Are you banking online? A recent survey says 80 percent of U.S. online households are. However, if you're limiting your online account management to checking your balance or reviewing past transactions you are missing out on the biggest benefits of the service. Many people don't realize that online banking services at most banks and credit unions enable you receive and pay your bills from one simple dashboard. That's the gift that keeps on giving. Here are my top three reasons why you should take your online banking relationship to the next level by consolidating all your bill paying through your bank or credit union:
- It makes your financial life easier: When you use your primary financial institution as command central for your bills, you only have to remember one password and log on one time. You can see exactly how much money you have in your account as you pay each bill from that one control panel. When you utilize online banking, you can pay ALL of your household bills online - not just to large companies, but to small firms, and even individual people. (Seriously. Thanks to a new offering called ZashPay that many financial institutions offer, you can literally send person-to-person payments online using only the recipients' email address or phone number.)
- It gives you control. According to a recent survey from financial technology provider Fiserv (a company I'm doing some very interesting work with), a whopping 64% of consumers have lost a paper bill in their home and another 57% have experienced a paper bill being lost in the mail. If you utilize online bill pay through your bank or credit union, you can eliminate this concern by having bills sent electronically right to your online banking account. Hundreds of national billers offer these paperless bills, known as e-bills. They contain the exact same information as paper bills, but are delivered directly to your online bank account. On top of this, when you utilize online banking through your financial institution you determine exactly when each bill will get paid - which is not the case, for instance, when you have bills auto-debited.
- It gives you safety. Last but not least, whenever I talk about online anything - one of the first concerns that rightfully pops up is... safety. This may be the best part of all when it comes to online banking. When you use online banking it's like banking with Kevlar on. You are reaping the benefits of all the money those financial institutions have spent on encryption and fraud detection tools. Also, you don't have to share your bank account number the way you might have to do if you pay a bill at a company's website. Additionally most financial institutions have robust alert options that will notify you via text or email of activity in your account so you can keep a close eye on your hard earned dollars.
To learn more about receiving and paying bills online, visit www.ebillplace.com.
Want more financial love? You can follow Manisha on Twitter at @ManishaThakor and sign up for her email updates here. Starting in Fall 2010, Manisha will teach an innovative online course on "Financial Literacy 101" for woman though www.Sympoz.com. Manisha Thakor, personal finance expert for women, can be reached via her website, www.ManishaThakor.com.