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UPDATE 1/26/15: A few readers have reported that their PayPal Business Debit Cards no longer work with Evolve Money. Indeed, when I deleted the card and went to re-add it, I got this error message:
Apparently other users that added the card previous have been grandfathered in, but new users are not able to add the PayPal card as a new payment method. Major bummer. I have updated posted to reflect this. RadPad is still working great though!
UPDATE 2: Just got this email from Evolve Money:
I’m going to dub February “Manufactured Spend Month” for Out and Out.
I still have the intention to make that data point about the REDbird (see link above), and I’ve been eyeballs deep in FT/Milepoint convos about it the past few days. All signs point to: it should work. I’ve been nervous about killing my Serve card only to find that it can’t be loaded in NYC – which is already kind of a barren wasteland for MS to begin with. If the Target in Brooklyn doesn’t let me load REDbird, the next closest Target is in Harlem, which is a bit far for me. But, positive vibes.
With the Serve card, I can reload $1,000 per month from my computer or phone without leaving home. With REDbird, I’d have to make at least two in-store visits per month. But I can reload 5 times more per month. And I won’t have to worry about cash advance fees, which means I am free to use any card I want (although I’ve heard US Bank is beasting about the reloads and flagging them all as fraud.)
With all of this in mind, and with all the other work I have going on, I have decided to make my data point in February and get one more round of loading out of the Serve card before I kill it. Hence February being declared MS Month.
Anyway, aside from REDbird, I started adding up the ingredients for an addendum to the madness. It could be another way to run an additional $4,000 of MS through credit cards and a great way to pay rent, student loans, and everyday bills, or to load Serve or REDbird.
In This Post
Stop! HT time.
Before I get any further, I have to stop and do some HTs:
- I found out about the PayPal business debit card from Travel With Grant.
- I found out about the PayPal My Cash cards from The Miles Professor (initially in person).
- I found out about RadPad from Doctor of Credit.
Finally, I thought I had coined the term “Perpetual Points Machine” (PPM). No. That would be Frequent Miler, who began using the term as early as 2011. It’s one of those terms that you read once or twice and it just gets stuck in your head. FM has lots and lot of great stuff about manufacturing spend, and I’m not surprised he is original user of this phrase.
PayPal My Cash Cards
To begin, you need a PayPal account to begin with any of this (duh). Furthermore, you need a Premier or Business PayPal account to get the business debit card (more on that in a sec).
You can load these cards up to $500 bucks. It’s just like Vanilla Reloads in nearly every regard. Same fee to purchase, you load ’em up, then liquidate the cash. You can get them at CVS and Rite Aid and… I think I saw one at Duane Reade here in Brooklyn last night. I think.
PayPal has limits on these cards to load accounts: $500 a day and $4,000 per rolling 30-day period.
NOT calendar month. Update 1/20: It is now based on calendar month NOT a rolling 30 days. Easier to manage, IMO.
There is a $3.95 activation fee per card. Here is a link to the FAQs just in case I missed anything pertinent.
When you unload the My Cash card, it goes directly toward your PayPal balance.
OK, on to the next step.
PayPal Business Debit MasterCard
You gotta make sure it’s the business debit card, not the regular one.
To be eligible, you must have a Premier or Business PayPal account. I guess I had a Premier account and didn’t even know it. You can upgrade your account my exploring the “My Account” options near the bottom of the page. The fees are the same regardless of what kind of account you have, so you might as well go for it.
Here is the link to the debit card you want.
Signing up was super simple. I logged into PayPal, entered in my SSN, and pressed submit. BAM!
It spit out an approval and account number in under 2 seconds.
And then the email came:
And then it showed up in my PayPal account home page:
All very seamless.
Why get these reload cards and this debit card? What’s the end result here?
You can buy the My Cash cards at CVS with a credit card. It’s case-by-case, but many people are reporting success with buying them using credit cards (just like Vanilla Reloads).
- The business debit card offers 1% cash back on all non-PIN purchases
- The 1% cashback works with RadPad for rent payments FOR SURE
- The 1% works with Evolve Money for payments to student loan companies, mortgages, electric bills, and all their other merchants but this is very YMMV. If the cashback doesn’t post, an email to PayPal is usually enough to get the cash credited to your account from what I understand
This is another data point I am keen to make in MS Month in February.
RadPad is a new service that lets you pay your rent for free with a debit card.
You simply add your landlord, and pay using the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard. Then, 1% cash back posts to your PayPal account. The Radpad FAQ actually mentions specifically that this will work.
This service is similar to WilliamPaid, same idea and concept, except that site charges 2.95% as a fee to use the service. No bueno.
Evolve Money is basically a bill pay site. They have a lot of merchants on there and are adding more every day. You shouldn’t have any problems paying with the business debit card. It is, after all, a debit card.
I’ve written about Evolve Money before, and I use them from time to time to liquidate Visa debit gift cards. However, this new angle may make it all worth it, especially when you factor in the 1% cash back.
Even if the 1% doesn’t post as it should, this is another way to pay your bills with a credit card, albeit in a roundabout way. BUT, don’t be discouraged, I think it’s an issue with the coding, and people have reported that PayPal ends up crediting the 1% back in the end. It just might take a quick email to customer service.
You can also get one of those GreenDot MoneyPak cards and load it to your PayPal account. If CVS or Rite Aid gives you any issue about paying with a credit card, you can always try that. (Pardon me if this is not at all helpful; I’ve never known a use for the “green cards.”)
In the image above, you can see a link for adding the GreenDot MoneyPak cards. In addition, there is an option to transfer money in from another bank… maybe from REDbird?
The other option would be to transfer money to REDbird, but PayPal is notorious for shutting down accounts that just load up and withdraw. For money consolidation purposes, I’d recommend moving money into PayPal and using the business debit card as the means of liquidation. Since it’s a debit card, you can pay bills using RadPad or Evolve Money. Don’t use it at an ATM: it charges $150 per withdrawal plus whatever fees the host ATM has.
Pro tip: Mix up the transactions a little so it’s not so obvious that you’re liquidating.
Another option would be to send money using PayPal (the most obvious option of all lol). If you can pay your roommate your part of the rent using PayPal, go for it. Or if your landlord accepts PayPal, awesome.
Can anyone else think of ways to get the money out once it’s in? Maybe pay your taxes with the business debit card?
So why all of this?
Let’s take a rent payment of $1,000 as an example.
That’ll run you 2 $500 PayPal My Cash cards for $3.95 each, or $7.90.
You’ll get 1% cash back from paying for free with RadPad (or bills on Evolve Money), or $10.
So, you profit $2.10. Not huge, but the bigger implication is:
You get credit card points FOR FREE.
And not only for free, but at a tiny profit.
This also means you can earn FREE points for paying your rent or everyday bills. Truly free.
Even if I only earn 1 point per dollar, that’s still up to 48,000 free points per year, which I personally value at $960.
Other card point payouts:
- If I use the Barclaycard Arrival, it’s 96,000 points, worth $1,056+ in travel credits.
- If I use the Club Carlson Visa, it’s 240,000 points – easily enough for a lot of Club Carlson stays.
- If I use the Amex EveryDay Preferred, I get 72,000 points (assuming I get 1.5 points per dollar by meeting the 30 transactions per month)
- If I use the Fidelity Amex, I get an extra $960 added to my IRA, which could turn into much more in 30+ years.
- If I use the Chase British Airways Visa, I get 60,000 Avios (at 1.25 points per dollar) PLUS the Companion Certificate for running over $30,000 through the card.
Combine this with the math I calculated by maxing out REDbird in a year and well, you’ll have a $*!# ton of points.
I do not think this replaces REDbird. Contrarily, I see it as a complement to REDbird, a #2, a sidekick.
Just like how REDbird offers FREE credit card loads, this option also offers precious points for no out-of-pocket cost. In fact, you even earn a little.
The only things I can point out that may be gaps in the armor are:
- PayPal is a finicky system and they’ve been known to shut down obvious load-up-and-withdraw accounts
- There is no guarantee the cashback works with Evolve, but I don’t view this as a dealbreaker necessarily
- Your local CVS or Rite Aid may not accept your credit card as payment
Basically, just use all the same precautions that you used when Vanilla Reloads were still a thing. Beyond that, you should be good to go. It certainly feels very low-risk.
The gift card rack at CVS will certainly be a walk down memory lane for me. I look forward to MS Month next month and to making new data points about all of this and sharing them here.
Of course, if anyone has an experience they’d like to share, please proceed to the comments section and let’s hash this thing out!
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