How do I Pay my Bill Online?

The Pay Button
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When you’ve got a long to-do list, getting bills paid seems like a tedious (but necessary) task. Fortunately, you can use technology to make your life easier. The best way to get bills paid is online. While that might not be an option for you this month, it’s worth setting things up for future payments.

There are two ways to pay bills online:

  • Use your bank’s online bill payment system
  • Use your biller’s payment system (which might be an option if you don’t have a bank account)

In a pinch, there are other ways to pay your bill, but you probably don’t want to make a habit out of them. For example, your utility or cable company might have a walk-in location for payments, or you could use a money transfer service like Western Union to move the funds to your biller.

Pay With a Bank Account

To pay with your bank’s payment system, you’ll need a checking account that offers online bill pay. Most checking accounts these days offer the service for free: the bank will either send funds electronically, or print and mail a check to your biller at no additional charge.

To set up online bill pay, you’ll need to create a “Payee” for each biller in your account. Use the information from your bills to do this (you’ll need the mailing address, your account number with the biller, and the name to write the check to). Some banks already have this information on file for popular billers, so you can try just typing in the name of your biller (such as “Bank of America credit card,” for example.

For more detailed instructions and tips, see How to Set up Online Bill Payment. If you don’t already have a free checking account with online bill pay, you’ll need one. Find out how to find a truly free account.

Pay With your Biller (Automatic)

The advantage of using your bank’s online bill payment system is that you control the payments. If you’re running low on funds in any given month, you can cancel any automatic payments and make the payment from a different source.

If you want to let your biller handle everything (which is easier if the amount of your bill changes every month, or if you’re confident that you’ll never have a problem making the payment), set up payments directly with your biller.

Your biller probably offers several options for payment: you might be able to fund payment from a bank account (also known as an ACH payment or direct debit), or you might be able to pay with a credit or debit card.

Remember, if you authorize automatic payments, you’ll need to keep sufficient funds in your account. Otherwise you’ll start bouncing checks, which can lead to other problems.

Pay your Biller (One-Time)

Many billers allow you to make a one-time payment online or by phone, which is nice when you’re approaching your due date and you’ve forgotten to send your payment. Simply contact your biller (visit the website and look for something like “Make a Payment,” or call customer service).

Again, you’ll often have the option to pay by credit card, or by setting up a draft from your bank account. When you contact your biller, have your card number handy (or your checking account information).

For one-time payments, billers sometimes charge a modest fee. Be sure to ask about charges before you agree to a payment.

Other Options

If the options above don’t work for you, you might have to get creative. Some billers might accept a wire transfer or they’ll ask you to send a money order to keep your account current. Call customer service and ask about your options so that you don’t fall behind on payments.