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How to earn miles on your January tax bill via debit card (Tesco), Amex (Billhop), Curve, Miles & More or Revolut

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When HMRC stopped accepting personal credit cards for tax payments in January 2018, 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.

The good news is that there are still various ways to earn miles and points when paying your 31st January self-assessment tax bill or your February VAT bill.

Tesco Bank debit card earn Clubcard points

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

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 Hotels.com 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.

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.

Unfortunately, Tesco Bank is no longer accepting new applications for its current account.  If you don’t already have one, it is too late, unless Tesco Bank decides to re-open the product with identical benefits.

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 ‘£4000 spend in 90 days for 30000 bonus points’ target on a new American Express Platinum 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 using your 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 no foreign exchange fee (Mon-Fri, 0.5% fee at weekends).  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.  Your monthly FX limit will depend on which variant of Curve Card you hold.

That’s the good news.  Here is the bad news.

Today, Thursday 23rd, is the last day that you can pay HMRC using the free Curve card and not pay a fee.  From tomorrow, there is a 1.5% fee on HMRC payments.

The fee is waived if you pay £150 per year for the Curve Metal premium version of the card.  If you are a very heavy spender, this may still be worthwhile.

If you want to find out more, I ran this article on Monday which runs through the maths of using Curve Metal to pay HMRC going forward.

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.

Paying tax with the Miles & More Mastercard

METHOD FOUR – Using the Miles & More Global Traveller Mastercard

You may be confused about this suggestion.  After all, I told you at the top of the article that HMRC no longer accepts payments by credit card.

The Miles & More Global Traveller card IS accepted, however.

The reason it is accepted is that, technically, this is not a credit card.  It is a prepaid Mastercard.  You need to read our full article on the Miles & More Mastercard to understand exactly how it works, but basically:

when you apply, you get a Diners Club (really!) card and a Mastercard

when you spend on the Mastercard, it is treated as a prepaid debit card and – at the point of purchase – Diners Club (silently and in the background) loads on enough money to fund the transaction

In practice, it works in exactly the same way as a standard charge card.  Note that, as a charge card, you MUST clear your balance at the end of each month.

The card has a £79 annual fee and a 5,000 Miles & More miles sign-up bonus.  You earn a whopping 1.25 miles per £1 spent.

You should NOT use this card to pay VAT or business taxes.  People who have done this are getting into trouble, since the card is only meant to be used for personal transactions.  Your statement does break out the exact type of tax which was paid.  I have not heard of anyone getting any push back for paying self assessment.

I am only scratching the service of how the cards work here, so please do read our full Miles & More Global Traveller review.

Using Revolut to pay HMRC

METHOD FIVE – Using a Revolut, Monese etc account topped up with a credit card

I do not recommend this because the big clampdown has already begun.  However, there are often ways of loading up online bank accounts run by the main fintech companies with a credit card, in ways which allow the transaction to be seen as a purchase.   You can then pay your tax bill using the debit card supplied with the account.

Until last week, for example, you could load a Monese account at a Post Office using your American Express card.  Similarly, until last week, you could load a Revolut card with a Virgin Atlantic credit card.  Neither of these options now work – the Post Office has blocked Amex transactions and Virgin Money is charging cash advance fees for Revolut loads recharged to its credit cards.

As a matter of editorial policy we do not encourage such opportunities on Head for Points because they operate in a grey zone and, in any event, would be closed quickly if widely publicised.  They are often discussed in our reader comments.

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.

The 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.

Bits: Finnair restricts Avios reward bookings, a (pricey) Hilton / McLaren factory visit, see Morrissey with IHG
Virgin Atlantic ends Air China partnership - are there any good partner awards left (except ANA!)?

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Comments

  1. So paying HMRC by curve baked by Virgin earlier today was a mistake? And it on holiday I should only use Curve with a debit card behind it?

    • Qwertyknowsbest says:

      HMRC still no fees, at least on the cards I last used one of which was a VA.

    • 1) No, but paying after today might be (read the article)
      2) No, unless the only place you spend money on holiday is HMRC (fun holiday. read the article)

    • Depends where you’re holidaying. On the Virgin Credit Card statement I noticed this, so for European holidays you can just use the Virgin CC straight out and not be charged any ForEx fees if it matches the 3 currencies below.

      Important information about using your card abroad
      From 15 December 2019, we’re changing how you’re charged when
      you use your card or withdraw cash in any of the 31 countries of
      the European Economic Area (EEA). When you pay for something
      in Euros, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei, we won’t charge you a
      Non-Sterling Transaction Fee.

  2. Can anyone advise if Aqua is attracting same fees with revolut top ups?

  3. Best advice I can provide to anyone:

    STAY WELL CLEAR OF REVOULT

    No customer service at all, if any goes wrong you’ll only get to speak to a robot. You will not be able to communicate with a Human!

    • Type “Live Agent” in the chat box with the robot, and it will connect you to a proper human. Successfully did that earlier today when I had some fraudulent transactions go through my account.

      • Well for all I know she could have been improper, but our chat didn’t reach that level….

      • YMMV with that. At one point I needed to talk to a person, found that tip, and typed it in – no one. Tried the next day – no one again, and so on for 5 consecutive days. The only thing than got me connected was a formal complaint via the email address.

        On another occasion it worked fine, however, so I guess it depends on the queue. They advertise that the metal package users get priority over the free users.

        • I’m a lowly free user. But perhaps because I had clicked through a menu option saying “I don’t recognise this transaction” I got prioritised.

  4. OT:
    Platinum £10 a month Addison Lee. Can it be used in Edinburgh? If so m, how?

    Thanks

    • Jovanna says:

      Book an Addison Lee through their App. Make sure your Platinum card is stored as the default payment card in the App. The £10 will drop off your account at some point after the charge has hit.

      • From my experience in Edinburgh the charge from AL was processed about 3 weeks after the taxi ride and the £10 was credited a week later

        • Richard says:

          Tried to book a taxi in Edinburgh recently using the Addison Lee app (Amex Plat stored as default payment) but no success. AL app seems buggy and horrible and after several failed attempts I gave up. Very disappointing.

  5. Erico1875 says:

    Can I use my AMEX and Billhop to pay someone elses tax bill ?

  6. rams1981 says:

    Creation statement has no cash advance fee but interest has been charged. Looks like 2x£300 classified as cash, first on 18 Jan.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Yeah I noted this the other day, wasn’t sure if it was because I’d been utilising Curve Send (route dead now so can mention it) but it would seem they were coding as purchases, as they usual limits on value weren’t stopping me.

    • Andrew L says:

      Yes I’ve had cash advance interest charged on my Revolut top-ups on my IHG Creation credit card for fhe first time too, but no fee charged. .

  7. OT but are there any other ways of topping up a Tax Free Childcare account and earning points? They won’t accept Curve (possibly 3DS issue) , but insist any debit card is allowed?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Just taken a call from Curve about duplicate transactions a few days ago. They are offering compensation to anyone who received penalties for any duplicate transactions.

    • Rob Walker says:

      I’ve been using revolut but it sounds like that’s come to an end now if they’re being charged as cash advances.

  8. Alin Sas says:

    Just a quick mention regarding Curve ATM withdrawal, for standard, its £200 per day, not per month. I thought the same as it’s not explicit, but currently travelling and tested it, the limit counter resets every day.

    • Joseph Heenan says:

      Are you confusing the limit with the fair use policy? The former is a hard maximum. The latter says curve may apply a 2% fee if you take out more than £200 per month.

  9. Apple Pay Launched on Curve!

  10. Just attempted to top up Revolut via Curve using Nationwide Select Visa and got cash advance fee. Yes the big clampdown is here and looks like Revolut is useless from now on.

  11. Seems as though HSBC now looking at Revolut transactions as “cash”.
    Revolut going to become redundant shortly.
    Shame.

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