5 Ways Electronic Bill Payment Services Help With Better Budgeting

Photo Courtesy: Ridofranz/iStock

Ever feel like keeping track of your bill due dates is a whole job in itself? If so, then the perks of electronic bill payment services (EBP) may be the answer for you. As its name suggests, EBP is all about paying your bills online. Rather than going through the process of writing out a check and sending it in through the mail or taking cash to a walk-in location for a cashier to apply to your account, for example, you can simply send your payment directly from your bank account automatically or one time only.

It sounds like a helpful solution — and it is — but what exactly makes EBP such an effective banking option? To find out, take a deeper look into what EBP is, how it works and how it can help you streamline your budgeting process. Then, learn more about how to set up your bills to automatically pay themselves electronically if you decide to give it a go.

How Does EBP Work?

 Photo Courtesy: Hispanolistic/iStock

You can generally set up EBP in one of two ways. The first is through your bank or credit union. These days, online banking has become a huge component of many banks and credit unions, and it’s easy to find a financial institution that offers EBP as an option if yours doesn’t already. Most also offer EBP as a free service to all customers who have checking accounts.

The other way to send an electronic bill payment is directly through the website of the company you want to pay. Many companies now offer EPB as a payment option to their customers because it’s faster and easier all around.

EBP is easy to set up and allows you to send your payment with a few simple clicks. If you choose to set up bill pay through your financial institution, you’ll log onto your online account and enter the information needed for all the companies you need to pay. You should also have the option to select whether you’d like to send a one-time or recurring monthly payment and choose the date when you’d like the bank to send the payment.

Many companies also offer electronic bill payment options on their websites. When you log in to your account on the company’s site, you can see how much you owe and even choose to get paperless (email) billing statements. If you want to send an electronic payment, simply navigate to the “bill pay” section and type in the amount you want to pay, the date you want the payment to go through, and the checking account or credit or debit card you’d like to use. Confirm your choice, and you’ll be set. Some companies’ sites also let you automate this process; with your permission, they can deduct an amount from your card or bank account each month.

The Perks of Electronic Payment

 Photo Courtesy: PeopleImages/iStock

Once you start paying your bills online, you might never look back. EBP comes with various perks that can help you keep track of your bills — and get them taken care of — easily.

On-Time Payments Are Simpler

EBP is effective when it comes to recurring bills due monthly. Keeping up with a whole list of different due dates can get exhausting when you have to remember when to send your mortgage or rent, cell phone, utility bills, car loan, credit card and other payments. Most electronic billing systems allow you to set up recurring payments that go through automatically each month on the date you select. These autopay options always satisfy your payment, even if the bill slips your mind. That can be ideal for keeping your accounts in good standing and preventing late fees.

You’ll Stay Organized

If you choose to set up EBP from your bank account, you’ll enjoy the perk of being able to access and pay all of your bills from the same place. But, it’s also easier to stay organized if you sign up for EBP on various company websites. When you’re setting up recurring payments, you might aim to select the same payment date for everything, even if that means that some of them may go through early. Your paydays may be a good choice. This way, you can pay all of your bills on the same date and eliminate the risk of one going through when you’re low on funds. Just make sure you know the total of all your bills each month if you choose to go this route. That way, you can make sure you have enough money to cover them all.

You Can Save on Cost and Time

Most electronic payment systems let you save your payment information so you don’t have to go through the process of re-entering every detail each time you want to make a payment. In the case of autopay, you never have to enter it again unless you need to make changes or updates. This saves a great deal of time and money each month by cutting out the need for stamps, envelopes, checks or money orders, and even trips to the post office. It’s also better for the environment for these same reasons.

EBP Is Secure

Financial institutions and online payment services take security seriously. Banks use top-of-the-line data-protection software and other features to make sure your sensitive financial and personal information stays secure. Setting up bill pay directly through your bank also cuts down on your need to enter your information on multiple sites. Sending payments through the mail comes with the risk of everything from identity theft to late deliveries to lost payments.

Late Fees Are Less Likely

Even if you don’t set up automatic billing, EBP can still help you avoid late or insufficient funds fees. Sending a check in the mail requires getting it to the post office a few days early to make sure it’s delivered by the due date, even if you don’t yet have the funds in your account. If you ever find yourself hoping your paycheck clears before a payment does, you’ll worry less by paying automatically through the company’s website. As long as you make your payment by the date the company requires — usually the due date or a day before — most companies accept it as a timely payment, even though it takes a few days for the money to actually transfer out of your account.