Credit cards provide the luxury of convenience, which is something most people are aching for these days. You can simply swipe your credit card for each purchase and pay a credit card bill once per month. You can even set up some of your payments—like subscription services—for autopay, which means you may never have to think about them again.
Provided you pay your balance in full and you never pay interest, you can enjoy the benefits of credit without paying extra charges for your purchases. However, the opposite is also true and you will pay interest on balances you carry from month to month.
There are also risks that come with paying bills with credit, including the potential for long-term and life-altering amounts of debt. Before you begin paying your bills with your card, it’s important to have a clear plan for what cards you will use, what bills you will pay and how you will pay off your balance when your bill comes due.
Can you pay bills with a credit card?
You can pay bills with a credit card provided the servicer offers this payment option. This means you can normally pay for most bills with plastic, whether that includes your utility bills, your insurance premiums, bills for subscriptions (like Hulu or Netflix) and anything else you pay each month.
Just make sure that your bill servicers aren’t charging a convenience fee to pay with a credit card, as this is common with some bills like utility bill payments. If you have to pay an extra 1 percent to 3 percent of your bill to pay with a credit card, it may not be worth it.
Benefits of paying bills with a credit card
Sometimes the benefits of using a credit card outweigh the drawbacks. If you’re wondering about the perks that come with using credit cards to pay bills, there are several to consider.
- Convenience: When you use a credit card to pay all of your monthly expenses, you can pay just one credit card bill at the end of the month. Using a credit card also lets you avoid the hassles of cash or having to balance your checkbook register all the time.
- Earn rewards: Rewards credit cards give you the chance to earn points, miles or cash back for each dollar you spend. Typically, the best rewards credit cards give you up to 3 percent of your spending back every month.
- Earn a generous welcome bonus: The best credit cards available today let you earn an initial bonus of up to $500 or more when you spend a certain amount, usually a few thousand dollars, within the first few months of account opening. By using a new credit card for all your regular spending and bills, you can reach this threshold easier.
- Secure 0 percent intro APR: Some credit cards offer a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases, which can make them a good option if you want to pay down a large purchase over time without interest.
- Track your spending: If you use a monthly budget to manage your finances, keeping both your everyday purchases and your monthly payments on one statement can help you track all your spending and cut back on unnecessary expenses. When you use cash or debit for all your bills, you have a lot of separate receipts and purchases to keep track of.
- Gain consumer protections: Some credit cards come with hidden perks like travel insurance, extended warranties, purchase protection, cellphone insurance and more. You can qualify for these benefits just for being a cardholder and for using your credit card to pay your bills.
When you should not pay bills with credit
The benefits of using credit cards to pay bills shouldn’t be ignored, but there are plenty of reasons some people are better off avoiding credit altogether. When should you not pay bills with a credit card? Here are some of the signs to look for:
- You can’t pay your card in full each month. The average credit card interest rate is over 16 percent, which makes credit cards a poor option if you need more time to pay. If you plan to carry a balance each month, consider a credit card that offers a zero percent introductory APR. However, you could also consider a personal loan that comes with a fixed APR (usually much lower than a credit card’s APR) and a fixed repayment timeline.
- You’re already in debt. If you already have high levels of consumer debt (especially at high interest rates), paying bills with a credit card is a bad idea. Try to pay down the debt you have before you rack up more.
- You are a compulsive overspender. Consumers who may be inclined to overspend with a credit card should stick to cash or debit instead. After all, the convenience of paying with plastic can make a bad spending problem even worse.
- Paying bills on time is already a challenge. If you’re constantly paying bills late, don’t get a credit card. You’ll compound your problems even more if you load all your bills, and any late fees, onto a credit card and then end up paying your credit card bill late.
How to pay bills with a credit card
The process of paying a bill with a credit card can vary depending on the type of bill. Obviously, you’ll pay for in-person expenses and bills with a credit card by swiping your card or dipping your card into a payment terminal. For other bills, you may be able to pay them by entering your credit card number and details into an online portal. Other times, you may be able to pay with a credit card by calling a customer service number and giving your card details over the phone.
Some bills are significantly more difficult to pay with a credit card, like your auto loan, your student loans or a home mortgage payment. However, you may be able to turn to third-party service providers like Plastiq to pay bills you can’t normally pay with a credit card. Just remember that third-party payers will always charge a fee for using their services and that these fees can make your bills more expensive and negate any benefits you’re getting for using a credit card, such as rewards points.
What bills can you pay with a credit card?
This can vary slightly depending on the companies you work with. However, you can try to pay the following bills and expenses with a credit card if they allow it:
Mortgage payment or rent
You can’t typically pay your mortgage or rent payments directly with a credit card, but you may be able to use a third-party platform like Plastiq, RadPad or RentMoola to do so. Just remember that these platforms charge a fee each time you use them. For example, Plastiq charges up to 2.85 percent to pay bills with a credit card.
You may be able to pay your electric bill, your gas bill and other utilities with a credit card, without an added fee. To find out, log into your online account management page to check or simply call and ask.
Subscription services like Disney+ or an Instacart membership are perfect when it comes to paying with a credit card. You can set up automatic payments online, and you will not be charged an extra fee for doing so.
You may be able to pay your homeowners insurance, your auto insurance, your health insurance and other insurance bills with a credit card, with no convenience fee. Make sure to check with your providers to see if this option is available.
You may be able to pay for daycare with a credit card, which is more likely if you use a large child care center. Also, check whether you can charge summer camps and after school care on your card.
You can pay taxes with a credit card as well, though you’ll almost always pay a fee for doing so. When it comes to your federal tax bill, for example, you can use three different third-party services for payment, and the lowest possible fee is 1.87 percent.
Cellphone, internet and cable
Definitely use a credit card to pay your cellphone bill and for internet and cable. You won’t have to fork over a convenience fee to do so, and you can set up credit card payments online and earn rewards on these purchases.
Student loans and college tuition
Some student loan servicers may be willing to accept a credit card for your monthly payment, and you can usually pay student loans with credit with the help of a third-party company like Plastiq. Some colleges also accept credit cards as payment for tuition, room and board, but you should check to make sure you don’t have to pay any convenience fees.
Can you pay a credit card bill with another credit card?
No matter what, you can’t directly pay a credit card bill with another credit card. Third-party companies like Plastiq don’t even allow it.
Paying bills with a credit card for rewards
By and large, earning points is the main reason so many people use credit cards for regular bills in the first place.
When you pay bills with a credit card, you have the potential to rack up cash back, travel rewards, hotel points and more. The best credit cards to pay bills also offer lucrative sign-up bonuses when you spend a certain amount within the first few months of account opening.
As a reminder, however, it’s crucial to make sure you can pay your bill in full each month if you plan to use credit cards for rewards. After all, earning 2 percent to 3 percent in rewards points won’t make sense if you’re carrying a balance on your credit card and paying over 16 percent in interest.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, you should be aware of any fees you’ll incur paying bills with a credit card and refrain from charging purchases you can’t afford to pay back. Ultimately, paying your balance in full and on time can help boost your credit score and keep you from spiraling into a lifetime of debt and stress.