In this electronic age, there are more reasons to pay bills online than to ever send a check through the mail, or have to wade through customer support.
If you have payments direct-deposited from your work, or want to save time and mental hassle, automatic bill-pay can be your best friend. All the larger banks, from Bank of America to Chase to Wells Fargo, encourage automatic set-up of your normal bills, for free. (It saves them time, too.) You can set up monthly car insurance, home insurance, tax payments or the cell phone bill, and never have to worry about late payments again.
Late fees can be avoided via the ‘alerts’ feature – the company will tell you when payment is nearly due. Companies often give you until late at night on the day of the bill’s due date, and sometimes a few days’ grace, if you’ll only type in your credit card details rather than call them on the phone.
Paying bills online makes sense from the sheer number of payment options available. Paypal recently rolled out BillMeLater.com, which gives those without credit cards the ability to pay bills online. For a short time, there’s even the option of getting a six-month extension on your bills, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Security concerns exist where online payments are available, but large companies spend many millions per year in safety features for their bill-pay section. The odds are in your favor against theft as long as you protect your passwords. Avoiding lost checks through the mail is still a reality, but Visa will pay you back for erroneous purchases; no one pays you back if your check is stolen.
Since companies save so much administrative time getting their customers to pay bills online, it’s in their best interests (and yours) to make the transition a painless process. Usually there’s a cashback option, an extra flight miles option, or a discount on your favorite online sellers if you take the online payment leap. Ebay offers one to two percent cashback for using BillMeLater.
One of the ‘silent awards’ of paying online is better tracking and budgeting. For example, using Wells Fargo’s My Money Map, not only can you see most of what you pay on credit card and debit card statements, they will show you exactly how much you’re spending in specific categories. Sometimes it’s shocking to see how much goes out in gas or eating out. A penny saved is a penny earned. When you see how much is going out in certain areas, it’s nearly impossible not to find ways to invest that money in a worthier place.
Paying bills online cuts down on wasted paper. There’s no more need to stand in line at the grocery store or at a post office to get stamps to pay bills, or buy (or save) 100 white security envelopes for checks. Just as cash has been replaced by debit cards, online bill payment has replaced checks.
Beyond the fact that paper takes up landfill space, paper also takes up valuable storage and filing space in your house – or business. Other than habit, there’s no real reason not to save an email to a folder rather than saving up old envelopes from junk mail, just so Visa doesn’t add interest to your bottom line.
Bills are a hassle, and we avoid them because they feel painful. With online bill payment options, that kind of dread and procrastination isn’t necessary anymore. It’s worthwhile to have that 30-day worry taken off your mind.
Surely there’s more to do in life than make payments by hand!