Tips, Tricks & Tactics: Paying with Plastiq (aka Treading the Fine Line Between Travel Hacking and Madness)

I pay my mortgage via credit card.

I rely on a third-party payment service called Plastiq to cut a check every month and send it to the financial institution that holds my mortgage. I trust that they’ll send my payment on time and in the right amount. I trust that the delivery service correctly transits my payment from Point A to Point B. I trust that my mortgage holder will accept these checks on my behalf and correctly apply them to my mortgage payments. For this service, I pay Plastiq a 1.5% fee (because I got in on a promotional deal; the regular fee is 2.5%). Meanwhile, my credit card that I make payments with earns 2.1%. Ultimately, I will collect 0.6% on the balance of each transaction. This is called arbitrage. This is also called crazy.

So, I’ve been doing this since late 2015. And I can report that every transaction has gone smoothly and without incident. I make sure to schedule my payment well in advance to account for, well, shipping and handling. In my case, I schedule payments on the 18th of the month to get to the bank in plenty of time before the 1st of the next month. I’ve even had to make an adjustment mid-stream when escrow payments were adjusted (scheduling a second payment each month so as to not disrupt the first one with the promotional 1.5% fee). I’m going to make payments this way until the 1.5% promotion ends. Everything has worked out fine so far. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Anyway, Plastiq’s interface is very simple.

First, add a method of payment to your account. Currently, Plastiq accepts American Express, mastercard, VISA, and Discover (all at 2.5% fees). They also accept debit cards at a 1% fee.

Screen Shot, Plastiq, Credit Card Information. Image Credit: courtesy of Plastiq.

You create an entry for each Recipient.

Screen Shot, Plastiq, Add a Recipient. Image Credit: courtesy of Plastiq.

Then you schedule your payment, one-time or reoccurring.

Screen Shot, Plastiq, Make a Payment. Image Credit: courtesy of Plastiq.

Your average credit card is just not going to make Plastiq worth your while. The Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard (review) I use makes sense only because I got in on the promotional 1.5% fee. Other options would include the Citi AT&T Access More Credit Card (discontinued) with its 3x bonus on Internet-based transactions or any card that you are required to make a massive amount of spend on to earn a (huge) bonus or other perk.

If you want to try Plastiq for yourself, here’s a referral code. You’ll get $200 fee free dollars after your first $20 payment (that is, $200 that will not have a 2.5% fee attached). Consider using Plastiq for any payment that normally won’t accept credit card payments — mortgage payments, rent, tuition, private clubs, etc. You might also wait on a promotion to get in cheaply. Currently, if you submit or schedule a payment for any bill with any Amex card, between now and February 28, 2017, you will be charged a 2% fee. I haven’t seen a long term 1.5% fee promotion since 2015, however.

Note: this is very, very high level kung fu. First learn stand, then learn fly, Daniel-san.

Questions, Comments or Criticisms?