4th Dec 2017

Never pay a bill again … let your online banking do it

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Set and forget your bill payments
Olga Galacho

Are you one of those forgetful types when it comes to paying regular bills, like me? Thankfully, automated payments came to my rescue years ago. Not only do these scheduling arrangements make sure that invoices don’t pile up, but they have also saved me money by helping me avoid late payment fees.

And, importantly, they have also kept my credit score clean, without which I may have struggled to get extra credit or a loan for an emergency in the future.

In fact, nowadays, I get down right angry if a service provider does not extend a facility for me to set and forget my payments. Like the company that collects my hard rubbish several times a year. They insist I leave cash under my doormat the day before they are due to pick up … no way, Jose! I live around the corner from a railway station (read a hub for wandering junkies) and there is no way I’m going to leave anything precious outside of my deadlocked doors and windows.

So each time the collection company leaves a bill in my letterbox, I have to traipse to the post office and buy a money order for around $10 to settle the $25 bill!!! Not even the greedy banks charge that much for most one-off, small transactions.



But back to automated payments. They have been the salvation of a life too busy to set aside hours at the end of the week to make sure bills are paid manually. That’s just not a thing anymore. Here are two of the most trusted automated payment systems you can easily set up for your regular invoices:

  • Direct debit – this is an electronically generated transaction that transfers money out of your savings or credit card account to your service provider’s account. The amount can be set or variable, allowing the provider to issue a debit request. This method is ideal for trusted services, such as insurance premiums, rates and utility bills. Remember to always have sufficient funds to cover the bills and avoid any ‘dishonour’ charges. And, don’t forget to check your monthly statements. Mistakes do happen and if the wrong amount has been debited to your account, you should ring the provider immediately.
  • BPay view – this is a clearing house for many of your bills. It facilitates invoices to be sent to your online banking hub, avoiding paper statements, then the system sends you an SMS text message to say a payment is due. With one click you can transact the payment or even schedule automatic payments for future bills.

 

There are other third-party platforms, such as PayPal, which offer recurring payment options, but to stay on the safe side, it is best to go through the more secure systems of your bank for automated bill settlements.

If you would like to set up an automatic payment for your bills, speak to your bank and your service provider for instructions. Ask how you can vary or terminate an automated payment in case your circumstances change in the future.

What method do you use to pay your bills? Do you still go to a bank or post office to pay bills over the counter? Do you still write cheques? Have you ever had a problem with an automated debit system?

Related articles:
Paying off bills
Unfair charges
Debit card or credit card?





COMMENTS

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Jimbo
7th Dec 2017
1:12pm
Direct debit is not necessarily pay and forget. I recently had an invoice which did not get paid by the due date because the expiry date on my registered card had expired and I received no warning.
Rainey
7th Dec 2017
3:01pm
If you give a supplier authority to charge your card or debit your bank account on a regular basis, only the supplier can stop the payments. That leaves you seriously exposed to dishonesty. Also, it's much harder to dispute an incorrect bill if the supplier has authority to simply take the money he/she chooses to CLAIM is owning.
Raphael
7th Dec 2017
3:59pm
i receive all my bills electronically BUT NEVER set up direct debit for any of them
My insurance for house and cars have my credit card details but I still have the option to cancel after reviewing the annual renewal papers
Can’t be without insurance for the big ticket items
johnp
7th Dec 2017
4:30pm
I agree with Rainey. All bills go through my scrutiny you then avoid issues like set and forget, checking amount is really correct, harder to change suppliers, having to try and get refunds etc
shirboy
7th Dec 2017
5:47pm
I have used the direct debit system for many years & I have my account linked online which I look at every day. Never any errors. All done through a building society.
PlanB
8th Dec 2017
7:48am
As soon as I get a bill, I go into OLB and set it up to come out of my account 1 day b4 the bill is due and I have always had a 100% perfect credit rating -- even b4 the internet
Rainey
8th Dec 2017
1:01pm
Likewise, Plan B. I receive my bills electronically and I pay them online, but NEVER by direct debit. I always scrutinize the bill first, verify correctness, then authorize a one-off payment to be processed before the due date. I have found errors on numerous occasions, and phoning a supplier who knows they won't get paid until they remedy mistakes generally results in polite responses and quick and efficient correction. Not so, sadly, of some suppliers who think they have the upper hand.
PlanB
8th Dec 2017
1:06pm
I always get paper bills as I like to keep them and be able to check if needed -- especially my bank statement as if Centrelink ring I always have everything in order, like you I always like to keep a good eye on things -- I did have my C/C robbed of $1900 one time -- noticed it in a day or so and notified the Bank and they refunded it to me
David
8th Dec 2017
5:53pm
I've been using direct debit to pay all my health insurance, utilities and credit card bills for over 25 years. I've never had a problem. I travel a lot and I'm often away from mobile/internet coverage, so it's peace of mind knowing that my bills will always be paid by the due date.
PlanB
9th Dec 2017
9:26am
Yes I guess if you are away a lot that would be the way to do it
Rainey
16th Dec 2017
4:39pm
I'm delighted to have finally escaped the clutches of Telstra and their rip-off billing practices. My new telco sends the bill 10 days in advance of due date with a polite message that if they don't hear from me before the due date, they will charge my credit card on file, and an invitation to contact them if I have any issues or questions with the bill. Nice!


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