Automatic Bill Payment! Beware

by Joe on January 14, 2010

As our lives become busy, and technology and internet takes over most of our lives, automatic bill is not just a time saver, it is very convenient. On my earlier post about ways of savings we noted a significant drop on our interest rates for our student loans which translated into a huge savings in the long run. That being said, not all bills should be paid this way – depending on how disciplined you are on keeping up with your transactions. If the bill is not fixed, reviewing the bills before committing to charges is a good idea.

Recently our internet bill went from $29 to $49 and I noticed this right on spot. We called our provider and were told that the ‘promotional offer’ had ended; thus the reason for the increase. We told them we are on a budget and cannot afford the increase and they agreed to make it $29 for another 2 years. (Made me feel like a great negotiator)

If we had signed up for automatic payment and did not care to check my bills, it would have been several months before we could have figured this one.

 To use automatic bill payment to your advantage:

 1. Review your statement

Make it a habit to review your bank statements monthly. This will help you identify any discrepancies on what you think you pay and what was charged on your account.

Also as noted on American consumer news:

2. Check for the Charges

There are certain banks and companies that will charge an additional fee for the convenience of paying a bill automatically. There may be administrative costs associated with the transaction or it may simply be considered an outright convenience fee. There may also be some credit card companies that charge a fee to pay a bill automatically using the card. It is wise to read all of the fine print before committing to setting up an account.

3. Double Check the Transactions

Just because you are set up for an automatic bill pay situation, doesn’t mean there won’t be errors. Always keep an eye on the due dates, balance amounts, and the last payment received information on your monthly statements from both the company you are paying and the credit card company/ bank you are using to pay the bill. Make sure both sets of statements show accurate payment information. It is your responsibility to ensure your bills are being paid on time, every time; otherwise it is your credit that will suffer. Also, keep tabs on your balances and make sure there are no payments being withdrawn automatically on an account that has been paid in full.

4. Ensure Your Funds Are Available

When you are using your bank account for automatic payments, make sure you keep up with your checkbook so you do not get overdrawn and incur even more charges. If you are using a credit card to pay your bills, make sure you pay off your balance each month so that you never go over the limit. In the event the funds for bill payments are not available, you risk double charges from both sides of the fence.

Wisdom says “Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver.” (Proverbs 8:18-19)

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