How to make online bill payment easier
Many people choose to pay their bills through mobile banking apps or online accounts, but the options can be confusing. Should you pay through the company that bills you? Is it better to pay via your bank? Can you combine the two? Understanding how online payments work and the benefits of each option can make the process easier.
How online bill payment works
There are two main types of mobile and online bill payment.
You can go directly to the website or app of the company billing you—say, your insurer or your cable company—and pay the bill there. Generally you can use a credit or debit card or set up a payment from your bank account. One benefit of paying on the company’s site is you don’t have to look up how much you owe. However, if you have multiple bills, logging in to a number of sites each month can become tedious.
Another option for mobile or online bill pay is to use your bank. Nearly all banks, credit unions and other financial institutions offer this service. Once you set things up in your mobile banking app or online account, it only takes a few seconds to pay a bill. You select the payee(s), enter the amount due, choose a delivery date and you’re done. If you don’t want to manually pay bills each month, most banks allow you to set up automatic recurring payments, and you can schedule payments if you know you can’t log in when your bill is due. Having just one spot to log in (and one password to remember) can help you streamline your payments. You can also easily monitor your account balance.
Tip: One way to make managing multiple bills easier when you pay through mobile or online banking is to use eBills. With eBills, the company charging you sends your bill to your bank electronically, and you can pay it from your mobile banking app or online account. (You may continue receiving paper statements as well.) You may be able to arrange for email or text notifications when these eBills arrive. Check to see if your bank accepts eBills (Bank of America does). You’ll also want to see if the companies you pay offer the service.
The benefits of paying online
Paying online or with your mobile device is fast and convenient and offers the benefit of scheduling. You can coordinate your payment dates with your paychecks or pay bills from different accounts. Plus, many banks and billers use top-notch safety and security features. For example, Bank of America encrypts your information so it’s unreadable in transit, and automatically signs you off if your banking session stays open too long without any activity. In addition to security, shifting to electronic payments reduces your costs—you’ll save money on checks and stamps. Learn more about Online Bill Pay at Bank of America.
Generally, whether you pay through your bank or your biller, paying electronically allows you to control, track and review your payments. Often you can search for specific payments you made. If you use your bank to pay multiple bills online or using your mobile banking app, you can sort your payment history. And many banks offer email alerts to remind you when payments are due.
Keep in mind …
You don’t have to pick just one way to pay your bills. Ninety percent of Americans use more than one bill payment method, according to a 2016 survey from Fiserv, a company that processes online payments and eBills.
If you’re not sure whether online or mobile payments are an option for a specific bill, you can always talk to the biller or your bank to get more information. For instance, if your landlord doesn’t accept electronic payments, you can still pay your rent online or through your mobile device, and your bank will mail out a paper check. The process takes at least a few days longer, so you need to plan your payments accordingly.
No matter the method, the important thing is to pay your bills on time, since failing to do so can affect your credit.