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When You Should Pay Bills Manually

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).

What bills do you still pay manually?



  1. I pay all of my bills automatically using Bill Pay, in fact I can’t remember the last time I wrote a check! I find that’s its just quicker and easier for me to automate everything and I like being able to look back easily online and see my past payments.

  2. There are some bills that have to be recurring (Netflix/Spotify) as subscriptions. The only non-subscription bill I autopay is my Internet because it is the same each month – and I receive an alert when the check was sent through my bank.

    Gas, Electric, and Rent I all manually pay. The first two because they fluctuate and rent because that is a giant check that I want to keep tabs on at all times.

  3. Ugh! Our gas, electric, and mortgage payment still require paper checks to be send. If you pay online, they charge a fee! That is absolutely crazy to me, especially in this day and age! Its like paying for internet while at a hotel….crazy…

  4. I do the same thing. I only automate some bills and manually pay the others. I like to know what I am paying, especially if the bill can increase. There can be drawbacks to automate everything.

  5. Only bills that have to be automated like Netflix otherwise pay manually. I do pay most bills online except my city electric bill. Their ancient billing system takes too long and payment online takes 10 days.

  6. Paying bills automatically is really great for those persons that do not have enough time to do it manually. Though, there are really some bills that you have to check out first and manually pay.

  7. For me, automating your bills doesn’t mean giving everybody and their brother access to my checking account or credit card. I review every bill every month (can’t tell you how many errors I have found) then pay all by Bill Pay. Takes about 15 min a month but that way I stay in charge of who gets how much of my money and when.

  8. Electricity and gas only, and that’s just because I get an email two weeks ahead of time letting me know what the total will be.

    No chance in hell for Big Telephone Corp. though. I can’t even remember how many times that bill has come in screwy and I’ve had to call to get it sorted out.

  9. I haven’t set up automatic bill pay for most of my accounts yet. The only one that I did set up automatically is my Clipper Card (for transportation here in the SF Bay Area). Otherwise, I don’t mind reviewing my bills monthly. Perhaps later in life when things get more chaotic.

  10. I have to admit I usually pay my bills online. There are times when I notice some mishaps, but I attend to it right away.

  11. The only bills I pay automatically are ones I have no other choice for – my internet, and Netflix. Everything else gets paid via online bill pay after I check the statement. I’ve been burned by enough companies enough times to know I have to pay attention to them, plus it keeps me honest with myself and on budget.

    Ever since Tim Ferris, it’s all about automate, automate, automate. But I disagree. When it comes to my personal finances, and particularly outgoing payments, I always take the time to understand where the money is going.

  12. Automating bills payment is the way to go. It’s just so much easier and definitely more convenient. However electric bills and others that needs checking should be paid manually to make sure there are no discrepancies or whatsoever.

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