Using a credit card to pay bills can be a fast and convenient way to pay for goods because it can potentially boost your credit score and let you take advantage of rewards programs. However, if you’re sometimes late with payments or skip them all together, a credit card can be a major drag on your financial health and lead to debt and poor credit.
When considering whether or not to use a credit card, each bill should be evaluated individually to determine if paying with a card is the best option. Some merchants charge additional fees if you want to pay with a credit card. There’s also the chance that if the bill is too large, you could struggle to pay it off in full, meaning that interest would kick in and you could soon find yourself tackling a pile of debt.
Overall, paying with a credit card can be a smart move as long as you follow two guidelines:
Ensure that you pay your balance in full and on time every month, and
Only charge a bill to your credit card if you’re 100% certain you can pay it off in a timely manner.
How do I pay bills with my credit card?
There are a variety of ways you can pay bills with a credit card:
Online: Many merchants allow you to pay bills online using your credit card. Generally, you’ll have to create an account and add your credit card as a payment method, after which you can schedule one-time or recurring payments.
Automatic Bill Payment: Some service providers encourage automatic bill payment, where you can set up weekly or monthly recurring payments using your credit card. You can make all sorts of customizations with things like payment amount and frequency.
Phone Payment: You can also pay bills via phone using your credit card. Generally, you’ll just need to call the merchant’s customer service number, follow the prompts, and provide your credit card information. On top of your card number, you may also have to provide information like your expiry date and the card security code.
In-Person Payment: Most retailers accept in person payments at their physical locations.
Remember to read the fine print and look for any fees or interest charges associated with paying bills by credit card. Some companies (like mortgage brokers or gas and hydro companies) will charge additional fees — usually called “convenience fees” or “surcharges” — for paying with a credit card.
What bills can I pay with a credit card in Canada?
Nowadays, credit card payments are widely accepted for most types of bills. That being said, there are some cards with high merchant fees that are not as widely accepted in Canada —such as American Express — especially by smaller merchants like your neighbourhood corner store. Here’s a look at what bills you can pay with a credit card:
In Canada, you generally won’t have much luck paying your mortgage with a credit card. Most mortgage lenders don't allow borrowers to make payments using a credit card because of the high fees associated with credit card transactions.
However, some mortgage lenders may allow you to indirectly pay your mortgage with a credit card by using a third-party payment service like PaySimply that charges your credit card and sends the payment to your mortgage lender. Keep in mind that these third-party payment services typically charge high fees (2.5% or more) and may not be a cost-effective way to pay your mortgage. It's best to check with your mortgage provider to see what payment options are available and to consider the fees and costs associated with paying your mortgage with a credit card.
For many of us rent is our largest monthly expense so paying it using a credit card may seem like a good option. Unfortunately, many landlords still only accept rent payments via cash or cheque.
There are some large property rental companies that may allow fee-free payment with a credit card but failing that, you could consider using a third-party payment app like Rentmoola. Just be warned that you’ll often be subject to an additional fee of at least 2.5% (and Plastiq no longer takes American Express). If you’re only earning a rate of 1% or 2% cash back on your card than you won’t come out ahead by using credit.
Just like mortgage providers, banks and alternative financial companies that provide car loans don’t usually accept payment via credit cards. If your lender does agree to receive payments through your card just be sure to ask about additional fees.
Car and home insurance
Because many car and home insurance providers are run by big banks or large financial institutions, they generally allow you to pay with a credit card. Interestingly, some insurers will even give you a bit of a discount if you pay your yearly costs all at once versus monthly so be sure to ask.
Like home and car insurance providers, most health insurance companies let you charge your monthly fee to a credit card.
You can use a third-payment service like PaySimply (which appears to be the only company in Canada currently available for payments to the CRA) to pay for your taxes with your credit card, but it may not be a sound financial choice. That’s because you’ll be charged a fee (usually in the range of 2.5%) for the privilege of paying your taxes with credit. If you owe a big tax bill then you’ll also have the added burden of paying off a large expense within a month or start accumulating interest.
Utilities, cellphone, internet, cable
When it comes to utility companies in Canada, the standards with credit card payments can vary widely so be sure to do your research. Cell phone companies and corporations like Bell typically let customers pay with a credit card, whereas gas and hydro providers only let you pay with a credit card by going through a third-party provider that charges a fee.
Subscription services typically accept payments via credit card.
In Canada, if you got student loans from the government, you must repay them via the National Student Loans Service Centre. If you take out a private student loan, you may be able to pay them back via a third-party service, though like mortgage providers, most lenders will not accept direct credit card payments.
Is it better to pay bills with a credit card or debit card?
Whether it's better to pay bills with a credit card or a debit card depends entirely on your individual financial situation and goals.
Paying bills with a credit card offers numerous advantages that some debit cards (especially those from traditional banks) don’t. Paying with a credit card — as long as you always make payments on time — can help you build a credit score. Many credit cards also earn you rewards or cash back. However, credit cards can lead to overspending and debt.
On the other hand, paying bills with a debit card can help you avoid getting into debt and paying high-interest rates. It's also a good option if you struggle with overspending since you can only spend the money that you have in your bank account. However, using a debit card doesn't typically offer the same rewards or benefits as using a credit card, and debit cards don’t help build up your credit score.
How to pick a credit card to pay your bills
When choosing a credit card to pay your bills, the key is to ensure that the card’s benefits align with your spending habits. For example, if you spend a lot on groceries, then you’ll want a card that offers accelerated earnings for grocery purchases. On the other hand, if you tend to carry a balance, you might then look for a card with a low standard interest rate or one offering a balance transfer promotion. Here are some considerations when deciding what credit card will best maximize your spending
Rewards: Look for a credit card that offers rewards or cash back for the kinds of bills you pay for frequently, such as groceries or gas. Choose a card that provides the most significant rewards or cash back in categories that match your spending habits.
Annual fees: Some credit cards charge annual fees. It’s only worth paying an annual fee if the benefits you get from the card (like rewards or free insurance) exceed the yearly cost of the card.
Interest rates: Credit cards often come with high-interest rates, so go for a card with a low standard interest rate if you think you might carry a balance often.
Credit score requirements: Some credit cards have strict credit score requirements, so make sure to check if you meet the qualifications before applying.
Sign-up bonuses: Some credit cards offer sign-up bonuses, such as extra rewards or cash back when you spend a certain amount within a specific time period.
Other perks: Some credit cards come with additional perks, such as travel insurance or hotel room upgrades. If you think you’ll make good use of these perks, consider them when choosing a credit card.
- Merchant surcharges, service and convenience fees, and discountshttps://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/merchants/credit-fees-merchant.html