Point Me to First Class with Devon Gimbel MD | Advanced Points Strategies: PayPal Bill Pay with Dr. Sujatha Murali

35. Advanced Points Strategies: PayPal Bill Pay with Dr. Sujatha Murali

Oct 30, 2023

I’m an advocate for putting as many of your expenses as possible on rewards credit cards in order to maximize your points potential. But as we all know, there are certain expenses that charge a processing fee or don’t offer a credit card payment option at all. Sometimes it’s worth paying the fee, but for those occasions when it doesn’t, PayPal Bill Pay is here to help.

PayPal Bill Pay can enable you to use a rewards credit card to pay for an expense that doesn’t accept credit card payments and can even help you circumnavigate payment processing fees. Here to show us how to use this powerful but often overlooked tool is Dr. Sujatha Murali, a physician from Southern California who has been using PayPal Bill Pay to earn points for years now.

Tune in this week to discover how to use PayPal Bill Pay to avoid credit card payment fees while leveraging the money you’re already spending to maximize your points-earning potential. Whether it’s utilities, insurance, or any other bill you’re paying by cheque or bank transfer, you can leverage these into point-earning opportunities starting today, and we’re showing you how.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode: 

  • How Sujatha’s love for travel and paying her bills was instilled in childhood.
  • Why PayPal Bill Pay is an underutilized secret for earning more points.
  • Some of the merchants and vendors Sujatha pays using PayPal Bill Pay.
  • How PayPal Bill Pay means you can even earn points on university fees and property taxes.
  • Some tricky parts of using PayPal Bill Pay you need to be aware of.
  • The creativity and experimentation it takes to successfully use PayPal Bill Pay.
  • How to make PayPal Bill Pay part of your points strategy.


Listen to the Full Episode:


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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Point Me to First Class, the only show for employed professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners who are looking to optimize their higher-than-average expenses to travel the world. I'm your host, Devon Gimbel, and I believe that your expenses are your greatest untapped asset if how to leverage them. Ready to dive into the world of credit card points and miles so you can travel more, travel better, and travel often? Let's get started.

Devon: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. By now you have heard me say a million times that your expenses are your greatest asset, if you know how to leverage them. That I am a huge advocate for putting as many of your expenses as possible on rewards credit cards in order to maximize the number of points that you can earn for the money you're going to be spending anyway. But we all know that there are certain expenses that don't offer the option of making payment by credit card. There are also other expenses that you can put on a credit card, but you have to pay a processing fee in order to do so. 

Now I have some opinionated ideas about when it makes sense to use rewards cards to pay for expenses even when you do have to pay a fee in order to do that, but that's not exactly what we're going to be diving in on today's episode. What we are going to be taking a closer look at is one particular method that may enable you to use a rewards credit card to pay for an expense that doesn't look like one that accepts credit cards to begin with or how to potentially circumvent getting charged a processing fee in order to use your rewards credit card for certain expenses

The method that we are going to be diving into today specifically is PayPal Bill Pay. Now if you are not familiar with PayPal Bill Pay you are about to learn so much about it. But one thing for you to know right off the bat is that this is one of the more shall we say quirky methods in terms of earning points. You'll understand what I mean by that as I get into the details with my guest today. Because this is not an episode where I'm just going to talk at you about PayPal Bill Pay. 

Instead, I have invited a guest here who has become an expert on the ins and outs of leveraging PayPal Bill Pay to earn points. She is going to educate all of us on this powerful but often overlooked way to earn points for certain expenses. So I would love to welcome Dr. Sujatha Murali to the podcast today. Sujatha, thank you so much for joining me. It's such a pleasure to have you here.

Dr. Murali: Thank you so much for having me. 

Devon: Absolutely. So why don't you just briefly introduce yourself before we dive into talking about the topic of the day?

Dr. Murali: I am a full time physician in Southern California. My husband's a physician as well. We have an elementary school aged daughter. So we learned very quickly that flexibility was not our strong suit. I grew up with two physician parents in the New York City area. I was very lucky in that they actually traveled extensively when we were kids. This was their break from work. They really kind of instilled in us from a very early age that travel was an incredibly important part of your education.

Into adulthood the other thing that we, my brother and I, kind of learned from an early age was to pay your credit cards off every month. They always would say this because I remember so clearly that you never put something on a credit card that you cannot pay off at the end of the month. So I think our love for travel as well as kind of having good financial sense was sort of instilled in us at a very early age and really allowed us to kind of take advantage of the privileges that we have right now.

Devon: Yeah, so really sounds like you're in just an amazing position to then leverage when you kind of came out on the other side of all the education and the training and started having expenses to really turn those into some powerful points earning opportunities. I know that you have tremendous experience in this one specific method of earning points, and that is PayPal Bill Pay. 

But I have a feeling that a lot of people listening probably have never even heard of PayPal Bill Pay before or don't really have a strong understanding of what it is. So can you just start off by describing to us what exactly is PayPal Bill Pay? What is the big deal about it?

Dr. Murali: Yeah, so I think all of us are familiar with regular old PayPal for various things. When we check out an online store, we see a little button. Do you want to pay through PayPal? So at least most of us have some familiarity with seeing this button as a potential payment source. We've paid friends or contractors through it. 

But there's a very unique feature in PayPal called Bill Pay. This is specifically for our regular everyday routine bills that you would otherwise either you as an ACH bank transfer for or write a physical check. So this basically allows for fee free payments on credit cards for these routine bills. Some of these bills for us are tremendously high. 

For instance, most of us physicians have huge amounts of insurance bills. Disability insurance, life insurance, things like that. These are several $1,000 a year. Most of us also have car insurance and health insurance and all sorts of other things. So these kind of very boring mundane bills that we normally just write a check and put it in the mail or send for a bank account, we can absolutely leverage these into point earning opportunities. 

The biggest benefit here is that it's fee free. So as you mentioned in the introduction, most vendors do allow credit cards today, but it's a pretty hefty fee. Unless there's a significant sub that you're trying to reach, not an ideal scenario for most of us. So PayPal Bill Pay really kind of takes that fee out of the equation and lets us kind of exploit just paying these bills to sort of generate points.

Devon: Yeah, and so just to reiterate that concept, because this was something that when I first learned about PayPal Bill Pay was a little bit hard for me to wrap my brain around was that you are still paying a certain bill. It's just a different method of actually submitting your payment. So that, like you said, there are some vendors or some merchants where you receive a paper statement in the mail or maybe you have an online account. In order to pay your statement, the only way sometimes that some vendors even accept payment is through non credit card methods. 

So I think PayPal Bill Pay has two really big uses. Number one, there are some vendors or merchants that if you're trying to pay your bill directly, there is no option to even use a credit card, right? You have to mail in a paper check or, like you said, do a direct bank transfer. So they don't have the option for you to pay using a credit card. 

Or the second scenario where I think PayPal Bill Pay really offers a huge advantage is the one that you were talking about where the vendor or the merchant itself may accept a credit card, but they're going to charge you a processing fee in order for you to use your credit card for payment. 

But if that merchant or vendor is actually hosted on the PayPal Bill Pay site, you can still submit your payment except this time through PayPal Bill Pay there is no additional fee. For those of you who are really paying attention to the number of points you're earning and the value that you're getting out of your points to be able to avoid a 1%, a 2%, a 2.9% fee, and be able to earn points for a certain expense completely fee free. You already know how powerful that is

So Sujatha, you mentioned a couple of examples of expenses or bills that you can actually pay through PayPal Bill Pay. I'm just curious if you can tell me from your own personal experience what have you used this platform in order to be able to pay so that you can earn points?

Dr. Murali: Yeah, so there are literally thousands of merchants and vendors on there. We pay routinely our monthly utilities, monthly water bill, insurance, and various are all sorts of insurance. We recently paid our car registration through the California DMV through PayPal. HOA fees are in there for a lot of HOA companies. 

The big one that I think we are able to really utilize in Southern California in my county is property tax. We live in one of the most expensive counties probably in the country. There is a good five figure property tax payment due every year that actually, our county is on there. We get a large sub credit card, like a business platinum, specifically for that payment with no credit limit. So we know that fee is going to be able to go through. With one payment, we're able to meet that sub. 

Devon: Yeah, so I want you all to just kind of take a step back and let all of that sink in. Because if you've been in this hobby for a little while, you probably already have kind of a sense of your categories of expenses and the things that fall into the kind of big can pay using credit card bucket and then you probably have a couple of expenses that fall into the cannot pay using credit card bucket. 

I think one of the things that PayPal Bill Pay does is really affords you the opportunity to reevaluate those two buckets. That there may be things that so far you have been paying only by bank transfer, only by cheque because you've assumed there was no way for you to pay using credit card, or you didn't want to incur a fee in order to use a credit card to pay those things. But by going through PayPal Bill Pay, you may actually have the availability to pay so many more expenses than you originally thought using a credit card. 

So just listing off, again, some of those main categories of expenses, how many of us are paying insurance premiums. Like you said that's a whole range of things, right? Home insurance, auto insurance, disability insurance, life insurance. When you add up the cost of those altogether, if you're able to earn points for those expenses, for a lot of us, that's not an insignificant amount.

You also mentioned a lot of utility. So thinking about gas bills, electric bills. If you happen to be someone who lives in an area where the county or the division of government that you have to pay your property taxes to, I know for so many of us, that is a huge expense

So these things that maybe so far, even if you are very aware of points, if you've already kind of written off as not being points earning opportunities, I hope that you hear that you might actually be able to reconsider that by leveraging PayPal Bill Pay. 

Now one of the other categories of things that I have seen just searching through PayPal Bill Pay that I have not personally tested, and we're going to get to the importance of this idea of testing what you do find things that are on PayPal Bill Pay. But one big category of vendor or merchant that I have seen on PayPal Bill Pay that, again, I have not personally tested is that actually some universities are found on PayPal Bill Pay

So I'm thinking about those of you who have older children who are currently attending a university who have tuition payments or maybe you are paying for housing at a certain university. Some university health care systems I have found on PayPal Bill Pay. So it is theoretically possible that if a certain merchant or vendor that you have to pay money to is supported on PayPal Bill Pay, that, again, you are able not only to use a credit card to make that payment, but sometimes you're able to completely circumvent the processing fee to do so. 

So I was just doing this out of pure curiosity. My children are four and seven. So our tuition woes have nothing to do yet with university. But I was just searching through there, and I just randomly was typing into some schools that I know the names of, that I recognize the names of. I happened to type in UC Berkeley. That's where I went to undergrad. 

UC Berkeley Regents, which is who at least 30 years ago, I had to pay all of my tuition payments to UC Berkeley Regents is supported on PayPal Bill Pay. I found some other major colleges and universities on there as well. So for those of you listening who are making tuition payments, it may be worthwhile to go on to PayPal Bill Pay and to see if some of these institutions are supported. 

Now, we're going to talk about why I was making a reference to the importance of sometimes testing because what you see is not always what you get on PayPal Bill Pay. So let's kind of dive into that right now. Sujatha. If someone wants to go on PayPal Bill Pay and see if they're able to pay a certain insurance payment on there or a certain property tax payment on there, can you give us just like a step by step tutorial? What does it actually mean to go on PayPal Bill Pay and try to find a vendor or pay a bill using that platform?

Dr. Murali: This is the tedious minutia of PayPal Bill Pay. So the I think the first thing seems extremely obvious but actually is not obvious at all is that this is not regular PayPal. Like you would not sort of log into your PayPal account and hit the send money button. This is an entirely different section of the website. So the very first most important thing you need to do is to find the section that says pay bills

On the app, I believe it just says bills. It’s a little bit abbreviated. PayPal has as soon as you log in there's about five little icons that are your most used icons. So if you've never used Bill Pay before, you're not going to find it on there. You've got to click the little three dots to expand that menu. Once you click on Bill Pay and open it up, the next time you open up PayPal, it should be on those little most used icons section of the website. So that I think is very, very important. You do not want to use the regular old send money button. You want to go into the Bill Pay section. 

The next step is really just to click add a bill. I think logistically the user interface is extremely user friendly. I think PayPal has done a great job with that. So you would basically click add a bill, and you would search for your merchant. So using San Diego County Treasury, for instance, you would just type in San Diego tax or register, and you'll have a whole list of things that come up. We know our property tax comes from the San Diego Tax Assessor. So we click on tax assessor.

This next step involving putting in the account number is by far, by far, the most frustrating part of this process because things, if your insurance is through Providence Insurance, for instance, you're going to have seven or eight different things that you can click not knowing which one of these is going to have your account in it. 

So before you start all this, definitely have your account numbers or your bill, some sort of account number readily available. You may have to click on every one of those seven Providence Insurance sections to see which one is actually yours. How do you know? You go in and you input your account number. Half the time it will be rejected, but then that one time it'll be accepted. That means that that is your vendor that is providing you the insurance where you send the bill. 

The other little quirky part of this is sometimes your account number is right, your vendor is right, but it is not accepting it. The way to bypass this is if your account number has dashes, remove the dashes. Try it without any dashes. If your account number doesn't have dashes, but if you go back and maybe one account number four years ago on a bill had dashes, try that. I don't get too much into the weeds with this. If I cannot get the account number to work after one or two tries, Reddit is your friend. 

So I literally Google PayPal Bill Pay San Diego Property Tax Reddit, and somebody somewhere has figured out how to put in the account number. In fact, this was actually incredibly helpful for my car registration because I no longer get a bill in the house. My husband doesn't either without checking Bill Pay. It is literally our first step. Nothing gets paid without checking PayPal. 

So I was like oh, we have a several hundred dollar car registration. Let me check. Lo and behold, California DMV is there. I have no idea what my account number is for the DMV. So I searched on Reddit, it's your license plate number. Within two seconds, I figured out that it was our license plate number. So now that's saved in your PayPal Bill Pay account. So you just have to try to figure this out once. 

Like I said, this is the tedious part of this. For things like our $50 utility bill, luckily it worked the first time. I was not going to spend hours trying to get that to work out. But for sure things like property tax. If I can't get it the first time, or large insurance payments, I do think it's worth the return on investment to really kind of try to figure out if that account isn't working. So Reddit has been my friend with this. There have been some very generous people who have said hey, if this doesn't work, try this. Lo and behold, it works. So that's worked out well. 

Devon: All right, so it sounds like kind of the first limiting reagent, like the first thing that we kind of have to get past is just figuring out whether or not the vendor that we're trying to pay is even supported on PayPal Bill Pay because this is not a completely exhaustive, expansive system. So just because some counties property tax divisions are supported on PayPal Bill Pay, it doesn't mean that every single property tax division is.

So one of the things that I think this all depends on your perspective. This is why I really wanted to do this episode to highlight this because this is a little bit of a more advanced points earning strategy. I would generally not recommend that someone who's brand new to points start out trying to pay a bunch of their bills on PayPal Bill Pay. 

I think that once you kind of have the basics under your belt, and you're having a bit of time and energy to get creative with expanding your ability to earn points, that's where PayPal Bill Pay comes in. Because it does require, as you've heard, some creativity and some experimentation. When I think about all the different methods to earn points in terms of the ease of earning points, being very low energy or being very low time intensive, I personally would not ring PayPal Bill Pay as the easiest, least time intensive method to earn points

So we want to be transparent about that. Because one of my kind of philosophies about this whole points thing is that there's so many different ways to earn points, and there's so many different ways to use them. So it means that one way is not going to be right for everybody. What we get to do as individual people is learn all these different ways and then evaluate for ourselves wow, does this actually sound interesting and useful to me? Or does this sound like something that's going to make me want to stab my eyeballs out? Maybe I'm going to take a pass on this one.

I think that PayPal Bill Pay really walks that line of potentially tremendously beneficial, and equally potentially maddening. So you really have to be willing to say hey, I want to try this out, or hey, this doesn't seem like it's going to be that useful for me. So we're trying, again, to be very transparent about what does it take to really leverage this platform. One of those initial things is you do have to be creative and be willing to experiment with vendor names. 

Again you may have to type in a couple different guesses in terms of your utility company just to see what gets pulled up on the platform. You do have to be creative and experiment sometimes with account numbers, just like Sujatha was saying. Maybe you have too little eliminate some dashes. Maybe you have to make sure that if there are letters in an account number that they're all capitalized. These are the types of things you have to be willing to experiment with.

So if you do want to go in and play around with this method of earning points, just make sure that you're not doing it when you only have like two minutes to spare. This is maybe something that you want to give yourself a little bit of time to play around with him. Don't go in there trying to pay a bill that's due the next day. I think that would be another one of my recommendations. Make sure that you're giving yourself some time to be able to get used to this platform. 

So let's say we've gotten to that point where we go on the platform, whatever vendor we're trying to pay, we're successful in actually locating it. It is supported on the platform. We figure out how to enter in our account number. It gets accepted. We make it to the screen where then it says how do you actually want to pay this bill? Talk me through what some of the options are. How can we actually make choices that allow us to maximize the number of points then that we can earn for these individual payments?

Dr. Murali: Yeah, that's great. So this is also, once again, I think falls into the category of quirkiness with PayPal, and this is a pitfall I have fallen into. So PayPal is a wallet, as we all know, where you can store your bank account, your PayPal balance, and a whole bunch of credit cards, right. So really three different types of payment potentials in your PayPal account. I have found that PayPal will routinely pick the one payment method you don't want if it's in your wallet. I wish I could be more diplomatic about that. 

But what is absolutely crucial for this, and especially for a high volume bill like property tax where you absolutely have to make sure something like this goes through, you need to remove every single other payment possibility from the PayPal account. So from your wallet. So you literally need to have a blank wallet. I have no PayPal money. I have no bank account is attached to it when it's time for me to pay big bill

Strategically, like I said, we often plan on opening up credit cards specifically for large bills like this for the sub, I have one card that goes in there, and one payment for that credit card. So there is absolutely no risk that it is going to be pulling this payment from my bank account. This is pretty important. This works great. This works great. 

The other thing that is also an incredibly crucial part of this process is pay early. These are systems that really kind of do what they want to do. We don't do five, six days. We do weeks. So we paid our property tax last night. It's due November 1. We are extremely meticulous about record keeping. My husband does sort of the day to day finances in our house, and every bill that goes out either through Bill Pay or whatever he is constantly checking the actual merchant account to make sure it posted. So that is also very important. 

You send this bill off into the ether through PayPal, you better be checking that it posted. I luckily have not had any issues whatsoever for probably the hundreds of bills I've paid this way. But I still do it, we still do it. We double check until that bill is posted just to make sure something that one time did not go wrong.

Devon: Yeah, I think that is such great advice. Again, I think this is where kind of knowing yourself and where your patience level is, where your risk tolerance level is, and not trying to use this payment platform, again, if you're someone who doesn't want to have to plan a little bit in advance, doesn't want to have to keep track of making sure and confirming that a payment was received. Not everybody wants to do that. Right? That's completely fine. 

But know that that, I think, is a very important part of leveraging this Bill Pay platform is being willing to do those things like paying a bill with way enough lag time and being able to follow up in the case that it was not received that you are not then in a position where you're actually then late for a bill that's really important to pay. So please take those things into consideration. Learn from the expertise of Sujatha who has done this many times. Just use that to evaluate whether or not there are bills that you want to pay using this method.

Dr. Murali: I'll also mention there's no autopay, which is a huge, huge bonus for most people, right. They set it and forget it. They don't want to deal with it. I'm okay dealing with it. So every month my husband and I kind of tend to do the PayPal stuff. The bills come in. I have no problem spending 30 minutes with a podcast on inputting these every month. You have to evaluate whether that time is worth it for you. 

We find that it is. We really like the return on this kind of investment, but you have to have the personality, the patience, and meticulous record keeping for this to actually work. So that's also very important. I think not having autopay has been a kind of a point of contention for a lot of people trying this. 

Devon: Yeah, I agree. I think it's so great to bring that up and highlight that as a potential but significant drawback of utilizing this method to pay bills. Again, just so people can make the best informed decisions for themselves about whether or not this is a payment method that they want to utilize.

Because you've touched on one of those main drawbacks of using PayPal Bill Pay, I think now's a good time just to talk about some of the other main drawbacks of using this. Some of the ones that I can think of, and then you can add in any other if I miss any others, is that PayPal Bill Pay cannot be used for person to person payments. 

So I know that there are things that, again, we're all kind of constantly wondering how can I leverage a credit card to earn points for a certain expense. If I Venmo someone for my kid’s piano lesson, or if I have to pay a friend back because they're the ones who made a purchase, and we're splitting it. PayPal Bill Pay will not support points earning for person to person payments. So that's one thing that you can just go ahead and cross off the list. Unfortunately, that's not going to be something that's possible to do using this platform

Similarly, you cannot just go into PayPal Bill Pay individually add a business or a merchant if they're not already listed. So another common thing that I think people wonder about is if I am hiring a small business, like an independent contractor or someone, to do a specific project for my business or for my home, and I can pay them through PayPal. Can I personally add them to PayPal Bill Pay so that I can use a credit card? You can't.

So PayPal Bill Pay has already populated the platform with the vendors and the merchants that are supported. There's no way, at least that I know of, there's no option where you can go in and say hey, I want to add my plumber, or I want to add a building contractor for a build out to pay them that way. So this is why that one step of being willing to experiment with doing the searches initially is really helpful. 

Because if you cannot track down a particular business or merchant on PayPal Bill Pay, right now that just means then there's going to be no way to really utilize this platform to make that payment. But after hearing my touching on some of those drawbacks, Sujatha are there any major drawbacks that you can think of about PayPal Bill Pay that's important to mention that I didn't bring up?

Dr. Murali: The other thing I will say is you will not find mortgage companies on there with rare exceptions. So I have heard of some very small credit unions being on there. But if you have your mortgage with any sort of bank, FinTech, anything like that, it is nearly impossible, at least right now, to pay debt with debt. So you're not going to be able to do things like mortgage payments. I think car loans are also very, very, very difficult to find.

The people that are able to do this almost specifically take out their loans at places that allow this. That is their priority is I am not going to take out my mortgage with you unless you let me use a credit card. So that's their line in the sand. Some very small credit unions do allow it.

Looking a little bit at the silver lining, at least for the autopay, one of the things that kind of takes the edge off not having autopay is I get to pick what card to use every month for it. So if that's a month where I need to meet a sub, or is that a month where I could potentially use a Visa gift card. You're just not automatically. I'm able to kind of play around a little bit with the points yield depending on what I'm kind of working on.

So obviously the choice of vendors, it may not be there. There is a good investment in time in the beginning once you set up your bills. The way I approach this was I basically sat down for the year and looked at our bank statements. This took an hour. This took hour and a half. I went through every single ACH bank draft that we were giving out for any bill for that year. There was like 25. I mean, it was unbelievably high number

Then a Saturday morning, I sat down and literally tried to put our account numbers in. It worked. 80% of them were on there, which was incredible. The other nice thing is it's easy to track. PayPal gives you like a nice this was the card you use last month, and this is how much you paid on it. So you have a running tally. But once again, I can't emphasize enough you do need to go back to the merchant website and make sure that posted. That's just something we would not compromise on using this method.

Devon: Absolutely. So we've touched on this a little bit, but I think let's expand on this point because this is, I think, really the reason why we're talking about this is how do we put ourselves in a position to best earn as many points as possible for these expenses? You had mentioned strategically kind of one of the things that you think about is knowing what these expenses are and knowing when you're going to be paying them.

Sometimes you use this as a really great reason to strategize signing up for a new credit card knowing that you can use the insurance payment or the property tax payment on PayPal Bill Pay in order to meet the minimum spend requirement to earn the welcome bonus on a new credit card. So certainly that is one strategy where once you can actually pay these bills through PayPal Bill Pay to get a new credit card and leverage that payment or that expense in order to earn one or more new welcome bonuses. 

But let's say that somebody is in the position where they actually are fine with the credit cards they have. There's no new rewards card that they want to sign up for, for whatever reason. They want to just use a card that's already in their credit card portfolio. For that person what are your recommendations or suggestions about how do we prioritize which credit card we want to choose to then make one of these payments?

Dr. Murali: So that's a great question. I definitely have a stratified list of the order that I go down. I mean, it's sort of in my head. I kind of know month by month what I need to work on. I should say the caveat here is my approach is not for everyone because I utilize fee free gift cards from Staples and Office Depot with my Ink Cash. I use them extensively for this. That, I think, is probably a whole other show. That's like a whole other fellowship after residency. 

I think the easiest way is to hopefully if you're listening to this podcast and follow the Facebook group, you kind of have an idea that some cards are only going to give one plus for every, one times for every day span. You may have a Freedom card that gives you one and a half, and then you may have a Venture X or Blue Business Plus that gives you 2x. Pick the highest category. Very simple. If you don't want to fool around with gift cards and subs and all that, this should be your strategy for everything. 

I mean if you have anything that's not going to sort of fall into a grocery or dining or gas or sort of be obvious multipliers, you use your card with the highest multiplier for everyday spend. That's pretty simple. Actually, you can store that card in your PayPal wallet. That could be your “PayPal Bill Pay” card. But Blue Business Plus is fantastic for this. It's every bill you have can get 2x and up to 50,000 a year and really easy to do.

Devon: Yeah, absolutely. I have a very similar approach as well. I actually don't sign up for new rewards cards all that often. I'd say the vast majority of my time personally, I'm really just leveraging the cards that just sit in my wallet that are my tried and true sort of workhorses in terms of earning points. CERTAINLY, I think for something like this, if you do not have a new card where you're working on earning the welcome bonus, to me then yeah, the next sort of option in priority is thinking what card do I hold that just going to give me the biggest return on what is likely to be considered non-category or non-bonus spend?

There are a handful of really great cards, like you mentioned, that offer one and a half or two times points for all non-bonus or non-category spend. So I think if you happen to hold one of those cards, that's probably a really good option to use for PayPal Bill Pay. 

To me sort of the next category, depending, again, on someone's personal priorities and values when it comes to travel is if you happen to have an airline or hotel cobranded card that rewards you for putting spend on that card to help you earn higher levels of status, and it's a program that you actually value.

I'm not talking about just going out and using a random airline credit card where you don't really fly them. You don't care about status. But I know that some of us do have one particular hotel loyalty program or one particular airline where status in that program really matters to us. We can help ourselves get to higher levels of status in a program with spend. I think using especially some of these larger expenses, this can be a good time to pull out one of those cards very strategically to help you earn your way towards status.

Now, one of the things that we haven't touched on yet that at least in my doing research on this and kind of reading anecdotal accounts and reading other people's experiences with, again, the quirkiness of PayPal Bill Pay. One thing that I've seen come up that I'm hoping you can offer us some tips around is this situation of cash advances. 

Because one of the things that we know is that pretty much every rewards credit card has like an exclusion clause that if something gets coded as a cash advance when you make a purchase on your credit card that you actually then will not be eligible to earn points for anything that gets qualified as a cash advance by the card, which, of course, would defeat the entire purpose of are trying to use a credit card to make a payment through PayPal Bill Pay. 

So I'm wondering if you can just speak a little bit about some tips or recommendations that that we can think about before we go ahead and submit a payment if there are any to where we can really protect ourselves against perhaps the card that we choose to make our payment through PayPal Bill Pay accidentally coding as a cash advance,

Dr. Murali: Yeah, so that's is a great point. I've also seen this come up. I have to say I have never once had this become a problem. Now, of course, that's my anecdotal experience. There are absolutely data points out there of this happening to people. 

So if this is truly something that you're worried about, all you need to do is to either chat with Amex on your account, or call Chase or secure message. I don't know if secure message will work on Chase for this. But you just need to let them know please set my cash advance to zero. It takes 30 seconds. That particular card or any card you want to use, if your cash advance is set to zero, PayPal cannot code that as a cash advance.

But like I said, I will say after hundreds of payments through here, not even a single time have I had this issue come up. I have not, I should probably do it, but I have not routinely set my cash advances to zero. So I probably do have higher than zero cash advances on my Chase cards.

Devon: Yeah, so this is something that you can consider doing just in preparation so that you don't accidentally find out on the back end that a payment that you made on your credit card that you think is going to qualify to earn you a lot of points accidentally got coded as a cash advance. So thank you so much for giving us these tips. 

I think this is a platform, again, that the more you can come into playing around with PayPal Bill Pay armed with knowledge about what to expect and how to kind of navigate some of the quirkiness of this system, the better off people are. But as you've heard us talk about on today's podcast episode, this is really not intended to be something that is going to add a lot of aggravation to your life. 

So if listening to this podcast has already made you start to sweat like anything that we've been talking about, you've been thinking oh my God. That sounds like an awful lot of work. Or oh my gosh, that actually sounds horrific to me. That's a good indication that maybe now's not the time for you to experiment with PayPal Bill Pay. 

But for those of you who are feeling really confident with some of your other points, earning methods so far. You're really comfortable using the rewards cards that you have. You're always interested in learning additional avenues where you can earn points. I think PayPal Bill Pay really does offer some amazing opportunities to capture points for expenses that right now, you may not be able to utilize a credit card for whatsoever. 

So I do encourage people to give this some thought and be open to the idea of exploring PayPal Bill Pay without committing yourself to necessarily having to use it. What are your kind of final tips or pieces of advice that you can offer to everyone, Sujatha, before we wrap up today?

Dr. Murali: Yep. So first is don't forget that PayPal is the fourth quarter 5x on the Freedom Flex and original Freedom. So you get $1,500 per card. Extremely easy to max out. So one of my favorite quarters of the year is the PayPal quarter just in time for the holidays.

This is truly an issue of knowing your limits and knowing how much you're willing to put up with. Everyone has different gauges for that. I'll call out my poor husband for a second. He is an amazing, amazing P2. None of this is possible without him. But his patience for things like inputting credit cards and account numbers is not high

So we know that. He does not have to do it. I find it a little bit fun. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Which way is this going to work? I get a huge amount of satisfaction when it finally goes through. So I'm fully willing to put up with the torture. This is supposed to be fun. I mean, at the end of the day, the whole point of accruing these points is to have great trips and great experiences. 

Luckily, this is not like our life and death day jobs. This is something that you can easily push to the wayside if you don't feel after a few minutes of tinkering with it, that it is not for you. There are many, many, many, many other ways that are not going to be as frustrating as something like this.

Devon: Absolutely. So for those of you who have been listening to this episode and your thought about it is wow, that sounds like a really fun jigsaw puzzle for me to solve. Then I really encourage you to just take your time, like I said, go on PayPal Bill Pay. Start exploring what vendors are on there. I love the approach, Sujatha, that you had where you just pulled out your year of statements and just started looking at anything that required an ACH transfer or straight bank payment. Go ahead and start searching is that even there on PayPal?

So if, on the other hand, this all feels like it's just a little bit over your head for now, that is completely fine. The great thing about these podcast episodes is that they're not going anywhere. So you can save this one, bookmark it. Maybe you want to come back to it in six months or a year when you feel like you've gotten the foundations of points earning under you. You can always pick and choose what are the points learning methods that make the most sense for you based on your particular expenses, and, again, your particular temperament. 

We don't all want to do the same things in order to earn points, but I hope that this episode has given you a little bit of a glimmer comes into one points or any method that can be incredibly powerful. So I hope that you at least give it a consideration. Give it a chance and just remember to bring along your time and a little bit of patience if you are going to start playing around on PayPal Bill Pay for the first time. 

Sujatha thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for sharing all of your expertise. I have learned so much from you personally, and I really appreciate you sharing all of your words of wisdom with the podcast audience today.

Dr. Murali: Thank you so much for having me. It was so fun. 

Devon: Absolutely. All right everybody, have an amazing week, and I will see you back here again next week. 

Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of Point Me to First Class. If you want more tips on turning your expenses into travel, visit pointmetofirstclass.com to learn more. See you next week.

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