E- Billing & Autopay

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mhalley
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E- Billing & Autopay

Post by mhalley » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:56 am

I am having a problem with my paper electric bill not being sent to my house. I double checked online and am not signed up for e-bills, but for paper statements. I have been reluctant to go to an all e-bill system for expenses (water, power, internet, CC, etc), in part because of concerns with complications for my wife when I pass as she is not very computer savvy. Has anyone else gone all paperless, and if so all autopay? If you are on auto pay are you using a CC or bank account? My bank says some of my bills are ebill eligible, anyone else with a bank program similar and using their ebill system? Should I get out of the 20th century and go paperless and autopay across the board?

RetiredInTheWest
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by RetiredInTheWest » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:04 am

We went paperless some years ago. We really enjoy not having to worry about paying bills. We pay all we can by one credit card that is strictly used only for recurring bills. That way when this card has to updated (expires or if somehow compromised), we have a list of places to go change it to a new card (this might be a problem for people who are not familiar with computers). After that, if the checking account is the only option, we use that. Now we only write four or five checks per year, just for odd things here and there.

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archbish99
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by archbish99 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:10 am

We do this, and it's very convenient. However, your concern about your wife when you pass is well-founded. When my father passed recently, my mother found that all their e-bills and auto-payments were not only discontinued but no longer even listed.

Similarly, she found the majority of "their" credit cards closed immediately, because she was only an authorized user. It's worth thinking through what each person will have available to them if they are the surviving spouse.
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rgs92
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by rgs92 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:13 am

Make everything paperless. If you overlook or forget things, automatic payment is by far the best way to go; it' set and forget. In fact, for seniors, it's even more important to set things up like this to avoid oversights or inability to keep up with things.

Credit cards are better than bank accounts since you get a rebate, but you do have to worry about providing a new expiration date and CVV code when the credit card expires. But you can just call the company you are paying to change it if for some reason you don't want to do it online.

And I guess the way to avoid the problem mentioned about cards closed for authorized users is to use a bank account. I *think* some credit cards allow joint ownership, so this may solve this. (Maybe others could confirm this here. )
Last edited by rgs92 on Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

mhalley
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by mhalley » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:13 am

Just checked the mail and the electric bill came, so that is not a problem.

Flyer24
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by Flyer24 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:16 am

I have almost everything on autopay and paperless billing. I use a credit card for most bills to get the reward points. My wife is computer savvy but not money savvy. I have an emergency records folder that contains information for each autopay setup. She can easily just grab the folder and login to the websites.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by Doom&Gloom » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:55 pm

mhalley wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:56 am
I am having a problem with my paper electric bill not being sent to my house. I double checked online and am not signed up for e-bills, but for paper statements. I have been reluctant to go to an all e-bill system for expenses (water, power, internet, CC, etc), in part because of concerns with complications for my wife when I pass as she is not very computer savvy. Has anyone else gone all paperless, and if so all autopay? If you are on auto pay are you using a CC or bank account? My bank says some of my bills are ebill eligible, anyone else with a bank program similar and using their ebill system? Should I get out of the 20th century and go paperless and autopay across the board?
Both my electric bill and water bill have recently become available to pay online with no CC surcharge. Even though I still get paper bills from both (and no option yet not to do so), I usually pay the bills prior to receiving the statements. Since everything else has been on e-billing for quite a while, I am effectively all e-bill now. No regrets; it has been a real convenience.

All bills are paid online. OTOH, I have nothing set on autopay except our cell phones and vehicle insurance, both of which seemed to require (or incentivize) it. I am too much of a control freak to welcome autopay. However, as I age, I may reconsider for the convenience.

DW & I pay our CC bills separately--both on e-billing but not autopay, so she is adept at paying bills online. I hope I have left enough bread crumbs for her to follow to figure out how to pay utilities & insurance bills if I pre-decease her (which is quite likely). If not, she will figure it out quickly enough after they cut the lights off the first time :idea:

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:21 pm

My electric and water bills draw directly from my checking account. Everything else goes to a credit card. I typically pay that card manually, but it is set up to autopay from my checking account if manual payment doesn’t happen (if I’m on vacation, for instance). I was uncomfortable at first, but now that a couple of years have gone by, I find that I love it.
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tibbitts
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by tibbitts » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:41 pm

Billpay is excellent. Most monthly bills can't be charged, they have to be paid via a bank account, but that's okay. The main concern is an unexpected bill emptying your account for those bills you auto-pay, which of course is why you want to use a credit card for anything you can. My billpay doesn't have a "maximum per payment" option. I try to use manual pay for most bills but do have utilities (which can't be charged to a card) draw directly from my bank now.

tibbitts
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by tibbitts » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:44 pm

archbish99 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:10 am
We do this, and it's very convenient. However, your concern about your wife when you pass is well-founded. When my father passed recently, my mother found that all their e-bills and auto-payments were not only discontinued but no longer even listed.

Similarly, she found the majority of "their" credit cards closed immediately, because she was only an authorized user. It's worth thinking through what each person will have available to them if they are the surviving spouse.
Who told the card companies to close the cards? My experience has been that the cards stay open for quite a while - actually none of them were ever closed until I asked for them to be closed, even with just one deceased cardholder.

radiowave
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by radiowave » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:58 pm

We pay most of our monthly bills by eBill. I have payments in a separate account from regular savings/checking for security reasons and check them often. I also keep an eye on all credit card expenses with text for any charges and also monthly sums. We have one direct debit to our account and I have that setup in a separate account that puts the money in just before the debit is due.
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daveydoo
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by daveydoo » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:19 pm

Credit card > bank account, assuming that you have some rewards programs -- some give extra % on utilities. But when your bank account gets hacked like mine did, you will spend a lot of time getting these things re-established :D
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drawpoker
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by drawpoker » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:54 pm

mhalley wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:56 am

....My bank says some of my bills are ebill eligible, anyone else with a bank program similar and using their ebill system? Should I get out of the 20th century and go paperless and autopay across the board?
I don't go paperless unless the vendor offers me a carrot to do so ($5 a month discount for 6 months is a common one among some of the telecoms, DirecTV for ex) We have really crappy internet service here, frequent outages, so it is not unusual to be unable to go online and check banking and other financial accounts immediately.

If your bank is saying "some of your bills are eligible", I would ask, why? I started using PNC bill pay service about a year ago and it has worked seamlessly. If the person or company isn't listed in their existing data base I simply click "add", fill in the information, where to send the $$ etc. PNC will then mail an old-fashioned check to whomever you have designated as payee if it can't be sent electronically.
All of this is free, plus I like their guarantee that if they Screw up, they will eat any interest or penalty I might incur due to a payment arriving late. See if your bank offers similar promises.
Also I am saving around 20 bucks a year since I no longer have to order and pay for checks anymore . :D

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AAA
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by AAA » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:21 pm

The mail delivery in my area has been spotty at times, with us getting a neighbor's letter and I assume something of ours going to someone else, so we use e-billing as well as autopay whenever available without a fee. Our Verizon bill for t.v., phone and internet can be paid with a credit card, but our Verizon Wireless bill has to be a withdrawal from our checking account. Go figure.

lotusflower
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by lotusflower » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:48 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:13 am
Make everything paperless. If you overlook or forget things, automatic payment is by far the best way to go; it' set and forget. In fact, for seniors, it's even more important to set things up like this to avoid oversights or inability to keep up with things.
+1
Autopay really is the best thing since sliced bread. And autopaying to a credit card is another great risk mitigation if you're worried about overdrawing your bank account.

Even if there are screw-ups, you can just call the billing company, and say, "I'm a dummy and I don't really understand e-billing so I screwed up, can you fix it?" and they usually waive the late fees if you don't make that call more than once a year for each vendor.

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beyou
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by beyou » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:57 am

Two different issues here when it comes to death and account closure. My utility bills are split, some in wife’s name, some in mine. But the checking account we use to pay them is joint.

So yes, if someone dies, some utilities would be impacted depending on whose name was on the account, but that should be easy to fix with utility. I would think they want someone to pay.

But as my checking acct is joint, it does not go away, and it retains a record of all bills paid. Just have to hope dw would logon and look. She had no interest now and relies on me, but necessity is the mother of invention. I have showed her periodically how I pay bills and how to access investments.

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midareff
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by midareff » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:03 am

We went paperless as it progressed and have never looked back. Everything that can go on a 2% cash back card goes on the card, the card being set on auto-pay in full monthly. Those that can't be set that (condo mortgage and maintenance, car payment) was are pay monthly against our checking account. Quite a few years now and zero issues.

MikeG62
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by MikeG62 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:51 am

mhalley wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:56 am
I am having a problem with my paper electric bill not being sent to my house. I double checked online and am not signed up for e-bills, but for paper statements. I have been reluctant to go to an all e-bill system for expenses (water, power, internet, CC, etc), in part because of concerns with complications for my wife when I pass as she is not very computer savvy. Has anyone else gone all paperless, and if so all autopay? If you are on auto pay are you using a CC or bank account? My bank says some of my bills are ebill eligible, anyone else with a bank program similar and using their ebill system? Should I get out of the 20th century and go paperless and autopay across the board?
All bills I get are sent electronically. Everything possible is charged to our various CC's. All CC's are set to autopay the bill in full on the due date (this is set up on the CC bank side not the paying bank side). So the funds are pulled by the CC bank from my checking account.

Valid concern about issues should your wife predeceases you - I share that. However, not willing to give up the efficiency of our current set up to protect against that. Also, I have detailed written instructions (multi-page word document) on what my wife should do should I predecease her.
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ThriftyPhD
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by ThriftyPhD » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:24 am

mhalley wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:56 am
I have been reluctant to go to an all e-bill system for expenses (water, power, internet, CC, etc), in part because of concerns with complications for my wife when I pass as she is not very computer savvy.
I can't see any other path than companies moving more and more to ebills, including charging for paper bills or getting rid of them all together. Better to transition to ebills now while it's an optional choice and you're available to walk her through it, than being forced to at a time when the assumption is everyone is already using them, and your wife is playing catchup to understand how they work.

Hockey10
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by Hockey10 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:02 pm

Go paperless and write a very detailed letter of instruction for your survivors that explains how you pay bills. Include a list of subscriptions / auto-payments. For any bills that can be automated via credit card payments without incurring any extra charges, go for it. My electric company charges a fee to pay by credit card, so I manually pay it each month after the e-mail arrives.

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archbish99
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by archbish99 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:42 am

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:44 pm
Who told the card companies to close the cards? My experience has been that the cards stay open for quite a while - actually none of them were ever closed until I asked for them to be closed, even with just one deceased cardholder.
No one "asked," per se. As soon as we told them he had died, they closed the account. In one case (Discover) without having told us that's what they were going to do.

I suspect they would have closed more slowly if we had just failed to inform them of his passing, of course.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:39 am

I do all the finance stuff, DW does none. I have explained and documented my process. In this day and age, she HAS to learn how to handle things with a computer should I go first.

My process is simple:

Setup transfers for the coming month, 3 - 4 on average, to cover payments, around the 25th of prior month. DW can transition to one transfer and lose some interest.

Weekly, each Saturday morning over coffee, reconcile prior week activity via Quicken.

indexonlyplease
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by indexonlyplease » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:30 am

We have all monthly bill on auto pay coming out of checking. I was using the credit card at one time but when the bank cancels your card because they believe fraud has occurred, you have to set up the bills again with new card number. So after doing this 3 times I went to checking account.

We use one credit card not on auto pay and not paperless. I like checking the statements each month. If I had on auto pay and paperless I would not check the statements.

If auto pay not available I pay online.

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TeamArgo
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by TeamArgo » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:33 am

I have everything set up for e-billing, but I do not have any set up for auto-pay. I have known two different people who were hit with a ridiculously large erroneous bill, the money was removed from the auto-pay account, and then they needed to beg and plea to the company who was now holding their money that an error occurred and they needed to return it. One of them, in a dispute with a cable company, took nearly two months to get almost a thousand dollars returned. (In fairness, the other was for less than $100)
Most companies will send an e-mail copy of the bill as a reminder, and those e-mails usually have links to allow printing a copy of the bill if needed. My DW and I have a separate shared Gmail account for e-bills and for any corporate entity that asks for an email address. She does access it, so in the event of my untimely demise I feel that she can handle things with just those e-mail prompts.
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mhalley
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by mhalley » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:09 pm

ebill is different from bill pay. I can pay anyone through online billpay. I think with ebill, the bill goes automatically to the bank and I don't have to gather statements and put the amount in manually. You also have the option to make the payments recurrent. I haven't set it up to see how it actually works, maybe I will try it with one bill to see how it goes.

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Tamarind
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by Tamarind » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:48 pm

I find autopay to combine well with paperless. I like to put them on a CC for the points but bank draft is more commonly available with no extra fees and might be best if simplicity for a survivor is important.

I've never used bill pay or ebilling tools and don't find them useful.

drawpoker
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by drawpoker » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:44 pm

mhalley wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:09 pm
ebill is different from bill pay. I can pay anyone through online billpay. I think with ebill, the bill goes automatically to the bank and I don't have to gather statements and put the amount in manually. You also have the option to make the payments recurrent. I haven't set it up to see how it actually works.....
With PNC, some vendors on the merchant list have the little symbol "e-bill" next to their name, and some don't.
What this means - if you click on yes for ebill, that means you have agreed for a trial period (six months) of getting both regular bills in the mail and the e-bill popping up on your banking list when you log on to your account. Most of these are dept stores, the TV shopping channels, certain credit cards, btw, where the amount owed can vary from month to month. After the trial period is up, then they ask if you want to continue, yes or no. If you click yes, that ends the regular mailings.

This is really a function involving contractual agreements between the dept stores (or whatever) and the banks to encourage more consumers to sign up for paperless, saving $$ for the merchant. So the banks are getting some sort of kickback arrangement here, you can be sure, they are not offering those little enticing symbols out of the goodness of their hearts.

Anyway, point is, you would never want to agree to any system as you just described "the bill goes automatically to the bank and I don't have to gather statements and put the amount in manually"
would you?

The whole idea of using the bank's bill pay system is that you have to manually "push" the amount out to the creditor every month, not use "pull" by using the creditor's website instead to initiate payment.
For recurring bills that are constant every month (insurance premiums, member fees, utilities that are on equal 12 month billing amount, etc ) the easiest way that involves no heavy lifting on your part is just to authorize automatic bank drafts (pull) by filling out the forms.
Using the bank's bill pay for those types of recurring bills would be, as someone already pointed out, just adding another layer of potential (& unnecessary) risk to this age of hacking and cyber security we now have to live in. :shock: :shock:

rgs92
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Re: E- Billing & Autopay

Post by rgs92 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:18 pm

There is one annoying issue with billing to a credit card: when the credit card expires, you have to manually change the expiration date and CVV code with the biller. (I mentioned this earlier I think, but I didn't see any feedback on it).

I really think this is a silly deficiency that should be changed, like allowing the cardholder to grant permanent rights to any particular biller, especially a utility or communications company.

What if I am sick for a while and a credit card expires and my utilities get suspended because of something stupid like this?

I keep up with things all the time since I always use autobilling to credit cards, but if I ever overlook it, I wonder what would happen...

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