Manufactured Spending

ECSI Now Accepting Visa and American Express!

I logged on today to make a student loan payment on ECSI and went directly to “make credit card payment.” Usually when I do this, I’m redirected to Official Payments, a site that allows you to make payments on everything ranging from taxes, to court fees, citations, and student loans. Official Payments only accepts MasterCard and tacks on a 4.95% “convenience fee.”

I always found this obnoxious, since I would only earn 1 point per $1, and this fee completely devalued any points I earned for my payments.

Not only is ECSI now cutting out the the middleman by allowing you to make payments directly, they have decreased their fees to 3% and are now accepting Visa and American Express!

That 3% fee might still seem like a hindrance, but I was able to offset this and earn more than the standard 1 point per $1 I was previously restricted to. Here’s how:

  • Buy an American Express Prepaid Card (Note: Amex frequently offers a $25 bonus per $200 loaded on new cards, so I’d wait for that promo if you’re not in a rush)
  • Buy Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot, using your Ink Classic, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus Business Cards. Vanilla Reload cards have a $3.95 fee, but this is offset somewhat by purchasing them in $500 increments and using one of the Ink cards, which award  5 points per $1 at office supply stores.
  • Load your Vanilla Reload card onto your American Express Prepaid.
  • Make your student loan payments through ECSI using your American Express Prepaid card.
  • Earn 5 points per $1 on your payment!

On a $500 payment, you’ll pay $15 in transaction fees, $3.95 for the Vanilla Reload card, and earning 2500 Ultimate Rewards points. The fees are offset with the $25 bonus from American Express, and you come ahead with $6!

If you were to do this without the $25 bonus from American Express, you’d be paying $18.95 in fees to accrue 2500 points. 2500 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $25 cash or $31.25 in free travel through Chase. You can get even more value by transferring those points to participating Ultimate Rewards partners.

While it isn’t ideal to be paying any kind of transaction fees, this is a good way to meet credit card spending requirements and earn points on a payment that you have to make every month anyways.

Do you know of a cheaper way to earn points on student loan payments? Share below!

Disclosure: I do not earn a referral for any of the credit card links in this post.

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  1. I am sorry but your math is all wrong here. When you buy a $500 reload card from OD, you get 5X per dollar spent (2500 UR points). At minimum that is $25 if you choose to convert them to cash through Chase.

    Now you pay $15 to the school and almost $4 to OD which comes to a total of $19. But you earned $25 from purchasing the reload card so you are still ahead $6.

    You are actually paying less than a penny per UR point.

    • PointChaser

      @ Dee, thanks for the heads up! I wrote this post pretty late, so my math was definitely off. I’ve made some revisions.

  2. Thank you for this! I am currently trying to meet a minimum spend on my AE card, so even without going the extra mile, this is helpful to me!

    • PointChaser

      @ Nikki, glad you found it useful! As someone who recently had to spend $18,000 in just 3 months, I know all about tough spending requirements. Luckily, there are tons of relatively cheap ways to meet them. You can even pay your mortgage with a credit card, which I will post about shortly.

  3. Drowning in debt

    I want to apply for a Chase Sapphire credit card and make my min spend ($4000) for the 50000 UR points by making payments to ECSI using the credit card. Chase says that if ECSI considers it a “purchase” loan payments will count toward the $4000, but if ECSI considers payments a “cash advance” they won’t count toward the bonus. If anyone has made payments using a card, would someone please check how ECSI reports credit card payments?


    P.S. I think their convenience fee system is ridiculous and awful, but I could come out ahead by at least $300 if I can do this.

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