How to max out your monthly $30 in free PayPal spend

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Don’t forget that through June Amex is offering $30 per month back on purchases made through PayPal and paid with your consumer Amex Platinum card.  This includes the Morgan Stanley Platinum card, the Schwab Platinum card, and the generic Amex Platinum card.

You do have a consumer Platinum card, right?  If not, please read this post: Sign up now for the Platinum 100K + 10X offer (here’s why).  The Platinum 100K + 10X offer is one of the best deals around.  We don’t know how long the offer will last.

When this $30 PayPal deal first came out, I figured that it would be so easy to use through regular day to day spend that I wouldn’t even have to think about how to use up the credit before the end of each month.  I would simply select PayPal when checking out for online purchases that I make anyway, and I’d be done.  Now, as the end of the month fast approaches, I realized that reality has been different.  I have two consumer Platinum cards: one generic Platinum and one Schwab Platinum.  On the Schwab Platinum, I had managed to spend only $8.58 through PayPal!  And on the generic Platinum card, I had made a purchase for over $30 through PayPal, but the company I ordered from doesn’t have the product ready yet and so they haven’t yet charged my card!  So, I’m playing a little game of chicken to see if they process the payment before the end of the month.  If that doesn’t happen, I’ll switch to plan B: give to charity (detailed below).

In this post, I’ll detail how to spend down your PayPal credit easily and quickly each month…

Prepare (Add Platinum card to PayPal account)

If you don’t already have a PayPal account, it’s time to create one.  If you’ve had one in the past that is for some reason no longer accessible, you should be able to create a new one with a different email address.

Next, make sure your Platinum card is in your PayPal wallet.  Log into PayPal, find your PayPal wallet, and click “Link a card”.  On the next screen you’ll have the option to link manually or by logging into Amex.  I’ve had better luck with manually linking.

Day to day shopping (Keep Track and Check Out with PayPal)

The best way to use your monthly $30 credit, arguably, is to pay for things you would have paid for anyway.  When checking out from a website, you’ll often see a button labelled “PayPal Checkout”.  When you press that button, you’ll be asked to log into PayPal and then you can select a card from your PayPal wallet for that payment.

I recommend keeping track of this each month with a spreadsheet or even just an email to yourself.  Otherwise, it can be easy to forget how much you’ve spent so far through PayPal and how much credit you have remaining.

Give to your favorite charity

PayPal’s Giving Fund makes it possible to donate to the charity of your choice, pay with PayPal, and 100% of your donation goes to charity, with no deductions, and no fees (PayPal eats the credit card fees!).  The only downside I see is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to setup a monthly recurring donation.  I’d love to set up an automatic monthly payment and be done.  Instead, I’ll visit this site once per month.

Here are the details from PayPal’s website:

  • 100% of donations made here go to charity, no deductions, no fees.
  • You are donating to PayPal Giving Fund, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) public charity (Federal Tax ID: 45-0931286). PayPal Giving Fund will provide you with a receipt for your donation.
  • When you donate to PayPal Giving Fund, you also recommend a charity you want us to give that money to.
  • We collect donations and deposit them in the PayPal accounts of the charities recommended by donors, typically within 15-45 days of the original donation.
  • If the charity you recommend is not enrolled with us, they will receive funds via check, typically within 90 days.
  • This doesn’t happen often, but if PayPal Giving Fund cannot fund the charity you recommend, it will reassign the funds to a similar charity and whenever possible will consult with you on the reassignment.
  • Pending delivery to charities, donations are held in a non-interest bearing account.

Gift cards via Fluz

If you get to the end of the month and haven’t yet used your $30 and you don’t want to donate to charity, then consider buying a gift card through the Fluz App and using PayPal to check out.  In most cases, Fluz lets you select the exact dollar amount you want, so for example if you have $21.42 of PayPal rebate credit remaining, you could buy a gift card for that exact amount.  Fluz also offers automatic cash back with most gift card purchases, so you’ll get a bit more than just $30 back.  For example, I bought an Amazon gift card for $21.42 and earned 0.5% back from Fluz.  That’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.  And, of course, Amex will (probably) refund the full $21.42.

Caution: Gift cards not eligible

The terms for the monthly $30 PayPal rebate offer state the following: “Eligible purchases do not include fees or interest charges, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, purchases of gift cards, person-to-person payments including those for goods and services, or purchases of other cash equivalents.”  Despite these terms I’m confident that buying gift cards through Fluz will work, but there’s obviously some risk that it won’t.

Step 1) Sign up for Fluz

If you’re new to Fluz, below are our referral links. You’ll received 3 vouchers when joining, while we’ll earn 1 voucher after you make your first purchase.  Each voucher offers 35% back (up to $3.50) on select gift cards.

Step 2) Find a gift card to purchase

I like to buy gift cards that I either have immediate use for or where I can load the value into my merchant account so that I don’t have to remember to go back to Fluz to find my gift card.  For example, when I buy an Amazon gift card I then immediately load the gift card’s value to my Amazon account.  Here’s a link to Amazon’s Redeem a Gift card page.

The easiest way to find a merchant gift card is through Fluz’s search feature.  Here are the results, for example, when I searched for “Amazon”:

Important Notes:

  1. Not all gift cards allow payment via PayPal (no, I don’t know why).
  2. Different gift cards have different minimum value amounts.  Most have $10 or $15 minimums, but some have smaller minimums and some larger minimums.  For example, Adidas has a $5 minimum whereas Airbnb requires $25 or more.
  3. Some gift cards require that you pick specific dollar amounts rather than letting you pick your own amount.

Step 2) Enter the dollar amount that you want to spend

Step 3) Select PayPal as your payment method

If you’ve never added PayPal as a payment method to Fluz, select “PayPal” under “Add payment method”.  This will then walk you through signing into PayPal and selecting a credit card for payment.  You’ll want to select your Platinum card, of course.

Important note: If you’ve paid through PayPal before using a different card than the one you want to use now, make sure to pick PayPal under “Add payment method” rather than under “Select pay method.”  If you simply use “Select pay method… PayPal”, Fluz will default to charging the same card you’ve previously used through PayPal.

Conclusion

The easiest option I’ve identified for using the full $30 per month is to donate to charity through PayPal’s Giving Fund.  While I didn’t use up my January credits in this way, I expect that I will do so going forward.  If you’re in a less generous mood, consider using the credit for regular spend and then if you haven’t used it up by the end of the month, buy a gift card through a service like Fluz (note: I’ll update this post if/when I get credit from my Fluz purchase to prove that this does work).

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52 Comments
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HelenS

Are you sure the PayPal credit works for charities? I have yet to get the credit for a Feb 1 donation to a charity. I am being told that a charity is not a merchant and a donation is not a transaction for goods and services. However, Amex Customer Service could not give me a definitive answer. I was told the credit can take up to 12 weeks, so just wait and see if I do or don’t get it. Does anyone else have experience with this?
Note: I donated to a small charity that is not part of PayPal’s Giving Fund

Last edited 1 year ago by HelenS
Drew

Fluz doesn’t allow paypal for Amazon cards anymore

Dana Balick

Is it only selected merchants or any merchant that allows me to pay with PayPal?

808wavewarrior

Thank for the head’s up on donating that $30. That’s what I did. Giving back to the community.

Aloha808

If you like target, you can buy target a gc at their website and checkout with PayPal.

Brian

if you have a balance in PayPal it takes the funds out of PayPal even if you select the credit card as payment. Anyone know a way around this? Tried buying a $30 starbucks card and it took the funds from my PayPal account and not the credit card.

Curtis

Why not just “pay” a family/friend via paypal and eat the small < $1 fee to do so?

Curtis

Thanks, I hadn’t paid attention to that exclusion!

JustSaying

Weak

Manish Jain

Netflix accepts PayPal as a payment option, so does Walmart and Target.

Mike

How long does it take for the credit to post? Also, does it work if an authorized user makes the purchase?

John

Fluz stopped my transaction and asked for verification in the way of my DL. Hmmm, not sure this working the way it is supposed to work.

Kafka

Your first purchase has to use a credit card directly, not PayPal. They locked me twice in two days, then their customer service explained it over the phone. Would be nice if they put that on the website/app.

LarryInNYC

Award Wallet accepts PayPal and their premium service is $30 a year. That will be my February payment.

SgFm

This works for Uber Eats. You need to delete your Amex Plat card as a form of payment on Uber first for it to work. Credit from Amex appeared three days after the transaction.

SamBam

Wow. Best (I promise) beef jerky business, Riley’s Jerky out of Greenville California, takes PayPal. Get the jalapeño or peppered. You will never buy beef jerky anywhere else ever again. (I have no relationship with Riley’s except I’ve been eating it for almost thirty years). Just read reviews.

THEsocalledfan

Fluz can get goofy on security when using paypal…..don’t be surprised if it happens to you!

Honestly, $30 walmart gift card from walmart.com is so much easier.

Kafka

Yeah, if you’re first setting up the app you have to make a transaction with a credit card (or maybe bank account) before it’ll let you use PayPal. Otherwise they’ll lock your account for suspected fraud. Maybe twice in two days.

Sam

I’ve been looking for information about whether you can use use multiple credits for the same purchase if the online seller allows you to split your payment over multiple PayPal payments. I assume so, but I don’t know for sure.

Kafka

Yes, depending how the seller sets it up. A few merchants like Jackrabbit allow split payments across two cards you have in your PayPal wallet (there’s a little “Split” toggle in the upper right of the PayPal window). That would trigger the $30 credit on both cards.
If they’re letting you space out your payments over time (e.g. financing a $90 purchase into $30/mo for 3 mo), that should work.
If the merchant’s website is just set up to allow two payment methods, they usually won’t let you set PayPal for both methods, and if you did you typically wouldn’t have the opportunity to set a different payment card within PayPal between the two.
The other option would be to buy a $30 gift card this month and then combine it with $30 on the card next month. It technically violates the offer’s fine print, but AmEx is usually lenient about buying gift cards directly from the merchant, so long as they don’t use Cashstar or some other third party to provide their gift cards.

SamBam

Cost Plus world market takes PayPal.

MalMel

I, too, have found this credit more difficult to use than I expected, and I have 2. We simply don’t buy much online on a regular basis. I’m spending too much time tracking all of the different card credits to make sure I use them! Don’t forget you can use this on UberEats, which I have decided may be the simplest thing.

The PayPal4 tip is a good idea for our next bigger purchase. I was unaware of that. Thanks Patrick!

Laurie

I load $30 on my Starbucks card.

Laurie

I just checked my Amex account and even though I paid with PayPal, the Amex account say Starbucks.

Frank

it’s still pending, right? when it posts, it will say “Paypal”

Laurie

Yes still pending. Thanks for the info!

GemGal

One trick with reloading your Starbucks account with Paypal – I chose PayPal as the reload source and had the Plat card set as my default payment, but PayPal kept deducting my bank account instead.
To get the charge on my Plat, I had to go into PayPal > Settings > Payments > Manage Automatic Payments > Starbucks and set to the Plat.
I don’t know why it wouldn’t work otherwise, quite a pain. But now it should work going forward each month.

Kafka

The “Manage Auto Payments” screen is also usable for Fluz, PayUSATax, and most other places which save your PayPal as a recurring payment method rather than a one-time PayPal Checkout. Easier to use than removing and re-adding PayPal from the site every time, in my opinion.

AC NYC

for what it is worth I simply set up a spreadsheet of all the monthly, one-time, semi-annual and annual credits or refunds available on all my cards and have a reminder to check it on the 15th to see if I’ve used everything. If not I find a way to do so for those that are may expire. For this credit it really is easy to use. Not sure why people jump through hoops or try to get it right at the $30. Thousands of merchants take PayPal at checkout so simply buy something you would anyway and either have it delivered or set to pick up in the store. Just make sure it is over $30. Again, buy things you would anyway and you don’t worry about trying to hit exactly $30.

For me an easy one is pet supplies. I have cats so they need litter, treats and food. Both PetSmart and Petco take PayPal. I simply go on-line, order needed supplies (not hard to hit $30 when the litter we use is $20 a bag), select instore pickup and drive to my nearby store where it is waiting for me.

Not sure the angst over using this credit since it really is automatic as long as you do practically any on-line shopping. If the merchant you typically use doesn’t take PayPal simply find another store that sells the same thing (usually at the same price) and buy from them.

Anthony

Can you create a list of merchants who take PayPal?

quasimodo

https://www.finder.com/paypal-store-list

Target takes Paypal…done that. Vitacost…a gazillion retailers use it. Easy!

Allan

What’s wrong with $10 Walmart gift cards with free delivery?

Patrick Lenow

Something else to consider, is the Paypal 4 payment option. This took care of January and February for me when I had a $250 purchase that I was able to put on Paypal. With no interest or fees, they will spread out over four payments (every two weeks they charge the card you have Paypal linked to.) So four ~$70 payments and January and February were done.

Just a Note

Ha – I have four to burn, and three are good but the fourth is coming back to bite me. I’m down to the last $2.17 which is proving problematic, as most of those gift cards (top-ups, etc) have a $5 minimum, and I don’t need to buy anything and spend more than that. Even the Chick-Fil-A app, which worked for one of the cards, won’t let me load for less than five bucks. I will see if I can give the $2.17 to charity, otherwise I’m going to have to let this one go…

Anthony

Buy something cheap on ebay

Harry M Lothridge

Ebay is leaving PayPal very soon and setting up their own payment system. I think effective 2/01/2021.

D T

Buy post stamps at eBay.

BenjiTravel

Do Amex cards work with PayPal Key? If so, will that trigger the $30 credit?

Al C

They don’t anymore

JayP

Why do you suggest Fluz instead of Slide? I used Slide this month, worked fine, the Amex credit posted, and it doesn’t have the weird pyramid scheme setup of Fluz. Slide is 4% back whereas Fluz is variable so that could be a factor but probably not worth the hassle to use both for $30 purchases. Slide is through Raise so pretty legit as these things go.

Al C

I think you answered the question, yourself…

JayP

true, no Amazon on Slide. I’ve never used Fluz, wondered if there was something I was missing. When I looked at it in the past I saw the cash back was variable and for most stores where I would use it below 4%. But I took a look again after this post and wasn’t able to find the cash back rates unless I created an account (or maybe I just missed it).