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It is usually hard to earn miles and points for making mortgage, student and car loan, and utility payments. Sure, you can pay a fee to use a credit card which earns miles and points, but you usually will also pay a ~3% convenience fee which is almost always worth more than the miles and points earned. However, it could make sense to pay the convenience fee to help get the sign-up bonus from a credit card.
I wrote earlier about using ChargeSmart to pay student loans, and how to reduce the cost by using the Chase Ink Bold or American Express Blue Sky Preferred. But that isn’t always convenient.
Well, here’s an easier way!
Wal-Mart Money Center
Wal-Mart has a Money Center where you can cash checks, buy money orders, and pay bills through their Bill Pay service.
The Money Centers are usually located in the customer service center or next to it. You have to go a physical Wal-Mart store to use the Wal-Mart Bill Pay service. You also have to have a debit card with a PIN to use the Bill Pay option and you can’t use a credit card to pay bills.
I experimented with their Bill Pay service using a debit card. I was able to pay my Sallie Mae & AES student loans and electric bill using a debit card with a PIN and earn miles!
I asked the teller if I could pay mortgage and car loans via Bill Pay, and he indicated that I could as long as they are “in the system.” I then asked him if Bank of America and Chase loans could be paid, and he said they could.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an online list of business whom you can pay using Wal-Mart’s Bill Pay service, so you have to go to the store and ask if your lender or service provider is included.
Delta Debit Card
I chose the cheapest payment option for 88 cents, so my payment took 3 to 4 business days to post to my account. I could have paid $1.88 for the payment to post the next day, but didn’t see the need for it.
The teller asked for my Sallie Mae account number, which was on my loan statement and for my telephone number to process the payment. I swiped the debit card and entered my PIN to complete the transaction.
The miles posted to my Delta account a few day ago!
The Delta debit card has a personal and business version, but the personal version earns 1 mile per $1 spent, whereas the business version earns only 1 mile per $2 spent.
Alaska Air Debit Card
On the same day, I used my Alaska Air debit card to pay my electric bill of $123.20.
I chose the cheapest payment option for 88 cents, so my payment took 3 to 4 business days to post to my account.
The teller asked for my utility account number, but I had brought a paper copy of the bill so it was easy to find. I swiped the debit card and entered my PIN to complete the transaction.
Again, the miles posted to my Alaska Air account a few day ago!
The Alaska Air debit card is available only for personal checking accounts, but earns only 1 mile per $2 spent or half the amount of miles as the Delta debit card.
As always, this was my personal experience, and your experience could be different! Lots of activity at Wal-Mart Money Centers could arouse suspicion at the banks.
I don’t expect this to last very long, because I suspect giving away lots of Delta or Alaska Air miles for only an 88 cent fee isn’t commercially viable for some of the parties involved.
Paying 88 cents for Delta or Alaska Air miles for paying your bills using the Wal-Mart Money Center could be a great deal for some folks!