By Lois Guchu


5 Min. To Read

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The hassle of paying bills never goes away no matter how much or how little money you earn. If you prefer or need to use your credit card rather than cash to pay bills, you’re stuck when certain businesses, such as those to which you pay rent, car payments, property taxes, college tuition, utilities, and mortgage payment, only take paper checks or bank transfers. Plastiq has created a way for you to pay all of your bills by credit card, even those from companies that don't accept them. “At the center of the service is our proprietary payment platform—designed to allow secure access from any internet-enabled device at any time. The platform allows you to make and manage payments when you want and where you choose,” according to the company.

Pain points usually drive innovation, and such was the case for Eliot Buchanan, Plastiq co-founder, and CEO. As a Canadian citizen enrolled at Harvard University, Buchanan wanted to use his credit card to pay some of his tuition. “I was looking to build my credit in the U.S. and thought this would be an obvious way to do it and was shocked when I was told Harvard doesn’t accept credit cards for tuition payments. Many institutions don’t, actually,” he says on Inability to use a credit card to pay a bill sparked research that resulted in Buchanan and co-founder Daniel Choi, COO, launching the company in 2012.

A big win for Plastiq came one year after the company's launch in 2013 when the Canada Revenue Agency allowed Canadians to pay their taxes with the online bill payment service. “With Plastiq, a credit card is now a viable option to pay personal income tax, providing consumers with new choices and flexibility to strategically manage payments," says Buchanan. One of the service’s significant benefits is the credit card rewards users can amass quickly that otherwise would be out of reach for those who use their credit cards for small purchases.

Versatility continues to attract consumers to Plastiq. They can pay a wide range of common bills with credit cards, and some uncommon ones, too. So the next time you're paying your babysitter, plumber, or holistic health provider, who probably don’t accept credit cards, you might pay with your Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover through the service. Credit card users around the world are finding new ways to use Plastiq to pay bills, passing on the high costs of international wire transfers.

The online bill payment platform is fairly easy to use. You open an account and include the credit cards you want to use to pay your bills. You also provide details about the payees—the people or businesses you pay. Payment recipients don’t need to sign up and agree to use the service to get paid. The company finds out from you how payees want to be paid and sends payment to them in their preferred form, whether it’s a check or an electronic payment. You pay a 1% to 2.5% fee to use the service, depending on whether you use a credit card or debit card. Be aware that bank transfers via Plastiq may take up to 5 days to complete, and mailed paper checks may take up to 7 days for delivery.

To make adding payees even more convenient, the company introduced a mobile app in 2016, currently available for iPhones only, that allows users to snap and upload photos of their bills. From the photos, the company can capture payee details, which makes it possible for users to set up bills and start making credit card payments without ever sitting down at a computer.

While numerous reasons exist to use the online bill payment service, some consumers have reported issues worth taking into consideration. Errors may happen when entering payee information which can result in payment delays. You may also encounter issues paying individuals who are non-registered businesses, although this depends on the clarity of the information you provide Plastiq at the outset. Also, it may take the company a long time to credit your account should a payment be canceled.

Plastiq is an effective way to fast-track credit card bonus points, cash back, miles, and other rewards. To use the bill payment system successfully, it’s a good idea to verify your payee information and set up your bills to pay out as early as possible to ensure on-time delivery.

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