For people who are used to banking online, automatic payments make complete sense. However, if you’re new to using “digital dollars” instead of checks or cash, here are a few facts that might ease you into the convenience and efficiency of Auto Pay.
In short, Automatic Payments are those you set up through your online banking portal to pay your regular bills electronically—no paper statements, no writing checks.
It’s an ideal way to pay things such as home mortgage, car payment, or something like an HOA fee—bills that are the same amount every month.
Just go to your bank’s Online Bill Pay portal and enter the Payee details, which usually include company name, address, your account number, and the due date. Enter the amount to be paid each month, then designate which account you’d like the funds pulled from.
That’s it! Now, every month that bill will be paid on time. Plus, a record of those payments is always just a click away.
Auto Pay can also be used to pay bills that have a varying amount due each month (like utility bills or cell phone) or on intermittent occasions (doctor’s office).
The benefits of Automatic Payments do add up.
1. Save Money
No buying checks, envelopes or stamps. It may not sound like much, but the average household receives 15 bills per month, which could add up to about $80 a year in postage costs alone.
You can also save in the costs incurred when a payment is missed or overdue. Late fees can be harsh, and some creditors may raise your interest rate as well.
2. Save Time
No paper shuffling, check writing or stamp licking. The regular bills get paid on time, automatically. When other bills arrive, like electric or cable, just log on, enter the amounts due for each, and press confirm.
Auto Pay also makes it easy to review past bills. Instead of digging through files and canceled checks, you’ll find all of your account information in one centralized location.
3. Stay Secure
Studies have shown that online bill pay is more secure than mailing a check because there’s no “middle man”—funds go straight from your account to the Payee’s account. Also, banks offer highly sophisticated security measures, employing technology programs that have been designed for this specific activity.
4. Protect Your Credit Score
Having your bills paid on time every month is something that shows up favorably on your credit report. If you’re saving to buy a home or a car, you want to make sure your credit score stays healthy.
Set it and Forget it? Not quite.
For the most part, Auto Pay requires much less hassle and worry than writing checks every month. But it’s always wise to follow some basic rules to protect against mistakes or scams.
• Regularly review your account for any suspicious activity.
• Change your online passwords every 30 to 60 days.
• Look out for fraudulent emails.
Remember, bank emails will never ask you to send personal information. If you’re not sure about an email, delete it. Then type your bank’s website link into a new browser to see if any action actually is needed on your part.