Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to earn miles on HMRC tax bills via debit card, American Express, 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.

(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.)

Comments (234)

  • John says:

    “over 70p of every £1 HFP receives goes to the Government.”

    Is this a typical figure for small businesses with 1-5 staff?

    • TripRep says:

      Rob dodged a bullet with Corbyn then lol 😉

    • Stephen C says:

      As with all things it depends, mainly on level of profit and how that’s withdrawn. But VAT would be 17% and 40% tax on earning + 2% employee NIC + 13% employer NIC would get you close

      • Thomas Howard says:

        But why would Rob be paying 40%? Surely his salary would be below the threshold and he’d receive any extra profit the business makes as a result of his lower salary as a dividend?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          you’re probably right he’d be daft not to however anything paid as dividends is still subject to Corporation tax first.

          • mark2 says:

            Exactly. The tax on dividends is the same as on a salary. The only benefit comes if you can split income with someone who pay little tax, not I believe Rob’s wife.

          • Rob says:

            Yeah, disappointingly on that score my wife continues to finance tankers!

          • tony says:

            Also they have changed up the dividend tax rules, so a lot less attractive. Once you get past the higher rate threshold, it’s 32.5%. You do however circumvent NICs. The 70p in the £ is a bit misleading though as that includes VAT which is being charged on top of the service in the first place and will likely be reclaimed by the customer.

      • Rob says:

        Bingo, but I run on 45% tax due to investment and property income on top of this thing, hence 70% – actually more.

  • PaulC says:

    Is Capitol On Tap card no longer an option used via Curve fee free? I may have missed comments having been on holiday but I thought even with the new COT card coming at the end of this month we could use it with curve fee free for HMRC transactions?

    • iain says:

      pretty sure Curve treats CoT as a credit card, so you’d pay the 1.5% unless you have metal.

    • Chas says:

      It’s fine – falls under method 3.

      • Chas says:

        I should clarify – it’s free on Metal, otherwise the 1.5% applies. But as a Visa card, it falls under the wider heading of using a Visa or MasterCard with Curve.

    • Rob says:

      Curve charges for all cards on HMRC payments unless you get Metal. Metal is a decent option if linked to COT though, if your tax bill is high enough.

  • Jack says:

    OT

    has anyone else ever had a specific merchant where Curve is declined but no app notification. and Curve support say they can’t even see the transaction coming through in the first place

    any other card with the merchant works fine

    used to be able to pay it with curve, suddenly stopped working

    • K says:

      Yes I have come across a few merchants where I could not use my curve. Curve could not even see the charge being attempted and the decline came too quick to assume that a charge was being attempted. Assume some merchants treat curve as a prepay mastercard and do not allow it.

      • Anna says:

        I have had this, I wondered if it was something to do with the payment processor? Declined £5 in a café but all other transactions the same day were fine.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yes had this at a local PO. I suspected the machine set up meant it just declined the card without trying the transaction

  • Pedant says:

    The “Inland Revenue” hasn’t existed for several years now!

  • TripRep says:

    So to clarify, All recent top ups from VS MasterCard–>> Revolut now incur a fee?

    Bit of a shame, I’d only just started + been using it moderately.

    Will revert back to my previous card.

    • SG says:

      Just checked and seen my ridiculous cash advance fee for a Virgin + Revolut top up
      Are HSBC top ups to Revolut still free?

      • Anup says:

        Could you not just stick Curve in the middle? Or is it the MCC change from Revolut rather than any issue with VS MasterCard?

        • Steve-B says:

          MCC change/pass through. Reports of this on cards issued by Barclaycard, Creation and of course VS, so game over on this method now.

    • Anna says:

      Looks like IHG as well, my statement this morning shows 92p interest! I guess it’s so low because I continually pay off the balance in chunks? So going forward, still top up Revolut but pay it off straight away?

      • Simon says:

        I have the same. 62p interest but no cash advance fee.

        • Genghis says:

          +1. 83p for me and wife but no cash advance fees

          • Anna says:

            Not a good start to the day, we need to claw back these losses somehow 😂

          • Genghis says:

            I’m away currently but if someone could call Creation to find out the date of the transaction(s) that caused the interest, that would be a good data point.

          • Shoestring says:

            @Anna the free £5 on Monese? Promotions – ONETAP (targeted)

          • EwanG says:

            @Genghis. I’ve made 4-5 top-ups on my IHG card during the month. With 52p interest, this will have come from my most recent transaction on Monday 20 Jan. The previous one was 13 Jan so charging started sometime between those two points, which is consistent with other commentators about the VS card (I think Colin McK was first to pick it up). Just to be safe I’m going to pay off balance in full today so to not get charged interest on the interest.

          • lt says:

            my last top up from IHG to revolut was on 15th, I don’t see any interest, where do you guys see it? (my current statement has not been generated yet)

          • Dave says:

            Another data point on IHG card, 55p charge for me. I did a £200 Revolut transfer on the 17th Jan and then £100 yesterday to test if fees were charged. So yes seems that were for the one yesterday.
            My wife was charged £1.52 and did a £200 payment to Revolut on the 18th. She did pay £300 of her bill off yesterday and I paid some
            Of mine off too so not sure if that affected things but unless Revolut change then looks like no more Revolut top ups for me.
            Which is a shame as not only did it earn a few points it also helped with cash flow..

      • AlexT says:

        Someone previously mentioned that Creation only charges cash advance fees end of month. Maybe ppl should wait until their next statement before starting to top up w/ IHG and repaying immediately to avoid interest payments…

      • The Urbanite says:

        Creation treats cash like transactions in different ways. Certain MCCs have a low spend limitation but no fees or interest. Others attract interest but no cash advance fee and no points. And the worse attract both a cash advance fee and interest and no points.

        You don’t find out about the interest until statement date but a red flag that interest may be charged is getting a balance segment transfer charge and refund.

    • Alex says:

      Looks like yes. £200 top up and £10 fee landed in my Virgin Credit card account. Anything we can do with this? Anyone knows is it possible to revert the transaction?

      • Benilyn says:

        What happens if you run your creation account on negative balance, do you still get charged it?
        Re HSBC, I don’t think I have been charged, but their app isn’t the best so can not tell.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          All card issuers should allocate payments against the charges with the highest interest so if you topped up revolut £200 then paid creation £200 the same day you should be charged 0 interest.

          • The Urbanite says:

            I thought that if you make a cash like transaction, interest is charged on that transaction until the whole balance is paid off? I’m forever carrying out my own research on obscure potential MS routes and cut R&D costs by operating on this basis.

            A while ago Tesco ran a promotion where purchases from Tesco were interest free for x months. People excluded their Tesco purchases from their monthly payments then were caught by surprise when still charged interest!

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          Anyone tried RBS’s new bank Bo?

          Thinking it might take them a little while to learn Revolut and Monzos lessons?

        • SwissJim says:

          You can’t can you? They reverted a payment when I did that recently…. By the way, I don’t get IHG giving points on Revolut top ups, not charging cash fee, but charging interest. Seems inconsistent – either it’s cash or it’s not. If interest only and paid off immediately the points value will exceed interest cost (though not as good clearly as when free!).

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        I wasn’t a user myself but for those that did surely it is simply a case of ‘good while it lasted’ but now time to simply jog on? How much of your life is it worth chasing £10?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Agree sometimes you have to just take these things on the chin as part of the game.

          • Simon says:

            I’ve been hit for £50 but did alright while the party lasted. Time to move on. I have no desire to invite any scrutiny of my account activity.

          • Shoestring says:

            You’ve all been naughty, naughty children! 🙂

            RIP Terry Jones

        • Steve says:

          10£ fee..Try £600. That’s worth chasing.

          • AlexT says:

            I’m sorry but at 600 charged for transactions in less than a week, you my have charged 12k… You may have a legitimate reason for that, but if I were you, I wouldn’t draw more scrutiny to my account than you may already have done.

          • Steve says:

            Do you really think my names Steve or it was bang on £600…

          • jc says:

            I think AlexT means that if you go chasing the case with Virgin you’ll be inviting unwanted scrutiny of your account—you might need more than “hey it’s erm Steve” when you call them to chase. You’re not inviting scrutiny by mentioning it here.

    • Grant says:

      Yes, the problem seemed to start for most for transactions made around 17th of this month and onwards, albeit some others (including Colin McK) experienced it earlier at the back end of last year.

      Revolut has decided to change the MCC for credit card top-ups from one which was widely recognised by the card issuers as a purchase to one which is now widely recognised as a cash advance, and users are being charged accordingly by the card issuers. The Revolut website used to say that this would not happen, but was changed yesterday morning to say it *may* happen.

  • Andy P says:

    Will these methods also work for an Inheritance tax payment to HMRC or does that need to come from the estates bank accounts?

  • EwanG says:

    I mentioned it on Monday’s article too, a small point of clarification on Curve.

    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 **with a credit card as the underlying card**.

    • Genghis says:

      As an extra point of clarification, the new Curve black charges a fee (is not free) but may ask be liable for a
      a 1.5% fee (assuming Curve have coded everything properly, prob not is my best guess).

    • Rob says:

      I did update the article on Monday!

      • Dave says:

        I’m still confused. HMRC payments are charged from tomorrow. What about DVLA etc? Or is that still in trial mode?

        • Rob says:

          Just HMRC for now.

        • EwanG says:

          I’m not sure why you’d use Curve for DVLA when you can pay by credit card at gov.uk for free. Buy yes, Curve say ‘after a trial period’ the 1.5% fee will apply “to other government payments… [which] fall under the Merchant Category Code 9399 and include, but is not limited to, HMRC, National Savings & Investments, DVLA Vehicle Tax, and Student Loan Payments” paid by CC. They don’t say how long the trial will be, could be a day, weeks, months…
          @Rob – I thought you modified that article, thanks!

  • Tony says:

    I just used Curve with the HSBC Rewards card as the underlying Credit Card. It was flagged as being ineligible for rewards. Hopefully anyone else thinking of this card can switch and get points elsewhere.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Paying HMRC or anyone?

    • memesweeper says:

      I’ve struggled to get my HSBC card even added to Curve. Guess I’ll stop moaning to Curve support if it’s confirmed as not qualifying for rewards.