Learn how a bill paying service can simplify your financial life.
Bill paying services help individuals manage personal finances. A bill paying service pays bills automatically and on time, provides timely access to accurate financial data, and helps with setting and staying within a budget. Automatic bill paying is particularly useful for people who travel a lot and do not have convenient access to their daily mail and bills.
One option is to hire a personal bookkeeping company that receives the bills in the mail, determines which bills are due and makes payments by the due date. Additionally, enrolling in an online bill paying service is a way to maintain privacy and control. Many banks offer free online banking services that include bill paying features. After the user schedules recurring payments, the online bill paying service automatically drafts the money from a checking account or credit card, sends e-mail alerts and tracks payment histories online.
Many bill paying service providers offer document management, bill review and payment, cash flow management and expense reporting services. Some bill paying service providers will dispute overpayment concerns with vendors on behalf of their clients. Bill paying service providers help users set and maintain a budget and determine how much money is needed to pay monthly bills. This type of service may charge a monthly fee plus a per transaction charge and can be provided via phone, face-to-face or online.
It is important for users to inquire about how payments will be submitted. Many bill paying service providers can either prepare checks for customers to sign and mail, or they can sign checks on behalf of customers using a limited power of attorney. Additionally, payments may be made by the service provider using various online payment systems.
According to Investopedia, users can access online bill payment to maintain multiple accounts via one service, which can make managing a personal budget much easier. It Online bill paying services make maintaining a budget easier because users can easily sort and categorize their expenses from a central location rather than sorting through multiple paper bills. Users have the convenience of transferring funds online any time of the day. Many banks offer free online bill paying services to customers who sign up for online banking, but some bill paying services charge a monthly fee in the range of $3 to $10 for basic service.
According to TopTenREVIEWS, the most important criteria when evaluating an online bill paying service include:
• Bill Management - Sends alerts when bills arrive and when they are due, pays bills, and uses a calendar to show due dates.
• Customized Payment Features - Allows users to choose which payments are paid manually and which are paid automatically.
• User-Friendly Interface - Makes set-up easy, stores payee information that is entered once and quickly retrieves historical data.
• 24-Hour Customer Support - Ensures continuous access to financial information (unless there is a problem with the Internet connection).
Be sure to double-check the accuracy of payee information and to schedule payments so that they post prior to the payment due date. It is also wise to check account balances to ensure adequate funds are in the account to cover scheduled payments. It Overdraft protection ensures that a user's account always has enough money to cover payments.
When hiring a bill paying service, there is some risk associated with sharing personal financial information. According to Senior Approved Services, account information should never be shared with bill paying service providers that are not licensed, bonded and insured. Additionally, it is best to look for a bill paying service with the training and qualifications to provide accounting and budgeting expertise.
Because the confidentiality of transactions can be compromised when banking online, many of the top companies offer the highest level of security available. According to Smart Money Tips, it is important to read the security information on the Web site before signing up for a bill paying service. In addition to firewall protection, password validation and data encryption, many providers offer an automatic log-off feature that signs users off of the site after several minutes of inactivity.