How to Use Bluebird “Pay Bills” to Pay Rent, Mortgage, Credit Cards, Utilities, College Tuition, etc.

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As I wrote yesterday, one of the best uses of American Express Bluebird is the ability to pay for transactions which can’t usually be made with a miles or points earning credit card.

You load your Bluebird card (which you can order online) with a points earning debit card at Wal-Mart.  You can also reload Bluebird with Vanilla Reload cards which you can buy at CVS, Walgreen’s or other locations.  Alternate with other credit cards so that you’re not spending too much at buying Vanilla Reloads with any one credit card.

Here’s a post on other credit cards to use with Bluebird, so that you’re not maxing out on just 1 card.

You may also be able to pay for the Vanilla Reloads with a credit card at Walgreen’s, but this isn’t always the case and could be a bit of wild goose chase.

Here’s a post on what a Vanilla Reload looks like and  how to load a Vanilla Reload card to your Bluebird account.

 

Bluebird Pay Bills

This is a great way to help meet the minimum spending requirement on ANY credit card, or even for earning miles and points for transactions which don’t usually earn miles and points as long as you buy Vanilla Reload cards with your credit card at Office Depot and load them on your Bluebird card.

For example, it will cost you $3.95 for a 500 dollar Vanilla Reload pack.  This means that you are paying $3.95 to earn 500 miles or points (assuming you use a card which gets you 1 mile or point per $1 spent).

This works out to paying 0.79 cents per mile or point or earning 0.21 miles or points per $1 spent AND you get the ability to accelerate your minimum spending to get a sign-on bonus.  I value most airline miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards & American Express Membership Rewards points at around 1 cent, so I don’t mind paying 0.79 cents per mile or point.

There is NO fee for using Bluebird Bill Pay.

Bluebird Bill Pay

You then use your Bluebird card to pay for Rent, Mortgage, Credit Card Bills, Utilities, College Tuition, Payments to contractors, etc.  

Bluebird offers 2 options to pay your bills via their “Pay Bills” system.  The first way is to look up the name of the business whom you want to pay.  If the business is listed in the Pay Bill system, you can send money electronically from your Bluebird account to the business to whom you owe money.  I used this option to pay Sallie Mae student loans and my Chase credit card bill.

Available payees include, for example:

  • Most mortgage, car loan, student loans, credit cards and financial institutions
  • Most utility companies

The second option is if the business or person whom you want to pay is not listed in the system – say your apartment complex or contractor.

In that case, you enter the name, address, and account number of the payee and Bluebird will mail a check for free with your account information on it.

Unfortunately, you can’t schedule recurring payments so you have to log in each month to make payments which is inconvenient if you have auto pay set up on your bills.  If you do decide to use the Bluebird Pay Bill set a monthly reminder on your calendar because it isn’t worth earning miles and points if you have to pay a late fee!

Bluebird Bill Pay – Payee Listed

The Bill Pay system is quirky and, in some cases, requires you to enter in the full 9 digit zip code (without the hyphen) of the person or business whom you are paying (not your zip code).  This is a check to help ensure that your payment goes to the correct payee.

There is a monthly limit of $10,000 for payments to payees listed in the Bluebird Pay Bill system.

The terms say to allow at least 6 business days for payments but that it *could be* ~4 business days to receive an electronic payment.  However, I’d still plan on scheduling a payment at least 6 business days in advance (if not longer).

Step 1 – Log in to your Bluebird account

Log into your Bluebird account online.

Step 2 – Click on Pay Bills

Click on the “pay bills” button which is on the left of the screen.

Step 2 – Click on “pay bills”

Step 3 – Enter Payee Information

Enter the person or business whom you want to pay in the text box below “Who do you need to pay?

For example, I entered in “Sallie Mae” to pay my student loans.

Step 3 – Enter Payee Information

Click on the magnifying glass icon at the end of the text box to begin searching.

Step 4 – Select Payee

You will see a list of matching payees who are already in the Pay Bill system.

I clicked on “Sallie Mae

Step 4 – Click on Payee

Step 5 – Save Payee Information

In this screen you will see a few fields to fill out.

Nickname for payee: Enter a name for the payee which will be stored for easy selection in future.

Account #: Enter your loan account number from your billing statement.

Zip: Enter the zip code of the payee (not your zip code).  You can find this on your billing statement.  If the system doesn’t take in the 5 digit zip code, try entering in the 9 digit zip code without the hyphen.

Step 5 – Save Payee Information

Then click on “save and pay now

Step 6 – Enter Amount to Pay

Enter in the amount you want to pay.

Then click “Continue

Step 6 – Enter Amount to Pay

Step 7 – Submit Payment

Click on “Submit” to submit your payment.

Step 7 – Submit Payment

There is also a field for the “arrival” date.  I submitted my payment on October 23, 2012 and Bill Pay suggests that my payment will post to my account on October 24, 2012.

Bluebird Bill Pay – Payee Not Listed

If the person or business whom you want to pay is not listed, you can add them to Bluebird and Bluebird will mail them a check for free!

For example, you can mail a check to your apartment complex, contractor, or even pay (a small bit of) college tuition this way!

There is a monthly limit of $5,000 for payments via checks (likely included in the Pay Bill limit of $10,000 per month)

The terms say to allow at least 6 business days to receive a payment, but I’d add a few extra days as buffer.

Step 1 to 3

Steps 1 to 3 are the same as above

 Step 4 – Enter Payee information

Click on: “Not in the List.  Add a new payee and we’ll send them a check

Bluebird Bill Pay 8

Add a New Payee

A message at the top  of the screen says “This new payee is not listed in our database. Accordingly, bill payments to this payee will be sent by check dispatched via U.S. first-class mail.

Enter in the payee information.  Be sure to enter in the address correctly!

Step 4 – Enter Payee Information

Click on “save and pay now

 Step 5 – Enter Memo Information & Amount

Be sure to enter in the memo information correctly to let the person or business know why you are sending them money.  Ideally you should enter in your name, account number if applicable etc.

Bluebird Bill Pay 10-002

Step 5 – Enter Memo Information

I entered “Rent from Apt XXX – Dubash” in the memo field.  I then clicked “continue”

 Step 6 – Click Submit

Confirm details of your transaction and click “submit

Step 6 – Submit Your Payment

It appears to take ~6 days for Bluebird to mail a check, but I’d try to schedule payments at least 10 days before the due date in case it takes longer to mail a check.

Bottom Line

The Bluebird Pay Bill feature is a great way to earn miles and points for bills which usually don’t earn miles and points!  But schedule your payment at least 6 days in advance of the due date. There is no option to schedule recurring or automatic payments which is very inconvenient.

And be sure to read my cautions at the end of yesterday’s post before using Bluebird.

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 7,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in a RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another way to use Bluebird!

162 Responses to How to Use Bluebird “Pay Bills” to Pay Rent, Mortgage, Credit Cards, Utilities, College Tuition, etc.

  1. Can I use Blue Bird to pay business credit card (i.e. Chase Inks, etc)?

  2. @kn9ght – I haven’t tried a business credit card, but know that you can pay a personal card.

  3. Couldn’t you just mail a check to your significant other, then have them pay you back?

  4. So all i need to do to pay a Chase CC is lookup Chase under payee, click on it, then put in my name on the card where it asks for nickname and my CC number in the field that asks for account number?

  5. @emj - You could, but I prefer to use it to pay bills etc.

    @Y Kessler – That’s true, but do a small test just to make sure.

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  7. Hello Daraius,

    I sent a payment of $250 for my Chase Ink Plus Business credit card, the payment was supposed to arrive on July 1st, and the status shows as “Complete” on bluebird.com however when I login my Chase Ink card’s account online I do not see the $250 payment posted at all. Should I contact bluebird and ask them what’s going on? In the past, when I have sent payments, when it says it will arrive on a particular day, it would at least show a “Pending payment” on the arrival day, by the next day it will show as a posted payment transaction, but I don’t see anything on this card.

  8. @Brandon – It should post in a few days and be backdated to the 1st.

  9. Darla Fastelin

    OK I’m confused….
    I have a Bluebird card, got in mail.
    I have found a Walgreens that has Vanilla reload cards…
    I can’t buy with my United Explored CC. (tried)., but cashier said had to be debit card to purchase…
    So how to I load Vanilla card (using credit cards) to transfer to my Bluebird card to pay mortgage on line? I’m tring to meet spending requirement for United Explorer and Chase Ink CC.
    Help! Could I use Chase gift cards that I can order on line with my CC to load Vanilla card?
    Thanks, Darla

  10. @Darla Fastelin – Walgreen’s no longer sells them with a credit card, but CVS still does. You can load the Bluebird with a gift card with a PIN at your Wal-Mart.

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  12. Hey Daraius,

    I recently received my first chase business card. Is there any way to use points multipliers to reload vanilla cards for blue birds? For the hassle of it, paying 3.95 for only 500 points seems like a lot. Thanks!

  13. @John – Not really, unless you can get them at 7-11 stores for 2X points (but not all 7-11 stores sell them).

  14. Quote-
    “You can load the Bluebird with a gift card with a PIN at your Wal-Mart.”

    Could you explain with more detail? Do I use my credit card to purchase Wal Mart gift cards then deposit to Bluebird?
    Thanks Dave

  15. I found 10 vanilla reload at a CVS nearby. I took 5 and put $500 on each one using my AMEX SPG credit card. I went back a few hours later to get the other 5 but the manager at CVS said I could only pay with cash. So, I took the 5 vanilla reload to another CVS nearby and was able to put $500 on each. I am finally going to be able to use the Bluebird I opened 6 month ago to pay my rent.
    Question:
    If I find , say 20 vanilla reload cards at a CVS, but do not want to put money on them right away, can I keep them at home and use them at CVS when I am sure I can pay the credit cards I used to put money on them?

  16. Emilie and Daraius
    I can’t help thinking that I am on the receiving end with you and would love to be able to do something nice for you and Emilie. I cannot host you because we live in a very small apartment but I would love to invite you for a French meal if you ever stop around Washington DC. I do not take your advice for granted and am very grateful to you.

  17. I am having difficulty finding a place in DC that will allow me to buy and load the Vanilla Reload card with my Chase Sapphire card. I was stopped outright at Gallery Place/Chinatown Walgreens, but the one near Foggy Bottom was totally willing to do it but the cash register wouldn’t allow it! The 7 Eleven at 19th & E Street had them and was processing them for me, but my card was denied after swiping. I called Chase on the spot to give notice of a large purchase, but the rep. explained that there were not logged attempts on my card. This indicates to me that the point of sale restricted the purchase.

    So far I have not found a CVS in DC that has the Vanilla Reload card for sale, only Green Dot.

    What’s the deal ?!

    ~Crow

  18. @do it – I’d try again at the CVS since you can now buy up to $5,000 per transaction. I wouldn’t take the blank Vanilla Reload cards home unless you ask the store and they say that you can (otherwise it could be considered shoplifting). Thanks so much for your kind offer of a French meal – that’s one of our favorite cuisines!

    @Crow - Walgreen’s and 7-11 do not let you buy them with a credit card, but you should be able to buy them at CVS.

  19. I am super interested in using my American Express credit card to pay my monthly occuring bills. i.e. mortgage and utilities. My question is, I currently have a Business American Express and a personal American Express both obtained via Costco, can I use either of the above to pay my bills. If not, how can I get an American Bluebird?

  20. @Lily Marshall – You can use your AMEX Bluebird account to pay your monthly bills. But you have to buy Vanilla Reloads at a CVS store or reload your Bluebird with gift cards (which you buy with a credit card) at Wal-Mart and then use your Bluebird account to pay your bills.

  21. Can I add my friend’s credit card into my bluebird account, and pay the bills for my friends?

  22. @Ben – It should be possible, but make sure your friend pays you back!

  23. Hi,
    Are you still able to to reload “bluebird” account using Vaniload reload cards ? i am planning to apply , just wanted to check with you before that and i saw somebody posted recently in one of you page that they could not repload.

    Thanks in advance.

  24. I am having so many issues with the Pay Bills feature. For example, I’m trying to add my American Express credit card, but keep getting error “Sorry, it looks like the account number or the zip code you entered is incorrect (you may need to enter 5 or 9 zip code numbers). Please try again” – I’m just adding the last 5 digits of my CC.

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  26. Hi,

    Before I open a Bluebird account, I wanted to know if you can still fund the Bluebird account with Vanilla reloadable cards? Sounds like some people in the DC area are having a rough time finding and loading money on them. Also does it have to be the specific Vanilla reloadable cards or can it be any (visa/mc) reloadable card?

    Thanks.

  27. Can I use Bluebird to pay bills where my name is not on that bill?

  28. I don’t have business .. How can I apply for American express business card?

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  31. Hi Grant. I am facing weird issue. I am trying to add a payee from the list (chase credit card). I gave the nick name and my credit card number (there is no field for the zip code) and when I click on save, it is saying wrong Zip code, however there is no zip code field where I can or had enter this. This is happening on my personal laptop and my iphone4s (safari)
    Moreover, I think this manufacture spending itself has issue with my PERSONAL laptop, because https://www.vanillareload.com is not opening on my laptop while there is no issue if I am opening it on my office laptop!!!!! Weird.. (So I used phone service to load VRC to BB.)
    So, do you have any idea why I am facing zip code issue? Please suggest. Thanks in advance.

  32. I was wrong. This zip code error I am facing on my office PC too. So, its not related to my personal laptop. And there is no field to enter zip code. I sent secure messaege to Chanse back for their complete address, but unfortunetly their address has PO Box number. So, now I am feeling helpless that how can I pay my chase credit card bills thourgh blue bird (zip code error, and not able to enter PO box). Please help. Thanks in advance

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  34. The BlueBird payment system have put address validation when adding new payee to avoid lost payments in transition. In my case I had same payee address issue as few of you.
    My payee had PO BOX in the address which BlueBird payment system does not like it. So they asked me to put PO in address and save the address. Later edit address to put complete PO BOX.

    Funky, but it worked.

    –Akshay

  35. Have a quick question.How much can you load to bluebird a month?

  36. Just a quick question, since the Bluebird is a FDIC bank now, checks with routing and account number, can I use Credit card side of auto pay to automatic withdraw the full balance each month at the due day, so I don’t have to worry about I am going to be late or forget to bill pay at Bluebird side. don’t if this is possible or if any limitations.

  37. @Spanky23 – $5,000 with a combination of Vanilla Reloads and loading at Wal-Mart with a gift card or debit card.

    @ZeroMile – I don’t believe that is possible with Bluebird as yet. The routing number is supposed to be used for receiving money and not sending it.

  38. Thanks for the quick answer.Another quick question for you.I just got approved for a discover it card, it arrived in the mail today :)
    Right now walmart purchases give me 5% cash back till dec 31st up to $1500.
    Can I go to walmart and load my bluebird card with this discover card ?Will it count as a walmart purchase?
    Thanks in advance!

  39. Does that mean you can buy gift card with a credit card (earn points), then pay off the balance of that very credit card thru bluebird????? If that’s possible, it is an huge loop hole for us to earn points consistently.

  40. When I press the “Review” button, it doesn’t do anything. Has anybody run into issue with the Bluebird online Billpay? If so, how did u fix it? It stopped working recently. I tried different browser, computer and also cleared the cache. Please help! Thanks.

  41. @ff_lover – Try the mobile app.

  42. Same problem today – spent 2 hrs on line with Bluebird and got a big run around – no help. Finally went into the payee list, edited the payee I wanted to pay – very carefully – deleted some information that was correct – or seemed to be correct, and reentered the info. Then the system accepted the info and the payment went through. Big hassle! Also, even though I was making a payment to a vendor with funds already in my Bluebird account, Bluebird accessed my bank account (of record) and made me verify my bank account info. Very weird – and scary!

  43. @Rusty – You may have better luck with the mobile app.

  44. Hi if I were to use the bluebird / Vanilla reload method so that I can pay a mortgage can I use this to meet the minimum spend on a Chase Bold Ink card even if the mortgage isn’t related to my business? Also if I paid some families members mortgage on this card would this matter or would it need to be in my name?

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  46. Does anyone know if Citi Mortgage, Inc. is an accepted Payee?

  47. Is there a way to use bill pay to pay if the adressee if different from the payee? In my particular situation one of my student loans is contracted through a company named University Accounting Services and payments need to be addressed to them, but the check needs to be made payable directly to the school. I can see other instances where this would be a necessary feature though – sending a check to an indivdual at their business address, so you need to address the payment to the business, but the payee would be the individual. I don’t see a way when setting up a payee or anywhere in the FAQ to do this. Is the only way to order the physical checks?

  48. I know this post is older, but it seems to me that Amex Serve is the way to go for this now since you don’t have to pay the fees to purchase Vanilla reload cards. Serve lets you load directly from your credit card (and so far none of my cards – Chase or Barclay – have charged cash advance fees) and pay using their bill pay. You can auto-schedule the credit card loads and then schedule your bill pay. You’d of course miss out on any Drug Store credit card bonuses if that’s your goal.

  49. Can you pay an Amex bill with Bluebird?

  50. @Justin @MillionMileSecrets care to elaborate and give us the run down for how this all works and best practices going forward, at least for January and February 2014?

  51. Hi Darius, can you tell me how long do you wait between the date you buy a VR on your cc and the date you do the bill pay on BB? Will you accumulate several thousand and pay it in one lump sum or rather send several $500 or $1000 payments?

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  53. Just was introduced into the world of Bluebird via your blogs and have spent many hours trying to navigate the best possible/easiest way to do this. There is a Wal-Mart being built right across from my office so I am assuming it will have a Money Center. This is my plan (please tell me if you see any flaws) to make this as easy as possible…

    1. Buy prepaid Visa debit card online using topcashback
    2. Use those to load my Bluebird in person without having to go through a cashier

    The only CVS in my area doesn’t seem to have Vanilla Reload else I would go that route but either way it seems that I will have to make one stop in a store in person, correct?

    Ideally it would be easiest to do all this online but I guess that’s not possible at this time. Also, big crumbs is offering the AMEX gc with a 3.5% rebate but as a newbie I should resist the temptation to buy these and then use these to buy Visa gc ;)

    Thanks so much for your informative blog, have learned so much in the last few days!

  54. Anyone having problems with bb billpay. Keeps getting technical difficulties when I try to click billpay button…happened 2 evenings and I was able to submit a billpay earlier…

  55. I have a question- say I have a new Bluebird acct….and my goal is to pay my mortgage using this acct- but it is already on autopay thru my bank acct….. how do I change this? DO I call the company directly to switch it over to a bluebird payment? (hopefully autopay feature) or do I just route the payment thru Bluebird,and it will switch automatically?

  56. Looks like those Vanilla cards can be bought online. I don’t even see the fee in there unless a $100 card comes with less than a face value on it.
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Reloadable-Walmart-Gift-Card/21672289

  57. @JM – You may have to cancel the autopay and then manually pay via Bluebird.

    @Evgenii – Those aren’t Vanilla card, but Wal-Mart store cards!

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