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 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.


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 points from credit cards? – November 2020 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 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.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 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 – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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:

American Express Business Gold card

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

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending 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

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (234)

  • James says:

    I reckon I can put enough spend through the Curve Metal with HMRC/NSANDI/DVLA to probably justify the fee (maybe £30k a year on the IHG premium CC).
    I’m maxed up to my spend on my current Curve card though. Do I upgrade or do I apply for a new one? And if I upgrade do they reset my spend or am I still stuck at £50k (admittedly spend from 365 days ago will start to reduce it).
    I’d also like to personally apologise for the Revolut situation. I got an account in December and as always with these things as soon as I join up/start using them the loophole gets closed! (See also Amex stopping sign up bonuses etc!)

    • memesweeper says:

      Just ask for a limit increase. Provided you haven’t been using the card to pay off other cards they won’t bat an eyelid (and even if you have they may up the limits anyway). No harm in mentioning on the chat to them that if they increase the limit you’ll take out metal.

      NSandI, and other financial institutions, I can see being a permanent clampdown from Curve in future. Just my hunch so I’m not factoring it in to my maths.

      • Jonathan says:

        My wife got refused a Curve limit increase from £50k as “we see a high proportion of your spend is with HMRC & we wish to encourage more varied spend patterns”. I had been increased from £50k to 100k a couple of months before but made sure I requested the increase prior to paying a substantial stamp duty bill and also made sure I used the card for day to day spending for a month prior so I would think about the timing of a request.

    • Rob says:

      You can’t have multiple Curve cards. You would need to upgrade and then ask for a higher limit (or, as you say, wait until your 365 day cap falls away).

  • Daniel Evans says:

    I’m amazed you are paying an effective tax rate of 70%!

    • Chris says:

      For a labour based business, it may be even more than this:
      VAT takes 20% of all income, with very few purchases to offset.
      Employees and employers NI are both another 11-13% on top of Income tax rates.
      And then corporation tax on any profits.
      Rob may not be factoring in things like Business rates, Insurance premium tax, road fund duty, taxes on fuel and utilities. No wonder the government is keen on new business start ups.

      • Sussex bantam says:

        To be fair – all companies pay those taxes. It’s just with small companies people tend to confuse business taxes with personal ones. Rob pays the same level of personal tax as the rest of us

        • Rob says:

          I’m not saying I pay 70% tax. For eg, if someone owes us £100 then we get paid £120 inc the VAT and I pay the VAT over to HMRC. Technically it isn’t ‘income’ but it is still a sum I pay and so can put on a card.

  • MattB says:

    OT – I booked a BA holiday flight plus car package (which I’ll be paying off with this offer) I have no desire to actually pick up the car now at any point of the holiday, so am I OK to just do nothing or should I let BA know?

    I won’t be able to pick it up drive round the clock and drop it off on arrival as I plan to have a few drinks in F to celebrate my 40th.

    Sorry copy and pasted from a few days ago but I didn’t get a response.

    • Jonathan says:

      General consensus is you will be fine but I’ve read a few isolated reports on Flyertalk of people being hit with no-show fees from Avis for not collecting. I think it’s very dependent on the location. You could try calling BA Holidays and asking them to reprice holiday without car, may well cost nothing or even generate a small refund.

      • Jonathan says:

        Ps. definitely don’t collect and drive round the block as returning early often generates a reprice at walk up rates.

      • Rob says:

        These are only Euro 50 type sums AFAIK, so worth the risk in most cases.

      • bill says:

        collect the keys and dont move it. whether you can “drop off” around your itinerary is another question

    • Anna says:

      Tip for the future – don’t book the car for the whole period. We always book it from the day after we land so that we can fully enjoy the lounge and the flight, and stay the first night in a hotel near to the car hire office so it’s easy to get to the next day. We always use the car though as we like to be independent on holiday and get out and about quite a bit.

    • BLT says:

      I booked a flight and car at DXB in November and never picked up the car. No issue or extra charges for me.

  • QwertKnowsBest says:

    Be aware, Virgin Atlantic card charged a cash advance fee for a Curve send transaction. Defeats the benefit of Curve send. I will raise with Curve.

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      Curve Send has always gone through as MCC 4829 – Wire Transfers, generating a cash advance fee.

      Curve won’t help you here as they’ve processed the charge correctly.

      • QwertKnowsBest says:

        Strange as sent similar sum same payee, same cards a couple of weeks ago, and no cash advance fee.

  • NFH says:

    Why do you say about the Miles & More card “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“? What “trouble” are they getting into?

    The T&Cs at state “15.3 The Card is not intended for business use, and We will not be liable for any losses incurred by a business or company. Accordingly, to the maximum extent permitted by law, We exclude Our liability to You for any direct or indirect: (i) loss of profit, (ii) loss of business, (iii) loss of opportunity or (iv) damage to Your reputation, or any consequential, indirect or special loss or damage whether caused by Our acts, omissions, negligence or misrepresentations save insofar as these were made fraudulently“.

    The most obvious interpretation of this paragraph is that, although business use is not prohibited, it is at the consumer’s risk and Affiniture is not liable for any losses suffered through business use of the card. Section 69 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 causes the paragraph to be interpreted in favour of the consumer.

  • Claire says:

    Well I’ve paid my self assessment this morning. Linked to IHG. Went through fine and showing on Curve, confirmation from HMRC paid at 9.35 and come off IHG available funds, all good. Just had another notification from Curve saying second payment, same amount gone through again. Also come off available funds at IHG. Eurrgh. Has anyone else had this?

    • Adam says:

      I just had a notification regarding second (duplicate) payment for a simple 20 pound in-store purchase. Checked the underlying VA card – two pending transactions in same amount – got in touch with Curve, they seem to be aware of the issue. Told me it will get refunded either today or within 5 business days.

    • Lenin says:

      Hi Claire,
      I’ve also had a duplicate payment made by Curve for my Self Assessment.

      • rob says:

        Ah that probasbly explains what happened here. I made a payment on Curve this morning (not to HMRC) an then 20 minutes later got a message saying that there were insufficient funds on the card to process the transaction. the first one has gone through fine so looks like lack of funds has saved me frma duplicate..

        • Roberto says:

          Two spends on my Curve this morning and showing as duplicates on both. From previous experiance the “double” will just drop off.

          • EwanG says:

            Just received a notification from Curve about a declined payment, after I paid to HMRC earlier. If it was a duplicate payment it would have taken me over daily and annual Curve limits, and over IHG card limit, so I hope that was the case, and it’s not my original payment declined (which is showing as pending with IHG, and funds earmarked)

          • BJ says:

            @EwanG, it’s a problem with duplicate transactions today. Barclays declined mine as it would have taken me over my credit limit. Perhaps IHG did the same with yours.

          • EwanG says:

            Thanks BJ – indeed. My transaction was after others on here had reported issues, but before Curve posted their notification about duplicate transactions. There was no duplicate transaction showing in the app (because it couldn’t proceed) and I am quite fortunate I don’t have to wait for it to be reversed!!

    • Leo says:

      Yes I paid my VAT this morning via curve on IHG card – 2 sets of payments showing as others had here. I have had this happen once before and indeed one of the payments “dropped off” after a couple of days. Always good to flag up on here though as it makes you feel less alone if it happens to you…

  • BS says:

    OT: Revolut

    Both my 2 recent topups were treated as a cash advance (Nationwide), who said it was the way that Revolut processed the transaction.

    Contacted Revolut who said they were aware of an issue and were working to resolve it – it sounds like they were treating it as an error.

    My bank kindly refunded the credit card advance fees and gave me 30 days interest free to pay off the advances.

    • Yuff says:

      Barclaycard aren’t being so friendly

      • oliver says:

        Neither are virgin atlantic CC

      • fivebobbill says:

        Actually I got caught out with a substantial Revolut top up on 21st Jan, billed to my Barclaycard (Hilton Visa), and they then charged me a £75 cash transaction fee.
        I just got off the phone with them after explaining, couldn’t be more helpful, no arguments, £75 refunded to my account immediately as a “one-off” gesture.
        They didn’t say, but I got the feeling I wasn’t the first one today to call them about this, so if you’re in the same boat get in early and call… before they change their mind…

        • fivebobbill says:

          * That’s Barclaycard who refunded the fee by the way, I called them, not Revolut…

        • MarkH says:

          Barclaycard also applied £155 credit to my account to reverse cash advance fees. Took about 25 minutes on the phone as the CS agent had trouble understanding what the issue was but once her supervisor came on he sorted it out very quickly.

  • MarioC says:

    OT: Does anyone have experience with Revolut time frame to check source of funds? It’s been more than 2 weeks since i submitted the files to them, asked on the app chat, but didn’t get any reply so far.
    I wasn’t aware Revolut top-up using Virgin cc is not possible as of last week. I use Revolut mainly to send money abroad, so this will be a major hit to my virgin points. Is there any alternative?

    • Yuff says:

      They are shocking at getting back to you, expect it to take weeks and that’s if you are premium or metal……

      • laineyling says:

        think this took me 3 weeks, and was really stop and start process. They wanted a lot of documents. you can restart a new chat and ask them to look into it but I think they do have a big backlog.

    • SwissJim says:

      You just have to chase them mercilessly. But they are incredibly slow. There again they passed both my account and my partner’s eventually… when really they shouldn’t have. Just persevere. Min a week I’d say. Max who knows…