Your MBA fees payment is likely to be one of the largest purchases you’ve ever made in one go. If you’re clever and plan ahead, you might be able to take advantage of this.
When I was getting ready to pay my fees, I did have the thought, rather too late in the day, that if I could pay with a British Airways credit card I could get loads of airmiles. Looking at the British Airways American Express card I could have got 54,000 airmiles for making the £36,000 purchase, plus a 18,000 miles bonus for spending over £3,000 in the first 3 months. That’s enough airmiles to get to the moon and back (note at the time of posting, only Virgin has any plans to fly to the moon). Also, if you spend over £10,000 in a year you get a free companion ticket for wherever you decide to fly to using your airmiles.
So although I though I was too late I rather hastily applied for the BA AmEx card and, thanks to the massive NatWest delays, I actually got my AmEx card in time!
Of course, what dumbass here forgot to check was whether you could actually pay for Oxford University course fees with AmEx. You can’t. Doh! AmEx charge particularly high transaction fees so many retailers won’t accept the card.
So I will have to take advantage of the 14 day cancellation period to cancel the card – the BA AmEx has a £150/year fee so it’s not really worth keeping unless I’m likely to rack up points over the year – which I’m not.
However, if you are not a dumbass and if you plan in advance there are plenty of cards you could use to rack up points of some kind whilst paying for your fees. In fact, if you’re in the US it looks like the British Airways card you can get with some fat airmiles bonuses is in fact a Visa card. Back in the UK, there are some other options for Visa cards that will give you standard airmiles. It doesn’t have to be airmiles – if you get a Tesco or Sainsbury’s Visa card you could rack up a massive amount of Tesco Clubcard points or Nectar points – probably enough for quite a few free tins of beans!
Of course the major limitation is that you’re not going to be able to make a £36,000 transaction on your credit card in one go. In fact, when I queried this with AmEx they said I couldn’t even do it in instalments whilst paying it off (i.e. in £4000 chunks) – your credit limit is the maximum you can spend on the card each month – even if you are paying it off at the same time. From speaking with other students it seems that one guy did manage to get a temporary credit limit increase to make the payment then pay it off instantly. Others had been paying in instalments somehow.
So think about the actual transaction in advance, if you find a good credit card deal apply for it in plenty of time and you could get a nice bonus!