Earning 7x for Paying Bills Online

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As I shared earlier in the year, I am working harder (or smarter?) to earn miles and points.  I was coasting for a bit with what I had in the bank and the miles/points and what we were earning pretty easily through travel and everyday credit card spending.  That was good, and probably quite adequate if our travel patterns were more similar to a “normal” family, but as we made some big redemptions and the balances got smaller, I needed to shift my earning back to a higher gear for a bit.  So, we’ve gotten a few new rewards credit cards, maxed out the first quarter 5x on the Freedom, etc.  Nothing crazy, but doing a bit more than coasting and just picking the low hanging miles and points fruit.  All that said, no matter how many miles I need/want, I’m too busy to do anything that takes too much time or involves too much risk.

Enter Evolve Money.  I’m not sure where I first read about Evolve online, but it was a recent post by the Frequent Miler that nudged me that final inch to try it for myself.  It sounded like an easy way to earn more points that didn’t involve driving all around the world looking for reloads, tying up big chunks of money, going to WalMart, or doing something that I wasn’t comfortable with.  It was just a way to pay some bills online with a debit card (and/or gift card that works like a debit card) that effectively resulted in roughly 7x points for paying bills I had to pay anyway.

Like all things in the miles and points world, I’m sure this is subject to problems down the road, no loner working one day, etc…however for now it is a tool that is going in my earning arsenal.   Here are the basic steps I went through to use Evolve Money.

Evolve

1.  Buy Visa style gift cards somewhere you earn a category bonus.  Personally I bought mine this time at Staples.com with a card that earns a bonus on office supplies for 5x and then added an extra 2x by going through a shopping portal.  You could potentially do even better than that for Staples, but that’s the route I went for this time.

Visa Gift Card

2.  Use the debit style gift card to pay bills on EvolveMoney.com.  They have thousands of bills you can pay online, but certainly not all of your bills you need to pay will be located there.  They have big ones like Bank of America mortgage, but I decided to start small with my J. Crew and Pottery Barn bills since they were both easy options.  I also saw some of my utility providers, USAA, insurance providers, and a lot more.  I would have no problem finding some bills to pay here, but I don’t want to pay things that are too complicated, so I just bought two $100 Visa gift cards from Staples.com and scheduled $100 payments to J. Crew and Pottery Barn.

3.  I used my address for the billing address on the gift cards and they went through without a problem.  I will add that I tried to use a different prepaid gift/debit card last week and it failed, but the ones I ordered from Staples worked just fine.

There was no cost to pay the bills for two day delivery via Evolve Money, but of course there was a fee to buy the gift cards from Staples.  The two $100 gift cards cost a total of $13.90 in fees ($6.95 each), and for that amount I earned a relatively easy 1,400 UR points.  You can defer your out of pocket cost further by buying when a cash back portal has a better return for Staples.com, getting larger denomination gift cards somewhere so you can’t paying a fee every $100, using a savings program like Visa Savings, etc.  This was really just a test more than the way I would want to do it regularly since paying just under one cent per point isn’t great…though honestly it’s not too bad either if you know you redeem them for well over that.  It’s certainly a way better price than you can buy them for directly from the airlines or hotels.

While I plan to use this method from time to time (especially when the opportunity presents itself to do this for less than I did on this test), this is not something I would recommend for beginners.  However, if you have been in the miles and points game for a while and want to start increasing your earning a bit, then this can be one of the tools to help do that.  Since there is a cost and small time commitment, I wouldn’t go this route unless you need the miles and points.  If you are good with what you can easily get via credit card sign-ups, online shopping  portals, and everyday credit card use then I would stick to those method for now.

If you have used Evolve Money I’d love to hear your experience!

 

Comments

  1. I’ve been using Evolve for a few months know have never had an issue. I only use Metabank issued VGC because I’ve heard all over the place that thy seem to be the easiest to use. The only downfall with Evolve is that if you mess up there is No fixing it, it is definitely use at your own risk. But all you have to do is send a small test payment when you save each company to make sure.

  2. $14 for 1,400 UR points. Not sure I could justify that. May be worth going the route of getting a high value AMX Gift card via the cash-back portals first, then buying $500 gift cards. Wouldn’t get UR points, but would come out ahead on cash if you found the right opportunities.

  3. The best I can do is paying nearly 2 cents per point with this method, which isn’t very good. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are really in a pinch to meet minimum spend.

  4. Math is hard. I misplaced the decimal point, you could buy UR for 0.2 cents per point, which is fantastic. This would involve a 5% cashback portal, 1% visa savings and a 5 points per dollar at office stores card. Dealing with a bunch of $100 gift cards wouldn’t be fun though.

  5. Which giftcards on Staples.com have the pin feature? Shifting my spend from VRs and looking at this option but heard a lot of reports of people getting burned by not getting the right giftcards.

  6. Evolve worked fine for me. I used it with a $200 visa gc I had (I think it was a rebate of some sort) and sent the whole thing to my Gas company. Everything went smoothly

  7. Glad to hear so many have had success with this method!
    Cogswell, I do talk about what I paid in the post, but I also point out it is possible to do even better than I did. At worst getting UR points for around a cent isn’t horrible, but if I did this frequently I would want to do better. 😉

  8. So MP – with this, say if I had a $1500 mortgage, I could buy 3 $500 gift cards, load them up to my account and pay the bills? In the VR/Bluebird analogy, the GC is like the VR, and Evolve Money is like the BB?

  9. There are several potential bill payees which look like bill payees I have, but I can’t get enough information from Evolve to even know if they are the right ones. Has anyone found out how to get the full Bill Payee information from evolve? I’d like to double check things like address, phone number, and such before sending money to “Mosaic Housing.”

  10. I bought $200 Visa Gift card at Staples using my Chase Ink card with a fee of $6.95. So I earned 1007 points for $6.95. This brand of VGC allows you to set up a pin number online (gowallet) so I did and transferred the $200 to my Bluebird account in $100 increments.

    Now that’s 1.44 cents per UR point. It’s not horrible but I don’t think that’s a very good deal. Maybe if Staples around me sold a $500 gift card at $6.95 fee, it maybe worth it.

  11. I thought she used a card with 5x on office supply store (CSP), then shop via the UR portal (2x). No April fools, no?

  12. I use Evolve Money to pay for my mortgage since last month. You can buy Visa GC at the drugstore and use that at Evolve Money. You need to call in or email customer service to make the adjustment though otherwise the fund goes to your principal.

  13. I’ve been using evolve for the past few months. There’s a pretty lenghy thread on Flyertalk about it. I’ve had great success with payees that don’t accept CC, or charge a fee for it. Mortgage (BBT) and student loans (Sallie Mae) have all been successful, and applied appropriately, even if I only make payments in $200 chunks (due to GC size) and over a few days ($1k/day evolve limit). I use Ink Bold at Office Depot for the 6.95 fee $200 GC. Just make sure you wait 6 minutes between payments to the same payee, or it will flag it as a duplicate, AFTER it gets the preauth, which triggers a hold on the funds for ~10 days.

  14. Bob, yes but careful with how you do mortgages or they may not apply them all correctly as your one monthly payment.
    Juno, I think in that scenario you earned points at .69 cents each which I think is quite good!
    Cogswell, I did earn 7x, but there was a fee which I talked about. As I said, you can do better than that easily just by stacking some deals or buying when there is a better payout for Staples.
    Mark, good tip – thanks!

  15. This is a good tool to have when you try to meet your minimum spending on a new CC. OR if you want to grab a first/business seat and brag that my points are worth 6 cents..But, for the average family (wo)men, it does not make much sense.

  16. @mommypoints

    Title: I just bought a house for $1,000!

    Small font: I just had to pay $848,000 in fees

    April fool’s! 🙂

  17. I don’t understand how it doesn’t make sense, Tom.

    I have a little over $2200 dollar mortgage, that I can pay with Evolve Credit.

    If I want JUST cash back, I can buy 5 $500 dollar gift cards at a grocery store at 5% cash back – and after fees, get effectively 4% off my mortgage – $125 for $25 in fees with easy liquidation.

    Or, I can go to office depot, buy 11 $200 dollar gift cards at $6.95 for a fee of $76.45 – and earn approximately 11,380 points – which I could cash out for $113 dollars – or even at a paltry 2 cents per point – earn $223 dollars in travel for $76.45.

    Makes sense to me.

  18. Oh Mommy Points thank you for this article and to all commenters as well. I would love to use GC’s purchased at Staples to pay bills and looks like Evolve might be the answer. Being a part time Mom, it’s cumbersome to drag my toddler around looking for VR’s at CVS (may stop taking CC soon) or Kerr Drug stores (may stop taking Debits as they’re converting with Walgreens) on a weekly basis. I can’t wait to do my first Evolve payment test next week 🙂

  19. I tried this with a MC debit gift card & it didn’t work. “Error Card is not a debit card.” I’m going to pick up a Visa & try that. Anyone else had issues?

  20. Evolve Money is offering a special discount on their Bill Pay Service. $5 off any service provider in their directory. It is good through 4/21/14… The Promo Code is: SAVE5April

    Pretty good deal, they offer promo codes all the time- they post them on their Facebook and Twitter page.

  21. MP, is there a provision in EvolveMoney to pay an individual? I read somewhere in the FAQ that there is a limit of using a debit card to $1000 per day?

    Based on my experience, if a mortgage company receive a payment that’s not similar to the mortgage amt per month, it will apply all of them to the principal. My mortgage is more than $1000, so with Evolve my payment would be applied to the principal. If I can make several payments to myself, I can then pay the mortgage (or other bills) using my own bank BillPay feature. Do you think that’s feasible?

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