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)

  • laineyling says:

    OT: I am looking for 2 first class tickets to KL (for next year), it looks as though it does get made available sometimes (some dates in summer showing first class availability) via reward flight finder but uncertain if this is ad-hoc based on occupancy or regular availability.

    I am wondering whether reward flight finder would pick up this availability as I can then see the trend, or if this won’t work as the tickets are being snapped up on the dot of midnight.
    If anyone has experience I would be interested in knowing! Thanks

    • Russ says:

      Tried looking for a feeder airport to pick up the main flight? i.e. instead of LHR-KUL try DUS-KUL and fill the LHR-DUS gap with a BA RFS.

    • BJ says:

      No guarantee of First seats although they do appear to KUL so it’s worth setting up an alert on RFF. Be award it is a 787 though and some are not happy with the First seats on those.

      • Rhys says:

        Aren’t the First seats on the 787 better?! They’re the newer generation

      • MarkH says:

        The only thing I didn’t like about the 787 vs A380 is no buddy dining.
        A380 is slightly roomier with a bit more storage but the better quality screen that is gate to gate and smaller cabin on 787 easily make up for that.

        • Chris says:

          We managed to do buddy dining on the 787. Slightly cramped but acceptable. I think the cabin crew was confused which aircraft we were on as she asked me to put my seatbelt on at the buddy seat when the captain switched it on.

    • MarkH says:

      IME there is normally quite good First availability to KUL if you are relatively flexible with dates although don’t know what the pattern is. Remember to check SIN availiabilty as well.

      I would say it’s unlikely they are being snapped up at midnight as nobody knows when they are being going to be released.

      If there’s no availability currently for your dates then I would suggest booking a suitable fall back option eg Club World or to/from Singapore, then set up an alert in RFF to notify you when the First seats you want become available. It will cost you a change fee of £35pp but travelling in First definitely makes the long flights so much more bearable esp the 14hr return!

      • Elaine Ng says:

        Thanks everyone for the advice. Will do as suggested. Actually hoping to get 4 seats on the same flight so will see what i get

  • nick says:

    I’ve now noted my last Revolut top-tup, using my Lloyds Avios Mastercard via apple-pay, appears as a wire transfer.

    But no fee has yet been applied by Lloyds. Do Lloyds add cash advance fee’s on the statement date only, or as soon as transaction clears?

  • Roger says:

    Shame that Curve has such low spending limits and, even after emailing support, no way to remove them.

    • The Urbanite says:

      They can increase them, subject to the way you use the card and some element of luck.

    • Rob says:

      Very easy to get Curve to increase your limits – just use it for a variety of spend, not just HMRC. I do know someone who has the legal max of £1.4m.

      I have £50k, but as £49k is probably HMRC I am not causing a stink!

      • joe says:

        I had to fight to get my 10k upped to 20k. No bad credit, home owner, decent (80 something k) salary…

        • jc says:

          They don’t care about any of those things. They want to see varied day-to-day spend taking you up to your limit, i.e. not just HMRC and similar.

  • Billy Nicholson says:

    Managed to squeeze one final VAT bill and my Self Assessment onto my Capital On Tap Mastercard debit card today before they switch it to a Visa credit card on 31st Jan. Despite several “warnings” that my debit card will stop working, it will actually work until 31st Jan.

    • AJ says:

      did you pay your VAT in advance?

      • Daniel says:

        I paid my VAT in advance no problems.

        • Rob says:

          As do I, but only in the gap between the period end and due day. Othewise they tend to pay you back – although the refund is by BACS 🙂

          • Helen says:

            HMRC refunded my Self assessment overpayment back to my CoT card and CoT deducted the Avios as well.

        • Word Traveller says:

          Curious to know how you’re paying in advance done this?

          My VAT quarter ends Feb 2020 – using gov.uk website’s ‘Pay by card’, choosing ‘Feb 2020’ using the drop-downs I get this error message: “The end date must be this month or earlier”

  • oliver says:

    Just off the phone with virgin atlantic CC, they will not refund the cash advance fees. They said to chase revolut for the fees because it is their fault.

  • H says:

    WARNING: Virgin Money informed me that Revolut have actually changed something on their end rather than on Virgin’s end, so I would be careful using any credit cards with Revolut now. If anyone is on the hook with Virgin Money for cash advance fees then it seems they are refunding fees from your last transaction as goodwill gesture.

  • Benilyn says:

    23-Jan-2020: Revolutgate

  • Neil Donoghue says:

    Looks like Virgin have made over £15k just in cash advances this week alone! One user said he has paid over £600.00 and that’s without considering IHG, The Lloyds Avios or any other miles earning cards. What a business……

    • Nick_C says:

      I’ve had 45000 miles from V in less than a year. They are welcome to the £35 they have charged me this week. I don’t want V or R looking at my transactions too closely.