Online Banking: Should I Automate Bill Payments?
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Between work demands, family commitments, and other claims for your time, it’s often hard to find a break in your daily schedule. By automating bill pay through online banking, you can gain time in your day — and maybe even better manage your money.

Before putting your bills on autopilot, consider the benefits as well as the needed precautions when it comes to automated bill pay.

Benefits of Automated Bill Pay Through Online Banking



  1. Save Time and Energy: Paying bills manually can mean the hassle of sitting down with your checkbook and a stack of bills, and sometimes making an extra trip to the post office. “Automated bill pay is easy to use and convenient,” says Brandi Miller, Online Payments Manager at Regions. “Once you’ve set up bill payments in online banking, the bank does the recurring work for you.”
  2. Save Money: Not only can you save money on checks and postage, but automated bill pay can help ensure your payments are sent on time and you avoid late fees with the merchant.
  3. Care for Your Credit Score: A history of on-time bill payments looks good on your credit report. “People typically don’t link automated bill pay with credit scores, but timely payments can make a positive impact on your credit,” Miller says.


Necessary Precautions When Automating Your Online Payments



While automated bill pay is largely hands-off on a daily basis, you still have to do your part to make sure it runs smoothly and provides the benefits you want. “Cruise control is great, but it won’t drive the car for you,” Miller says. “You have to keep your hands on the wheel.”

Keep in mind these tips:

  1. Make Sure You Can Cover Payments: Even with automated bill pay, it’s still your responsibility to ensure enough funds are in your account to cover the bills. If your funds run low, you’re at risk of overdrawing your account and incurring overdraft and possibly other fees. “Automated bill pay may not be best for people who live paycheck to paycheck and fail to monitor their account balance, or those who don’t have a steady, regular income deposited to cover automated payments,” Miller says.
  2. Keep Tabs on Bills: “The convenience of automated bill pay makes it easy to forget about,” Miller says. “Sometimes the amount of your bills can change, and if you don’t monitor them, you could pay the wrong amount each month and not know it.” If this results in an underpayment of a bill, you could incur late fees and other charges from your creditor.
  3. Be Selective: Even if automated bill pay is right for you, not all of your bills can or should be paid automatically. It works best with bills that are the same amount every month, like rent, a mortgage, or car payments. “Bills that fluctuate, like utilities, may not be the best candidates for this,” Miller says.
  4. Set up Payments Through Your Bank: While it’s possible to arrange automated bill payments through each of your individual creditors, by going through your bank, you can minimize sharing your financial account information. If you need to make a change like canceling a payment, it’s a simple process through your bank. “If you have your automated bills set up through individual service providers or creditors, you have to maintain each account,” Miller says. “The bank is a one-stop shop.”

You may want to check with your creditors first, though, to see if they offer an incentive that makes payments through them more attractive. For example, some creditors may offer a reduction in the amount of interest charged on a loan if payments are automated through the creditor.

There’s also the option of signing up for an ACH debit service to make payments for fluctuating bills like utilities. But that still requires giving out your financial account information, and if you want to make changes to the service, you can’t go through your bank; you have to contact the merchants.

Online banking tools like automated bill pay can make money management more convenient. Before you set up automated payments, remember that you also have to play a part in making it work for you.

Gain additional tips for automating payments in this slideshow.

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This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Information provided and statements made by employees of Regions should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation. Information provided and statements made by individuals who are not employees of Regions are the views, opinions, or positions of the individual who made the statement and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, opinions, and positions of Regions. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented.