Thursday, March 14, 2013

Get Online Bill Pay Already!

By Susan Wilson, MBA
When banks and utility companies are all encouraging me to use online bill pay, I think, what are they getting out of it?  My money, of course.  What am I giving up?  Hassle, stamps, check fees, possible late fees and last minute changes on the amount I pay.  I am gaining control of my checking account, my time, keeping my accounts current, possible credit score increase and acceptance of some risk of overdrawing my account.
Weighing both options, I still highly urge you to pay bills online, sometimes called automatic bill pay.  There are a couple of ways to get set up:

Pay through the company billing you

Utilities, insurance, and even the DMV have online bill pay options.  You can pay with a credit card or from your bank account. Don’t worry about identity theft, their websites are safe.  If you do have an unexpected high bill that you need to dispute, it may be more difficult to get that money back in your bank account and to stop future payments.  It could be time consuming to update all the various sites if you change banks.

Pay through your bank

Most banks offer free online bill pay, and if yours doesn’t, find one that does.  Pay anyone on time and accurately.  The bank pays most electronically, while the gardener or babysitter will receive a paper check in the mail.   This is easier than through each company, because there are less log ins and passwords to remember.  You can also stop payments any time.   Decide how much and when to pay, streamlining the time you spend paying bills. 

Pay through bill-paying service

There are several companies who offer this service for a fee.  It can be used even if you have more than one bank account.  It is convenient and a quick way to streamline your bill paying.  Here is a website that compares some of the bill paying companies .

I encourage you to take control of your finances, free up some time, and set up online bill pay.  Gather your bills, select one of the options above, and get it started.  Figure out whether paying through the biller, your bank, or a bill paying service is best fitted for your circumstances, and make the switch.  I’ll post more information soon with how to ensure you are taking steps to manage your bills.  Remember, you are in control when you tell your money what to do.