RoomiPay switched the way it handles payments during May. As a result, whereas RoomiPay payments previously earned 3x Thank You Points (TYPs) when made using a Citi AT&T Access More card, earning is now 1x. This substantially diminishes the value of RoomiPay as a points-earning mechanism, although it still has value as a relatively easy payment mechanism for certain payments with a 2% fee.
Analysis and Data Point Details
RoomiPay is a recently-initiated online service with the primary function of using a credit card to pay rent. RoomiPay was added to supplement the RoomiApp.com website and app, which focuses on matching roommates to one another and to available rental properties.
I learned about RoomiPay in early 2018. It made a splash in the points-and-miles blogger world when it ran a promotion whereby payments made through RoomiPay using a credit card were charged a 0% fee. After that promotion ended, RoomiPay subsequently allowed some payments with a 2% fee and others at 2.5% or 3% depending on the timing of when the payment was requested. Originally, RoomiPay delivered payments by hard-copy check sent via the US mail; later RoomiPay added an ACH option direct into the recipient’s account.
The Citi AT&T Access More card includes a 3x bonus category for online retail purchases. When I learned of RoomiPay in February 2018, I decided to experiment. I went online to Roomi and initiated a payment (at a 2% fee) using my AT&T Access More card. I waited impatiently for my next statement to close, and when I received it, I was very pleased to discover that the RoomiPay payment did earn 3x TYPs for the amount of the charge (including the 2% fee).
Also importantly, RoomiPay delivered the check accurately and timely to the recipient, and the check cleared with no issues.
At our baseline value of 1.25 cents per TYP, the benefit of 3.75 cents per dollar paid exceeded the fee of 2%. Of course, it is possible to achieve even more for TYPs when transferred to the program’s airline partners and used for high-value travel.
I subsequently made additional payments using RoomiPay in March and April, and they each earned 3x TYPs. Each month the RoomiPay payment appeared on my credit card statement as “RoomiApp.com” and was coded as “Merchandise – COMPUTER SOFTWARE STORE.”
Then, via email that I received on May 11, Roomi issued an “Important Update” about the “evolution” of RoomiPay. Users would have to be “verified” by Roomi, and all payments would now have a 2% fee. In addition, to my understanding, all payments going forward would have to be made via ACH transfer; no hard-copy checks any more (note that this creates a problem in that RoomiPay could only be used to pay landlords who were willing to share their bank account information – this seems like a major issue!) I cleared the verification hurdle with minimal effort and waited for the payment window to open a few days later.
When the payment window opened on May 22, I requested a payment of $4,497. Adding the 2% fee of $90 resulted in a total charge to my AT&T Access More card of $4,587. The ACH transfer for $4,497 dutifully arrived in my recipient’s account a few days later.
Obviously the change to the RoomiPay process made me wonder about continued 3x TYP earning. And when I made the May 22 payment, I could tell that the system and processing were different from what they had been before. I waited anxiously for my AT&T Access More statement to close to see whether RoomiPay would continue to earn 3x TYP.
My statement has now closed, and I’m sad to report that RoomiPay charges no longer earn 3x TYP as online retail spend; rather they are an unbonused 1x on all other purchases.
Here is the charge on my AT&T Access More online account. Note that the payment code changed to “Miscellaneous – REAL ESTATE AGENTS AND MANAGERS RENTALS.”
And here is the portion of my Citi AT&T Access More card statement showing my TYP earning for the past month. It’s not difficult to tell that the $4,587 charge to RoomiPay is the only charge that earned only 1x for the month.
It seems clear that using RoomiPay to earn 3x TYPs for a 2% fee is dead, and I don’t expect it to come back, in light of the way my May payment coded.
How Did I Do with This Experiment?
Here are my numbers, start-to-finish, using RoomiPay and the Citi AT&T Access More card (slightly rounded):
- Amount paid through RoomiPay (Feb-May) = $14,500
- Total amount of fees paid (note one payment was at 2.5%) = $312
- Total ThankYou Points earned = 35,250
- Baseline Value of TYPs (at 1.25 cents per TYP) = $440
- “Profit” = $440 – $312 = $128
Note that on my May payment (the last one that earned only 1x TYP), I paid $90 in fees and received only $57.34 value in TYPs (4,587 * 1.25 cents per TYP). So, I took a loss on this last month’s payment. Overall, though, the experiment was a modest success.
Other Observations, and Where Do We Go from Here?
(1) One of the things I like about accumulating TYPs is that I have been able to use them strategically when purchasing tickets on American, to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) under American’s “Special Fares” chart rather than the normal earning rules. The scope of using the Special Fares chart is beyond the scope of this article, but the headline is that Special Fares can be used to generate higher EQDs toward elite status qualification in the AAdvantage program, on lower-cost, longer-distance flights. This is valuable to me as I always need more EQDs to achieve status (in 2017, I used 2 mileage runs and credit card spend on the Barclays AA Aviator Silver card to make it to Executive Platinum). So I was glad for the opportunity to earn some extra TYPs using RoomiPay, and I’m disappointed to see this door close.
(2) I believe that some people may have been using RoomiPay on the Amex Business Rewards Gold card, to earn 3x Amex Membership Rewards (MR) points under the “U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases” bonus category. Given the change in RoomiPay coding from “Merchandise – COMPUTER SOFTWARE STORE” to “Miscellaneous – REAL ESTATE AGENTS AND MANAGERS RENTALS,” I assume this avenue is dead, too.
(3) There are still uses for RoomiPay at the current 2% fee level.
(a) One option would be to make the payment with an Amex Blue Business Plus card, which earns 2x MR points on all spend (up to a $50,000 annual cap). For example, if you made a payment of $1,000 on RoomiPay, the service fee would be $20 and you would earn 2,020 MR points. In essence, you’re “buying” MR points for about 0.99 cents each. Many people would value Amex MR points at more than a cent each – we value them at 1.6 cents per MR point if you hold an Amex Business Platinum card – and therefore, making a RoomiPay payment with an Amex Blue Business Plus card could still be a viable option.
(b) RoomiPay also remains a viable option to help meet minimum spend requirements on new cards. It is also a potential option to help meet “big spend” bonus thresholds, such as the threshold to earn bonus EQMs and EQDs with the Barclay AA Aviator Silver card and the threshold to earn a Free Weekend Night Certificate with $15,000 calendar-year spend on the Amex Hilton Ascend card.
(4) Another option that I’ve used recently for earning 3x TYP on spend with a 2% fee is the Bravo app. Bravo was originally structured to facilitate small person-to-person payments without using cash and without an exchange of personal information, such as tipping a street musician. This was the play that they outlined in their appearance on “Shark Tank.” Bravo has now expanded its focus a bit to broaden the type of person-to-person payments they encourage, and its tagline has now shifted to “Tip or Pay.”
I have been using Bravo for about two months. The verification process was stringent, but I was approved. To date, all of my person-to-person payments using Bravo, with a 2% fee, have earned 3x TYPs on the AT&T Access More card. It may be important to note that I have kept the amount of my payments low on Bravo so far.
Do you have other data points or experiences with RoomiPay that would be interesting to Middle Age Miles readers? Additional thoughts on the path forward with RoomiPay? Let us know in the comments!