These days, nearly everything is automated. A rent check goes out monthly from our bank account, our student loans are auto-debited (and we get a discount for that!) and at the end of the month, our credit cards pay themselves by connecting to our checking accounts and withdrawing money.
However, there are a few times that I still pay bills manually: Our gas bill, our electric bill, and our cable bills.
Why We Don’t Automate Those Bills
I just logged into our gas company’s payment portal to look at their automatic payment options. They don’t allow credit card payments (whether you’re paying upfront or if it’s automatic), so it really makes sense to let this one pay itself by scheduling it to withdraw money from our checking account. So I did. Now it will pay the amount due 3 days before the due date. I will still have 20+ days to review the bill before it gets paid, so if something ever looks way off, I will know about it long before they take money out of my account.
Our electric company lets us make payments via credit card, but only on a one-time basis. They are actually in the middle of transitioning to a new system where hopefully this will be possible, in which case I would add my credit card and get. I’d prefer to automate it, but if it’s a difference between getting credit card rewards each month on it or not, I’d rather take the 2 minutes a month and pay it via credit card.
Finally, our Internet and cable bill can be paid automatically, but I choose not to. With Time Warner Cable, I have some promotions and can never remember when they are set to expire. With automatic payments, I’ll be charged significantly more when they do expire, and there won’t be a warning. By having to pay this one manually, I’m making sure that I will notice the increase before paying a bill. I’ll be able to call up and renegotiate to make sure our bill for cable and Internet stays as low as possible.
Do You Automatically Pay Your Bills?
In my mind, automatically paying bills is the way to go whenever possible. Only in a few circumstances is it better to pay bills manually. I mean, who wants to sit there writing checks, remembering to get stamps, licking envelopes, and going to post offices? It’s much easier to do things from the comfort of your home, and slightly cheaper too. And anything that can be put on a credit card should be, because even 1% cashback in rewards can add up (and if nothing else, you can use purchases to hit spending limits to get hefty sign up bonuses).