Automatic bill payment saves you from paper clutter, fees for forgetfulness and the drudgery of wading through payment sites every month. Yet they also open you up to blind overpayment, unseen fees and usage hikes. There is a middle path, however.
Personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly makes the case that you can gain the benefits of automatic bill payments while not becoming someone who leaves their wallet open to any service that wants it. In a post with many smart suggestions, here's one:
Only autopay set charges and minimum payments. If you're worried about too many higher-than-expected variable bills socking it to your balance, don't put those bills on autopay. Just set up automatic payments for the non-variable bills. It's also pretty low-risk to set up autopay for minimum payments, such as on credit cards, to avoid accidental late fees.
That's what I do — only auto-pay the bills that are fairly constant and not subject to spikes. Phone bills, utilities, and credit cards all become priority/star emails and text messages. Now, though, I'll think about auto-paying at least the minimums on these bills.
Are automatic payments all they're cracked up to be? [Get Rich Slowly]