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What is Better, Online Bill Pay or Checks by Mail?

What is Better, Online Bill Pay or Checks by Mail?

Each individual and each family have a unique personal finance strategy that is built around their own needs and the habitual ways that they handle money. Some of these are seen as being healthier than others. There is quite a big industry around personal financial advice. A lot of people find themselves confused or looking for tips from the experts on how to save, how to invest and how to make all of the financial chaos in the modern world easier to deal with.

Some of the advice that these seekers get comes in the form of actionable tips on handling money the right way. Then there are those issues that depend on a person’s unique situation. One question that often comes up is whether it’s better to use online bill pay features or to send a paper check in the mail. Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of both.


Online Automatic Bill Pay

Setting up automatic bill payments can be much more convenient and requires less work. It also saves postage. Automatic payments are particularly good for smaller bills where the cost of postage and the time spent managing postal payments can get expensive relative to the total bill amount.

One of the biggest drawbacks of automatic bill paying is that it’s easy for consumers to ignore the amounts they are paying over time. Without an itemized paper bill and a voluntary manual response, involving opening the statement and looking at it closely, the person receiving the bill may not understand what he or she is actually paying for. It’s easy for companies to tack on additional charges when this kind of oversight isn’t happening.


Postal Payments

Despite the fact that sending checks in the mail requires a steady supply of paper checks and postage stamps, this can be a preferred strategy for larger or more variable billing situations.

An excellent example is in the healthcare industry. Hospitals and providers are now enthusiastic about setting up automatic payments, but for consumers, this can be a bad deal because healthcare pricing is becoming increasingly complex and arbitrary. Sometimes, it’s not even in a person’s best interests to pay bills without delay and careful oversight. That’s because so many providers will routinely adjust off portions of the bill during appeals or other negotiations.

Some people also like to send checks on utility and entertainment bills because companies tend to change the billing amounts without notice. With a postal payment system, the consumer has a chance to appeal before sending a check.

Think about how each of these strategies will help your personal finance bottom line. No matter who you’re paying, whether it’s a telecom provider, rehab facilities or a dog groomer business, it’s important to have the right strategy in place to minimize expenses and help a household save money over time.

Guest Post by Katie Elizabeth, a keen freelance writer and content coordinator

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