A Possible Way to Earn Miles for Paying Off Your Credit Card or to Unload Gift Cards

Citibank’s collections department takes payment for credit card balances via debit card. That’s a rare feature, and can be extremely useful.

  • Call the number on the back of your card. However not all customer service agents that you get can do it, and not all know that Citi does it. They may tell you it isn’t possible. Hang up, call back. They may have to transfer you to a specialist or even to collections to process the payment.

  • You’ll generally be asked whether the name on the debit card is that same as on the credit card account, and also whether the address on the debit card matches as well. That’s a Citibank requirement for taking payment via debit.

  • They will only permit one payment per day this way.

Not all cards seem to work. Paypal appears not to work. Metabank products and Onevanilla Visa cards do not seem to work.

The reader who passed this tip along to me two weeks ago (who asked not to be named) told me that his MyVanilla Debit was put into ‘spend down’ mode after doing this (meaning he couldn’t load any more funds to it, and could only spend the money he already had on the card). Of course, one never knows if this specific transaction was what triggered them to shut down his card.

You can make, say, a $2500 payment with a JH Preferred card in order to get funds off of that card. It seems like these are being run as PIN transactions even though Citi doesn’t ask you for your PIN.

So it’s a way to unload the balances on some debit cards, if you have Citibank credit cards to pay off, without the trouble of buying money orders.

I’ve tested my Suntrust Delta debit card, and am waiting until my next statement closes to see whether I earn miles for the transaction.

Supposedly Capital One may accept debit cards for payment also, though I’m not sure why anyone would have spend on one of their products (except perhaps a Spark business card) to pay off.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] “A Possible Way to Earn Miles for Paying Off Your Credit Card or To Unload Gift Cards“. By View from the Wing. I am not sure I would post this in a bog post. This is dangerous stuff, proceed at your own risk. Read the comments! If it doesn’t work any longer or you get shut down blame Gary […]


  1. Capital One has Venture that gives 2% on all charges, valid to offset travel expenses. Almost as good as Barclay’s Arrival. So….that’s why I “spend on one of their products.” Just because bloggers don’t get commission doesn’t mean there aren’t other good cards available. Such as Fidelity AmEx 2%.

  2. Very helpful. I’d be curious if anyone has had success with UFB Direct debit cards which earn AA miles.

  3. @Pam – I recommend the Fidelity 2% card often, and that card’s existence is one reason that I say the Venture card doesn’t make much sense in most cases.. Venture gets you a return that can’t ever exceed 2% redeemed for travel, Fidelity Amex gets you 2% cash and is a no annual fee card to boot. I do make exception for Spark business incidentally in the post..

  4. I’ve been doing this the past couple of weeks – what’s great is that it’s instant. Your available CL goes up immediately.

  5. When this first became (more) public in the depths of the 100k AAdvantage thread and then was further opened up in the MS forum, several reports were that no points were given on the ST debit card. It will be interesting to see if anything has changed, but I wouldn’t hold my breath, especially the way ST has been heading (shutting down the points from one of our favorite money transfer vendors).

  6. I’ve done this with my MVD without being shut down. It may be luck knowing MVD, but a data point anyhow.

  7. BofA Alaska debit card could be used for this. I don’t know if you would earn points at 1/2 per $1 but I do when I use it with PIN at places like Sam’s club.

  8. If you use pointshound to book hotel rooms you can choose to earn bit coins which you can convert into dollars.

  9. Well, I knew about this for several years but only because I was late once. I asked if I could pay this way normally and they said no.
    You’ll get the Delta miles no problem, because it’s just like you went into Walmart and made a bill payment to Citi with you Delta card. I got a lot of miles a few years ago doing this but it was implied by Suntrust’s VP in charge of cards that the bank lost money on these transactions and obviously didn’t like them. So I stopped. I’d rather avoid having that card shut down since the miles I do earn are almost free.
    You can get your UFB Direct card daily debit limit raised to $2500 max, and earn a max of 120k AA miles per year , so I would think you would have less of a problem with the debit card issuer there.
    Theoretically you could go get a line of credit on your home with Wells Fargo and use the UFB card and Evolve money to pay off the line for free . The only cost for that line is $75 / year. I considered doing that with the Delta card also, but after consulting counsel (and the fact I own Suntrust stock) there are some legal arguments that might be made for fraud –granted they are remote, but I don’t want to even get to remote.

  10. @Gary Maybe things have changed and you won’t get the points now. Who is the money transfer vendor ST won’t give credit for?

  11. wow. where did you come up with this, i wonder? hmmm… more ‘original’ content lifted from flyertalk.

    if you’re going to get your content straight from ft, at least make it thorough enough with sufficient scary warnings to give it a chance of not being killed immediately by your novice readers.

    and this option will be dead in 3,2,1…

  12. Actually abby, it is from March Madness competitor…………..but his version was much more discreet……….

  13. Whoa, whoa, whoa, I thought of it first and patented and trademarked it. The royalty fee for making a payment this way is 50 cents per transaction, but anyone who complains gets to pay $1. Submit your payment to Gary in the name of PET PATENT TROLL.

  14. LOL! @traderprofit I thought you mentioned above that you decided against this as “there are some legal arguments that could be made for fraud” (your words) So now you are asking for consideration $0.50 per transaction (your words) so wouldn’t your counsel now also tell you that would count as an “accessory to a remote fraud”? just saying SEC, FRB, SBC, ITC, OTC, WTC will all be up in arms over this…………LOL!

  15. @abby a reader shared this with me, just because soemthing exists on flyertalk doesn’t mean it came from flyertalk.

  16. @wm – you would have to only be willing to have a single card, and have to spend a lot on non-US transactions, in order to make it the better choice overall given that venture is less rewarding and has an annual fee

  17. The BofA Alaska card does NOT earn miles this way. I tried using it twice last month to pay balances, and neither transaction earned any miles.

  18. @Larry I use several cards that are “almost” as good, because I’m on fixed income (retired), and have lower CLs. Many issuers would not look kindly on the amount of spend I do with my limited resources to pay. Spreading it across several cards and not rolling over my CL helps to keep me off the radar. Makes it a little more time consuming and record keeping, but the end result is many trips and time to take them. Works for me….(happy face)

  19. @pam — i understand and it makes sense. But I still think Gary’s point stands. One can often come up with unique cases, but in the main I can’t fault Gary’s premise that the Cap One card makes little sense unless you can’t get the Arrival card. Gary and other bloggers are aggressive about their referral links, but I don’t think I have ever seen him suggesting some cards are better than they really are versus other cards just to get a click.

  20. I found about about this weeks ago from fellow #milemadness competitor Milesabound (before FT) and had the good sense to keep my mouth shut. Citi (and others) do this as a COURTESY. That said, I don’t expect this last much longer once a bunch of people start abusing it. It’s one thing to kill a deal, but at least give credit where it’s due.

  21. @Michelle S – I gave credit where I learned it, which is where it’s due. Milesabound didn’t share this with me so how could I give credit there? A mind reader I am not..

  22. Debit card payments to Citi on BofA’s Alaska debit card do NOT earn miles at all. I did it to free up credit lines in the latest Citi Exec Card. But no miles were accrued on Alaska side.

  23. @Gary,
    You’re not keeping up with the essential point earning opportunities on flyertalk anymore?

  24. @ABC I guess not, undoubtedly over the past 12 years I’ve spent more time on Flyertalk than most but not nearly as much as I used to.

  25. Hey The-original-blogger-Gary,

    I learned about this, via this post, from YOU!

    So, THANKS!

  26. I’d be 100% on board with Arrival over Cap One Venture but for a few issues:

    1. The $25 minimum charge is annoying as a few travel expenses I’ve had are less than the threshold, and/or are incidentals that can’t be added to lodging.

    2. More importantly, several legitimate travel expenses are oddly ineligible for point redemption. Trains in Italy and Slovenia for example are not eligible since they code as freight rail. Though it’s a code issue, this isn’t a distinction Capital One makes.

    3. Additionally, Barclay doesn’t let you file disputes online, which I’ve needed to do occasionally when a merchant hits me with a DCC when I specifically tell them not to. Cap One and Chase have been great at reversing these for me.

    These frustrations make the 10% bonus on Arrival almost not worth it. As for the annual fee on Venture, it’s been waived every year I’ve called.

    I may have to look into Spark however. Fidelity would be appealing but for the difficulty in using Amex outside of the USA. If Barclay fixes these issues I’ll withdraw all objection.

  27. @gary / @LoneTree

    I have both an Arrivals and a Cap1 Venture. Why do I have the Venture? Because they gave me a Big credit line when they did $1000 for “showing 100,000 miles” offer 3 years ago. Every year since they have waved the annual fee. The past two they even did it over online chat.

    I would also add that they sent me no fee grace period inclusive access checks, which I have on occasion used to delay paying a 15k MS bill for another 40 days.

    So Amex -> Capital One -> Debit Card payment would work.

  28. As clarification on Gary spilling the beans here my call this am with Citi is quite instructional.
    Me: I’d like to pay by Citi CC with my debit card.
    Citi#1: One moment I will have to transfer you to that department.
    Cit#2: Have you paid your CC with your debit card before?
    Me: No.
    Citi#2: Give me a second to go to that screen so I can enter your data.
    Ok what is your card number, Exp date, and CVR?
    Me: Blah, blah, blah
    Citi: How much do you want to put on the payment?
    Me: Gary told me to put $2500.
    Citi: Ok this should be instantaneously so when you sign on you will see it paid. AND DO YOU WANT ME TO STORE YOUR CARD # INFO SO YOU CAN PAY A LITTLE QUICKER IN THE FUTURE?
    Me: Of course and can I now do this online?
    Citi#2: No it will always require a call but your info is stored so it will go much faster next time.
    Me: Huggy kissy have a great day!
    Moral of Story: I’m not a brain surgeon but it certainly appears that Citi is “intentionally” going down this path with the idea that if we let you pay it with a debit card (wink wink Frequent flyers) then we are certain you are going to use your card because you are an addict and we know that. What am I missing?
    Thank you Gary and hats off to “ALL” the inventors and bloggers who have shared this wonderful “out of the closet” tool……….

  29. I had a similarly helpful CSR at CITI. Only glitch was that her computer wouldn’t take a four figure payment, claiming my bank set a daily limit below that. We did a smaller payment and when I called the bank, bank confirmed that my account was indeed set up to do a four figure payment.

    Not sure what’s going on but I will definitely do this again. And I got the feeling that CITI was happy to do it. They asked me if they should keep the debit # to make it easier next time, same as they did for JustSaying.

  30. Gary wrote, “I’ve tested my Suntrust Delta debit card, and am waiting until my next statement closes to see whether I earn miles for the transaction.”

    And the answer is? Also how about ST to CapitalOne?

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