’t forget that! The majority of your figure appears to be made up of personal income taxes, which is a very confusing statement to make for people like John Pagani who don’t seem to understand how taxes work (probably representative of most people – though nice to see not on here!).

      • Rob says:

        I also disagree!

        I could reduce my tax bill to nothing if I wanted (locate the HFP legal entity offshore in a country with no corporation tax, pay myself a nominal salary each year – paying 100% of it into my pension so full tax rebate – and then retire abroad so the money never comes into the UK). I choose not to.

        • SimonW says:

          How would you pay 100% of income in to a pension when there are annual contribution limits? Surely the easy thing you do, is pay yourself dividend income from profits, rather than salary at a 45% taxable rate?

          • Rob says:

            If HFP Dubai Ltd paid me £40,000 per year as a salary, I could pay £40,000 per year (the annual cap) into my personal pension and get full tax relief.

        • SimonW says:

          Ignore that, I see what you are saying. Yes you could do that i guess. Would just need other funds to live off while building the off-shore retirement fund.!!

      • Lady London says:

        Well said, Callum.

        Too hot to get my calculator out. But counting in m’y head, Rob may not even need to be on that high a tax rate for total tax take from the business to reach 70%. That’s before any overheads and staff are paid.

        It’s really scary.

        If we’re paying so much tax and not really less than other countries pay, then where’s the money doing? It doesn’t seem to be being spent on improving public services, quite the opposite, and we have $hit roads compared to fellow West European countries.

        Is out Government more corrupt than we admit? Is our money all quietly going to friends of those who can vote large public expenditure?

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          its a myth to say that tax rates are high in the UK – they are materially lower than most other European countries:

          Tax as a % of GDP

          UK -33.2%

          France 45.3%
          Sweden 44.1%
          Germany 37.6%

          The USA is 25.5% but I doubt any of us are signing up to their public services…

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2017/11/29/the-countries-most-reliant-on-tax-revenue-infographic/

          • Bagoly says:

            Being somewhat pedantic to focus on the original point:
            The “over 70% of cash in goes to HMRC” is what is relevant for earning points on cash.
            That does not equate to a tax rate of over 70%.

            So being a VAT collector is not so unpaid if you are a savvy HfPer – one gets (depending on card used) 1%-1.5% of the VAT paid over!
            If only I had know in the days when I had such a business!

          • Rob says:

            Oh yes, I’m not saying I have a 70% tax rate. However, because I need to pay the VAT, personal tax and NI plus – for example – the PAYE for Anika and Rhys – the amount that I could potentially put through Billhop, Curve or Capital On Tap to the Revenue is huge.

        • callum says:

          Thanks, though I don’t agree that our infrastructure is significantly worse – most people seem to only look for the good things abroad and compare it to the worst here!

          My French friends constantly decry the huge toll network and express jealousy towards the UK motorway system (though being a slightly rabid environmentalist, I actually prefer their’s!). Despite most British people seeming to think German trains are incredible, my German friends complain about them and say they wish they were as good as the British system (ditto with France).

          There’s no longer anything special about the UK, but it’s perfectly average in my books!

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      Its a bit silly to argue that the PAYE withheld by the company and paid to HMRC is a “national scandal” That’s just the way tax works in this, and most other, countries…

      • ken says:

        Quite

        I get the point about businesses being unpaid tax collectors (although they get a small cash flow benefit) for VAT, PAYE, Employers NI, but its the price we pay for living in a (reasonably) civilised first world country.

        Cutting corporation tax from its current level should be the last priority.

        And yes, I own and run a small transport business that effectively pays plenty of fuel duty on top of the rest.

    • RussellH says:

      As a former small business owner, I paid nothing like that amount. I would guess (not prepared to even start doing the maths though) that in retirement I pay a significantly higher portion of my (lower) income in tax. I was able to deduct part of the costs of running a car, a phone landline and ADSL, a mobile phone, home heating and electricity, as well as a significant part of my travel costs, which I cannot do now. Same for certain magazines which I could claim for, but I cannot now.

      At the end of the day, I would guess that most people dislike have to pay taxes, but accept them as their subscription to living in a country which still, by and large, is reasonably civilised.
      I recall a newspaper interview some years ago with an Afghan chieftain. He had been complaining about the state of Afghan roads as compared to UK + other western nation’s roads. The converstation went something like this:
      – Why are you able to have good roads and we cannot?
      – Good roads cost money.
      – Where do you get the money from?
      – Taxes.
      – Eh? What are taxes???

    • Rooster says:

      This is taken out of proportion, perhaps 70% of turnover sounds a lot but many business may pay out higher percentages ie its not uncommon to hear 90%+ being paid out for retail business with high turnover.

    • Rooster says:

      If your profit margin is 30% then your doing pretty well IMO

      • Rob says:

        You’re an old economy dinosaur 🙂 HFP reported a 95% profit margin back in 2015, before I had the office or any staff, and even that was after some kitchen sinking of my mobile bill, part of our household bills etc. Obviously substantially lower now with two employees and a City of London office to fund.

        • Rooster says:

          Depends on your business type of course, if you had a retail store a 30% profit on your turnover would be great but equally a 5% turnover would be good if you did 10x sales.

          If you have a digital information business, no staff and no premises then 95% margins are great!

  • Toenails says:

    Great post! My aim to to use as many products and services so that I can pay my HfP dues each year.

  • filipino_chino says:

    Or use a Tesco debit card, not a good rate, but it’s free

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