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The standout feature of The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express is the ability to earn a monthly 50% point bonus. American Express doesn’t make it easy to grab the bonus, though. With the Amex EveryDay Preferred, you’ll earn:
- 3x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x)
- 2x points at US gas stations
- 1x points on other purchases
- A 50% bonus on all purchases less returns and credits after you make 30 or more purchases with your card in a billing period.
So to get full value from this card, you have to make at least 30 transactions each month. That can be a tough slog for some people — tough enough that it may have caused you to shy away from applying for the card. But there’s a way to meet this minimum transaction threshold that doesn’t involve actually spending more money than you would anyway.
The answer is to use a service like Plastiq to pay your bills. The payments firm lets you use credit cards to pay bills you normally wouldn’t be able to put on a credit card — like rent, taxes or utility bills. If paying these bills with your Amex EveryDay Preferred puts you over the top for the monthly bonus, you’ll get an effective return of 1.5 points per dollar spent on Plastiq transactions. Those Membership Rewards points are worth 2.85 cents apiece, according to TPG’s latest valuations.
But what about the fees? Because Plastiq charges a 2.5% fee per transaction when you use a credit card, you’d typically spend more in fees than you would get in rewards with most credit cards, including the Amex EveryDay Preferred. But if you earn that monthly bonus across all your transactions as a result of paying a few bills with Plastiq, you’re actually earning much more in total rewards than you’re spending on the fee.
For instance, let’s say you spend $1,000 a month on the Amex EveryDay Preferred, with $100 of that on groceries and another $100 on filling up your car, for a total of 1,300 Membership Rewards points. But you only have 28 transactions in the month, which means you won’t get the bonus points. So you use Plastiq to pay your electric bill for $75 and your gas bill for another $25 to make it to the full 30 transactions. Plastiq transactions themselves only earn 1 point per dollar, so that extra $100 only gets you another 100 base points.
But now that you’re at 30 transactions, you get an additional 50% bonus on the entire 1,400 base Membership Rewards points, meaning an extra 700 points. Those 700 points are worth $13.30 based on TPG’s valuations, while the 2.5% fee you paid Plastiq for the extra $100 in transactions is only $2.50. That’s how the EveryDay Preferred can make paying expenses with Plastiq a more attractive option than it normally would be.
You do have to be careful what you try to pay for with Plastiq when you’re using an American Express card, since there are restrictions. While Plastiq bills itself as a one-stop shop to pay things like auto leases, mortgages, employee salaries, insurance, tuition and legal services, it restricts transactions based on the type of card you use.
According to Plastiq, American Express cards can only used to pay the following types of entities or expenses:
- Residential rent
- Club fees and memberships
So you can pay taxes and tuition with the Amex EveryDay Preferred, but not your mortgage. If you own a home, that may make using Plastiq far less appealing. But renters — and people with a monthly student loan repayment — could find this option to their liking. Keep in mind though you probably don’t want to pay your income tax bill using Plastiq, as there are cheaper alternatives.
Other Ways to Reach 30 Transactions
Paying your rent or car payment through a third-party service to hit a transaction requirement may not be your idea of a winning strategy — even if you can come out on top a bit after the 2.5% transaction fee. If you’re approaching the deadline for hitting your transaction requirement and you’re falling short, consider these options, as well:
- Buy a pack of gum at your local grocery store or convenience store.
- Pay for that vending machine purchase using your credit card.
- Add a few dollars worth of gas to your tank. Hit another gas station later and do the same.
- Reload your Amazon gift card balance in small increments.
Here’s one thing to keep in mind, though. Amex says some merchants may “combine separate charges into a single transaction before submitting it to us.” This might occur even if you complete multiple transactions over the course of “one or more days.” In that case, Amex will treat the combined transactions as one purchase toward your required 30 purchases.
Is Amex EveryDay an Alternative?
If you’re unsure whether you could meet the 30 transaction threshold even by including monthly bill payments through a service like Plastiq — or you don’t like the card’s $95 annual fee — you might consider The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express, which charges no annual fee and offers a 20% bonus after you make 20 monthly transactions. This card is good for consumers who plan to spend less than $16,666 annually.
But using Plastiq with this card to meet the monthly transaction requirement isn’t quite as good simply because you’re earning significantly fewer bonus points — 20% instead of 50% — which means you have to keep the amount of fees you’re paying with Plastiq to a minimum in order for the return to make sense. Also, while you’ll earn a small return even on your actual Plastiq transactions with the EveryDay Preferred since 1.5 Membership points per dollar are worth 2.85 cents each and the Plastiq fee is only 2.5 cents per dollar, the return with the Amex EveryDay is only 2.28 cents in Membership Rewards points with the 20% bonus, which is less than the 2.5% fee that the bill payment service charges.
Other Credit Cards to Consider
Although you’ll have a net loss on rewards points with other credit cards, you still might find using Plastiq a useful strategy in some cases with cards that offer bonuses when you reach certain annual spending thresholds. If you need help nudging yourself across the finish line, paying a big mortgage check or two might be worth the cost. Consider cards like the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express, which lets you earn a complimentary weekend night from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in a calendar year, and gives you top-tier Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.
Incorporating Plastiq into your points strategy can prove beneficial in some cases where you need extra transactions or extra spending to earn lucrative bonuses. Remember, in the case of Amex EveryDay Preferred, using Plastiq transactions to earn the 50% monthly bonus points has an impact on your other spending. So, those 3 points per dollar spent at the grocery store get bumped to 4.5 points — a significant increase — if you hit 30 transactions in a month, along with all your other purchases in the month. That could make using Plastiq on a limited basis a smart play.
Featured image by Hero Images / Getty Images.