More than half of Americans paid bills late because of simply forgetting to pay, according to an April survey published by Citibank.
The reality is nobody likes paying bills — on time or a week late. The monthly debts roll in and a flood of tedious paperwork threatens to drown the earnings that came from your last paycheck and consume hours of your day.
One giant headache later and you get a break until the next month goes by and it’s time to pay again. If only things could be easier.
But there’s good news: Paying bills can be easier. You can reduce the stress of handling your finances to a few minutes and a few clicks on a website by signing up for online bill pay. A December 2012 study by Western Union found that nearly half of bills are paid on the websites of financial institutions.
Choose the best service for you and get started.
10 Ways Online Bill Pay Can Save You Time and Money
- Pay Any Type of Bill: As more people switch to online bill pay, more companies are accepting online payments. You can now make the smooth transition to online payments from smaller to bigger bills, including cell phone, cable, internet, utilities, auto insurance, and rent or mortgage.
- Centralize Bill Data: Keeping all the information online ends sorting mail into piles of open and unopened or paid and unpaid bills, as well as missing payments because of losing paperwork. Account management and bill organizing services, like Manilla.com, allow you to manage everything in one secure dashboard. Being able to manage all of your financial accounts, including the account you use for bank bill bay, in one place allows you to get an organized overview of where you stand financially. You can access your bank bill pay account right from Manilla, so you get a full view of your balances and accounts statuses before paying your bills.
- Eliminate Late Payments: About 61 percent of Americans pay late fees. If some of these bills are for credit cards or loans, a pattern of lateness can result in increased interest rates. Online bill pay lets you schedule payments ahead of time, so late payments never happen. Sites like Manilla also provide automatic bill pay reminders via text or email to help you avoid paying late fees.
- No More Checks, Stamps and Envelopes: Put the money you would typically spend on checks, stamps and envelopes toward your bills. Remembering to order checks or keep envelopes around is an inconvenience that online bill pay eliminates.
- Track Spending: Using online bill pay allows you to track just how much money you have available. You can link bill pay accounts to budgeting programs to check what you are spending and earning. This will help to avoid over-drafting and provide you with alerts for when electronic checks have cleared.
- Reduce Careless Errors: Writing checks or filling out billing paperwork can result in careless errors. Whether you leave the decimal notation in the wrong place or misread a due date, manual bill pay has risks. An online bill pay program can catch these mistakes before incorrect payments are processed.
- Access Your Information Anytime: Instead of waiting to receive bills in the mail or waiting to hear from the bank after they receive your check, view the status of your account anytime online. Online access is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not contingent on snail mail.
- No Excuses: Procrastination is another reason for letting bill due dates slide by and any excuse to avoid the bill helps. Eliminate excuses like searching for your checkbook and running to the store for stamps by using online bill pay.
- Student Loan Advantage For Direct Loans: Signing up for an electronic debit account (EDA) will give a 0.25 percent reduction in the interest you are paying while you use the EDA system. Check with other loan servicers to find out if you are eligible for discounts for using automatic bill pay.
- Mobile Access: You can log in and make payments by using your smart phone. The Federal Reserve reported in 2012 that a significant number of mobile phone users have already adopted mobile banking and nearly 21 percent of these mobile phone users reported that they used mobile banking in the last year.
Mobile websites allow you to take care of rent, utilities and cell phone bills while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or sipping a coffee at Starbucks. It’s fast, convenient and user-friendly.
Don’t be the last to enroll and expedite your own bill pay process.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College.