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Tell me about automatic payments

454 Views 10 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  MoonJelly
DH and I both are hesitant about giving the phone company access to our account; I mean what if I can't cancel it quickly, and I need to? How many payments do you make automatically each month? Mortgage, student loan, everything?

Also, I get paid 2x a month, but the dates change slightly. . . .
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We do automatic payments thru online banking. We set up a payment to happen once, or however many times we want. Its easy and if something comes up, we can quickly delete or edit the payment. The only drawback is we still receive paper bills and some bills have amounts that change each month (like, electricity for one) so we can set up the amount we think its gonna be, but it usually doesnt match up so we have to make another payment. We have unlimited transactions so it doesnt cost more.

But, with bills that are the same each month we just have it set up to automatically pay 4 times monthly then we set it up again after.

I'm not comfortable with some companies having access to my account, so I hear where you're coming from.
Dh and I have done up to eight automatic payments a month. The upsides to us are:

-No checks/postage/envelopes. Hence it's cheaper in both time and money.
-easy to set up through the bank and most of them the bank does electronically, making it far, far less likely that a post-office error error will cause a late payment. It lets us send our payments on time instead of early "just in case"
-fabulous third party "paper" trail. No more of the whole "but I *swear* I sent in on the tenth and you guys just didn't open the enveloped for two weeks so you could charge me a late fee!" They are less likely to question my bank records than to call me a liar.


-Our bank is constantly finding creative ways to make it *very* easy for us to screw up and make mistakes. That way they can charge us fees to fix the error. Foir example: you can change a payment five days before it's sent out. Five business days. You can change payments on weekends, but not if teh five business days begin the day after the weekend ends. The five days are counted excluded the day the payment is sent out and the day the payment is changed. So now we're up to potentially eleven days before a payment is sent out when it cannot be changed in any way. More if there's a holiday in the interim. And then there's another five business days before it's actually sent. Nearly a month!

Some banks (BankOne) are much more cooperative about this (my MIL uses them and finds thier bill pay really excellent). In fact we'd swithc banks except the service at our branch is so good.

With the incredibly long lead time required to change payments it's really only practical to us to make recurring payments through the bank. We usually pay the maximum the bill is likely to be and let ourselves get a bit ahead.

I prefer to pay through a third party--the bank--rather than allowign direct access to the person I'm paying. The exception is utility companies (gas and electric). They are so highly regulated that it would be difficult for them to do anything out of line. They also vary so tremendously that we find direct payment much easier than trying to get the bank's bill pay to work for this.

I wouldn't do this for a phone company if there was any kind of long-distance service involved. There are simply too many variables to not keep on top of that myself. Too many widespread scams throughout the years as well.

We have SunRocket and pay annually though, and love it.

I personally wouldn't pay a conventional phone company at all if I had a choice about it, and indeed I don't. I tell you, that one $200 payment in December was one the best $200 bucks I've spent.
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We love our automatic payments.
The only check we have to write every month is for the rent. Everything else is automatic debit. We occassionally write checks for additional payments on loans but that is it.

Our bank charges for automatic transactions set up through them so we go around that rule by setting things up with the individual companies. All the set amount bills get deducted directly from the bank, all the variable bills (utilities) are charged directly to the credit card. Then we pay the credit card off every month in full with an automatic payment.

It certainly doesn't hurt to speak to someone at your bank to clarify their policies and see how it could work for you.
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I set up automatic bill pay for my mortgage and since we don't get receipts back (from the lender) I had no idea our mortgage check was being mailed. There were months we only paid $20 on principal! I was very clear that our mortgage had to be there by the 11th of the month, and I found out they weren't wiring our payment, they were mailing it so it took up to 10 days to be received. I found this out after 6 months.

Our lender wasn't set up to wire apparently but no one told us. I know that is very different from the system utility companies use, but just make sure your payments are getting where you want them to go WHEN you want them to be there.
My mortgage company just ended up losing interest on our home equity loan because it wouldn't allow for electronic payment and paying over the phone with a debit/credit card cost $7. As soon as it was low enough we paid it off with a 0% balance transfer offer from one of our credit cards (we're working on making that singular, although I do like the flexibility of being able to juggle interest rates a bit). The annoying thing is the regular mortgage payment was very easy to set up as an automatic withdrawal.

All of our bills are automatic or one-click. Haven't had a problem yet in 2 years (knock on wood). We check our checking account once a week or so to track what bills have and have not yet been paid. Our credit union's electronic payment thing actually coordinates with the eletronic payment thingy of a couple of our service providers, like our insurance.

The bills tend to be about the same amount each month so we don't bother with paper bills, if the bill seems higher or lower than usual, I'll go online and check it out. (Lesson learned this month? Change your air filters.
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I pay all our bills online but most not as automatic deductions. The college fund and the alarm company are the only automatic withdrawls. Everything else we go online and set up the payment. Some I do through our bank and some I do through the vendors website and set up when they can withdraw the funds.
I don't use the bank's bill pay, but I have set up auto payments on our car, car insurance, and will be setting them up on our new mortgage once the payment starts. For both the car and the car insurance, we save money with the bank draft payments because we don't get charged the same "handling fee" that we did when I just paid them monthly (even online). And I like knowing that those bills MUST be paid so I'm not tempted to "borrow" from ourselves and pay the bill a little late. Once we're in our new house, I'm thinking about setting up bill-pay or bank drafts for our utility bills too.

Originally Posted by kewb
I pay all our bills online but most not as automatic deductions.
Us too. Our credit union offers free online bill pay, and I LOVE it. I can still do it "manually", payments are not sent out until I authorize them (but you can opt to have them automatic - I just like to have that control).

Oue only automatic withdrawls are:
Car, home, life insurance (we get a discount for EFT)
DS's 529

Everything else, I have written in a planner/calendar every month and check them off as I pay them. The way ours works is if it's a company that accepts EFT, you need to input it 3-5 business days before it is due; If the company does not accept EFTs, they cut a check and mail it out (and we do NOT pay for postage) and you need to input it about 7-10 business days prior. As son as I get a bill, it goes in the planner in that month, then when I use the bill pay, I write the date and confirmation number on the bill and file it. I've been doing it for over a year now, and it has been working out great, we've never had a problem with a payment.

I trust our credit union, the insurance company (we've been with for over 10 years now) and the investment co. to have our info, but I havne't given it to anyone else, though some of the other companies we have offer auto I'm a teensy bit paranoid, but not a ton.
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I don't auto anything. I don't like feeling out of control with my finances and paying via online or phone doesn't take that long. I've had stuff take out before a check was deposited (couldn't get to the bank in time) and have a lot of stuff get bounced before.
Personally, I would never do auto payments through a bank/third party. Too many fees and delays. I would much rather do payments online directly to the vendor (e.g. pay the Verizon bill). I still avoid all the mailing hassles and it's fast and predictable and I have the control. Many vendors also have the automatic payment option too anyway, without the fees. There is not even one monthly bill that I have to mail anymore.
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