Are automatic payments all they’re cracked up to be?

A few weeks ago, I paid a sky-high electric bill.

After some investigation, I saw the problem: the electric company charged a $200 deposit fee for starting electric service at our new house.

The deposit was supposed to be waived, since we had a good payment history with the electric company. Only here it was, on our bill. And since we're on autopay, the electric company had already collected payment.

After calling and sorting out the matter, the electric company said they'd give us a credit on our next bill.

That wasn't a solution I exactly loved, since it meant that our bills would be higher than usual that month. Maybe I should've fought them on that, but I didn't. Also, we could cover the overcharge easily enough, so I figured, what's the difference?

But it did make me think about whether automatic payments are really such a great idea.

Autopay Doesn't Mean Autopilot

Autopay is great because it's convenient, requiring no action on our part to avoid late payment fees. There's nothing to mail and no logins or passwords to remember. I never have to wonder, “Did I remember to pay the electric bill?”

“Autopay is also an especially appealing feature for young adults just starting out in the real world because it makes it very easy to pay the bills,” says Robert Long, managing editor for Kiplinger.com. “But it can be a trap.”

For instance, bills that have a variable rate, like your electric bill, can be especially tricky to track if you schedule automatic payments to cover them. “My bill might be $50 at one time of the year or as high as $200 other times of the year, depending on how much I'm using the heat or AC,” says Long.

And if a couple of bills are higher than anticipated, you could end up with a low bank balance, or even overdraft charges.

“Giving debtors access to your banking account can open you up to accidental overcharges, whether it's a legitimate bill that's just higher than you expected or it's an accidental billing error where you're being charged a little or a lot more that you should be,” says Long.

For instance, you might have a recurring annual contract, like a gym membership, that you didn't want to renew but forgot to cancel. Or maybe you're disputing a bill, but in the meantime the company is still charging you and taking the money out of your account.

“Autopay can be too automatic,” says Long. “It puts control into the hands of the debtor because they can go into your account. Maybe one time out of 100, there's an accidental overcharge or you're getting scammed, but either way it takes that control out of your hands.”

It's easy to set it and forget it

So why is a service that's supposed to make life easier so problematic?

For one thing, many of us treat bills on autopay like a Ron Popeil rotisserie oven — we set them and forget them.

For instance, I like not worrying about my electric bill. But I admit that I'm not disciplined about checking the bill every month. And would I notice if the overcharge hadn't been so large? Probably not. But with no real action required on my part to pay the bill, when life gets hectic, I don't always review the charges like I should.

Two solutions to autopay problems

As with most things in life, you have to do what works for you, and autopay is no different. As Kiplinger writers Amanda Lilly and Stacy Rapacon discussed in a recent article, there are pros and cons to automatic payments, and sometimes what works for you changes as your situation changes.

So let's talk about a couple of options.

Option #1: If you hate the idea of letting a creditor have access to your money, then skip autopay altogether. You can still enjoy many of the conveniences of autopay with online bill payment.

“Personally, I recommend going with online bill payment, but not autopay,” says Long. “Autopay puts control in hands of debtors, but with online bill pay, you're in control.”

Option #2: If you're concerned about avoiding late fees, use autopay, but use it wisely.

Here are a few ways to use autopay carefully:

  1. Pay with a credit card first. If, and only if, you use credit cards and pay your balance off every month, consider autopaying with a credit card when possible. It gives you extra time to dispute charges and keeps your cash safe in the meantime.

  2. Only autopay set charges and minimum payments. If you're worried about too many higher-than-expected variable bills socking it to your balance, don't put those bills on autopay. Just set up automatic payments for the non-variable bills like Netflix. It's also pretty low-risk to set up autopay for minimum payments, such as on credit cards, to avoid accidental late fees.

  3. Mark electronic bills as high priority. Flag them, filter them, or tag them — just have a system to mark your electronic bills as high priority. It's easy to let bills get piled under other emails, which means you'll forget to review them.

  4. Opt for payment notifications. When you set up autopay for a bill, many times you'll have the option to be notified of the bill via text or email before the payment goes through. So opt in! It's just one extra assurance that you'll know what you're about to pay.

  5. Keep an eye on your bank account. There are a few things you can do to protect your bank account. One, double-check the automatic payments on your bank statement every month to make sure they're for the right amounts. Two, “make sure you've got enough cushion in your account so you won't get hit with overdraft fees,” says Long. This is especially important if you have variable bills on autopay. And three, sign up for balance notifications to make sure you don't overdraw. “Set up automatic alerts from your bank or a site like Mint to get an alert when your account dips below a certain level,” says Long.

For some people, automatic bill pay causes more stress. For others, it gives peace of mind. Personally, I'm liking the idea of taking my variable-rate bills off autopay. That way I won't find out that I've been overcharged after the fact. I'll just pay online each month, which always prompts me to review the bill.

So readers, weigh in! Do you pay your bills manually, automatically, or on a case-by-case basis? What tips or cautions can you add?

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Alex
Alex
7 years ago

I’m a proponent of autopay, but typically under two conditions:
1. I’ve had a good experience with the company’s customer service over a long period of time.
2. The autopay doesn’t result in payment being made 15 days early! (All my other “manual” online bill payments are made about seven days prior to the due date.)

Simple Economist
Simple Economist
7 years ago
Reply to  Alex

I think working with a good company is important. I tend to me more trusting of companies that have been around and have a good track record.
I’ve recently noticed several of my online bills give me the option when they want to be paid (if I go through my online bank’s site) unless I use the companies autodraft.

AMW
AMW
7 years ago

We only auto-pay our mortgage payment. We get a rebate back on our interest by doing this. We have a seperate bank account set up for this. We have money direct deposited into it from my husbands paycheck and it is the only bill that gets drawn from this account. There is a $200.00 “slush” in the account just in case there is an adjustment for escrow. Most everything else gets paid through on line bill pay. I don’t like the idea for auto pay on most things because once you pay the bill you lose a lot of bargaining… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  AMW

Same, I autopay our mortgages (primary and investment homes) because its a set amount and I want to make sure it gets paid first. I don’t autopay any other bills, not phone, not utilities, not insurance. First, I want to review the bills and make sure there are no errors or fraud. Second, I want to be aware of each bill and paying attention to increases due to changes in circumstances (i.e. its summer and our electric increases) or just increases due to increases in the service costs (DirecTV, I’m talking about you). Circumstance increases I wand to see if… Read more »

Bryan
Bryan
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

Same! While I pay bills online, I don’t auto pay them. I like to look for issues on the bill before I hand over money!

Adam Skinner
Adam Skinner
7 years ago

I’m so glad I live in an age where I can automatically pay my bills. Not only am I forgetful by nature, but I don’t want the hassle of addressing these passive cost of living items ad-infinitum. By using a “set it and forget it” approach and opting out of communications, this stuff is simply off my radar. Rather than putting the power in the hands of the corporation, when appropriate I will simply set up a timed payment through my bank to be sent out. In this way, I retain control, but the process is automated. For items with… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 years ago

Our bills are set up so that they come to the credit union webpage for review each month. They payments are pushed by the CU, not pulled by the biller. It gives us the ease of automatic online payments but the control of paying manually.
I cannot stand the loss of perceived control of having billers deduct payments each month automatically but our CU offers this as a good option.

EMH
EMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Rebecca

I have the same thing with Bank of America. We use their electronic bill pay site so all our bills are sent there but not paid until I review it and pick what day the money comes out of our account.

Carol
Carol
7 years ago

I pay all bills automatically. I review the paper statements as they come in monthly to check for problems. I don’t want the extra step of on-line bill payment.

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

We generally autopay on things that are the same every month, and they get charged to our credit card. A couple of times there have been errors and we’ve been able to correct them very easily.

Variable expenses like electricity and water I like to pay manually to remind us how much we’re using. I’m not sure I would have realized our water bill was about 20% higher this winter were it just being deducted manually and I didn’t have to focus a few minutes of attention on it.

Paularado
Paularado
7 years ago

Same here.

Our gas company once mis-read the meter and sent us a $1400 gas bill. After that, they will NEVER be on auto-pay!

Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
7 years ago

For most payments, mainly the ones that don’t change from month to month, I pay automatically. If the payment varies, then usually I like to look everything over and pay it myself.

Auntie Seester
Auntie Seester
7 years ago

Autopay works for my car payment, but I’ve used it for a gym membership before and been burned. I didn’t renew my gym membership, letting the gym know I was leaving. They continued to charge me account.

I called the management and got things straightened out, or so I thought. 4 months later a collections agency called and told me I owed $700 to the gym. I had to fight to get that fixed. I never will do auto pay for anything that isn’t a car loan or mortgage payment.

Nick W
Nick W
7 years ago

I put everything on Auto-pay. I set the amounts that is supposed to be pulled as a budget on Mint.com – if they pull anything extra, I rain down hellfire and anger and usually get any issues resolved. No thank you manually paying everything myself. I also keep enough of a buffer in my checking account that if my electric bill IS higher than usual, I won’t be sidelined. Also, I know in Virginia, they offer to take the average of your electric bills for the past 12 months and promise you an average exact same rate for 6 months… Read more »

Marsha
Marsha
7 years ago

Autopay is a beautiful thing until it isn’t. I had my mortgage set to autopay until about four years ago, when a computer glitch at the mortgage company resulted in a double payment. My bank paid it instead of refusing it, so I had a negative balance of several hundred dollars. It took 10 days for me to get the money back from the mortgage company since they had to do an “investigation” to make sure that I hadn’t authorized the extra payment. They also had the audacity to charge me $200 in bounced payment fees when they reversed the… Read more »

Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle
Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle
7 years ago

I get paid every other week and I like to pay a portion of the utilities and property taxes with each pay. I am one to two months ahead on each bill and I find it very comforting to have a credit balance.

I know that I would benefit from reward points if everything was automatically charged to my credit card but I enjoy the flexibility of paying as I go.

Peggy
Peggy
7 years ago

I do everything manually–any bill that’s worth spending money on is worth taking a minute or two to look over every month, if only to remind myself how much these things really cost.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago
Reply to  Peggy

EXACTLY! We autopay nothing for this same reason. When we have to look at the bill each month, manually write out a check, and mail it in, we are extrememly aware of each and every dollar leaving our hands and where it’s going. And it allows us to review every single month what is happening with our money! Death to autopay!!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Peggy

I autopay for some things AND I check every bill, not to mention the bank and credit card statement to confirm when payment goes through. I also take time to read the notifications companies send me about changes to rates, etc.

I don’t believe in the “set it and forget it” scenario. We need to be mindful about where our money is going regardless of which tool we use to actually pay a bill.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago

We autopay anything that can be charged to credit card and manually pay the rest. That allows us to check each month.

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

All our bills are automated. I have a “savings” account in CapOne360 for each bill and each payday half of the bill gets transferred to that account. That way I can give the company “pull” access to the account and they can’t get more than they’re due. I get emails with the amount that will be pulled so I can review the totals before they’re paid. Works for me.

Chris
Chris
7 years ago

I do everything manually and I am firmly opposed to auto payment systems. Now, I think I have a good reason. I get paid every 2 weeks (26 pay checks each year). That means that I get paid on different dates of the month each month. In addition, I don’t like money that is allocated sitting in my account. I admit I am more prone to accidentally spend money if it is still in my account. So on the evenings I get paid, I spend a couple of hours going over my bill register in detail (Day|Runner Home Finance book)… Read more »

Kirk
Kirk
7 years ago

I autopay all monthly bills that have static amounts (and I put my utilities on the level payment plan) and have never had a problem. Auto-pay is great IMO, because it’s just one less thing that I have to do.

That said, I don’t let anything unexpected get by me. I check my accounts every day on Mint. I watch my money like a hawk!

My Financial Independence Journey
My Financial Independence Journey
7 years ago

I will use autopay if they bill my credit card. If the company has any problems I can tell the credit card company to stop paying them as I dispute the charges.

I won’t let any company auto bill my bank account.

Jacob@CashCowCouple
7 years ago

+1 on this. Best route IMO.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

+1 as well! The only company I let bill my bank account is my insurance company because 1) have a long-standing relationship with them and 2) I have a very good broker to act as intermediary if there’s ever a dispute.

Any other automatic bills go to my credit card — which gets paid off every month (actually, it gets paid off after I make a transaction in most cases.) I pay my credit card bills manually though.

Tamara
Tamara
7 years ago

I don’t like having the biller pull money out of my account. i only do that for my student loan and car insurance payments. For the rest, I use Bank of America’s bill pay to initiate a payment automatically upon receipt of ebills. I get an email on the day that the ebill comes in and I have until the end of the day to cancel the automatic payment if I need to. I’m fortunate that all of my bills have an ebill available, except for the car loan. I just make a recurring payment from bill pay for that,… Read more »

Courtney @ FamilyGoneHealthy
Courtney @ FamilyGoneHealthy
7 years ago

I autopay my mortgage and our Internet bill. The rest of our bills I pay manually so I can check how much of the service we are using.

lmoot
lmoot
7 years ago

This article sure does speak the troof. After noticing extra charges (they were supposed to be waived) I started checking every statement. I got tired of it because I’m lazy and that’s why I wanted auto-pay in the first place (and honestly I’d probably accidently pay late more often than any mistakes were made by autopay…so thanks to autopay I have 100% on-time payment record). To compromise I dedicated my oldest CC, which already had all of my autopays linked to it, as the autopay card. That way I have a general idea of what the cc statement should be… Read more »

Juli
Juli
7 years ago

I keep a paper chart for the year, with a row for each monthly bill and a column for each month. It gives me a little thrill each time I get to check off another box (yes, I realize that makes me a nerd.) I pay online, but not automatically. I think it makes me more aware of what my money is going to.

Laurel
Laurel
7 years ago
Reply to  Juli

Oh my word, that is EXACTLY what I do!

Christina @ Northern Cheapskate
Christina @ Northern Cheapskate
7 years ago

We are on budget billing with our utilities and autopay with our rewards credit card. We know exactly what amount we’ll be billed each month and pay the card in full. We use the rewards to help pay for Christmas gifts. It works well for us.

Peter Brülls
Peter Brülls
7 years ago

Question to you Americans: How does your Autopay work?

Over here in Germany two methods are common:

a) Setting an automatic payment for a fixed day and some. (Like, say, transfer 1.200 € every month from the Giro to the savings account.)

b) Let the creditor request the money. Often also for fixed sums, but quite often for irregular sums, like the phone bill.

The second methods is easily contestable: It’s pretty easy to tell the bank to take the money back – as long as it isn’t fraudulent.

Ed S
Ed S
7 years ago

I had everything on autopay for five years until I changed bank accounts. (I had issues with the former bank, fees would go up and service would decline each time the bank changed its name… eventually it would hurt to do business with them.) If you have ever tried changing your bank account with every bill on autopay, you may understand what happened next.

Kay
Kay
7 years ago

I autopay everything, after I initially set up the account and get through any initial billing. What I DO try to do is autopay with paper billing, so I get a bill in the mail (though sometimes over email is the only way) prior to the payment being made. This works for my electric, water, internet, and cell phone bills, which have the habit of changing (only barely) month to month. This allows me to notice unwarranted changes before the payment goes through, which gives me some leeway time. As always, keep some slush in your checking account to account… Read more »

Grayson
Grayson
7 years ago

I dislike autopay and tend to decline to sign up. I will sign up for services like Netflix with it, but with variable bills like electricity and others, I just don’t do it. I don’t even pay my mortgage that way. I want to be able to control the flow of my money and make sure were are in the right place when the bill is paid.

The Norwegian Girl
The Norwegian Girl
7 years ago

I pay all my bills one by one. I don`t like having automatic payments, because then I get less involved in my finances.

SavvyFinancialLatina
SavvyFinancialLatina
7 years ago

We only pay certain bills on auto pay. For example, we get an extra 1% back if we have AT&T has auto pay. But I check my balance every month.
We have the security company’s bill on autopay. Can’t wait to get rid of that one.
Netflix and Hulu are our other auto pay bills.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

I’m still in the dark ages of manually paying most of my bills (online) but it works for me. I do have my electric bill, dental insurance and gym membership on auto-pay though. The electric company emails me about 15 days in advance what my next payment will be. That gives me enough time to call the company if I need to discuss it since the payment is slightly different every month.

Priswell
Priswell
7 years ago

We have our major bills set to be paid digitally from the bank to PG&E, Mortgage and others, but WE determine how much, and when, it is sent to our primary bills. In other words, it’s not really auto pay. Also, DH is vigilant about checking account balances daily. A few times, this has saved us trouble from troublesome creditors.

A couple of low-$ bills are on auto pay, such as Netflix, but only because it cannot be avoided.

Nick @ ayoungpro.com
Nick @ ayoungpro.com
7 years ago

Very well said. I was pretty terrified to put thing on autopay at first, but I have switched most of my payments to this method for convenience. I still watch everything like a hawk, but autopay gives me a better sense of security that I won’t forget to pay something.

M
M
7 years ago

Have you considered contacting your electric company and asking to be put on a same-pay plan? That’s what I have. We pay the same amount every month and at the end of the one-year period, they evaluate your balance. Then we either pay the additional or they reduce the amount we pay each month. As far as budgeting, you don’t have to worry about a variable amount.

beep
beep
7 years ago

I’m a baby boomer, and I have put every bill I can on autopay. One forgotten bill a few years ago convinced me this was the way to go. But I get email notices of every bill 2-3 weeks before it will pay, and I check every one out. I also balance my checkbook (on Quicken) every month. Just because I want to use a good tool to take the pressure of remembering off doesn’t mean I let it go completely. Autopay =/= no attention paid. I’ve just finished the process of switching bank accounts. This meant I had to… Read more »

edie
edie
7 years ago

I had my electric bill set up so I pay the same amount every month. Check with your utility to see if they offer this option. Payments are adjusted once a year, in March I think. I autopay everything I can, including the electricity bill. The only problem I see is that the government restricts us to six electronic payments per account per month. If you try to do more than six, the payment will bounce. I do a lot of my banking using the telephone teller (I wouldn’t dream of banking on line), but if I have five or… Read more »

lisa
lisa
7 years ago
Reply to  edie

What do you mean the govt, restricts us to 6 electronic payments per month? Ive never had this problem. I live in USA.

Sean P Brown
Sean P Brown
7 years ago
Reply to  edie

6 payments a month? Are you in the U.S. That sounds more like an account type restriction than a law. Are you paying from a savings account or a checking account?

Sam Pittsburgh
Sam Pittsburgh
7 years ago

grerat topic….I only use the ‘one time payment’ each month for my bills….

I cant give debtors that control to my checking for the reasons mentioned in the article…..it is TOO easy for them to do a money grab…and they like to do that where I live…form the gas company to the water company , etc.

Credit card payments are great online but some carry fees and I wont pay fees…

C
C
7 years ago

I don’t use autopay at all. Like others have said, I think it’s worthwhile to go in and review your bill quickly before paying. Especially in the case of credit cards–I know a few times I have though “how on earth did I spend that much money this month???”, and digging into it is always helpful. Even if I don’t discover any signs of a fraud or billing mistake, it’s still a little reminder to me to check in on whether or not my purchases were really “worth it” and I think it does tend to keep my spending in… Read more »

Alea
Alea
7 years ago

I use my credit card, GASP! for autopaying four bills: cable, cell phone, internet, Netflix. Each month I pay that in full, because it’s part of the budget, and I never have to worry about a bill not arriving in the mail, (like my cell phone bill one month).

Also, for those who worry about the bill being higher/different, I get an e-mail from each company telling me what my bill will be and when the payment will be due, so I know ahead of time if there is a problem.

Jen Y
Jen Y
7 years ago

When my father-in-law was dieing of cancer we learned some hard lessons about paying bills. We found after his death that some of his life insurance premiums had not been paid during the chaos for caring for him. So, my husband & I decided all of our insurance premiums would be auto-pay. That way, when unexpected things happen we know our medical, life, home & cars are taken care of. Everything else we pay online, unless they charge a fee – can you believe there are some things that do charge a fee for online payment instead of mailing it… Read more »

Davina
Davina
7 years ago

I’ve never liked automatic payments because it puts the creditor in control of my money instead of me. My only bills are housing, internet and one credit card and I use a Trac cell phone that allows me to buy minutes only as needed. I remind myself of payments due in my daily planner and use online bill pay whenever possible, but avoid automatic payments and just ended my New York Times subscription because of their automatic payment system.

David
David
7 years ago

I use auto-pay, but I have an app (Mobilligy) that shows me all of my monthly bills. That way, I don’t have to go through the hassle of paying my bills each month, but I just have to look at my phone once a month to see if my bill has spiked for some reason. This app also alerts me if a bill is unusually high.

-David

GlorifiedPlumber
GlorifiedPlumber
7 years ago

A cautionary tale to “autopay”. A high percentage my fault, but also a high percentage shady behavoir: In 2003, fresh out of college, I got my first credit card. A 4.3% APR alumni card from MBNA (absorbed into BOA). I returned to school in 2005 for a second degree and put part of my education on the card. I made the minimum payments throughout this period. In 2006, with a newly minted engineering degree, I was able to put money towards the card balance. In 2006, the auto pay option had a “minimum + set amount” option that allowed me… Read more »

B.
B.
7 years ago

It’s not your fault. You were scammed. MBNA got a well deserved bad reputation for such shady practices. The whole industry tried a lot of shady tricks, but MBNA was one of the biggest offenders. They should have notified you of what was really going on, and they did not, not clearly. They were experts at hiding important information in plain sight, like at the bottom of the page or on the back, in small print, so they could claim they did notify their customers. But they counted on many of those customers missing the messages. And now you play… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

Online pay, yes. Autopay, no and never will. Like others have stated, I want to keep control and to know where my money’s going. I don’t ever want my creditors being able to access my money freely; then the onus is on me to prove them guilty when they screw up and take more. My time’s worth more than that, and no one cares about my money more than me. Our electric company charges a surcharge if you use a debit or credit card to pay instead of having it come out of the checking account, so it comes from… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago

Last month I canceled Comcast, and this month they sent me a fat bill.

I called them and they actually owe me money.

I’m surprised to see Comcast continues with this shady business practice of failing to cancel accounts. Is it to inflate their accounts receivable on the balance sheet?

Because I pay with debit cards, an automatic charge would have been highly annoying. But I don’t, so all I have to do is wait for my check. See you in 40 days! Can I charge you guys “late charges” for it? You owe me…

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Good luck getting a refund from Comcast!!!!

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

@Holly – Actually I’ve managed to get my account credited twice with Comcast (but my account was and is still open). It depends on when you call and who you speak with. Though it works better for me time-wise, calling at midnight (PST) is a recipe for getting lost in translation and frustration.

Jacob @ iHeartBudgets
Jacob @ iHeartBudgets
7 years ago

“bills that have a variable rate, like your electric bill, can be especially tricky to track if you schedule automatic payments to cover them” Solution: Get on a budget. Sure, your first year in a new home, it might be tough to anticipate what your utilities will be, but just ask somebody who is in a house. And just overbudget for the expense, and throw the extra back in savings. It’s amazing what getting on a budget plan can do for avoiding overdraft fees. Better solution: Get a month ahead on your budget, so all the money you need for… Read more »

Old Guy
Old Guy
7 years ago

No autopay, only scheduled bill payment from my bank. No one reaches into my account, ever. I only schedule the outgoing, which I monitor. I sign on to my bank every day and check my balances. And yes, a $1300 cell phone bill that was automatically paid is what caused me to go to a “push” only system. But my pushes are not forgotten, because I always know what is going on.

And if you need a list, NEVER trust water, electricity, natural gas, or cell phone to autopay.

David
David
7 years ago

Manual pay credit cards, auto pay everything else. I get e-mailed utility bills a few weeks before the charge, so I review them and add them as pending charges to Mint, which then reconciles when the payment comes from my account. Best of both worlds, IMO. Embracing the technology age, acknowledging the .00001% of the time when something goes wrong, finding the right balance of being responsible and diligent without being paranoid or feeling like if I don’t write a check that I’m somehow not in control.

amelie
amelie
7 years ago

I sign up for autopay when I can (and on things that aren’t too variable) but I still check the bill itself.

Charles Meyer
Charles Meyer
7 years ago

This is going to come off as a little harsh but I am going to say it anyway. Putting bills on auto-pay and not reviewing the charges every month is not being financially responsible. With things such as Netflix and other fixed subscription type of services I don’t see as much of an issue. Services that can be variable such as electricity, cell phones, and others should be reviewed when the statement is received. With all my accounts I have set up for auto-pay, I have only ran into a few snags(biweekly pay schedule and bill due date.) Reviewing my… Read more »

KSR
KSR
7 years ago

This is the stupidest American scheme ever. I would say: “Don’t fall for it” but, I know Americans love convenience. If you want convenience, sign up for “adjusted” or “average” billing with your utilities (sometimes they even have savers programs)–so you know what the payment will be every month and *they* adjust every 6 months to your consumption reality by providing you–with prior knowledge–the adjusted and real rate. But, do not sign up for auto-payment–ever. You’re being lazy==they’re being wolves. Mainly on those that cannot afford and probably qualify for some type of assistance. First, if you sign up for… Read more »

BD
BD
7 years ago
Reply to  KSR

And your comment is quite ignorant. Americans aren’t the only people who have auto-pay. I don’t even know if we were even the first. From a comment on the FreeMoneyFinance blog: “We currently live in Germany and you must have almost everything on autopay – we learned the hard way that here you can’t have your bank turn it off, you have to solicit the person pulling from your account ” — Posted by: Deserat | November 07, 2011 at 07:42 PM So other countries do have auto-pay, and even more draconian auto-pay than we do….this isn’t an “American” thing.… Read more »

M
M
7 years ago
Reply to  BD

Just because you’re not responsible enough to handle autopay doesn’t mean others can’t. I’ve got all my credit cards on autopay, but I check them several times a week to make sure no additional charges have been added and that everything balances. I receive e-mail notices when the money is going to be pulled and I follow up the day it’s pulled to make sure everything is correct. With a little effort, you can enjoy the benefits of autopay and remain responsible at the same time.

M
M
7 years ago
Reply to  BD

Sorry – this was actually a reply to KSR, not BD.

KSR
KSR
7 years ago
Reply to  M

As for you…spending all that time assuring yourself is simply ridiculous and compulsive. Just review and pay the bill with “one time payment’…done.

KSR
KSR
7 years ago
Reply to  BD

Okay, we are not in Germany. AND–I’m not sure who convinced corporate that Auto-pay was the way to collect–but, I’m certain (in my head and in my education) that it certainly was an *American* that created the concept. Look it up, I don’t care. But, if you want your bank account number or credit card digits hanging out there in the cloud–to me, “up in the air,” cuz I’m old–go for it. I have no investment in your venture. But, that’s just stupid. You have your digits exposed to unscrupulous collectors and hackers–that will take YOU– time to re-collect, they… Read more »

BD
BD
7 years ago
Reply to  KSR

KSR: Ok, there are you are assuming again (unless the “you” in your comment is just in general, and not directed at me).
No, I never do auto-pay. I think auto-pay is an AWFUL idea.
But what I don’t like is when people like you start assuming things about countries, people, etc., and flinging insults. You can say auto-pay is a terrible idea (it is) without insulting entire cultures/nationalities/etc.

M
M
7 years ago
Reply to  KSR

@KSR. I appreciate your concern in reviewing your accounts monthly and making sure everything is accurate. However, autopay works two ways – 1. The payee pulls the money. 2. The bank can automatically send the money (not talking about manual BillPay). For the bank to send the money is perfectly safe. No more risk than sending it yourself through BillPay. I have that set up with some bills. However, with credit cards, I have the banks issuing the cards pull the money. The key is NOTIFICATION. I receive e-mails when the statements are issued, when payment is due, and when… Read more »

KSR
KSR
7 years ago
Reply to  KSR

BD–You have made your point. I concur, of course. Though I am not as passionately idealistic as you, I do appreciate the underlying concern and your world view and your “absolute” assertiveness. My point was not to bash America. I’m American. To simply state that Americans seek convenience is not a lie or stereotype–it is fact. Ask anyone in the world! Sorry if that pisses you off again. But, look, this isn’t about that—I was just attempting to establish parameters in the use of auto-pay and, inadvertently, its source of origination. I was stuck in contract law for too long!… Read more »

Mr. Bonner
Mr. Bonner
7 years ago

Ugh, I just noticed our AT&T cable bill went up $10 a couple months ago. I need to make the call to see what’s going on. Yet another reason I should go the oft advised route of ditching cable altogether.

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