Bill Paying Services Review
Why Use Online Bill Paying Services?
Imagine paying all your bills with a few clicks of a mouse. Kiss stamps, envelopes and trips to the post office goodbye by using online bill paying services. Paying your bills online saves you oodles of time and money. These services are available 24 hours a day so you can pay your bills on your own schedule.
Online bill pay also saves you the hassle of late fees. Most services provide alerts that let you know when your bills have arrived, when they're due and when they are paid. Your payments are guaranteed to arrive on the date you set every time.
These services are faster than and as secure as regular mail. Legitimate financial institutions go to great lengths to protect their customers. Much of identity theft occurs from your own mailbox, so transacting online with the latest encryption and security technology ensures your information is safe.
Paying your bills this way helps you to stay organized by giving you access to your accounts in a central place. Logging in to multiple websites to see and pay your bills is a pain. Referencing all of your accounts together is a good way to see your financial commitments and get a look at the big picture. You can find articles related to online bill paying service, that can help you make a decision on which service is right for your bill paying needs.
Bill paying services have a variety of bill management and payment features to make your life simpler and more efficient. Companies differ in whom they can pay, the types of notifications they send, cost and extra features they provide. The services vary in what they offer, so make sure the service you pick can fill your needs.
Setting Up A Bill Paying Service
If you use your bank for bill pay, you may already have an online account set up with it. Once you sign up, then it is just a matter of linking to the accounts you need to pay. For other service providers, you will register on their sites and go through the steps. It's common practice to verify your account by making a test deposit followed by a withdrawal from your payment account, and you need to provide additional documentation during the setup period. This process can take a week, so you may wind up paying some bills yourself while you wait. The site should be well designed and easy to use. Setting up your accounts should be intuitive and require the least amount of effort possible.
Managing Your Bills
Bill management features keep you on target to pay your bills on time. The best bill pay services provide enough information about your bills to keep you from needing to log in to multiple websites. For this reason, you should be able to view your statements on the bill pay site. Some sites, such as Paytrust and Wells Fargo, have your payment history available for your reference. Another feature, which Paytrust and BBVA Compass offer, is the ability to create reports from your financial information. Since most people have several bills to manage, it's so much easier to have all this in one place.
These companies should also send alerts about activities related to your bills. Some bill pay apps do not provide notifications when a bill arrives, is due or has not been received. Paytrust sends these notifications and also notifies you when your payment is confirmed. You might prefer to have those sent to you, so make sure you check for this feature.
Surprisingly, some of these services don't even send a payment confirmation that tells you when your payment has been made and received. Notifications help you to ensure you have the necessary funds in the right account when you need them. Knowing for sure that your payment was made is comforting. It is convenient to be notified when a bill paying event occurs so you know what is happening without logging in to your account.
Another convenient feature is the ability to print your bills. Some bill pay services, such as Paytrust and Wells Fargo, perform automatic checkbook balancing, and then they calculate and display your checkbook balance in your account. Wells Fargo has a bill calendar feature that shows when bills are due and when they have been paid; this is a useful visual tool that lets you see your information at a glance.
Paytrust, MyCheckFree and HSBC let you view your bill information for up to a year and may archive them offline for several more years. Another feature that may interest you is the option to export your information in Microsoft Excel format, so you can keep your own records. BBVA Compass alerts you if you are nearing your credit limit, budgeted limit and more.
Paying Your Bills
Online bill paying services include a variety of payment options. Many companies can pay any individual or business that accepts electronic payments, while others have a list of payees to whom they will send money. Look for a company that can send payments to all of your creditors. The service should allow you to choose which payments you want to pay each month manually and which you want to be paid automatically.
Most services use your checking account to pay, but some use other accounts such as a home equity line of credit. Wells Fargo and MyCheckFree process credit card payments. Paytrust, Wells Fargo and MyCheckFree support using multiple accounts to pay your bills. Banking sites, such as Well Fargo, PNC, BBVA Compass and HSBC, only let you pay from accounts at their banks. This can be limiting and is not ideal if you maintain accounts elsewhere that you use for bill payments. Make sure you know which account types and banks you can use to pay your bills.
These days, most people make account payments electronically. However, some companies still ask for paper checks. If you want these paid through your bill paying service, then you need to find one that cuts paper checks. Paytrust, Wells Fargo, PNC and MyCheckFree can send paper checks. A small number of companies allow you to have paper bills sent to them that the service scans and displays in your account.
At your discretion, you should be able to set your payments as individually authorized or automatically recurring. Most companies offer the choice to pay your bills manually. When you need to pay a bill in a hurry, companies such as Wells Fargo can make same-day payments. Check to see which payees the service can send these payments to, as well as the cost and cutoff times. Services also guarantee on-time payments, and if they fail to make a payment that you properly set up, they reimburse you for late fees and interest, typically up to a certain amount. However, neither HSBC nor Xpress Bill Pay offer to pay late charges.
It goes without saying that your financial information must be secure. Most, if not all, bill paying services use the latest security methods. Many companies guarantee their security and will reimburse you for fraudulent transactions. You can find guidelines for this procedure in your service agreement. Each website usually has tips for your information's security, such as keeping your account information confidential and maintaining your antivirus software.
Pricing & Fees
Often banks provide bill pay service with no monthly charge. However, there may be conditions such as maintaining a minimum balance. If you don't meet the requirements, then you pay a monthly fee. Of course, account fees, such as overdraft protection and monthly fees for your payment accounts, apply as they normally do. If same-day payments are available, there is usually an extra charge for it. Monthly fees often cover a set number of payments per month, and then the service charges a per-transaction fee. Often you have at least a 25-bill pay maximum, which should cover most people.
Help & Support
Look for a company that has customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because your financial information can be time-critical. Support contact options may include phone, email, chat and social media. They also include FAQs and knowledgebases to let you browse for answers on your own. Banks, such as Wells Fargo, PNC, BBVA and HSBC, offer phone support. MyCheckFree has a user forum, which is an excellent way to learn from other customers' experience. Bill pay services with your bank also provide help at their physical locations.
It's ideal for paying bills online to find a company that gives you several ways to contact its customer support. If it has a wait time for one method, it may be quicker to use a different option. For instance, if it has a high call volume with a long wait time, it may be able to give you a quicker response on Twitter. Flexible options can help you get the answers you need as fast as possible.