Automated Bill Pay Tips
Know how to use this service responsibly and efficiently
Automated bill pay systems are convenient and easy and can save you time throughout each month. There are, however, some things you should keep in mind when using automated bill pay services. As financial specialist Bruce McClary of Clear Point Financial Solutions explains, “The upside to online bill pay is that you are more likely to pay your bills on time. But this convenience can have a dark side in that it sometimes breeds financial laziness.” Here are some tips to avoid becoming “lazy” about your finances.
CreditCards.com outlines a couple things to remember:
- Save records: Sign up for electronic bills, print them out and file them. If there are any discrepancies in the future, you have a paper or email trail to follow.
- Protect your identity: Don’t use simple passwords to access your bill pay account, such as your spouse’s name, your birthday or any other obvious keywords. Change your passwords regularly.
Ron Lieber of the New York Times also has some recommendations:
- Check expiration dates: If your bill-pay service is connected to a credit card, make sure to contact billers before the card’s expiration date approaches, since they may keep trying to bill that account and you’ll eventually end up with penalties for missed payments.
- Avoid complacency: Lieber notes, “If you’re not careful, automated bill paying can easily lull you into believing that everything is taken care of and no vigilance is needed.” Make a list of all your online bills and write down the date they are paid as well as the amount. This will help you catch any errors and practice good financial habits.