Weekend Post Mortem: No-Fee MS with Point

We’ve talked about Point.app on this blog more times than I’m comfortable with (I don’t think a single topic should get too much coverage), but given their propensity to transfer money from Venture Capitalists’ funds to your wallet via their app, it’s been a regular topic despite that discomfort.

What never made it onto this site, or any other public site that I know of, is that for a brief, amazing, short window, Point let you fund your account with any credit card with no fees, and you could then withdraw your cash via ACH or through other easy manufactured spend right away, given that it’s a debit card. The limits were high too at $10,000 per month, all fee free from Point. There was a rub though: while American Express cards didn’t cash advance, some Mastercards and Visas did.

How did it work? In April, they added an option to fund your account with Apple Pay, an option which still exists today with new restrictions. When that feature showed up in the app, they had language to the effect of “Instantly transfer up to $2,500 per day using a debit or credit card from an existing bank — for no fee.” They weren’t even trying to hide it!

With the help of a fellow hooligan, we tested several small loads with different credit cards and found which ones charged a cash advance for loading. Looking at the charge on American Express’s activity view showed that they were using Stripe to process payments, which is an interesting datapoint to keep in your pocket for looking at similar deals. After that, I maxed out the monthly limit and waited for the month roll-over for even more spend. Then sometime in June, credit card charges stopped working and eventually the language in the app was updated to remove “credit card” from the Apple Pay description.

Lessons to learn from this:

  • New financial technology companies and their cards often allow shenanigans because they haven’t thought about blocking them
  • Shenanigans don’t always work right away, sometimes a new feature enables them
  • Explore each funding opportunity available in a FinTech platform
  • Make a small test payment to see if something causes a cash advance when you find something that works
  • Use the information on your credit card’s activity view for your test payment to discern the likelihood of charges working on other cards, and cash advances aren’t always the cards that you expect
  • Go big before it dies, provided you don’t care if you’re eventually shutdown (I didn’t care with Point, though I wasn’t ever shut down)
  • Keep track of which payment processors are used to discern patterns for future plays

I can definitively say that there are other FinTech companies out there right now that let you fund with a credit card. Get out there and explore, and when you see a new product consider getting it to see what it can do.

Be like Dora, go explore!

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