How to pay your bills online, on time, every time

Tanya Winch
Tanya Winch

Traveling, whether for work or vacation, can pack a financial whallop.  The hassles of travel always seem to block my mind from my daily tasks and, sometimes, cause me to forget that I have bills due.  Yikes.  I don’t know about you, but I HATE late payment charges.   Late payments and parking tickets annoy me to no end — they are such a waste!  I travelled at length this summer.  Multiple times, I expressed how grateful I am for email reminders and online pay!

Most utilities, credit cards, student loans, healthcare plans and mortgages have the option to pay online.  Some even have apps and/or accept PayPal.  Many people utilize these options and for good reason.  I conducted a very casual survey of when, why and how my co-workers paid their bills.

These are the top reasons people pay online:

  • Stamp, time and check cost savings.
  • Payment can be made from anywhere there is a computer access (even your phone!)
  • Payment is immediate and a confirmation code and/or confirmation email verifies payment has been made and the date of the payment.
  • Ability to set up a due date reminder email – this has saved my hide multiple times!

When asking ‘how’ payment is made online, some people mentioned they pay only from their bank’s online pay for the following reasons:

  • There is only one login to remember.
  • There is only one place to go for all bill payments.
  • Payment and bank information are kept at only one location online.
  • Banks have very stringent online security – it feels more secure.
  • Banks will often send a check if electronic payment is not accepted – remember there is a 3-5 day lag time for check.

Other people gave me some good reasons for paying at the creditor’s website:

  • Ability to check all transaction activity and reward points immediately.
  • Easier to track dates and amounts paid .
  • Not wanting credit card information stored at their bank.
  • Direct email from the creditor stating payment is processed/ing – which is why I pay from the creditor website!
  • Immediate payment confirmation code from the creditor.

That leads directly into a discussion of automatic payments.  When automatic payments were initially offered, I blanched at using them.  I was afraid that I would forget to have money available in my account at the time of the automatic payment.  However, I learned that my credit card could be used as an automatic payment on utilities, allowing me to gain points and have only one bill to actually have to remember to pay.  In addition, as one of my co-workers expressed eloquently, “my bills are streamlined allowing me one less piece of clutter”.

Lastly, I want to share the most surprising thing I discovered from my very casual survey:  in some cases, insurance companies, student loans and mortgage lenders will give you a lower payment or interest rate because they know they are going to be paid on time!  It is advantageous to make a phone call to your creditors and ask if they’ll give you a payment/interest rate discount if you set up an automatic payment.   In fact, even if you are already set up for an automatic payment, it is worth calling to see if something lower can be negotiated.   It is worth the trouble.  I would highly suggest contacting your creditors to ask what discounts they provide for using their online pay!

With all of the handy online notifications and payment options available, I have simplified my bill paying to the point that I have not paid for a late payment in years.  I am very happy for that convenience!  Now, all I need is some sort of mobile parking notification that will keep me from getting tickets!