If you’ve got several bill payments with due dates spread out throughout the month and find it challenging to keep up with it all, using a bill pay service can improve your financial life.
There are several options to get the job done. You could opt for a company such as Prism, Quicken Bill Manager, MyCheckFree, doxo or SilverBills — or just set up auto payments through your bank, credit card, prepaid card or service provider.
Whatever route you choose, enjoy the assurance of knowing your monthly bills are covered. No more stressing about late payments.
What Are Bill Pay Services?
It’s pretty self-explanatory: They’re automated online services that facilitate paying your bills via website or app.
The money, of course, is still coming from your account. However, you give the service permission to pull funds from your checking account and send them to your landlord, mortgage company, utility company or other service provider on or ahead of the bill’s due date.
You provide the bill pay company with your bank account information and all the information for the account you want paid, and it will ensure the bill is paid on your behalf.
You set it up once and don’t have to worry about remembering multiple due dates anymore.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Bill Pay Service?
Bill paying services can be a great tool, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everybody. Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of using a service to automatically pay your bills.
Keeps all your monthly payments organized in one place
Removes the hassle of having to remember multiple due dates
Helps you avoid paying late fees or getting your service cut off
You’re giving a third party access to your bank account and/or service account(s)
Some bill pay services cost money
If you set it and forget it but don’t have enough money in your account, you’ll encounter overdraft fees
5 Bill Pay Services to Help You Budget
View bills as a list or on a calendar
Works with over 11,000 service providers
Sends reminders about due dates
Quicken Bill Manager
Pays bills digitally or by paper check
Can check the status of sent bills
Access to other Quicken features
Works with hundreds of service providers
Sends email reminders for upcoming bills
Guarantees bills will be paid
Free online payments with a linked bank account
Database of over 120,000 billers
Real-time payment tracking and notifications
Developed to serve older adults
Can use without logging into a computer
Access to a dedicated account manager
4 Alternative Bill Payment Options
There are additional ways you can schedule an automatic bill payment without enrolling in a service. You may already be familiar with these options.
Your Bank or Credit Union
Many financial institutions allow their customers to set up automatic bill payments at no extra cost. When you log into your online banking platform, look for information about setting up online bill pay.
Setting up bill pay through your bank is a favorable option because you don’t have to give your bank account information out to another company. You just provide your bank or credit union with your service account information, like the account number, the amount to pay and the due date or frequency of payments.
Your Credit Card Company
Major credit cards also have free automatic bill payment. If your credit card gives you points or cash back on transactions, it can be really beneficial to pay bills through your credit card.
Similar to setting up bill pay with your bank or credit union, you’ll provide your credit card company with the necessary information to schedule bill payments. One thing to be aware of is that your service provider might charge an extra fee to process credit card payments.
Make sure you factor that into your decision to use this option.
Also, know that if you’re using your credit card to pay bills, you’re taking on more debt. Paying your credit card bill in full each month will keep you from negatively impacting your credit score.
Prepaid Debit or Credit Cards
If you have a prepaid debit or credit card in your name, you may be able to set up automatic bill payments.
This will be similar to paying through your financial institution or credit card, except you have to be more cognizant that you have enough money loaded onto your prepaid card to cover all your upcoming bill payments.
Also, be aware that some prepaid cards may charge you a monthly fee.
Your Service Provider
Another popular option to pay bills is to set up auto payments directly through your service provider.
You’ll give your service providers — like Netflix, your student loan servicer or the electric company — your bank information, debit card number or credit card number, and you’ll authorize them to pull money to cover your bill by the due date.
Some service providers may even provide a discount to you if you enroll in their automatic bill pay services.
However, it’s important to stay on top of your bills and not just set auto pay and forget it. If your bill runs super high one month or you’re mistakenly charged extra fees, your service provider will pull that money from your account. If you don’t have enough funds in your account to cover it, you’ll overdraft.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Bill pay services attempt to help simplify the process of paying your bills. They enable you to pay thousands of billers using a single interface on the web or your smartphone — no need to mail in checks anymore.
We identified some of the best online bill pay services, including Prism, Quicken Bill Manager, MyCheckFree, doxo and SilverBills. For those looking for the ultimate free bill pay service, we recommend checking out Prism — it costs nothing to get started.
You can hire someone to pay your bills, but such a service is a bit niche and will likely cost you quite a fee. We recommend checking out a bill pay service instead. The best part is that some are free!
Nicole Dow is a former senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.