May 112015
 
Power lines

Automatic bill payers consume more electricity.

The Wall Street Journal reports that electricity consumers who use automatic bill pay actually use more electricity each month, and pay higher bills. Dr. Steven Sexton, an economics professor at Duke University, conducted a huge study in which he evaluated the electricity bills of Santee Cooper customers (a South Carolina electric company) over sixteen years. He found that automatic bill payers use between 4% and 9% more energy each month.

Automatic bill pay is safe and obviously convenient. Millions of people pay their electric bills automatically each month, sight unseen. And therein lies the problem. With regular snail-mail bills, you have to open them up, look at the bill amount, and write a check. You know how much you pay each month. If the bill seems high, you might scrutinize your energy usage and work on bringing it down.

With automatic bill pay you don’t even see the bill, so you’re not in tune with how much you’re paying each month. You end up using more each month because you’re simply not aware.

Sexton found that the biggest rise in consumption with automatic bill payers came with new customers and commercial users. The new customers are presumably young and not financially experienced.

I’m not suggesting that automatic bill pay consumers go back to using dead trees (paper bills). But you should make it a point to look at your bill online and review your electricity consumption. You might save more than a few dollars each month.

Aug 022014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Paying bills on time is something most people are cautious about, due to the late fees applicable if due dates are missed. They carefully save money for due bills in order to avoid running out of budget. What if some money could be saved and in fact, returned to us for using a particular bill payment service? The famous card company, Discover has a bill payment service with 1% cash back offer.

While paying the bills, if some amount can be saved, it is a good option. Supposing the bills paid amount to $2000 in the year, the cash back bonus will be $20. More, Motiva and Open Road card members earn 0.25% cash back Bonus on the first $3000 paid and 1% for amount after $3000.

DiscoverThe cash back bonus can be redeemed for cash as direct deposit into a bank account of choice or as credit in the Discover credit card account. The bonus can also be used to pay online, credited to partner gift cards or discover gift cards or donated to charitable organizations.

Discover supports many billers in many industries including insurance, cable/satellite TV, security, internet and wireless. They also provide contact details for each biller, in case customers need to contact them for any reason. For paying a bill, customers need the paper bill or e-bill and the Discover card. The biller has to be searched for and selected and automatic bill payments registered online or by phone with the billers.

Bills can also be paid manually by logging into the Account Center. Unregistered users should first register for starting to pay bills with Discover. Up to two online payments are allowed using different bank accounts. The maximum number of bank accounts that can be connected with Discover is 9.

The interesting part of Discover is that even if one pays the bill on the due date, before 5 PM Eastern Time, the payment is delivered on the same day. But late fees may be applicable in case the payment was made after the time. For those who do not want to opt for same day payments, scheduling has to be done in advance to avoid missing the due date; this is to avoid delays on part of other parties involved in the process, such as banks.

The bill pay service is free of cost for all Discover card holders. Apart from online payments, customers can opt to pay from Western Union and few other retail outlets, or pay by check by sending the check to Discover. Online transactions with Discover are safe, as the users are protected with the $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee.

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.

Jun 192014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Residents of Ireland can pay bills online with MyBills, which supports 114 billers across Ireland, which include utilities, financial corporations, charities, mobile operators, etc.

Their one-off payment feature is unique, which is not available with most bill payment services. It allows users to pay a bill without registering for an account with MyBills. In order to pay a bill, the customer account number and a debit card are required. Registered users can setup bills for payments and select the payment method. They can also setup automatic recurring payments and schedule them. In addition, they can view historic payments and review paid bills.

MyBills

MyBills

MyBills is a service provided by An Post and is not charged any fee. Users can set up maximim 2 cards on their account to pay bills from them. They can request for more cards by contacting the Help deslk. Users can also pay a part of the amount and pay the remaining amount later; each biller has a maximum and minimum amounts payable, though.

Once the payment is made, it can not be cancelled, the users should carefully enter the account number and decide whether they want to pay or not. MyBills does not support credit card payments, so users should pay bills using a debit card or a bank account.

This form can be used for registering with MyBills and for starting to pay bills.

Jun 072014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Today, many leading banks of the world work with billing companies to enable account holders to pay bills from their account, anywhere they are; that is through online banking. Almost every country has some online bill payment service or another. First Caribbean International Bank has an online bill payment service included as a feature in their online banking service; they call it Bill Balance

First Caribbean International Bank has partnered with various billers in Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and few other countries in the Caribbean. The list of supported billers keeps changing and can be checked from here. Users can pay bills without the need for any printed document in hand.

FCIBIn order to begin using the service, users need to login to internet banking and click on “Register a Bill” under Bill Payments. A participating biller has to be chosen and details pertaining to the bills have to be populated, after which, details have to be confirmed and submitted for registration. Once the biller has been added, bills are fetched automatically. All the user has to do is click on “Pay Bill” under Bill Payment and select the biller for paying the bill. Few billers also send e-bills which can be viewed online.

Alerts can also be setup in order to avoid missing a due date. In addition, automatic payment is also available. Limits can be set for maximum amount that can be paid automatically and which bill is paid automatically, provided a biller provides bill balances. Bill balances and alerts can also be viewed and managed from the online banking interface. Notifications are available for notifying about a bill paid, automatic payment made, bill balances available to view online, a bill exceeding automatic payment limit, due bills not paid and failure of payment.

Bill Balance is offered to all First Caribbean International Bank’s online banking customers, free of cost. Customers can pay bills from their saving or checking accounts.

May 092014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Bangladesh is the country which has the highest density of population in the world. Bill Payment has traditionally been done by visiting the biller, which is true for most developing countries. Thanks to the advancement of technology, online bill payment has been introduced in Bangladesh for secure payment, any time and anywhere.

Load Bill, a website where the residents of Bangladesh can make online bill payment to utilities and other billers aims to make the lives of the residents easier by eliminating their visits to billers’ offices and by helping them manage their expenses. The website also supports online checkout where, a customer shopping online has to click on the “Load Bill” button to use the service.

Online Bill PayThey offer several methods of payment to ensure flexibility. They also offer features such as automatic payment, payment scheduling and periodic reports. They guarantee timely delivery of the payment and notify the user about the status of the payment. Users can also buy credit for their mobile phones on their website.

In order to reach remote places where internet can not reach, they have hired agents and work hard to add more agents. These agents help the residents have their bills paid from one place. More information can be obtained from their website; residents of Bangladesh can begin using their services by registering for an account.

May 062014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

UK based PaySwyft allows customers to pay bills in under one minute on their website. They work on paperless solutions to decrease the use of paper and contribute to the green environment. The paperless solution helps in reducing manpower, storage, paper and postage costs. In addition, it is highly efficient and cost-effective.

PaySwyft is an electronic bill presentment and payment provider that allows customers to view and pay bills at any time anywhere. Any company can use PaySwyft to issue bills or invoices to their customers and offers them a variety of payment options including cash, debit cards and credit cards. The solution is free to use for customers. Once a user registers, he/she can receive bills online, schedule payments, pay bills, pay by cash at over 22000 PayPoint outlets across the UK, setup alerts and reminders and store bills online to access them at anytime, anywhere.

PaySwyftAuto reminders help the users to avoid missing a payment, thus avoiding late fees. Companies may offer early payment discount or other offers to PaySwyft customers, which the users can benefit from. They also offer a service called Dynamic Debit, which includes recurring bill pay facility and setting automatic payment for amounts below a certain user-defined limit.

Any company can become a part of PaySwyft, present bills and invoices and accept payments by cash or cards. There is no setup costs involved; they have to pay as they go. Transaction fee for bill presentment is £0.25 – £0.50 and for payment processing, it is £0.06 – £0.36.

An amazing feature of PaySwyft is that if a user chooses not to register, he/she can still pay a bill. All the user has to do is go to the PaySwyft website, enter the bill details, choose payment method and confirm the payment. This service is called Instant Payment and can be used by anyone in the UK to pay a bill without registering on PaySwyft website. Users who want to register for an account can use this link to do so.

Mar 102014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Few banks in the US offer online banking with bill pay services. I discussed about Wells Fargo few days ago; today, I will discuss a service offered by another American bank – PNC, which is the 6th largest bank in the US. It has over 2700 branches across 19 states.

PNC offers online bill payments services with focus on convenience, control and encouragement to go paperless. They also focus on being one-stop bill payment service, without the users having to remember passwords for different websites. They are also a free service, as it is a service offered along with their banking services.

Online Bill Pay by PNCOnline bill pay service is available to the residents of the US to pay bills in the US and the users need to have a checking account or a savings account. With this service, users can manage household finances, business accounts and their investments. They also offer the users choice between paper bills and ebills for participating billers.

The online bill pay service is extremely easy to use and very convenient. Management of bills is very easy because users can track unpaid bills, verify past bills, check status of current bills and modify payee list with ease. Users can pay anyone who they would normally pay by check, individuals and businesses. Manual payments can be made for one-time bills and recurring bills with different amounts each month. Automatic payments can be setup for recurring bills with same monthly amounts. Payment can be scheduled up to one year in advance.

Most payments made are delivered the next business day, but if payment is sent by check, it may take a few more days. When the user enters the amount, the system automatically displays the earliest date of payment delivery which can be changed for scheduling payment at a later date. Payment calendar helps the users determine dates they can select for making the payments. Users can also check the status of their bills from their account. Additionally, users can pay their bills using their PNC Bank Visa Debit Card or Credit Card.

When users open accounts and sign on to online banking, they are automatically registered for bill pay. Reminders can be setup for due bills and custom notifications can be setup for a number of options.

They have an online demonstration for this service, which I found very interesting. It can be accessed here. TopTenReviews rated them 8.32 on 10 which places them 4th in the ranking. It is a great service for members, allowing them to pay all their bills from one place with ease.

Mar 052014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

We know many bill pay services offered by banks and other leading companies. The tech giant Microsoft also has a bill pay service under the brand name MSN. It is not directly offered by them, but by CheckFree Services Corporation which lets users to pay through MSN Money and thus, the service is called MSN Bill Pay.

Users can pay anyone in the United States that they would normally pay by check or automatic debit, even if they do not receive bills from the payee. MSN Bill Pay allows receipt of some bills online and payment can be made for all bills. The bills can be viewed online at the Payment Center, which is where bills are paid from. Automatic payments can be setup for recurring bills and one time payments can also be made.

MSN Bill PayUsers can review bills for a period of 24 months and can also transfer money from one payment account to another. Payment accounts include checking account and money market account. Savings account can be used for transfers if the option is available. A user can use multiple accounts for paying bills.

In order to pay, users need to add payees, after which the bills for those payees are added to the account. Users can pay as many as 30 bills at the same time from the Payment Center. Notifications can be setup for bills due, in order to avoid missing a due date. On entering the amount, an earlier date biller receives the payment is displayed, which can be changed to schedule a payment at a later date and for some billers, expedited payment is also supported for overnight check delivery.

Their website does not have the fee details for the service, but it is not a free service like many others. However, I found that they charge $5.95 per 15 transactions and $0.50 for every additional transaction or $2.95 per 5 transactions a month and $1.50 for every additional transaction.

They rank 2nd in the top ten reviews with a rating of 9.43 on 10. According to them, MSN Bill Pay is very versatile and is a good way to make sure all your bills are paid on time.

Feb 052014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Bill payment has become very easy with the introduction of mobile payment systems. Many companies launched apps for smartphones, which enable bill payment and management right from the mobile device or tablet. Mobilligy, a mobile app for various platforms offers services ranging from bill management, reminders to paying the bills.

The app is available for Android, iOS, Windows and Kindle Fire. The service is available for free at no monthly charge. One can make payments and control bills from anywhere with payment options such as debit cards, credit cards and bank accounts. The process of bill payment once a biller is setup and a payment option is linked is so simple that it just takes a swipe and the payment happens.

Mobilligy Bill PayMobilligy’s interface shows which bills are due in the coming days and reminds the user before the due date, helping them avoid late fines. The app also has a bill calendar which shows upcoming bills. Automatic payment can also be setup for payment through the app. You can add your credit card, utility, auto loans, mortgage, etc. to the app and setup monthly payments. All you have to do is download the Mobilligy app and add all the billers. All due bills and recent payments made are found by Mobilligy and added to the app, users can then make payments. New billers would be added if a significant number of users demand for it.

With Mobilligy app, you can view upcoming bills, view notifications, view and add billers, view and setup payment accounts, view reminders, invite friends to use Mobilligy and read news from Mobilligy. The app can also be PIN protected to avoid unauthorized use. Mobilligy can be used from more than one devices and the app allows management of devices used to access the service.

So, with Mobilligy Bill Pay, you will never miss a payment and will avoid paying late fees at no extra cost. And according to them, the app has bank level security which is much better than other bill payment apps.

The app is good and secure, free and convenient but the downside is that it is that the app’s interface is less user-friendly which needs some attention from the developers.

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