Using Plastiq to Pay Bills With a Credit Card
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If you’re looking for a way to pay bills with a credit card that can normally only be paid via check or ACH transfer, Plastiq may be a great option to consider. It’s convenient, the fees are low, and it can help you reach valuable introductory bonuses.
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Plastiq is an online payment service, founded in 2012 to give consumers and business owners more options for paying bills. The site lets you use a credit card for almost any expense, even services that normally require a check.
Based in San Francisco, Plastiq has one million clients and has processed billions in payments for a wide range of expenses including business supplier payments, contractor payments, taxes, rent, and more.
How Plastiq Works
Essentially, Plastiq lets you set up an account so you can make or receive payments easily using a credit or debit card — even with companies that don’t accept credit cards.
It’s pretty simple to set up a Plastiq account and start using the service. Here are the steps you take to create an account and pay a bill.
Sign Up for a Plastiq Account
Enter your email address on the Plastiq website to get an invitation to join. Once you get the email, you’ll be directed to a link. If you’re a business looking to accept payments with Plastiq, you can submit your information here to get started.
Often, Plastiq offers special promotions to encourage people to get started. When I opened my account, there was a special offer to get the fee waived on the first $50 in bills if I confirmed my email within 15 minutes.
You’ll then need to add other information based on whether you’re looking to make a payment or accept one. We cover the specifics of both later in the article.
If you refer a friend, family member, colleague, or business to Plastiq with your custom link or promo code, you’ll get $1,000 in fee-free payments when your referral makes payments using Plastiq totaling $500 (We’ll tell you more about how you can make this work for you later in the article.)
What Are the Benefits of Using Plastiq?
There are several benefits of using Plastiq, including:
The Ability to Pay Bills With a Credit Card You Couldn’t Before
While many companies and service providers now accept credit cards, there are still others that don’t provide this payment option. Mortgages, rent, childcare, tuition, and some home service providers such as house cleaners, roofers, and landscapers still often require payment via check.
Earning Credit Card Rewards
Plastiq lets you use a credit card for virtually any expense, whether personal or for your business, even when cards are not accepted. This means you can earn credit card rewards using Plastiq and, if you’re a business owner, you may be able to get early-payment discounts.
Plastiq can also help if you have a credit card with an introductory bonus and minimum spend requirement you need to meet.
Many of the reasons you may want to use Plastiq, like paying a mortgage or rent, are big expenses that could help you hit a minimum spend requirement — if you’re able to pay with a credit card, that is. So, Plastiq can be a great way to get those welcome bonuses.
No Surprise Charges With a Flat Fee
Plastiq’s standard credit card fee is currently 2.85% (as of publication). You may have additional fees based on the country the card was issued in or method of delivery (more on these below). Before submitting a payment, you’ll see a breakdown of the fees on the payment review screen. All percentage-based fees are calculated based on the principal amount (the amount you want to pay your recipient).
Plastiq fees are subject to change without notice, and they may sometimes be lowered due to promotions or referral credits.
The fee may be worth it, though, especially if you have a credit card with a large welcome bonus, will get cash back or points that are close to or equal to the fee, or would otherwise have to use a more costly payment method.
Scheduled payments will lock in the Plastiq fee you were charged at the time of submission. However, editing a scheduled payment will initiate a recalculation of the fee. For example, if you schedule a payment with a promotional offer and edit it at a future time, you will lose the promotional Plastiq fee.
The company has a very straightforward fee structure, so there are generally no surprises, but you’ll want to be aware of the other potential charges.
Plastiq is also offering a reduced fee when processing payments with Brex business cards. Rather than the standard 2.85% fee, Brex cards will now be subject to a lower 2.35% fee.
Other Common Fees When Using Plastiq
- U.S. debit cards: The Plastiq fee for Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover, and JCB debit cards issued in the U.S. is 1%. This excludes prepaid cards, gift cards, online-only banks, and all international debit cards.
- Cross-border payments: Cross-border fees are added when you use a card issued in a country different from the country your recipient resides in. For example, a U.S. card used to pay a business in Canada will incur a cross-border fee. You can find more details about cross-border fees here on Plastiq’s website.
- Accelerated payments: You can expedite payments for additional fees, as described below.
You may be able to use other payment options for less money, or for free. For example, depending on the recipient you might be able to use PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle. However, these options may still have fees depending on the type of recipient (business vs. friend) and you probably aren’t able to earn credit card rewards using them.
Earning Fee-Free Transfers
As mentioned earlier, you can also earn fee-free transfers by referring more people to use the service. Rewards you can apply to payments for a lower Plastiq fee are known as Plastiq fee-free dollars (FFDs).
You can earn FFDs by referring people with your link or code. To find your link or code, visit your account dashboard and select “Refer Friends, Pay Less Fees.”
Your referral must sign up with your code or link. If he or she forgets to sign up with it, the code must be applied prior to making the first payment.
You can also view your FFD earnings and balance in the Rewards & Referrals section of your account. FFDs will expire in 90 days, so make sure to use them within that timeframe.
No Fees to Accept Payments Using Plastiq
The customer sending money pays the fees, so as a business there’s no fee to accept money through Plastiq. Plastiq’s website states “On average, businesses spend $10,000 annually on credit card fees alone. Plastiq allows your business to receive payments at no cost.”
So, as a small business, Plastiq can be a good option for receiving payments if you’ve been frustrated by card fees.
It’s Faster Than Some of Your Other Options
Some other payment methods can take up to 10 days, so often Plastiq is quicker. This is especially the case if you’re able to do an ACH or wire transfer. Depending on the method your payment may arrive in as soon as one business day, though it could take up to eight business days.
Plastiq Payment Options in the U.S.
|Check||ACH Bank Transfer||Wire Transfer|
|Information Needed||Recipient’s physical mailing address||Recipient’s routing and account numbers||Recipient’s wire routing information|
|Standard Delivery||Up to eight business days||Three business days||No standard option|
|Expedited Delivery||Two business days||Two business days||Same day to one business day|
|Charge for Expedited Delivery||0.5% base fee + $24.95 FedEx overnight delivery fee + $10 handling fee||0.5% base fee + $5 bank fee + $10 handling fee||$20 bank fee + $10 handling fee for domestic wires|
|Additional Details||Expedited check delivery isn’t available for recipients at P.O. Box addresses; handling fee is waived for payments over $3,000||Handling fee is waived for payments over $3,000||Bank and handling fees are waived for payments over $20,000|
Ensuring Your Payments Are Secure
Sometimes you may not be 100% certain of the security measures of your various bill-pay websites. Plastiq’s site notes that security is a top priority and that it implements top-of-the-line security measures to ensure the protection of all data collected. These efforts include extensive physical and network security, payment processing security, web application security, operational security, and regularly adapting security measures as technology and threats evolve.
Specifically, Plastiq offers:
- Bank-quality payment processing security: Plastiq is certified as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) Level 1, the highest level.
- Account security with two-factor authentication: This is available on all accounts to provide an additional layer of security and prevent unauthorized access. Just set it up from your account dashboard. We recommend setting up two-factor authentication whenever possible to help prevent fraud.
- Information storage: All data that Plastiq collects is stored with one of the most secure methods, a standard level of encryption for banks (AES 256-bit encryption).
Send Payments Internationally
You can currently send payments to 41 different countries using Plastiq. There are three general options:
- In USD ($): U.S.
- In CAD (CA$): Canada
- In USD ($) and must verify account via phone number: China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, India, U.K., South Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Thailand, Germany, Australia, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden
Plastiq Keeps Rolling Out New Offerings
Plastiq recently rolled out its new international wire capabilities to enable customers to pay any vendor around the world with a credit card. This means you can pay vendors in countries like China, India, Mexico, and more in USD.
The company is also alpha testing a feature that enables customers to send international payments to their suppliers in their local currency. You can join this test by emailing Plastiq at [email protected]. They share upcoming offerings on their blog here.
What to Know Before Using Plastiq: Not All Cards Are Accepted
Plastiq does take most major credit cards and debit cards, including all credit, debit, gift, and prepaid cards on the following networks:
If you have a card that runs on a network not listed above, you may not be able to use Plastiq. There may also be certain card restrictions depending on the type of payment you’re making, so check out the details on Plastiq’s website before planning to make a payment. You should know that credit card payments with American Express in particular aren’t permitted for some categories or types.
Additional criteria for making Plastiq payments with Amex
What can be paid: Payments that fall under government, utilities, education, residential rent, and club fees and memberships can be paid via Amex with Plastiq.
What can’t be paid: Categories not approved for payments with Amex cards include mortgages, student loans, auto loans, business invoices, contractors, and business utilities.
If the payment you want to make isn’t supported for American Express cards, you can often still use cards on other networks like Discover, Mastercard, or Visa.
How to Use Plastiq
Just like the account setup, making and accepting payments with Plastiq is pretty simple. Here are the details on how to do each.
Once you have a Plastiq account, there are just a few steps you’ll need to take to make a payment.
- Set up a recipient: The biller or recipient of your payment doesn’t need a Plastiq account. You’ll need to add the recipient’s name and select where the payments will be going. You’ll then need to verify how you want to pay the bill. Your options in the U.S. include a paper check, ACH bank transfer, or domestic wire transfer.
- Add your card: You’ll need to manually enter your card information including the cardholder name and billing address, and card number, expiration date, and CSC (card security code). Another option is to add via your Masterpass account (Mastercard’s digital wallet).
- Schedule your payment: You’ll need to confirm the payment recipient and the payment amount. Plastiq confirms all the information including fees, payment date (or dates if it’s a recurring payment), and details of your payee. Plastiq then charges your card and sends payment via check or your selected method.
If you’re a business owner or work for a business looking for another way to receive payments, Plastiq could be a good option for you as well. After you sign up for a Plastiq account to accept payments, these are the steps necessary to get paid:
- Promote Plastiq to your customers: You can share your free, branded payment page on your website, invoices, and anywhere else your customers make payments. You can also embed Plastiq’s “Pay Now” button on your website, emails, or PDFs. Anyone can then easily make payments using your Plastiq link, providing a good customer experience that can help strengthen your brand.
- Your customers pay through Plastiq: The customer making the payment will be responsible for the fees (including any fees to expedite payment). Customers pay you just as they pay for many other things online with a credit card. They can also track payments and set up recurring payments.
- You get paid: Once a customer pays you with Plastiq, you receive funds quickly — payment is deposited into your bank account or sent by check within three business days.
Plastiq Success Story
Sherman Chang is CEO of Trekology, which sells camping and trekking gear. He was able to take his business from a part-time endeavor to a full-time successful online camping and trekking gear retail business by using Plastiq.
Chang shares, “Plastiq lets us pay for commercial inventory and logistics with company credit cards — expenses totaling millions of dollars that we used to pay by check. The Plastiq platform helps us better manage our cash flow, is very user-friendly and saves us both time and money. Plus, we use points earned to offset travel expenses.”
The Bottom Line
Plastiq can be a great option to make payments since it’s straightforward, allows you to earn fee-free transfers, and enables you to make payments with a card (so you can get rewards). Just check the details on the fees you’ll be paying for your particular payment to make sure you’re coming out ahead.
The fees are probably worth it if you need to make a payment with a credit card so you have a little extra time to cover it, or you have a card with a great welcome offer. As a business you don’t pay to accept payments, so small business owners may save money on fees. You can also save time managing payments digitally rather than via physical checks.
As with any bill payment via credit card, you want to make sure you’re able to pay off your credit card balances every month. If you run into emergency expenses this may be impossible, but it’s always best to take this route to avoid paying extra in interest charges and keep from accumulating credit card debt. Read some tips here if you’re looking to pay off credit card debt.
Best Credit Cards to Use With Plastiq
Unless you’re aiming to score a sweet introductory bonus offer, here are some of the best credit cards for making Plastiq payments. They earn rewards that can offset a good chunk of the 2.85% fee, and in some cases could even negate it completely and give you a bit extra to take home.
- The Double Cash earns 2% cash back on everything (1% when you make a purchase, 1% when you pay it off as long as you pay at least the minimum amount due on time).
- You can get an even better return on your spending by converting your cash back to ThankYou points, and then transferring to a partner airline; this could yield a return of upwards of 4%.
- The Freedom Unlimited offers 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and Lyft rides (through March 2022). You’ll earn 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
- The Spark Miles earns 5X miles per dollar for hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- You’ll get 2X miles per dollar for all other purchases
- If you transfer those rewards to an airline partner you could get a return on your spending of 10% or more at the 5X rate, and 4% or more at the 2X rate.
- The BofA Travel Rewards card provides 1.5X points for every purchase outside of the Bank of America Travel Center (those purchases earn 3X points).
- Bank of America Preferred Rewards members get a 25%–75% point bonus, which would yield a return on spend of 1.88%–2.62%, which could completely offset the Plastiq fee.
- The business version of this card has the same rewards program: Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Plastiq?
Plastiq lets you use a credit card to pay bills or make purchases with companies that normally don’t accept credit cards.
Here’s how to sign up.
Why use Plastiq?
A few quick advantages are:
- Pay bills with a credit card from a company that might not have accepted them previously
- Earn rewards on purchases you wouldn’t have before
- Plastiq asks for a flat fee, meaning there aren’t any surprise fees
- It goes through faster than some other options
- Get fee-free transfers by referring friends
Looking for a step-by-step guide for making payments with Plastiq? Look no further.
What fees does Plastiq charge?
Plastiq carries a 2.85% fee per credit card transaction, and a 1% fee for Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover, and JCB debit cards in the United States.
There could be additional fees depending on the country the credit card was issued in or the method of delivery. Scheduled payments will lock in the Plastiq fee you were charged at the time of submission. Percentage-based fees are created based on the principal amount.
You can see a breakdown of how the fees might play out here.
What credit cards does Plastiq accept?
Plastiq accepts all major credit card networks, including:
But there could be restrictions based on the network you’re using and the type of payment you’re making. American Express, for example, isn’t permitted for certain categories or types.
Other limitations include:
- Plastiq can’t process auto-payments to individuals, they must be directed towards a business entity.
- Plastiq does not process payments made by personal prepaid debit cards (gift cards, retail cards, or general-purpose reloadable cards).
- Plastiq can’t process loan payments (mortgage, home equity line of credit, student loans, or auto loans) made with U.S. Bank credit cards. U.S. Bank debit cards are exempt from this policy.
- Plastiq cannot process payments made by personal Capital One credit cards.
- Capital One business cards are restricted from payments for mortgages, student loans, auto loans, home equity lines of credit, and payroll.
Ellen Sirull is a writer with over 15 years of experience, covering topics from personal finance to identity protection to credit and credit cards. Her work has been featured on CNBC, New York Daily News, Fox News, Yahoo! Finance, AOL Finance, Experian and the Identity Theft Resource Center. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling as much as possible and is always thinking about how best to invest her own money for retirement and her family’s well-being.
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