Organizing Bill Payments to Save Time and Money

Have you ever missed a credit card payment because the statement didn’t arrive?  It may be an honest oversight.  Based on my conversations with others, it seems you will get one mulligan by contacting customer service.

This actually did happen to me about 5 years ago.  About a week after the bill was due, I realized the statement was missing and I hadn’t yet paid it.  I called the company and found out that there was about $12 in interest charges.  I explained the situation and asked the CSR to review my payment history to demonstrate that I always pay on time.  The CSR agreed to waive the interest charge if I paid it immediately, which I promptly did.

The interaction was positive and the CSR never accused or blamed me for the oversight but I could have avoided the entire issue. There are other bills like water, hydro, natural gas, property taxes, etc. and some don’t come every month.  It may be easy to miss one when you have a lot of bills to pay.

If you read the fine print in many contracts, you are responsible for the bill and the statement is only sent as a ‘convenience’.  There are a few more effective and efficient methods to receive your statements other than traditional mail and they don’t cost anything.

  1. epost is a free service by Canada Post that allows you to receive, pay, and manage over 200 bills.  Your bank may have a service (I use TD’s EasyWeb) that will integrate seamlessly with epost, allowing you to handle the bill within your online bank service.
  2. e-statements
    Not all bills are available with epost as in the example I provided in the introduction.  Another option is to go directly to the company’s web site and register online for electronic statements.  Most of these will provide you with an email notification when your statement is ready.
  3. automated bill payments
    You can set up your other bill payments to be automatically paid on your credit card.  This can be dangerous when used with unfamiliar businesses, or those that are notoriously bad with billing errors. The onus is on you to get the payment reversed since you have pre-authorized a charge.

If you don’t want to setup electronic statements or automated payments be sure to plan out the year or half-year of bills and set up your own electronic reminders.

There are applications (like Quicken) that can automate your bill payments/reminders and as an added bonus, will track your spending and help with budgeting.   Online/cloud versions also exist.

Be sure to organize yourself in such a way that you are saving time and money.  The last things you want to be doing are paying late fees because you forgot and fighting with customer service over an unexplained charge.  In this case a little bit of planning will help you avoid having to contact customer service.

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4 Responses to Organizing Bill Payments to Save Time and Money

  1. Be'en says:

    I have set up pre-authorized payment of bills from Enbridge, Ontario Hydro and other utilities and the amounts get debited from my checking account.

    I have lately tried to have this bills charged to my credit card to take advantage of “cash back” but have been stymied by the Utilities which are insisting that I pay from my checking account. As a customer, I feel that I should be the one deciding how I pay. Can you suggest how I can approach this issue?

    • Support Spy says:

      @ Be’en Thanks for the feedback. I have noticed the same thing. The typical excuse is “we are not set up to handle credit card transactions”. I have not pushed this beyond first level of support but definitely something to try. Escalating this issue might make a difference or at the very least show the companies that there is a need. Perhaps to a manager level to start with. I will try this myself as well. Surely in 2011, utilities can handle credit card transactions!

      In my opinion, it is dangerous to allow utility companies (or any other company) to access your bank accounts. They could clean out your bank account (whether it is on purpose or by accident) and you have little recourse. If it is an accident, they may offer an apology and return your money, or it may take legal proceedings to get it back. In either case, you may bounce cheques, default on mortgage payments and have a big mess to clean up on your own.

  2. Be'en says:

    Exactly.. feel uncomfortable with pre-authorized set-up where one’s checking account is left vulnerable.

    I wonder if using ePost to pay using a credit card would be possible?

    Thanks for your reply..

    • Support Spy says:

      @Be’en I believe you can pay your ePost bills with a credit card when logging on directly to ePost (as opposed to going through your banking service). You could potentially pay all your bills on one credit card and pay off your credit card with your bank account. Be careful not to pay off credit cards with other credit cards, as this could violate your terms of service as well as be considered a cash advance. There could be extra interest charges.

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