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Automate bill payment? Pros/Cons?
Old 06-28-2021, 06:01 AM   #1
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Automate bill payment? Pros/Cons?

What are people’s thoughts on automatic payment of bills - like utilities, cell phone, cable, etc?

I like the convenience but maybe I’m missing a key downside? I do watch the bills each month before they’re paid to avoid surprises.

What do you do?
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:11 AM   #2
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I automate bill payment, after years of resisting, but I also get emails when each bill comes out, and a reminder when it is about to be paid. Old habits die hard, I suppose. The main risks are overdrawing if you try to optimize/minimize your working cash in a checking account, and having a bill with a big error, which could also cause you to be overdrawn and precipitate a long, drawn-out fight to get the money back. I've never had either happen, but then just because it's rare doesn't mean it can't happen.

The other risk is just spending mindlessly, as in without thought or consideration. I like reviewing my bills so that I don't take any spending for granted, but as I said, I can do that and still automate payment.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:12 AM   #3
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Automate everything I can.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:17 AM   #4
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Automate everything I can.
Same here! Everything is automated. Mostly through billpay from bank or automatic credit card charge.

Only one major credit card that varies wildly and occasionally needs to have funds transferred. And some annual insurance premiums.

I reconcile all accounts monthly so I always know where the expenses are.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:19 AM   #5
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I have autopay set to my Fidelity 2% cashback for everything I can. A couple are preset but require one or two clicks to authorize. The Fido account is set to autopay from a high yield savings account. I have autopay set to push payments from my checking accounts for everything else (credit cards and mortgage). I avoid setting up autopay at the biller websites. If an account gets hacked I donít have to got to every biller to change the payment source. BofA has an ebill feature that receives the billings and alerts me. I can pay all or part automatically or manually.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:21 AM   #6
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We too automate everything. But I also thoroughly analyze each credit card bill as soon as it is issued, weeks before the automatic payment is made.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:22 AM   #7
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Automate everything I can.
+1

However, that's only using a cash-back credit card. I avoid allowing any business to direct debit my checking account after a bad experience many years ago.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:26 AM   #8
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I have utilities autopaid by CC, maybe one or two pulling direct from bank account- including CC.

Only way to go I think.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:35 AM   #9
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I've had almost everything on auto-pay for years. The only things I don't automate are bills that change significantly from month to month like the credit cards. But utilities, phone, alarm, streaming services, etc. are either charged to the credit card or straight from the checking account automatically.


I still get PAPER bills for everything though. I find that when I get electronic bills, I don't look them over like I do with paper. A couple of years ago, I discovered an error on one bill that had been present for a couple of years and I just never noticed - totally my fault. I switched back to paper so it won't happen again.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:40 AM   #10
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Automate everything that's up for it. Utilities, credit cards and even insurance payments. (Altho I almost always manually pay credit cards via the internet as soon as they post.) I do everything directly from the bank. I had some on a credit card a few years ago but they updated the card and changed the number. If I hadn't caught it in time there would have been some "bounced" payments. That violates the whole purpose of having auto pay.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:43 AM   #11
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Recently changed health insurance that was set to a Pull autopay from my checking account. They still pulled the payment even though I had canceled the policy. It took 5 weeks for them to send me a check. It also cost me $15 bank fee to ensure they could no longer pull from my credit union checking account. (Stop payment fee.)
Never any other issues.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:47 AM   #12
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Everything is automatic except property taxes -- I have to write paper checks for them.

I have all set to pay the statement balance, so no worry about what amount to pay. I do get email notifications of every bill, every month, and I check them carefully for errors.

Haven't had a problem in decades.
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Old 06-28-2021, 07:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yipper View Post
What are people’s thoughts on automatic payment of bills - like utilities, cell phone, cable, etc?

I like the convenience but maybe I’m missing a key downside? I do watch the bills each month before they’re paid to avoid surprises.

What do you do?
After seeing how well autopay worked for my daughter, about 10 years ago on New Years Day, I went through and made every possible autopay.... to our cash back credit card if possible with no fees... otherwise to our checking account. Also made invoicing electronis/paperless wherever possible.

For certain bills, I set them up as autopays from my checking account to the vendor using my credit union's bill pay function rather than allowing the vendor to draw from my checking account. Only two at this writing... my monthly Part D and quarterly HOA fee.

The best thing since sliced bread. I still get to review the bills before they are paid. Haven't even had a problem that I can recall... definitely makes life easier.

And for lumpy, periodic bills like property taxes and insurance premiums, pay them using our credit union's bill pay. We write very few checks these days.
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Old 06-28-2021, 07:35 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by GravitySucks View Post
Recently changed health insurance that was set to a Pull autopay from my checking account. They still pulled the payment even though I had canceled the policy. It took 5 weeks for them to send me a check. It also cost me $15 bank fee to ensure they could no longer pull from my credit union checking account. (Stop payment fee.)
^ This is why I only use a CC for autopaying bills, not debiting my checking account. Had a similar issue years ago that took months to resolve and don't want to chance it happening again.
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Old 06-28-2021, 07:47 AM   #15
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I have some that direct debit our checking account... life insurance premium, my Part B premium (I'm not on ss yet), our Medigap premiums, 3 credit card payments, DW's Part D premium and two electric bills... never had a problem.

A few years ago DW has a health club membership that was a direct draw that we had a problem canceling... but that was the only way they would do a membership... they didn't allow credit cards... I wouldn't do that again.
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Old 06-28-2021, 07:52 AM   #16
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We autopay everything we can. I typically still pay credit cards as soon as the charge hits my account. Iíve increased the bills paid by my checking account and reduced charging bills to credit cards because of the hassles if a card gets a different number or even just expires. I wish property taxes could be set on autopay. One of my doctors still requires checks and doesnít accept credit cards or cash. Crazy!
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Old 06-28-2021, 08:34 AM   #17
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I set auto pay for items I will never competitively shop for. HOA's, Water, Garbage, PGE, etc.
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Old 06-28-2021, 08:37 AM   #18
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Everything except property tax on auto pay using credit card. The credit card also on auto pay from checking. Our income is also on auto pay so if we died someone would need to shut these down or they would continue indefinitely.
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Old 06-28-2021, 08:52 AM   #19
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I must be behind the times. I have only a few bills on auto pay, two directed to my CC and 1 or 2 to my bank account. Most bills I get in the mail and pay electronically from my bank account. Some I pay electronically with my CC. I admit that it is a bit inconvenient when we go on trips. We don't usually go for much more than a week.

Has anyone had a mishap occur on auto pay where the billing party accidentally took more than they were supposed to? I had something happen once that makes me hesitate changing over. My employer made a mistake in paycheck auto deposit and then took it back. Didn't make the correct deposit for several work-days. This made some of my scheduled payments overdraw. Old lessons are hard to break.
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Old 06-28-2021, 08:56 AM   #20
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Quote:
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What are peopleís thoughts on automatic payment of bills - like utilities, cell phone, cable, etc?

I like the convenience but maybe Iím missing a key downside? I do watch the bills each month before theyíre paid to avoid surprises.

What do you do?
I pay almost everything via Schwab Bank bill pay. Many payments are automated with the vendor sending an electronic bill to Schwab, I get a notice of the bill and the amount, then a couple of weeks later it gets paid.

Our ISP cannot e-bill (why?) but the amount is the same every month, so I just set up a regular fixed payment.

Our internet/phone coop at our lake home can't e-bill either and their bill fluctuates by a dollar of so every month. Why I don't know. I also set up a regular payment to them equal to roughly their average bill. Then every year or so I make a one-time payment adjustment to zero out whatever pennies of credit or debit I have accumulated.

I pay irregular bills (doctor, dentist, quarterly garbage, etc.) by going online and scheduling a check to be delivered a day or two before the due date. This is easier that writing and mailing a check and then Schwab retains payment history so I can review. Last month I spotted a stealth price increase from the garbage hauler this way, called them to complain and they backed down. Very satisfying.

My Visa direct debits the checking account. I would prefer something else but this is the only automated option. I keep track of charges by downloading the credit card detail into Quicken, so every charge gets reviewed well before the payment is drawn.

I have been doing this for years (10+?) and don't ever recall having a problem. It is very nice when we are traveling as I don't worry at all about late or missed payments.
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