Is It Me or Is Online Bill Paying Harder than Writing Checks?

Updated on August 02, 2013
A.J. asks from Norristown, PA
31 answers

After years of procrastination and intimidation I finally set up our bills to be paid online-the ones that could be anyway.

The first few months were rocky but I figured it would get easier once the online ones were faster. I still get paper statements until I feel more secure. So here I sit after a looong afternoon of bill paying, still buried in paper that needs filing-and now I have to write down online confirmation numbers and store since I have no check carbons for half the bills..

Logging into all the sites definitely takes me longer than opening envelopes did....doesn't it? Or at least just as long? Is it supposed to be about being green and paperless and not so much about convenience?

For those of you in charge of family bills breezing through them like Jane Jetson, What's your secret? Do you do lots of auto-debit ones? I don't like auto-debit but I'm open if thats what's saving you tons of time vs. one time payments... Does it just take time to get in the groove or did you feel relieved right away when you started paying online? Should I scrap the online bill pay and stick to all checks for simplicity or is paying online really great once you get the hang of it? Any valuable organization tips? What's it like to be a happy online bill payer?

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So What Happened?

Oh my gosh, everyone, thanks. Leave it to me to ask the WRONG friend how to do it. And he told me it has to be done through all the different sites instead of through my bank. If I can figure out how to set up through my bank I guess I'll have to teach him how to do it too...I hope the bank will be helpful on this because I usually can't even log into my bank account.....I'm TECHNICALLY CHALLENGED.

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

I have everything set up to be automatically paid from my bank accounts, including funds being transferred between accounts, I.e. money going into emergency account, etc.

I've done this least 11 years. I spend time every month reconciling my bank accounts via downloads from the bank website, but otherwise, no time is spent. I use to use quicken, but we switched over to money a few years go.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Link your bills to your bank account. You can log into your bank account online and pay them all right there. No need to go to all these different sites.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Set up all bill pay through your bank. All of them. Not individually through each merchant's site. Then it's a breeze! Your bank will also be able to show you your history of each payment made to each merchant going forward. I use a print out of that history for receipts at tax time, too.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Oh my gosh-it's you-lol.

Go to your bank website and pay all your bills from there. Don't go to all the various sites and pay separately. The only ones I will pay at the source site are if I am late and I need to get it in that day-ie-my credit card.

I also have a lot of my bills paid by my cc and then it is just one bill to pay from there-my cable, garbage pu, cell phone. And I get my miles or points on my cc.

Then if I do pay one at the source site (like my cc in the above example)-I get an e-mail that I just save instead of printing the confirmation. I just slide it into a folder for bill payment confirmation.

Paying a bill for me takes about a minute through the bank website and you can set up which date you want it to come out etc...You are making this way too hard.

Wishing you better bill paying days - :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I do all mine through my bank as well. Super easy once you have it all set up!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You're doing it the wrong way!

Any bill that you will have to make more than one payment on (credit cards, mortgage, utilities, etc) you should have set up in your baking account. Add a "payee" once and it is there forever.

If you have one off bills, those are the ones you have to pay by logging in, etc.

The great part about using your online bank account is that you don't have to save anything. It's all there for you. And now, some of my bills I can have sent right to that account and I can see the statement while logged into my bank account and I just pay it. So easy.

The only time I write checks is for school PTA charge where I have to send in a permission slip with a check.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Roanoke on

We love online bill pay. We don't do any auto payments, we set them up for certain dates ourselves. But, every bill/statement we have (with one exception, that comes to email) comes to our bank website and we pay from there. So, all we need to do is log in to the bank, and there's our bills/statements, direct deposits, and a calendar to set it all up. No paper, no logging on to the sites (although it is helpful occasionally just in case you want to double check something).

We do use checks occasionally when we have a stray that comes in the mail, like a medical bill or city tax, etc. But we've been finding that more often you can pay those online too.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I log onto my credit union's site, set them all up to go out every month and then unless one of my utilities goes up it is auto pilot after that. All our credit cards are set up auto pay balance but we never use them anyway. I think if we did that would mess me up since their dates are all over the place and I send out payments twice a month.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Why not just set up autopay via your bank?

Your bank drafts the payments you schedule and sends it out for you. You only log into ONE site.

Get all of your bills ON-LINE - and use your e-mail to save them. Only print out ones that have warranty information, etc. to file. Other than that? No need for paper.

Find out if your bank does it - one stop payment. We have it set up for our electric, gas, water, etc. LOVE it!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Sounds like you are making this way harder than it needs to be! First of all, do it through your bank and not the individual companies. You log into your bank, set up all of the payees once, set up the dates you want the bills to be paid, make them recurring, and you're done. No need to write down confirm numbers because you can see the history on line. With my bank if there isn't enough money to pay a bill on a scheduled date, I get a text and an e-mail saying that they'll try once more the following day and then after that, I need to manually schedule the payment if there isn't enough to pay the bill. They don't pay the bill and then hit me with insufficient funds charges.

With your bank, you can pay anyone. If the company doesn't accept electronic payments, your bank will cut a paper check and mail it for you. You'll know who those accounts are because the date the money is debited from your account and the date that they estimate the bill will be paid will be 5 days to allow time for mailing.

Honestly, I haven't written a check for a bill on a regular basis in 15+ years. I don't think about bills at all and for most of them, I don't even get paper statements anymore. They just pay themselves.

ETA: Jenny O sorry but you are mistaken in thinking that paying for things via paper check is secure. Your name, address, bank account number and routing number are on every check. It would take almost no effort for someone to rob you blind from a paper check. If you pay bills on-line through your bank, they are responsible for anything that goes wrong or any data breaches. You have much more protection when using your bank's bill pay. This article has more information:

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The problem I have is remembering user names and passwords so I'm constantly having to do the "Forgot your password" thing. ONce I get logged on, I usually find it fast and easy.

I don't do auto-pay for most things. I like the control of deciding how much and exactly when to pay.

I save all of the confirmation pages in my google dropbox so I don't have any paper receipts and don't have to worry if my computer crashes!

I don't know if it's any faster than writing a check, but at least I'm not spending money on postage and the payment is processed faster.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

The only checks I ever write are to daycare, and if they would accept other payment forms, I'd stop that as well.
The trick is to stop paper bills altogether and use email filters to organize your bills. I have labels set up for each of my bill companies. When I am notified that my statements are available, the bills subjects are flagged in red. Then they are easy to find and track. When setting up bills, always have a confirmation email sent to your email, and set up a filter to move those into a separate folder for that company. I am like you and I don't like auto-debits. I like to have control over when I pay my bills.
All of this takes a little time to set up, but once it is set up, it runs itself.
Finally, paper checks are a pretty dangerous way to have your information skimmed. All it takes is the wrong person to copy down your banking and routing information, and then they can post EFTs against your account- just like that. In these cases, I have learned there is very little the banks can do other than close your account and set up a new one. I have had this happen more than once. All it takes is one bad employee or your mail to get compromised. With online bill payments, there is no third party intercepting your payments.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

It's all in how you have it all set up.
We have a Disney Chase rewards Visa card. We have all but a couple of our monthly bills set to autopay to the credit card. I can then go and just make the payment online from my checking to the Visa once a week or so. We love using the card because we earn points on all our purchases that we save up all year then use them to be able to afford our Disneyland annual passes. It's money we have to spend anyway, might as well make it work for us(I know that's not what you asked about).
Each month I get a paper statement from the Visa that has all of our bill payments listed so I don't need all those confirmation numbers etc.
It's set up to pay on the same day each month so I know when it will go through and I just log in online to the card page and make sure it's all good.
The couple that aren't on autopay won't let me set it up to the credit card and only to the checking account. I write checks for those. I don't like using the checking account because if a mistake is made in the billing, which happens, you're account is screwed. It takes longer to get your checking account fixed than it does on your credit card and you're out that cash until it's fixed.
Going online each month to each site is a pain in the rear. It's easier to set it up on autopay so it does it itself each month. It is more time consuming to do it one at a time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Same boat as you. :/

I do pay mine through my bank's site, though. Except for the mortgage payment, which only allows me to designate extra funds towards principal if I do it through their site.

For me, it is more about being able to control when the money leaves my account (and saving $ on stamps, lol). Green Schmeen. I still have paper that gets filed in a file box. Now instead of check #'s and dates on it, I have confirmation #'s and dates. It's all great, until it isn't, right? I always keep copies/paperwork.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I pay most bills through my bank and it is very quick after I have set up all of the accounts.Now I just put in the amount of regular bills and click pay. Very fast. The only sites I go directly to are credit cards. Those I want to be sure are credited right away because they charge interest and late fees if a minute late.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I don't have ANYTHING on an automatic pay, but we do most online. (We would do auto pay, but with our current financial situation there is no guarantee the money will be in the bank on that day...)

I have a cheap, white binder with a simple folder in it. In the very front pocket of the binder I put the paper bills that are yet unpaid. Inside the folder, I taped some envelopes (three on each side.) on each envelope, I wrote what the bill is (rent, utilities, car insurance, phone bill, etc.) along with the website, user name, and password.

As I pay the bills, I write the confirmation number on them and put it in it's envelope. I usually get confirmation e-mails as well, and I made a folder in my email account and send them there instead of deleting.

I love paying online! I don't have to load up my daughter and waste gas driving to wherever I have to pay, deal with the hassle of hauling my DD around, and strapping her in and out of her car seat, stand in line, wait for them to process and print off my receipt, and go home. Or pay for envelopes and stamps and hope the mail doesn't lose the check. (It happened 3 times to us!)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I do not have auto pay on anything, I want to be in charge. Anyway, you are doing it wrong. I go through my bank, and I can set up every bill on one account there, right out of my checking account. I can set up all the accounts that I want to pay, and they are there everytime I log in. I just have to scroll through all my payees and click on which one I want to pay. It really takes 10 minutes twice a month to pay my bills. I do have a few that I choose not to pay like that, but with the cost of stamps I figure this is a good way to go since I don't get charged at the bank for this. Call your bank and inquire about it. And for the record, I have always been like you, intimidated with the modern way of banking and bill paying. I just started paying my bills this way in the last year, and I kick myself for not doing it sooner.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I agree...use your banks system as opposed to the individual sites.

I refuse to go paperless. If something happens to my computer, I don't want to use my iPad to pay bills with and I can't always remember my husbands password.

The paper in the box reminds me there is a bill to pay.

For most things, I write the payment information on the stub and shred the rest. I would like to move to a log and shred it all. One page stapled to a file folder with one line per payment, amount, date, and confirmation number. Perhaps a daily journal would be easier.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

There's no breezing through the bills. There are just too many. I have some on auto pay (that's the easiest) some linked to my bank account (that's also very quick), some I log on to pay (not too bad) and some I pay by old fashioned check. It seems, no matter the mode of how I am paying them, I still have my budget checklist and checkbook out and I'm doing calculations. I also pay my bills in two shifts. I suspect if I got every single one of them going online and linked to my bank account , it would be a breeze. But there are always those ones you can't do that for like DMV car registration. And pre-school. And pta etc. Between regular bills and school and kids activities, no matter how I slice it I'm always writing checksfor something.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I just read your so what happened - yes, you have to do it through your bank. It is very, very easy to do once it's all set up. The setup will take awhile, simply because you have to look up some info, but that's a one time thing. After that, you can pay all of your bills in two minutes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

All mine are set up for auto pay. For anything I am not sure about the amount on or the date it comes out I set up auto pay to my credit card and just make one easy online payment to that card each month. Bills take me literally 5 minutes a month.

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't use one bill pay service to pay all our bills. Instead, I keep a folder of links to all the credit card websites I log into to pay bills. My bank has a billpay service where you can plug in all your bills and have it set to pay everything directly out of your checking account every month, but that feels too automated to me and I like having more control over my finances. I like to sit down every two weeks and review bills and look over logs. I never kept carbon copies of checks, I would order checks sans carbon paper, because I always wrote down in my roster the date, the amount spent and where it was spent at the point of sale. It was a habit my parents instilled in me and I'm grateful for it.

I set my home utility bills; water, garbage, PG&E to auto charge to my main credit card every month. The phone bill, netflix and my daughter's health insurance payment , AAA membership, home insurance and car insurance also auto charge to that card when they are due. (Some of those payments get charged annually.) At the end of the month, instead of paying all those bills separately by logging into the pge website, the city water website, the local garbage company website etc, I log onto my credit card website, review all the charges, then pay the one large payment online via a one-time only bank to bank transfer. I don't have the card set up to auto draw from my checking account. I like to review the charges before I ok payment in case there is a dispute. That way I only have one payment confirmation number to write down. One "e-check" and all bills are paid.

I like doing it this way because all my bills are all in one place where I can see them. I have the option to contest any charges I disagree with (though I've only used that feature once when an online merchant didn't deliver goods I had ordered about five years ago) and by using the card to pay off all bills instead of paying directly from my checking account, I accrue cash back points from the credit card issuer that I can turn around and use to pay off a bill. Free money? Sure! I'll play that game for free money.

I only write one actual check a month. The check goes to the bank that holds my mortgage. I don't know why I like to continue to pay it analog style, but I always have and probably will continue to do so. It's just a personal quirk.
I don't use the same credit card for everything though. I have a small handful of cards that I use for various reasons. The household bills and are all charged to one card.

I use an American express Costco card that is used for food and gasoline purchases. For using that card on gas and groceries at Costco I get cash back. The card is paid off at the end of the month so no interest is ever accrued.

I have an Amazon visa that I only use when I shop at I get maximum points back for using that card at that merchant and can turn around and use those points to pay off part of the card. That card is also paid off in full every month so as to not accrue interest. I mostly use to buy household items and cat food. (They sell it cheaper than my local pet store and if you buy in bulk you get free shipping.)

I have a target credit card that I only use at target that gets me 5% off when I shop there. It's rarely used but when it is, I log into the website and pay it off as soon as I get home. I only use it for the discount.

I have one card with a very low interest rate that I have some debt parked from the last couple of years of job loss and subsequent underemployment. We had to charge our property taxes for a couple of years so it's built up to something I'm not quite comfortable with but it was a better option than not paying and losing the house. We've managed to get 0% balance transfer offers from our other cards that are just sitting there unused, so we've had to bounce the balance a couple of times until we get into a better position to be able to pay it off. We're making headway on it, albeit slowly.

Long story short, yea... it's a juggling act but if you play the game right, you can get cash rewards. And paying by check for everything doesn't net you anything in return and is a bigger hassle than just logging onto one credit card site, looking over the list of charges, then paying that one bill. If I want to see an itemized list of how PG&E got to their decision to charge me what they did, I can always log onto their site directly and download a pdf version of my physical bill so I can see how much gas vs electricity I've used and how much of that bill went to taxes. Since my bills don't jump around and stay fairly steady month to month, checking the details isn't necessary, but it's nice to know the option is there. I've gone paperless for all bills except my mortgage. It's just so convenient to have it all stored digitally so I could whittle down my poor bloated filing cabinet.

(As you can probably tell, I handle all the bills in the house. When my husband did it, our account was overdrawn nearly every month. I got fed up and fired him as our accountant. He's an amazing guy, but he can't balance a checkbook to save his life.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I was super intimidated by electronic bill paying- my husband? Not so much. He started doing it the minute the bank offered it and we haven't looked back!

You do need to contact your bank and set everything up through your checking account. The initial set-up takes some time, and the first few months of bill paying take some practice, but it's all good.

We now have our bills paid in about 10 minutes once or twice a month. We also link it in to our computer register (we use Quicken) and the software will remind us of upcoming bills. Again, the set-up took some time and practice, but it's really been easy now that I have the hang of it.

Good luck! You can do this!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We get e-bills sent to our bank for most of our bills. Then I just log into my bank account and authorize payment of the bills. Easy peasy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I pay most of the bill online through my bank. There are a couple that I go to the billers site. Most of the time they are the same amount and my bank (online) shows what I paid the month before.

I find it much easier to use the computer then to write out checks. The mail never seems to get to where it needs to on time and they don't always process it right away. Once it is done via computer it usually shows right away.

I recently started switching everything to paperless. It is much easier and I don't have to have someone get the mail when I am away.

I keep all my utility web pages in my favorites bar in their own file and I use my debit card to pay directly through their sites. Most will let you save that info so you don't have to keep entering it each time. I also shred all the statements once they are paid. I can look on the computer for info and I get email confirmations that they were paid and how much I paid.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm with you. but i'm practically a luddite. all online stuff is harder for me!
:) khairete


answers from Columbia on

We set up all our bills to be auto-paid with our Discover card. We get cash back/rewards. We then use our bank account to pay the Discover bill. Too easy once it's set up.

I have a spreadsheet with our budget on it. All of our bills and expenditures. Once it's paid for the month, I highlight it in gray. I copy/paste new sheets for each month, so I can track expenditures for the whole year.


answers from Washington DC on

I pay everything except my sitter and my daughter's dance online. Everything. My bank is awesome and they always help me with whatever I need. I've been doing it that way for at least 5 years now. SO much easier than checks, in my book.


answers from Erie on

I have some that are auto pay and others that I pay online myself. I opted out of all paper bills, and when the window with the confirmation comes up, I copy the whole page and email it to myself. I keep a record of what is due on what date written in my day planner that I always carry in my purse. Every month I write down the due dates in my planner and cross them out when they get paid.

Also, I found a great site called that helps me with all of this. I can keep track of all of our spending this way, including for my business. It is so great not having to file all those paper bills anymore.



answers from Detroit on

Online to pay bills? It's dangerous to have all that info online, even secure sites. And, if the computer keeps track of stuff and does too much, that's not never know.

We write out checks by hand for everything, groceries included. It's very easy, pretty safe and allows me to keep track of stuff.



answers from Salinas on

My monthly bill paying takes literally 5 minutes. I do it through our bank, there are instant records for each payment and most are paid by the bank within two days.

I do go directly to to pay that one as I've had problems with it not arriving on time. The bank will cut a physical check for some lesser known businesses and it can take a little longer. Just pay them online through your bank way in advance until you figure out if any take longer then 2-3 days, after that it's a breeze and you can pay just a few days ahead of time without worry of being late. Why give them your money before you have to!

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