In the coming weeks, I am going to be updating and rerunning many of our credit card reviews.

With one eye on that, I wanted to explain a useful trick that allows you to earn miles and points when you pay with PayPal.

For any serious Avios points or Virgin Flying Club miles collector in the UK, American Express cards are likely to feature prominently in terms of your go-to cards for daily spending.

Many of those cards offer significant sign-up bonuses provided you meet a minimum spend requirement within the first 90 days of holding the card.

For example:

To earn those bonuses swiftly, you’ll want to channel as much of your spending through your new card as possible.

Now, although American Express cards are more widely accepted than they used to be, that isn’t always the case. Promotions such as the excellent Shop Small offer that ran in December undoubtedly do their best to aid smaller shops who do accept Amex. Nevertheless, it’s not unusual to come across companies or retailers that don’t offer an option to pay with Amex.

If you are working towards a sign-up bonus, it can be incredibly frustrating when you have a big payment to make only to realise that the retailer in question doesn’t accept Amex.

How to pay with your American Express card even when the retailer DOESN’T accept Amex

There is often a useful workaround. That same retailer may list PayPal as one of their accepted payment methods and PayPal accepts Amex.

After ensuring you have your Amex card added to your PayPal wallet, you can use it to pay for your goods/services through PayPal.

A good example of this is H&M:

Here is their list of accepted payments methods.

H&M accepted card payment methods

As you can see, card payments are limited to Visa and MasterCard products. However, I put through a dummy order to test this out. When I reached the payment page, the following options were available:

H&M payment page

I clicked on the PayPal option and after logging in I was able to select my Amex card to pay with no issues.

Paying for H&M order with PayPal

Do I need a PayPal account to use this trick?

Some retailers do not even require you to have a PayPal account to do this. After selecting the ‘pay with PayPal option’ you will see the option to either log in to PayPal or to ‘pay with a credit or debit card’.

This option will allow you to input your Amex card details and pay, without having to create a PayPal account.

Does it always work?

You will find some retailers who will take the extra ‘precaution’ of ensuring that the American Express option isn’t blocked even via PayPal. In my experience, this isn’t usually the case and in most instances, this trick will be effective.

Anything else to be aware of?

However, using your credit card to pay via PayPal does raise an important issue worth being aware of, namely; ‘Section 75 protection’. When making a direct payment using a credit card, that protection makes the credit card company jointly liable with the retailer for any breach of contract or misrepresentation. It isn’t 100% clear how going via a 3rd party such as PayPal might affect this protection.

PayPal does though have its own buyer protection scheme in place which does at least ensure you are not without protection.

This also isn’t relevant if you are attempting to pay with an Amex charge card. That’s because Section 75 protection doesn’t extend to charge cards such as the Amex Gold or Platinum cards. (Incidentally, Amex will usually voluntarily try and ensure you are not left out-of-pocket even when paying on a charge card).


This is a useful trick to be aware of and one that I do use on a semi-regular basis. It’s also worth checking with your utility companies or local council to see whether they accept PayPal payments. While many of these companies/councils won’t accept American Express cards, they do offer an option to pay with PayPal.

Being able to use your Amex to pay your council tax, for example, should definitely help you to earn your next 2-4-1 companion voucher that bit quicker!

Were you able to utilise this trick? Post your successes in the comments section below.  

8 thoughts

  1. Will you earn avios when sending money to a friend from paypal account to paypal account obviously with Amex as a source of funds? I just did it. Without any fee I send him £50. He already dropped the money from paypal balance into his debit account. Avios earned here?

    1. I believe sending PayPal-Paypal is only fee-free when using your Paypal balance/debit card as source of funds. Don’t credit card-funded transfers carry a 3.4% charge? Also, a word of caution about Paypal – they’ve been known to be very quick to shut down (and therefore freeze) accounts if they suspect there have been some suspicious transfer patterns etc.

      1. Paypal payments can be funded directly from a linked credit card without any charges. I’ve been using paypal funded by my Amex card for years to get cash back from retailers who don’t accept Amex.

        1. Using Amex via PayPal definitely works at retailers that don’t otherwise take Amex. My comment above was re using Amex as the funding source for person-person transfers.

  2. Harry, love your blog. I have just flown Business Class to Bangkok on Qatar for less than an economy ticket so please keep up the good work.

    Can you tell us if the Companion vouchers are really worth it as per David’s question – I found your Qatar deals much better.

    1. Thanks – glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      Great you were able to jump on one of the Qatar deals – amazing value if you can make it work.

      I think the BA Companion voucher does still hold value especially if you prefer the convenience of direct flights. Yes, paying £500 of taxes isn’t great but saving half of the required Avios is still a good deal, on paper at least.
      However, if you can pick up £900 business class flights to Asia as Qatar ran numerous times last year, you’d struggle to justify blowing 150,000 Avios + £500 in taxes.

  3. I am planning to fly to Australia in the summer and have miles on AA and amex points I could use. I also have a BA companion voucher.

    Could you suggest the best options for me to consider.


    1. Hi David,

      Which airport were you thinking of departing from? Also, are you looking at flying Economy/Business/not fussed?


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