Sep 092014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

American Express has this product called Bluebird, which has many features including bill pay. It is a complete solution for personal financial management. Just like any other bill pay service, Bluebird makes it easy to have all bills paid. In fact, users can pay any individual apart from paying bills. This saves them the time to visit a bank or biller’s premises and costs of stamps, envelopes and other related services.

Users can pay bills online or using the Bluebird mobile app. To pay a bill, one has to be a registered user and has to login to the Bluebird account. Among the many features, ‘Pay Bills’ has to be chosen. After having done that, a payee has to be added from the existing list or a new payee has to be added.

BluebirdOnce a payee has been added, payment method has to be chosen and the amount has to be keyed in. In order to submit the payment, a PIN has to be entered, which is usually set in advance. Once submitted, confirmation is displayed and recorded in the Bluebird account. Following every payment, a confirmation email is sent to the user.

There is a monthly limit of $10000 for payments to payees listed in the Bluebird Bill Pay System and $5000 for non-registered payees. It takes between 4 and 7 working days to complete the payment, so the user has to schedule the payment well in advance to avoid late fees.

By using this service, users can also earn points that can be redeemed later. Any bill from rent to a car payment can be paid with no additional fees. Taxes can also be paid with this service.

In order to register for the service, one has to fill in this form and start using Bluebird to manage all personal finances including bills payable.

Jul 182014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

American Express offers bill pay services in many countries that it operates in. I had discussed about the service in the US in my previous article, which was an automatic payment service for recurring household bills. In this article, I will discuss the service available in Saudi Arabia.

In one of my previous articles, I had discussed about SADAD, the online bill payment system in Saudi Arabia. The system is widely used by almost every resident of the Kingdom and is easily accessible from the ATMs of almost every bank and online. American Express also allows the residents of KSA to pay bills through SADAD. The channels that can be used include ATMs of any bank, internet, telephone banking and branch visits.

American ExpressTo pay bills in person, the bank Amex has partnered with is Saudi Investment Bank. Payers can visit any branch of the bank and pay in cash or check. Checks must be payable to “Amex (Saudi Arabia) Ltd. – American Express [SADAD Number]”. Alternatively, the card holder can pay a bill through SARIE (Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express) bank transfer.

American Express also offers the automatic payment service in Saudi Arabia, which they offer in the US, that we have discussed previously. For availing this service, the card holder is supposed to call Amex customer service number: 8001242229.

Amazingly, bills can also be paid from outside Saudi Arabia by depositing the funds in USD into the American Express’ bank account with JP Mogran Chase Bank in New York. The beneficiary bank is The Saudi Investment Bank and the beneficiary name is Amex (Saudi Arabia) Ltd. The details for this can be obtained from the customer service team or from here.

Jul 182014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Among the credit card providers that offer bill pay service, American Express is an excellent choice. They provide an easy, convenient and time saving service to enable the card holders to manage recurring household bills. The holder of an American Express card has to register their card with participating merchants to avail this service.

Once registered, all bills are paid on time, automatically, without any additional cost to the card holder. In order to use the service, card holders need to look for the biller on Amex website and go to the former’s website (or access the service from biller’s website). When they access the biller’s website, they are provided with instructions to pay the bills; these may differ for each biller. After setting up automatic payments, all the payments can be tracked on American Express Account Statements.

Amex Automatic Bill PayIf the biller a card holder is looking for can’t be found on Amex website, the billers can be directly asked if they accept American Express Automatic Bill Payment as an option. Having registered for the service, it may take up to three billing cycles for charges to appear on the American Express Card Account Statement.

This link can be used to locate the billers and see if the service provider the card holder uses is supported. If a particular biller is not found, they should be contacted directly to enquire. Most billers send the paper bills marked “Paid” or “Do Not Pay” to indicate that the bill will be automatically paid. Alternatively, payers can use online bill presentment offered by the billers, if it is available.

An advantage of this service is that there is no fee associated with bill payments, which is not true with most third party bill payment services. In addition, card holders can enroll in a reward program and get rewards for using the bill payment service. By using this service, American Express card holders can save time, postage, late fees and bill payment fees.

Jul 142014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Residents of the United States have loads of options to choose from, when they intend to pay their bills online. Most banks have begun to offer bill pay service to keep up with the demands of the customers and avoid losing them to banks that provide these services. In addition, many third party companies have been coming up with innovative concepts in bill payment.

People who hold MasterCard in the US can pay bills with their card, just by logging on to their website and filling the bill information. They provide the ability to search for billers by category and further narrow down by limiting them to a particular ZIP Code. The biller directory helps the payer find companies that accept MasterCard for bill payment. Billers can also be saved to setup reminders and pay bills in one click. Users are not required to login to make one time payments.

MasterCardBillers from a number of categories are supported including auto loans, cable TV, court fines, entertainment, ISPs, tolls, tax payments, utilities and insurance. From managing personal finances to running small businesses, payers get flexibility and control over the way they manage and pay bills. The fee charged may start at $3.

The service is simple to use and also have automatic payment scheduling option, which makes it a great bill pay service, on par with many leading services. Many billers also allow payers to schedule the date when the card is charged and to set a maximum limit to the amount they are authorized to bill them. In addition, the service also allows the payers to find contact information of the billers, so that they can contact them whenever they want to.

MasterCard offers the bill pay service in a few other countries as well. For instance, in India, they offer the bill pay service at MasterCardBillPay.in, where, customers are allowed to pay bills without registering or logging in. Registered users can setup reminders.

May 232009
 

President Obama has just signed into law the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. The law protects consumers by outlawing somne of the worst credit card company abuses, such as retroactively raising interest rates on balances, manipulating payment due dates and charging high fees for paying a bill by phone or online. Yes, that’s right, some credit card companies have been known to charge customers fees for paying bills online. Why? Who knows. Just another way to jack up their profits.

I’m not naive. I know the credit card companies are not going to give up an estimated ten billion dollars in profits (that’s how much this bill may cost them). They will look for ways to recoup their profits. Deb Price writes in the Detroit News,

“In response to the new limits, credit card companies could add annual fees for cards, end interest-free grace periods, make cuts in reward programs, tighten credit, raise rates or lower card limits, analysts say.

If card issuers do add new fees or raise interest rates in response to the new law, the changes will have to be disclosed up front so customers will have a better idea of just how much they’ll pay to put purchases on their cards.

“The new rules definitely will help keep balances from increasing as quickly as they have in the past,” said Dianne Reichel, a credit counselor with GreenPath debt management in Detroit.

Many clients of the nonprofit agency have gotten in over their heads not only because of high credit card balances but also because of hefty fees and penalties that also push interest rates up to nearly 30 percent.

“For a lot of people who come to us, it just builds and builds and that’s when their debt spirals out of control,” Reichel said.

Consumer advocates and Democratic legislators, including Levin and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., have pushed credit-card reforms for years. This bill finally passed because a Democratic president and Congress tapped into public fears over the sinking economy and outrage at being gouged by the bankers taxpayers have bailed out during this financial crisis, Levin said.

“The public has really been incensed about it for a long time, but we also had a Democratic president who would sign the bill,” Levin said. “That was not the case with President Bush.”

As welcome as the new credit card rules are, they won’t solve everyone’s debt woes, noted Reichel, the GreenPath credit counselor, especially for people who simply charge more than they can afford to pay off.

“I don’t think it’s the fix for everybody’s credit problems, unfortunately, because consumers still need to control their spending and really make an effort to pay down their bills.”

Still, I’m glad the President has taken a step toward eliminating these exploitative practices. I feel like we finally have someone in the White House who is looking out for the best interests of the people.

May 012009
 

In an article in the online version of the Arizona Daily Star, Dale Quinn points out that while paying bills online can be very convenient (and saves money on postage), it can be a real hassle if you lose your credit card. He tells the story of Drew Vactor, a Tucsonian who owned Tucson’s famous Tack Room restaurant, and who owned the same credit card for years. Mr. Quinn writes:

He used the card, a Citi Mastercard, to automatically pay about 10 bills, mainly utilities — until one day recently he was issued one with a new number.“It’s not a major thing, but it probably took an hour or so to go through and notify them all,” he said.

Vactor was glad he kept a list of all accounts for which he had set up automatic bill payments. Otherwise it would be tough to remember them all, especially because the time between billing periods varies.

He called his card company to find out what happened. At first someone told him his card might have been lost or stolen, but that wasn’t the case, he said. After a bit of cajoling, he learned there had been a security breach and several customers had been issued new cards.

The credit company wasn’t forthcoming with many details, he said. “They were really hesitant.” 

In response to Vactor’s story, a Citi spokeswoman claimed that Citi takes immediate action on any customer accounts that have been affected by a security breach; and she acknowledged that some credit card accounts may have been compromised by a malicious software attack in 2008. The article continues:

Companies with customers who use automatic bill pay find that if they don’t change the account information, the payment gets rejected.

Cable and telephone companies, fitness clubs and movie rental Web sites often allow their customers to set up automatic online payments.

Susan Sipp, the account manager for Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club, said that when she ran automatic credit-card payments each month she usually got 25 rejections. In recent months it’s been closer to 50, she said.

In that case, the fitness club has to contact the customer to find out why the card was rejected and if there is a new number.

In a good percentage, people’s credit cards have been changed because of the bank and they just forgot to notify us,” Sipp said.Lee Hill, another consumer who was issued a new credit card and number, said her issuer told her a vendor where she used the card had been compromised. She had about six or eight bills that were paid automatically through the card.The bank could have given her a bit more information to make sure all the bills would keep getting paid, she said.

“They don’t really tell you if you have automatic charges be sure to call all these vendors because your card won’t be any good,” Hill said. “It’s not insurmountable, but it’s a pain in the neck.”Vactor agreed that dealing with the new card was a bit of a hassle. But ultimately, he appreciated his credit-card company taking the precaution and issuing him a new card if there was a chance his information had been compromised. 

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