Internet bill pay is a convenient way of paying your household bills online. Instead of making a payment by phone or dropping the bill in the mail, payments can be made via the Internet using your credit card or checking account number. This method of paying your bills is fast, easy and free and is now so wide spread that many private schools, churches and membership-only clubs request that monthly payments are made with an Internet bill-pay feature.
While the idea of sharing personal banking information on the Internet sounds a little risky, once you’ve conducted a few online transactions with your credit card or checking account number, you’ll quickly appreciate how fast and easy bill paying can be. It also should be reassuring to know that legitimate sites have some built-in security measures that minimize the risk of fraud. You can tell if these safeguards are in place by looking for the following signs:
–Special logos such as VeriSafe or Hacker Safe on the order form
–An “s” following the prefix “http” on the address bar
–Lock icons, usually in the bottom right of your browser
So what are the many benefits of Internet bill pay? The list might surprise you.
Benefit #1: Free of charge to use. While this seems obvious, the not-so-obvious part of this benefit is that phoning in a payment can now cost you $5 to $15 or even more for “processing.” If the statement due date is only a day or two away, making the payment using Internet bill pay instead of the telephone will save money.
Benefit #2: Payments are never late. For me, this is the best part of having automatic payments coming out of my checking account. There’s no more worrying about being late on the payment and incurring a hefty “late fee” or cancellation, since the credit card or insurance company is the one handling the payment.
Benefit #3: Saves on stamps, postage and driving to the post office. At 44 cents a stamp, 2 cents an envelope, plus the gas it takes to drive to a post office, Internet bill pay can save a person $10 a month or more. For the uber-frugal, some companies even offer a little financial incentive for initial enrollment in their Internet bill pay system.
Benefit #4: Payment confirmation. How many times have you mailed a payment only to have it not arrive in a timely manner? With credit card companies fishing for excuses to jack up the interest rates and assess a hefty late fee, “it got lost in the mail” is one excuse that never works. By making a payment online with a bill pay program, you have immediate confirmation (plus a transaction number, too) that the payment was made.
Benefit #5: Bills get paid even when you aren’t around. For the past four years, all my regular monthly bills have been paying themselves with bill pay. In addition to being incredibly convenient and a real time-saver, Internet bill pay means that the bills are being paid even while our family is out of town on vacation, or while I’m preoccupied with taking care of sick relatives.
Whether you use a credit card, debit card or a direct withdrawal from your checking account, Internet bill pay is a fantastic tool for managing your payments. Not only does bill pay save time and money, it also eliminates the stress of a late payment and unpleasant penalties.