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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.
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.
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.)
There are several benefits of using Plastiq, including:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
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:
You can currently send payments to 41 different countries using Plastiq. There are three general options:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”
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.
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.
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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