Skip to content

Should you charge your monthly bills to a credit card?

April 28, 2021
6 min read
Mixed race woman paying bills on laptop
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Whether you’re trying to reach the minimum spending requirement for your sign-up bonus or are racking up miles for your next award trip, paying with your credit card over a debit card makes sense in plenty of situations.

If you've come from a background that taught credit cards were for emergency purposes only or, perhaps worse, that they are always a bad financial decision because they cost more in the long run, it can take a minute to get to the point where you're considering charging everyday purchases.

But as long as you never forget the first principle of earning rewards from credit cards -- pay your balance on time and in full every month -- there can be huge incentives to shifting all sorts of charges and purchases to rewards credit cards.

New to The Points Guy? Want to learn more about credit card points and miles? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Once you get to that point, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to pay off your monthly bills with a credit card. This may include your cell phone, utilities, insurance or perhaps even car payments. As these are likely sizable recurring charges you face, we’ll explain when you should (and shouldn’t charge) monthly bills to a credit card.

Related: TPG’s 10 commandments of credit cards

When you should pay a monthly bill with a credit card

There are many advantages to paying your monthly bills with a credit card.

Since these are normal charges you’ll pay on a regular basis, you may as well earn points or miles on these purchases as you rack up expenses each month. There are some services that don't allow you to directly pay with a credit card. For example, I can only use a debit card, checking or savings account for my own car payment.

Some credit cards offer bonus points on certain types of purchases. Some of your monthly bills may fit into these categories, helping you earn additional rewards.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Related: Paying rent and mortgages with a credit card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

For example, my Chase Freedom Flex card is one of my favorite cash-back cards thanks to its 5% bonus on rotating categories each quarter (capped at $1,500, then 1% cash back). From January to March of this year, it awarded 5% on internet, cable and phone services, as well as select streaming services. During these three months, I was easily able to earn a lucrative 5% back on my internet and cell phone bill, as well as my various subscriptions from Hulu to Netflix.

Related: Guide to saving money on streaming services

On a similar note, you’ll want to be strategic about which credit card you use to pay for your cell phone bill.

Some cards offer cell phone loss and damage protection, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars. Many Amex cards offer this benefit, as well as cards such as the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Be sure to check the fine print, but as a general rule of thumb, you’ll automatically receive protection if you pay your cell phone bill with your eligible card. Since I already have Apple Care, this isn’t a huge necessity for me, but the right credit can definitely save you money if you don’t want to purchase additional cell phone insurance.

Related: How I got my cracked iPhone replaced for just $54.20 by using the right credit card

If your current credit cards don’t offer any additional rewards on your monthly bills (or you don’t want to keep up with bonus categories), consider opening a card such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card that offers an unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent. For example, if you have $500 in monthly recurring payments, you’ll earn 1,000 miles each month — equating to 12,000 miles just on these charges per year.

When you shouldn’t pay a monthly bill with a credit card

Using a credit card to cover your car payment isn't a good idea due to add-on fees. (Photo by Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

While it’s generally a good idea to pay many of your monthly expenses with your credit card, there are several instances where you shouldn’t do this. When paying bills such as rent or mortgage, student loans or car payments, oftentimes, you’ll be charged an additional fee for using a credit card to pay, which can offset the rewards you’d be earning. Here's how to think through whether it's still worth it to pay with a credit card if there's an extra fee to do so.

Related: Your guide to paying college tuition with a credit card

But for example, let’s say you pay $1,300 per month in rent. If your landlord charges a 4% fee for using a credit card, you’d effectively pay $1,352 instead. If a credit card — like the Venture card — offers 2 miles back on all purchases (as rent is not a bonus category on any card), you’d be getting 2,678 miles back. Since TPG values Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each when transferred to travel partners (not provided by issuers), you’re looking at around $46 in value in rewards. In this case, the added fee is not worth the rewards by itself.

However, if you are working towards a spending minimum for a sign-up bonus or desperately need additional miles for your award travel, it can make sense in limited situations even with a fee.

Bottom line

Before putting all of your monthly bills on a credit card, you’ll want to make sure you’re not going to be charged any additional fees for doing so. Or, if you will be charged fees, be sure you are coming out on the upside of that equation. This is most common when there's a bonus points category involved or you're working towards a minimum spending requirement or another perk that requires diverting a large amount of spending.

And as always, remember to pay off your balance in full and never charge more than you can afford. If you’re able to follow these simple rules, charging your monthly bills to your credit card can be a great strategy to earn lots of points and miles each year.

Related: TPG’s 10 commandments of credit cards

Featured image by Getty Images/Tetra images RF
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023