Okay, this post will not be for everyone, but I have a feeling that a few of you just might need this information. So, here is an online banking tutorial, for those of you who have never used an online bill-payment service.
- Choose your service. I use Wachovia.com, but most major banks now offer free online banking and bill-pay. You should not have to pay for this service, and if your bank charges you, then you need to change banks. (There ARE online banks, and you are free to use their services, but you will have to use direct deposit, mail a check, or transfer money from another account in order to fund your account).
- Now, you have your account, go to the online banking set-up page, and follow the steps. You will be asked for a username and a password, and you might even have to validate this information with an email address or phone call. If you have trouble with this stage, call your bank, and a customer service rep will help you.
- Now, assuming that you have money in your checking account, and you have managed to access it at your banks website, you are ready to pay bills online.
- There are 2 PRIMARY ways to set-up your bill payments. You can manually enter account information for each biller, or you can choose billers from an automatically generated list. You will probably find that only some of your billers, say a credit card or cable company, are available in the automatically generated list. You will need to enter account information for the rest of your accounts. This usually involves the biller address, phone number, your account number, and various other information. Enter the information for each of your billers, and verify that all of the information is correct.
- Now, you are ready to pay your bill. Go to the billpay section of your online banking site, and scroll to find the particular bill you would like to pay. With most online bill-pay, you will be asked to enter an amount, and a date for when you would like the payment to be received by the biller. Now, here is where there is some confusion. With some billers, an actual check will be written, and the date you enter will be the date that the biller will receive the actual check. For other billers, no actual check will be written, but a transfer, from your checking account to the biller will occur. The best idea is to schedule ALL payments so that a check is sent or a transfer occurs AT LEAST 3 days before a bill is actually due. DO not wait until the actual due date to schedule a bill-payment. While some bills can be paid in one day, most bills take at least 3 days to be entered and paid. (Read your banks method of payment carefully. Some indicate the date a payment will be “sent” and some indicate the date a payment will be “received”)
- Verify that the right amounts are going to the right billers, confirm that all information is correct, and click “enter”. Your bills will be paid on time, and you will have an online record of your transactions.
Now, there are several other “ways” to pay your bills online. Some companies offer e-bills, which are electronic versions of the regular printed bills, sent straight to your bank, instead of to your mailbox. You are notified, usually via email, that a new e-bill has arrived, and you can review it, and make payments accordingly. Some companies also offer online payment via debit card, credit card, or checking account. (I have found it “dangerous” to give credit card companies direct access to my checking account, and I personally refuse to do so.)
One last feature that I really like about online bill-pay is the ability to schedule recurring payments, like a car payment or mortgage.