Can You Use Credit Cards To Pay Bills?

Summary:

Paying your monthly bills with a credit card can be a great way to build your credit file, track expenses, and boost your credit score. However, certain bills — such as installment-based debt — might not allow you to pay with a credit card. So before using this method to pay bills, check with the merchant or service provider to see whether they accept credit card payments and if there are any fees associated with it.

According to Federal Reserve data, around 84% of Americans owned a credit card in 2021. Without a doubt, credit cards are one of the most common payment methods to cover purchases — from everyday items like groceries to luxury splurges on vacations and designer clothes. But can you also use credit cards to take care of the more necessary expenses like paying bills?

The short answer is, yes. You can certainly use credit cards to pay bills, though there are a few exceptions we’ll touch on later. In this article, we’ll dive into everything related to using a credit card to pay monthly bills, the pros and cons, and whether it’s the right option for you.

How to pay bills with a credit card?

Paying your bills with a credit card is usually a straightforward process, with most merchants and service providers offering an easy-to-find “Pay Your Bill” button on their websites. Some may even provide the option of setting up auto payments, allowing you to transfer the funds from your credit card directly.

The details of how exactly to pay will vary depending on the merchant or service provider, so make sure to check their website or contact customer service beforehand. For a quick look at what bills you can pay using a credit card, take a look at the list below.

Accepts credit card paymentsCredit card payments not advised
Utility billsMortgage payments or rent
Subscription services like NetflixCar loans
Gym membershipsCredit card bill
Cable and internetStudent loans
Cell phone plans
Auto insurance
Medical bills

Pros and cons of using credit cards to pay bills

Let’s explore the pros and cons of using credit cards for bill payments so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your situation.

WEIGH THE RISKS AND BENEFITS

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Accrue rewards or points with rewards credit cards
  • Could help build your credit file
  • Automate your monthly payments
  • Easier to track your expenses
Cons
  • Convenience fees
  • Credit utilization could go up
  • Additional interest if the balance isn’t paid off in full

Pros explained

Accrue credit card rewards or points

One of the main advantages of using credit cards to pay bills is that you can accrue rewards or points. Credit card companies often offer rewards programs, such as cash back on purchases, airline miles for travel, discounts at stores and restaurants, and more.

To start accruing credit card rewards, take a look at some of the rewards credit card options below.

Could thicken your credit file

Using credit cards to pay bills could be a great way to thicken your credit file if you have little or no credit. After all, your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. So by making on-time payments with a credit card each month, you can demonstrate responsible financial behavior and access better terms when applying for loans in the future.

Automate monthly payments

Another advantage of using credit cards to pay bills is that you can easily automate monthly payments. This way, you won’t have to worry about remembering due dates or writing checks each month.

Easier expense tracking

By paying your bills with a credit card, you can easily keep track of your payments in one place and have an accurate record of where your money goes each month. This helps you stay on a budget and manage your finances more efficiently.

Fortunately, there’s more than one way to track your finances. If you need some help monitoring your spending, either on a credit card or bank account, you can use one of the money management tools below.

Cons explained

Convenience fees

When you pay your bills with a credit card, some merchants may charge convenience fees since you aren’t using their standard form of payment. A convenience fee is typically around 2% to 3% of the transaction amount. It could also be a fixed amount, depending on the merchant.

Higher credit utilization

Credit utilization is calculated by dividing the total outstanding credit card balance by the total available credit limit. Financial experts recommend keeping your credit utilization at or below 30% since going beyond this threshold can have an adverse effect on your credit score. If you’re using your credit card to pay your bills, it’s easy to go over this limit — especially if you’re not careful.

Accrue additional interest

When you use credit cards to make purchases, you have to pay interest each month on any remaining balance until the entire amount is paid off. This means if you only make the minimum monthly payments, you could end up paying far more than what was originally due.

Tips on how to manage credit cards wisely

If you’re considering paying your bills with a credit card, be sure you understand how to manage it responsibly so you won’t end up in debt.

1. Check your card statements and credit reports regularly

Checking your card statements and credit reports on a regular basis helps you identify any errors or potentially fraudulent activity early on. Not only will this help you track your spending, but you can also take action quickly to protect yourself from identity theft and financial losses.

You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major bureaus from AnnualCreditReport.com. If you do find an error on your credit report, alert the responsible credit bureau of the error or contact a credit repair company.

2. Keep your credit utilization low

Credit utilization refers to how much of your available credit you’re using at any given time. Most financial experts recommended keeping this number under 30% so future lenders can see you’re managing your money responsibly and don’t pose a risk of defaulting on payments. So, if your credit limit is $2,000, try to keep your credit card usage to $600 or less each month.

3. Maximize your rewards

With the right rewards credit card, you could earn miles, points, and cashback on your purchases. By taking advantage of these credit card rewards programs, you can save money on everyday items like groceries, gas, and clothing while also earning valuable benefits such as free flights or hotel stays.

If you’re looking to save more money on your travels, try taking advantage of a travel rewards credit card specifically, like those below.

4. Read your credit card policy agreement

Not every credit card is the same. Some charge fees for balance transfers and exceeding your credit limit, while some don’t. To decide which credit card is the best for your lifestyle and personal finance situation, read the credit card policy agreement carefully.

In the agreement, credit card issuers will typically explain how and when your interest rate may increase, as well as which actions may incur fees.

Pro Tip

If you’re falling behind on your credit card bills due to high-interest charges, consider moving your current balance to a zero-balance credit card (balance transfer card). Some of these cards charge 0% APR during the introductory period, which is typically around 12 to 21 months. By doing so, you can take advantage of the lower interest rate to pay off your debt faster and save money in the long run.

FAQs

Is it smart to use a credit card to pay bills?

As long as you pay off your credit card balance on time and in full each month, using a credit card for your monthly bills could be a smart move. This strategy helps boost your credit score and increase your odds of approval when applying for loans in the future.

Just make sure to always pay off your balance on time and in full each month to avoid paying interest charges. And if you’re worried that you might forget to pay your bills on time, set up automatic payments with your bank.

Is it best to pay bills with a credit card?

There’s no one best way to pay bills. Depending on your financial situation, preference, and other factors, you may find it better to pay with cash, checks, or debit cards instead of credit cards. Just be sure to check with the merchant or service provider (for example, your utility company) about what payment methods they accept.

Also, if the merchant does accept credit cards, ask whether they charge a convenience or processing fee on top of a credit card payment. If they do, you may want to use a different payment method.

Does paying bills with a credit card hurt your credit score?

No. According to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, paying bills with a credit card won’t hurt your credit score as long as you pay off your balance in full each month and keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%. To calculate your credit utilization, divide the total of your current credit card balances by your available credit.

Does paying off a credit card too fast hurt your credit?

Paying off a credit card as fast as possible is actually good for your credit and helps you save money on interest charges. It also shows lenders that you’re a responsible borrower and aren’t overextending yourself financially.

What items should you not purchase with a credit card?

You should always avoid purchasing items that will wipe out your available credit limit. Your credit utilization ratio is one of the key factors lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. So try your best to keep your credit utilization below 30% to avoid damaging your credit score.

And though you can pay taxes with your credit card, it’s not recommended. If you owe the IRS money, you can work out a payment plan with them at a much lower interest rate than what most credit card companies might charge you.

Key Takeaways

  • You can use your credit card to pay most bills, but not all. For example, you typically can’t pay your car loan, credit card bill, or mortgage using a credit card.
  • The advantages of using a credit card to pay bills include accruing rewards on purchases, thickening your credit file, automating monthly payments, and easier expense tracking.
  • The downsides of using a credit card to pay your monthly expenses include convenience fees, the potential for increased credit utilization, and incurring additional interest.
  • To manage your credit card wisely, regularly check your credit reports, keep utilization low, maximize rewards, and read the policy agreement provided by the issuer carefully.
View Article Sources
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  2. Using Credit Cards and Disputing Charges — Federal Trade Commission
  3. The Cost of Convenience: Paying Your Utility Bills — Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel
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  5. How to Pay Your Mortgage With a Credit Card — SuperMoney
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  7. 6 Credit Card Questions To Ask Your Partner Before You Say “I Do” — SuperMoney
  8. How To Pay Off Credit Card Debt: Ultimate Guide — SuperMoney
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