Using Credit Cards

How We Earned $2,000 in Credit Card Rewards Paying Off Our Mortgage

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Four or five years ago, my husband and I were on track to pay off our mortgage in around 15 months. Unfortunately (fortunately?), Greg had a career crisis that led to us moving to a different town and starting the entire mortgage process over.

It was no big deal because I was happy to support my husband and get a new start in a new town. Also, unbeknownst to us, our new home and neighborhood turned out to be more than we could have imagined and perfect for our lifestyle. While we only moved 40 minutes away from my hometown, I feel like I’m on another, better planet sometimes.

Years later, we still have the home we love in the perfect area…but we also achieved a pretty big goal. Although we bought this home in 2014 with a big down payment and a 15-year mortgage, I just made the final payment! And now, we’re finally 100 percent debt-free (other than one rental property mortgage that is covered by renters).

I should probably be more excited than I am — but, to be honest, the entire ordeal has been pretty anticlimactic. We didn’t have a mortgage burning party, and I’m pretty sure my parents are the only people who give a hoot.

Still, I’m proud — we are finally debt-free and will never get into debt again.

So, here’s my “debt-free scream” if you want it…

SQUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Why Did We Pay Off Our Mortgage?

With interest rates as low as they’ve been, you’re probably wondering why we paid off our home early. The answer is simple: We think debt is a curse.

To us, debt is nothing more than a ball and chain that shackles you to your responsibilities. When you’re in debt, you have to work hard to service those debts at the expense of your own desires and needs.

We paid off our home for the same reason we don’t have car payments. Even when money is “cheap” (i.e. you can get a new car loan for 0% APR), we prefer to make our lives as easy as possible. We also prefer to have as many options as possible, and life without debt is one where nearly any option is within reach.

If you’re worried about the math, don’t be. Our mortgage was at 3.75% APR, so we achieved a similar “return” on our money by avoiding interest payments for the rest of our lives. We also used “extra” money to pay off our home loan — we only paid off our mortgage because we max out our Solo 401(k) accounts and also invest in real estate.

Now that we’re debt-free, you may be wondering how our lives will change. The thing is, we don’t plan to do anything differently or alter our lifestyle in any way. We plan to stay here in our home forever and continue traveling the world. We’ll just have more money to save and invest every year.

We Earned $2,000 in Travel Rewards Paying Off Our Mortgage

Now, to the fun part. While paying off our home will save us money in the long run, we also earned around $2,000 in travel rewards in the process. We did this by paying off our home loan using Plastiq.com and the “fee-free dollars” you get when you refer people to the service.

In case you’ve never heard of it, Plastiq is a third-party payment system that lets you pay certain bills with a credit card. Many people use it to pay their mortgage or rent payments because these bills are typically hard to pay with credit, but you can use the service to pay any bill you want.

By paying bills like rent or your mortgage with a credit card, you can earn cash-back and travel rewards for each dollar you spend. But, there’s a catch; for normal transactions, Plastiq charges 2.5 percent. So, for every $1,000 in mortgage payments you make, there’s a $25 fee.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround. Plastiq offers $1,000 in “fee-free dollars” for every person you refer to the system who makes a $500 payment within a specific length of time. Referring people is how I was able to pay off my mortgage and earn $2,000 in travel rewards in the process.

As you can see, my lifetime earnings with Plastiq are equal to $227,000 in fee-free dollars. I earned that amount by referring 227 people to Plastiq.com. Over the past year, I’ve used Plastiq to pay around $113,000 in mortgage payments on my primary residence and on one of our rental properties. These payments were free for me because I used the fee-free dollars I earned through referrals.

I could theoretically pay other bills with this service, but I’m lazy and mortgage payments are so easy. Now that my house is paid off, I’ll continue to use the service to pay off the remaining mortgage I have on one of our rental properties. Our renters cover the expense, but I’ll just funnel their rent money through Plastiq.com to rack up rewards.

Get $500 “Fee-Free Dollars” with Plastiq – Want to earn credit card rewards by paying your bills? Get started with $500 fee-free dollars from Plastiq. Just use the link above and the referral code 671741 to get started!

Keep in mind that the card you use with this service makes a difference when it comes to the rewards you earn as well. I used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard to pay my mortgage off through Plastiq, mostly because it offers 2x points for each dollar you spend.

The points you earn with this credit card function as “flexible travel credit” you can use to cover any travel expenses like a hotel stay or airfare. While I had several different travel expenses coming up this could work for, I used my points to pay for the bulk of our Mediterranean cruise to Greece, Italy, Croatia, and Albania this summer.

Use the banner below to compare this card with some of our favorite rewards cards!

How to Use Plastiq.com to Pay Your Own Bills

Maybe you’re wondering if you should use Plastiq.com to pay your bills and rack up more rewards. The answer may be “yes,” but it’s important to remember that you do have to pay a 2.5% fee.

This fee equals out to $25 per $1,000 in bills you pay for the service, so it wouldn’t make sense to do this most of the time. Really, it only makes sense to use Plastiq.com to meet a minimum spending requirement so you can score a big signup bonus.

For example, let’s say you sign up for a new credit card that offers $500 in travel after you spend $4,000 in three months. If you used Plastiq.com to pay your mortgage for a few months so you could hit the $4,000 minimum spending requirement, you would pay $100 ($25 per $1,000) to use Plastiq but earn $500 in travel in return. Generally speaking, that’s a good deal.

Also remember that you can sign up for Plastiq.com and refer your friends to earn your own fee-free dollars. I have referred 227 people so far but it has taken me more than a year. Even if you don’t refer that many, every person you do refer is good for $1,000 in fee-free payments and some free rewards.

The Bottom Line

Now that my mortgage is dead and gone, I’m pretty excited about our future. We’re still in our 30’s, but we are planning a very early retirement. Having no mortgage is a big part of that plan.

No mortgage means having more freedom and more options when it comes to living life on our own terms. Earning travel rewards along the way was just icing on the cake.

Have you ever been able to pay your mortgage with a credit card? Are you paying your mortgage off early? Why or why not?

Join Plastiq Today! – Get $500 in fee-free dollars when you use our referral code 671741 to join Plastiq. Get started here!

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13 Comments

  1. Jacko Johnson says:

    How can I refer people if I don’t have a website with plastique ads on it that people click? Maybe I need to set up a website primarily for that purpose.

    1. You can refer people however you want – via email, social media, etc. I have seen a lot of people post their referral codes on social media!

  2. Congrats on paying off the mortgage, it certainly makes sense and it’s good to not be in debt as soon as possible. The site seems interesting and I will certainly have to check it out. Good post!

  3. Thanks for the write-up, Holly! I just signed up and I’m going to use it to earn rewards while paying down my student loans. Not a bad deal at all!

    1. Oh dear, what is that caps lock on my name? Ah well… maybe I’ll just say that’s what all the cool kids are doing with their names these days. 😛

  4. FYI the “Fee-Free Dollars” (FFD) are very misleading. They do not give you $500 towards fee as you’d think. Instead, they deduct the $500 from the amount your paying, excluding it from being charged a fee. So if your bill is >$500, the rest of it gets hit with the 2.5%. E.g You have a loan for $2500 you want to pay with Plastiq and $500 Fee free dollars available. They will STILL charge a fee on $2000 since the FFD was applied to $500.

    So yeah, not the best deal if you have a bunch of loans. This would have been better clarified but I feel Holly probably got good referrals and payments leaving it as is.

    1. I think it’s very clear. You get $500 in fee-free dollars. If you have $2,500 in bills to pay via Plastiq, you only get the fees waived on the first $500 of that bill. This is not that hard to understand.

  5. Thank you for posting your article. I have about 70k student debt and am planning on paying it all of with cash. I have 100k saved and think it would be wise to use it to get rid of the debt 70K … what would be the best route for me to pay this off by making some money/rewards while i pay for it? I don’t have the plastic referral “money of 70K” to avoid paying the 2.5% and can’t see getting 70 people to sign up on my referral. Any suggestion or other programs that would reward me for paying off the 70k debt in lump sum? Thanks

    1. Luke freeland says:

      I used the same strategy but with giftofcollege.com gift cards purchased with new credit cards to earn the sign-up bonuses. The problem I ran into was waiting to open enough personal credit cards over time to pay off my 60K in student loans so I eventually wrote a check to pay off the 40K balance. It takes 2-3 weeks to see the payment to post but they all did and buying $500 gift cards one at a time on the website is time consuming but not too bad.

  6. Many people might see your 3.75 % 15 year mortgage interest rate and think that rate is so low why would you pay that mortgage off early. Most people have never looked at a mortgage amortization schedule showing how much interest is paid compared to amount of principal in each of the 180 payments in a 15 year mortgage. The first 5 years are mostly interest. The middle 5 years start to pay more principal than interest but still pay a lot of interest. It’s only the last 5 of a 15 year mortgage where the amount of interest is very small . It’s a huge dollar amount of interest savings to pay off that mortgage early. Most banks like Chase will show you how much of at least your most recent payment goes to interest and how much goes to principal. Perhaps the idea of paying the whole mortgage amount off very early is too much for many. But paying whatever extra you can each month is so important. If you look at the savings you really can’t afford not to do it.

    1. Yeah, but the same people who would criticize mortgage prepayment are usually people who would never have the discipline to pay off their home early. They’re the kind of people who say things like, “you should invest that money for a higher return in the stock market instead!” while putting 5% in their retirement accounts and not really investing much themselves.

      I was happy with my 3.75% interest savings and I agree with you that it’s a huge amount of money over time! I also hate debt so I am just glad to be rid of it. Moving on, debt-free and proud!

      1. wendy Mcclean says:

        Hi Holly,
        I enjoy reading your posts.. I have a question concerning Plastiq. I need to pay an electrician $1900 for his work. I also need to meet minimum spending but I am hesitant to do it since it can take 2 weeks for him to receive payment. Is there anyway for him to get pay quicker?
        Wendy

        1. You can do electronic bank transfer with Plastiq if your contractor will give you his banking routing number and account number. I think that takes three business days.

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