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E-Bills
Old 05-29-2011, 02:15 PM   #1
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E-Bills

Our credit union started offering an option to have certain bills sent and paid electronically through them. The catch is you have to set up an online account with the firm, such as an utility, and give the CU your logon info. The CU will send you the bill electronically and also automatically pay the bill.

We are retired and would like to travel. We have heard horror stories about companies that have access to pull the money from your banking account (hard to cancel, etc.) so we thought this was a better alternative. THe only issue we see is how secure would your info be with the CU?

We have had our personal info compromised by my former mega-company employer (a laptop stolen out of a car) and when we applied for individual health insurance, the company sent our application with our credit card #, medical history for 10 years, etc. to the wrong address. Both times, they pleaded incompetence and said we just needed to monitor our accounts. Recently, Sony had millions of their account's credit card info compromised. Based on this, we are a little shy giving any logon info out but don't want to have to overpay our bills for a month so we can travel.

Anyone have any experience with this type of service?
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:37 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Corporate ORphan
Anyone have any experience with this type of service?
Not me, at least not recently.

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Originally Posted by Corporate ORphan View Post
We have heard horror stories about companies that have access to pull the money from your banking account (hard to cancel, etc.)
Why cancel? Or are you planning to sell your present home before traveling? I have had all my bills paid via automatic deduction from my bank account for the past 11+ years. There have been no mistakes or problems and this was probably one of the better decisions I have made in my life. For example while in evacuation from Katrina it was very comforting to know that my bills were being paid, while my attention was on other matters.

When I moved from my apartment to my present home I shut the deductions off on both ends (both at the bank, and at the companies being paid) and did so with plenty of notice so that there would be no problems. I think I also had some of the deductions transferred from one address to another instead of shut off and restarted, and at any rate I remember a number of phone calls that I had to make but all worked out perfectly in the end. You're right that this is a little bit of a PITA, but that is all you have to do. If you are planning to keep your present home while you are traveling then automatic payments could be very convenient to cover your present home.
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:39 PM   #3
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I've been using bill pay for years with Schwab. No problems so far. Way more convenient than paper bills and payments.
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Old 05-29-2011, 03:01 PM   #4
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I use Bill Pay and e-Bill through Fidelity. E-Bill works fine for me. You do need an online account with the biller, but you shouldn't need to give them your CC info since it'll be your Billl Pay account paying the bill. That's as safe as you can be, and limits the the spread of your account info. You should get an email bill or notice of the amount that will be deducted long before the debit occurs, so you will have time to check the amount. Plus it should be very easy to cancel or modify the payment from within your Bill Pay provider's web page. They don't have any incentive to hassle you. I have done that before when I changed my my car insurance coverage after the e-Bill arrived and had to change the amount.

Beats the alternative of having to update your CC info with a bunch of billers just to change the expiration date every few years, or giving them your checking account info. I have just two monthly bills I can't get automatically paid.
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Old 05-29-2011, 04:16 PM   #5
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I've used the online bill pay service from USAA bank for years. Totally free and extremely convenient.

I also have a number of e-bills set up here and there. For example, my cell phone goes to a Visa card, the electric company and trash pickup company send an e-bill to a checking account, etc.

Several years experience with all this, and never a problem. I can logon to any of the accounts at any time and see the activity, and I get emails every month notifying me of amounts, etc.

Envelopes? Stamps? What are those?
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Old 05-29-2011, 04:34 PM   #6
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No significant horror stories with electronic transfers. Still, we like to keep as much control as is practical. For travel, we forward mail (when we will be in one place) and we pay ahead, by check, on recurring bills or ones we can estimate. Seems to work for us.

My general feeling on doing everything on line is that, when it works, it works very well indeed. When it doesn't, it can be a nightmare. Not sure the typical "good" outweighs the potential bad - at least for us.
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Old 05-29-2011, 04:35 PM   #7
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I've used the online bill pay service from USAA bank for years. Totally free and extremely convenient.

I also have a number of e-bills set up here and there. For example, my cell phone goes to a Visa card, the electric company and trash pickup company send an e-bill to a checking account, etc.

Several years experience with all this, and never a problem. I can logon to any of the accounts at any time and see the activity, and I get emails every month notifying me of amounts, etc.

Envelopes? Stamps? What are those?
+1
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Old 05-29-2011, 06:04 PM   #8
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There's no way you should need to give the CU your login info, RU sure about that?

BTW blue cross is eliminating their automated CC billing. Too bad cause that got us $60/yr in CC rewards.
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Old 05-29-2011, 06:51 PM   #9
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I, too, have used electronic billing for years with no problems at all. My setup is that the billing company debits my checking account for the bill. THis has been used for car payments, mortage, electric bill, phones & internet, TV, water etc. I have never used a billing service like USAA Billpay or the QUicken version. I only write checks to the school for fundraisers.
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Old 05-29-2011, 07:13 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gsparks2
I, too, have used electronic billing for years with no problems at all. My setup is that the billing company debits my checking account for the bill. THis has been used for car payments, mortage, electric bill, phones & internet, TV, water etc. I have never used a billing service like USAA Billpay or the QUicken version. I only write checks to the school for fundraisers.
+1

I've been using autopay for almost everything for many years, and have had no problems at all. I only have a couple things not setup for autopay for various reasons, but still pay them online manually.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:09 AM   #11
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+1

I've been using autopay for almost everything for many years, and have had no problems at all. I only have a couple things not setup for autopay for various reasons, but still pay them online manually.

Is this really the same as an E-Bill? It seems to me like you just authorized some places to debit your checking account with an ACH item. That has been around for a long time. I think E-Bills are a newer invention.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:40 AM   #12
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I think an example of E-Bill I used before was with my electricity provider. A third party would receive the bill and send the ACH to my checking account. This continued for many years until the electric company developed a way to send the ACH themselves and avoid the third party. The third party appears to have been a middleman between companies that did not have the ability to ACH themselves and my checking account. The service was useful because otherwise I would of had to use the paper billing/payment process. I am much too lazy for that. and cheap.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:44 AM   #13
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A little more information:
It appears that E-Bills are not the same as an ACH bank draft or an automatic credit card payment. E-Billing is the electronic delivery of a bill to your designated bill-paying service, and as such, is an extension of e-bill-pay service. Here is my understand of how it works:
  • You request e-billing through your e-bill-pay provider for companies that participate in e-billing.
  • Your e-bill-pay provider notifies the billing companies that you have requested e-bills.
  • The billing company sends the bills to your e-bill-pay provider and stops mailing paper bills.
  • You view the bill on your e-bill-pay website and authorize or schedule payment.
  • The e-bill-pay provider pays the e-bill.

This site has some good information. Bill Pay Demos - See our bill pay demos - eBill Place
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:46 AM   #14
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@Rustward: Good explanation.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:58 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Corporate ORphan View Post
Our credit union started offering an option to have certain bills sent and paid electronically through them. The catch is you have to set up an online account with the firm, such as an utility, and give the CU your logon info. The CU will send you the bill electronically and also automatically pay the bill.
Interesting. I've signed up with Fidelity to do exactly the same service, but they don't require us to have online accounts with the utility or to provide login info. I just signed my father up to do the same thing with Fidelity, and it's all totally automated with no need for other online accounts or logins.

Sounds like your credit union has a crappy implementation of a good idea.
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:22 PM   #16
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I've used the online bill pay service from USAA bank for years. Totally free and extremely convenient.

I also have a number of e-bills set up here and there. For example, my cell phone goes to a Visa card, the electric company and trash pickup company send an e-bill to a checking account, etc.

Several years experience with all this, and never a problem. I can logon to any of the accounts at any time and see the activity, and I get emails every month notifying me of amounts, etc.

Envelopes? Stamps? What are those?
+2

The USAA bill pay service has been very reliable so far.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:46 PM   #17
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Been doing this sort of bill paying through my bank for about 5 years now. It's great when we are traveling. No issues at all.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:14 AM   #18
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We have some bills paid as ACH, some paid by billing our debit card, some as e-bill all of those e-bills set to auto-pay as well.

One nice thing, with our credit union at least, is that we get a heads up to the amount of the bill and another email telling us how much will be paid, well in advance of the payment date. That gives us time to get on top of any errors.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:23 AM   #19
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If you use the online bill pay system at USAA bank, they let you know which of your authorized billers participate in the E-bill program. You can OK the E-billing if you want, which saves a step (instead of getting a bill by email or paper mail, then either writing a check or going to online bill pay).

If you authorize the E-billing, you can then decide whether to handle them individually or allow automatic payment.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:40 AM   #20
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Navy Federal Credit Union allows you to use any or all of several different methods. For companies that will provide an e-bill, you you can have them sent directly to NFCU. Or, you can get the e-baill sent to you by the biller. You can have NFCU pay automatically or authorize it each month. You can also set up automatic payments for bills that are the same each month (oil bill over 12 months, etc.). For companies that don't do e-billing or accept electronic transfers, you can still pay trhough the CU and they will send a physical check.

Over the last several years my check writing has dropped from 30 or more a month to maybe 4 a month. I think USAA operate the same way. To date, I have not had a problem with this system, other than the once or twice when I forgot to authorize a payment. In 2010 we snow-birded for 4 months and I didn't use a single stamp.

Makes life a LOT simpler.
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