Pay Your Mortgage, Insurance, and Utility Bills With Credit Cards – Western Union Speedpay

Western UnionI was paying some bills online and noticed that my electricity bill had a new option for paying via a credit card through something called Western Union Speedpay. I’m not sure if this is universal, but for my utility company it accepted MasterCard, Visa, or Discover with a $4.95 convenience fee per payment for residential accounts. The maximum payment allowed is $1,000 per month.

I decided to charge the full $1,000, because that makes the fee only 0.5%. Even if I pay with a card that gets 1% back, I’d end up ahead over my usual online banking billpay. Of course, you can do better than that with one of these best rewards credit cards. Actually, I put it instead on my wife’s Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to quickly reach the $3,000 spending required in order to qualify for the 40,000 point bonus ($400 value!). I don’t mind paying extra because I never have any problems with my electricity bill, and future bills will just reduce the credit over time.

Anyway, the take-away here is to check if your existing bills have such a similar option. I remember checking before and the only option charged some sort of onerous 5% fee. There are mortgage companies, insurance companies, and more listed on the Speedpay site. For some reason, my company is not listed online (so I suspect many other aren’t either), and I had to call into a telephone bot to pay my bill.

Comments

  1. http://www.chargesmart.com seems like it would work for my mortgage company (BoA) but I haven’t finished reading through the fine print yet.

  2. Pretty slick, Jonathan!

    Unfortunately, Speedpay doesn’t work with any of my billers, and my mortgage and electric don’t have any online payment options besides ACH from a bank. No free $5 net cashback for me. :(

  3. Ken In Georgia says:

    Although I appreciate the point you’re trying to make, finding ways to maximize the rewards on your credit cards, I’ve always been of the opinion that routine monthly bills are best dispensed with in the quickest way possible. And I do that using a technology that pre-dates the online era, automatic deduction from my checking account with no further effort from me (besides initially setting it up). My bills come in, I go ahead and mark the posting date in my checkbook (both paper and in MS Money), and forget about it — no muss, no fuss, no error. My parents used this for their bills as far back as I can remember, and it still works quite well.

    Now, having said that I do confess to paying our cable and mobile phone bills by credit card becuase, for some reason, I get bonus Hilton Honors points for doing so. Besides, I would never, ever give the cable company access to my checking account!

    I did once try to pay my mortgage online. My lender wanted to charge me a $5.00 fee, for making things easier for them. I said no thanks, and reverted to snail mail. My mortgage company does offer automatic deductions for free, but they are another entity to which I would never give access to my checking account.

  4. There’s hardly any companies listed here, . I’d totally use it if I could do my Bank of America mortgage.

  5. I know you don’t have access to Natural Gas, and therefore your electric bill is probably much higher than average, but the numbers dont really make sense until your monthly electric payment is near $200 depending on your interest rate on cash.

  6. Wawanesa auto insurance does accept credit cards, with $10 fee, and I can charge up to $2000 dollars.

  7. It would take me 3 years and 4 months to eat through pre-paying $1,000 up front to my electric company. Even with rewards credit cards, this makes no sense considering what that money could be doing during that time elsewhere; Ally CD, Lending Club, etc.

  8. Thanks for the heads up!

    Over the years, we have gotten to the point where we charge EVERYTHING but the mortgage. (No fees for anything that we do charge). I used to feel we could probably never charge the mortgage, but now think it is just a matter of time. Of course, my mortgage servicer was not on the list. Today. But I am keeping my eyes and ears open.

    (Recently to drop fees for paying by credit? Health insurer, local utilities, and state DMV. Most? mortgage companies and government taxing agencies are hold outs. Our city utilities take credit card payments, but PG&E and our county does not).

    I find it extraordinarily simple to charge everything and pay off every month. It’s like paying 10 bills with one check.

  9. “For some reason, my company is not listed online (so I suspect many other aren’t either), and I had to call into a telephone bot to pay my bill.”

    Where did you see a phone numbeR?

  10. The phone number listed on my bill only applied to my local electricity utility. I’m guessing they set up one for each vendor.

    I used to have a sub-$50 electricity bill when I lived in an apt, did my laundry in a laundromat, water heater was communal, and heat was via natural gas, but no longer. :(

  11. Thanks for posting. Baltimore Gas & Electric is on board, and with a service fee of only $1.65 and maximum payment of $25k. Was excited to pull the trigger and reach the spend threshold on my American Airlines Visa for 75k bonus miles. Not so fast my friend. Visa is not accepted by BG&E through this program. Only Mastercard and Discover card. Weak.

  12. I have done this same trick with my natural gas provider (Dominion), which uses billmatrix and charges a $3.95 convenience fee. The maximum was $600, which ends up being less than 0.7% So I made money if using a rewards card. The electric company here (First Energy) lets you pay with credit card without a fee if set up with automatic pay.

  13. I live in California and am stuck with PG&E. I celebrate a $200 monthly bill as an incredibly cheap month. Usually it’s $300-$500, so the $1.45 PG&E charges for using a credit card is well worth it if I can use a 1% cash-back card.

  14. @MM

    That seems really expensive. My PG&E bills are between $15-$25 and I run my water heater and stove/oven off of it. I have an electric washer/dryer…..

  15. @Matt – It seems expensive to me too, I’ve been having this sneaky suspicion that PG&E is over-billing me. But the kids create enough laundry and dishes to run the washer/dryer/dishwasher 3-4 times a day, plus running the AC. One of these days I’ll get a ‘kill-a-watt’ though to see what sucks up all that power, but I bet its the AC.

  16. I try this by sapphire card, and it counted as cash advance. So i think u cannot use this way to reach 3000$ spending requirement. And you forgot to count cash advance fee.

  17. How about the opportunity cost of the $1000. Put that in a 6 mo or 1 yr CD and you make more than what you gain with your tactic.

  18. @Jona – If you check out the links I have posted, you can see that I can get at least 2% back from a credit card purchase, upfront, no taxes due. Even with 0.5% hit, can you show me any 1 year CD that pays 1.5%, even before taxes? Even a 2 or 3-year would be very difficult to find these days.

  19. @MM – My bet is definitely the A/C, especially if people are home during the day. But having kids also increases the laundry bills and water heating bills.

  20. That’s weird, I paid with the exact same credit card Chase Sapphire, and I was not charged a cash advance fee. It just posts as Electric Bill Payment. Did you use the regular Western Union sending-money service?

  21. I checked again. in the terms and rules, it does claim cash advance things. So the only reason is different rule for different company.

  22. This is interesting. I am going to check with my electric and gas company and see about paying this way. Thanks for the info!

  23. Folks:

    Any ideas for making a big payment for my auto loan? My car company (Audi) does not accept credit cards at all. Does something like Western Union make sense? Any other good ideas/websites?

    thanks

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