How to earn points through Direct Debit for your utility bills – and a list of application forms to get you started

There are a number of ways to pay your bills and earn points, with the most common being BPAY and Direct Debit / automated Credit Card payment. Due to the fact that some banks are no longer offering points on BPAY spend, I thought it timely to cover off an alternative.

The main advantage of direct debit is that once you’ve filled in the form and sent it off, your bills are paid automatically, so there’s minimal chance of being late with a payment.

Given that, I thought it would be useful to round up a list of utility providers and their respective direct debit forms in case this helps you set up your direct debits.

Throughout this article, I use the term direct debit liberally to describe automated payment from a credit card.  Not all companies offer automated credit card payments.  Some companies refer to direct debit as only from a debit account, and use different terms for automated credit card payment.

TPG are one of these companies.  Their direct debit form only offers payment from a debit account, but you can still pay your TPG bill via an automated credit card (and points earning) system.  You just need to do it via a different form.

If your utility provider doesn’t seem to offer automated credit card payments, there’s no harm in asking.

There are other companies where automated payment from a credit card just isn’t possible, and to pay via credit card requires manual payment every billing cycle.  Yarra Valley Water in Melbourne is one of these companies.

As both Kellie and I noted in our case studies, as well as in the First Principles series, direct debit is a pretty big part of a good points strategy.

List of Utilities and their Direct Debit forms

Here’s the set of quick links to make it easier for you to get your direct debits happening. Even though we’re only covering the main utility providers at this stage, don’t forget that you can more than likely have direct debit set up for your insurances, as well as many other regular bills.

The links below will take you to either

  • A form that will need to be printed and posted
  • A form that will need to be filled out online and submitted
  • Instructions on how to change your payment method to an automated credit card system

Telecoms

Telstra

Optus

Vodafone (via login)

Virgin Mobile (via login)

Dodo (via login)

iinet (via login)

Internode

iPrimus

TPG (via login)

Gas, Electricity and other Utilities

AGL (via login)

Energy Australia

Ergon Energy

Lumo Energy

Origin Energy

Red Energy

More about paying your bills with your credit card using direct debit to earn points

The obvious downside to direct debit is lack of control. You have to know there’s enough available on your credit card for the payment to clear, and to trust that the institution will take the correct amount at billing time.

Note that not all cards earn points from BPAY payments, even at a reduced rate. In fact, many don’t. This is one of the areas of potential change this year.

In my case, I use an American Express card that gives me 1.5 points per dollar (ppd) on all spend. At the moment for me, that’s the NAB Platinum Amex.

A caveat – if you have an American Express-issued card, such as one in the Membership Rewards range your points earn will be reduced – they only usually offer 0.5 points per dollar for utility spend.

In the case of dual-card accounts, such as the ANZ Black and NAB Platinum American Express cards, these products will also come with either a Visa or Mastercard. Points earn on the Amex will be higher, whereas spend on the attached Visa or Mastercard will have a significantly lower reward rate (usually 0.5 or 0.75 ppd).

To offset this, I have another Mastercard (Jetstar) which pays out 1 ppd. This card is primarily only used when Amex isn’t accepted, or up to this point, for BPAY.

Why don’t I BPAY from my NAB American Express? Because I can’t. If I log into my internet banking site and pay bills via BPAY, I only get the rewards rate of the attached Visa or Mastercard NOT the American Express.

In other words- if I BPAY from my NAB Platinum account, I’ll only be getting 0.5 ppd, not 1.5. I have to do it from my Jetstar Card to get the most points earn, which is 1 ppd.

The difference with direct debit from a credit card is that it counts as normal spend, and some utilities and insurance companies may let you direct debit from an Amex at no extra cost, and receive the full Amex earn rate.

Even if they don’t allow Amex (such as Origin), then setting up direct debit can still be a great idea if your bank decides to no longer offer points on BPAY spend, as Macquarie have recently done.

There are a few utility companies (my water supplier is one) who don’t offer direct debit from a credit card.  For those, I either BPAY on the due date, or pay via Credit Card each billing cycle via their website.

Finally, another alternative could be to use Paypal for utilities that accept it, as Paypal now also can handle payments via American Express – and Paypal payments should earn you points on your Amex at the full earn rate.

Direct debit isn’t for everyone, and to be clear, there are no incentives at play here for Point Hacks to encourage you to switch – but it just could make points earning that little bit easier and faster.

How to earn points through Direct Debit for your utility bills – and a list of application forms to get you started was last modified: February 1st, 2017 by Sam Hemphill