Posted by Chuck on January 28, 2019
Credit Cards

Published on January 28th, 2019 | by Chuck

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Tip: Maximize your Freedom 5% Drugstore Category with Bill Payments at CVS

Drugstores is sometimes a bonus category with various credit cards, including this quarter’s Freedom 5x category on up to $1,500 in purchases. Reader Mark sent in a tip that it’s possible to pay some bills at the CVS register, pay with credit card, and earn 5x on the purchase since it codes like an ordinary drugstore purchase.

In Mark’s case, his local Blue Cross health insurance allows payment using CVS billpay, and explicitly allows credit card payment as well. The way it works, in his case, is that within the Blue Cross login, in the Pay Your Bill section, there’s an option to get a bar code which gets scanned at CVS at the regular register, and allows you to pay your insurance bill there. This triggers the 5% Freedom category, or any other Drugstores category you may have, e.g. on the Old Blue Cash card.

These are likely bills which can be paid, in any event, with a credit card. Due to the bonus multiplier at drugstores it could be worthwhile to make the payment at CVS instead.

This is what is shows for Mark in his Blue Cross login:

CVS/pharmacy® (except Target® locations) and Navarro accept cash, credit card and debit cards (checks not accepted). Dollar General accepts cash and debit cards only. Family Dollar accepts cash only. Your payment will be applied to your account within 5 business days.

Check out this Flyertalk thread about using the Moneygram machine at CVS. From a brief look, it appears that it’s cash only and comes with a fee. Not sure if the barcode/cashier payment is using Moneygram or some other system; whatever the case, apparently some bills can be paid there with a credit card. Good to know.

If anyone is aware of other bills or other insurers who accept this form of payment, please let us know in the comments below.



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Peter
Peter

Sounds like it’s a bill pay for health insurance issuers…

Novacat05
Novacat05

My local water authority(Bucks county PA) allows payment at CVS or 7-11 using a service called PayNearMe. $2.49 fee applies however, so that makes it a non-starter for me personally. I’m lucky that they take CC payments with no added charge… it’s also a great way to burn off some VISA gcs I bought from the Staples Amex 10% off offer.

Novacat05
Novacat05

This also seems like it’s limited to health insurance providers for now based on the article from CVS corporate. I’d imagine this will expand to Aetna based healthcare plans soon now that CVS and Aetna are one company.

MoreSun
MoreSun

Looks like this could be a way to put spend on a credit card your biller doesn’t take? (For instance if they don’t take Amex maybe you could use this to put the charge on an Amex card)

anne
anne

Too bad both walgreens and CVS do not sell visa GCs issued by MetaBank which is supported at Walmart system to unload the money. I am struggling how to maximize the drugstore spending for this quarter.

Hodor
Hodor

Have you tried loading VGC to Serve?

anne
anne

I got shut down by Serve a few years ago after I loaded a few visa GCs or something like that. I don’t know people survive from doing that and I was not MSing by any way.

Greg
Greg

Unloading Visa GCs to Serve is MS…

anne
anne

I did it for less than $500 or so.

Charlie
Charlie

It was still MS.

anne
anne

What I was saying was that I see more people are MSing way more than that and did not get shut down!

Luis
Luis

But you were MSing, right?

Pete
Pete

What is MSing?

Zalmy

😀

Nik
Nik

You can use Amazon cash at CVS as well to top off your Amazon account. You can pay by credit card.

bob
bob

Why waste your 5% on Amazon when you can get that via an Amazon card or wait for another quarter?

Liz
Liz

Buy amazon gc is the same

Greg
Greg

How is this different from just buying an Amazon GC at CVS?

qmc
qmc

One (small) thing I can think of is that there’s a one-time “amazon cash reload” bonus.

Julie
Julie

Major Thanks for that! Forgot my drugstore allows this…

Rocky
Rocky

need to go to CVS and checkout, i have a huge health insurance payments every month , need to maximize now that even Amex has banned Healthcare from Plastiq.
Sending MO is a pain every month.

Chucks
Chucks

The other money saver is to cancel your health insurance and instead invest your monthly premiums in index funds. Assuming you’ve otherwise have assets it’s a pretty good deal. Also there are such significant discounts for paying in cash you’re saving even more when you’re below your deductible.

M
M

You do NOT want to be uninsured. This is terrible, reckless advice. Enjoy paying your six-figure hospital bill out-of-pocket.

Francisco J Rios
Francisco J Rios

I went ten years withought it and luckily had no bills out of pocket and when I did go to the doctor it was like $70.

Dan
Dan

i also was not struck by lighting when running in the field during a thunderstorm… we should all do it!

Mikey
Mikey

My friend’s husband had emergency gall bladder surgery. Ended up being a 3 night stay. Hospital charges: roughly $1.2 million. What sort of cash discount are we talking here?!!!

readerS
readerS

1.2 mil is insurmountable. I am sorry, but it seemed your friend’s husband was robbed by a hospital.

Jamo
Jamo

Wow that is terrible advice

Frank
Frank

The reason you buy health insurance is for the cap on catastrophic events. No point caring about money if you leave yourself exposed to an easy $1m+ hospital bill. Any basic treatment or hospital stay breaches $10k day one. Get a HDHP and invest the excess (using government subsidy as a benefit) — way safer and possibly cheaper due to tax benefits.

Ken T
Ken T

Why not drop your life, home, and auto insurance while you’re at it? You can just buy lottery tickets or go to Vegas with the premiums. Imagine the savings if you don’t die, have a disaster or get in an accident!!!

Sarah D
Sarah D

If you are young and healthy and have few/no assets you could consider rolling the dice, planning on medical bankruptcy in the event it goes wrong. Still not advisable, I would be afraid of getting suboptimal care in certain cases.

You can also drop life insurance by having a reasonable portfolio/retirement built up, and collision coverage on your car by having the funds to take the hit. Since insurance policies necessarily have negative expected value, if you can afford to not be insured, it’s worth considering.

scott
scott

My wife and I have never had medical issues. One morning she woke up with a really bad headache and we took her to the ER. Turned out to be a blood clot in her brain. A 7 day hospital stay cost over $100K. With our health insurance at the time we only had to pay $150. We will never risk going without insurance.

Sarah D
Sarah D

Generally this is bad advice, BUT if you don’t have preexisting conditions you can consider non-ACA compliant (AKA short-term) catastrophic insurance for something like $20/month.

Even if you want more than catastrophic coverage, it’s worth taking a look at non-ACA plans, cost a fraction what it does on the marketplace. A 6 month plan was literally cheaper than a single month with comparable gold plan in my case. (Agilehealthinsurance had the best rates when I last checked)

miafll
miafll

So now the market has non ACA compliant plans? Wasn’t that being made illegal by OB care a few years ago and Trump government is not able to overturn it yet?

Debit
Debit

ACA is very discriminatory. It cover maternity services and make single guys subsidize pregnant women.

LK
LK

right because singe guys never ever cause pregnancies

John
John

For those under 30 (?), catastrophic plans are ACA-compliant. Comparing catastrophic to gold plans is like saying you should consider getting a bicycle because it’s more affordable than a Porsche. There are options in between.

John
John

Also, catastrophic plans are not HSA-eligible. If you max out your HSA and you’re in say the 22% tax bracket with no state income tax, you’ll pay $64/month less in taxes by choosing an HSA-eligible plan. I just priced plans on my state’s marketplace and the cheapest bronze plan is $79/month more than the cheapest catastrophic plan. After-tax, it would just $15/month more. 27% tax is the break even point. E.g., if you’re in the 24% tax bracket and have a 3% state income tax, getting a bronze plan will pay for itself in tax savings over a catastrophic plan.

Mark
Mark

This is not a political post, but due to Obamacare, we all are by law required to have insurance. It is the law. Have it or pay a penalty.

Pam
Pam

not the law in 2019

John
John

There is no penalty.

Pam
Pam

whole lot of “assumptions,” good health to you, Chucks

Francesco
Francesco

Rite aid is offering bonus cash for Visa GC this week.

Kelly
Kelly

None of the drugstores near me cvs, walgreens or rite aid allow me to purchase a visa or mastercard gift card with credit card. Its cash only.

Mikey
Mikey

I’ve found exactly ONE Rite Aid that allowed a VISA/MC purchase with a credit card. And that was only because I got a newer clerk who pushed it through despite at least one cash register prompt that told him not to. Haven’t tried again since.

raghavendra
raghavendra

thanks alot for posting and also to the mark who reported this.

Mark
Mark

We are all in this together. Happy to help those who have also helped me.

Albert
Albert

I usually buy a gift card and then using that on my blue cross health insurance bill…

scott
scott

I do the same to pay my car insurance.

Danny
Danny

What GC do you buy to pay insurance? You mean VISA or MasterCard?

Andrew D
Andrew D

Either a visa or mastercard should work just fine.

Hodor
Hodor

You buy GCs at a pharmacy to pay your health insurance every month? If so, what card to you use to offset the activation fees?

Sevillada
Sevillada

That’s a pretty good tip

Pam
Pam

Caremark, the mailorder part of CVS, also posts 5x. Might be worth changing the payment method to Freedom for 3 months.

Nickod777
Nickod777

I have BlueCross Blueshield of Tennessee in Ohio, and can confirm this sorta. For as long as my health insurance provider has a contract with CareMark, part of CVS, I can do a bill pay instore for BlueCross Blueshield.

If the contract ever ceases to exist, if Incomm is still assisting cvs with Bill pay for Health insurance, they’ll attempt to sign up for the Bill pay program.

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