|Low: Free||Fees: Up to $10 Per Month|
Online bill pay services permit customers to use their computer and the internet to pay anyone, from the lawn maintenance crew to a cable company. Online billing set up through a customer's bank is often free, although the checking account needed to provide funds for payments may require a minimum a balance or assess fees.
Related articles: Online Banking, Line of Credit, Financial Planner
- Online bill pay services range from free to $9.95 per month. At Virginia-based Presidential Bank , online bill pay is free for customers with interest-bearing checking accounts with at least a $500 balance. Another checking account requires a $100 minimum balance, but does not accrue interest and charges $5.95 per month for the first 10 bill payments plus 40 cents for each additional one.
- Bank of America's online bill pay service is free for checking customers and includes unlimited payments. The company's checking accounts vary, but generally cost from $8.95 to $25 per month, with fees waived if minimum balances ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 are maintained or if monthly direct deposits are made. The bank's web-only checking is also free as long as customers receive statements online and conduct deposits and withdrawals at bank-owned ATMs. Otherwise, there's an $8.95 monthly charge.
- Nebraska-based online bank FNBO Direct allows customers to pay bills through email or with an internet-enabled mobile phone using web-based personal financial management service Mint.com . FNBO makes payments over the internet or-- if the merchant does not accept internet payments--using traditional paper checks sent through the mail.
- At New York's Ballston Spa National Bank , unlimited bill pay costs $4.95 a month with a basic checking account that's free with a $500 minimum balance.
- Fiserv is a company that handles online bill pay functions for a fee; $5.95 a month for the first 15 transactions, plus 50 cents for each additional payment. Another non-bank based bill pay service, PayTrust.com , also lets users pay bills electronically. The company charges $9.95 per month for 25 transactions plus 65 cents per additional transaction. One downside of the service--receiving a bill and paying a bill are considered two separate transactions, boosting the cost, according to The New York Times Co.'s ConsumerSearch.com .
What should be included:|
- Look for a bill pay service that offers customer support 24 hours a day 7 days a week to resolve time-critical financial payment needs. Most larger banks and private bill pay companies offer such assistance.
- Find which creditors can be serviced by online bill pay; Wells Fargo and others with bill pay services list e-billers prominently on their website.
- Find out whether the bill pay service will send conventional paper checks to companies that do not accept online payments, as Fiserv does.
- U.S. Bank permits customers to set up email payment reminders.
- Making payments or checking balances on a cell phone or mobile device may result in mobile fees that vary according to the consumer's carrier, according to Bank of America .
- With smaller banks or some private bill pay services, extra fees are charged if customers exceed a set number of transactions. MSN Bill Pay charges $5.95 monthly for 15 payments, and then $2.95 for 5 more payments or 50 cents for a single extra payment. However, larger companies including Bank of America permit an unlimited number of transactions per month.
Shopping for online bill pay:
- Wells Fargo permits customers with bank accounts that are not eligible for free bill pay service to try it free for two months. After that, the cost is $6.95 per month.
- Leading consumer website CreditCards.com gives tips about the pros and cons of paying bills online.ConsumerSearch.com weighs advantages to consumers who sign up for online bill pay through their existing bank rather than another firm. U.S.Bank gives safety tips for people using online bill pay services.
- Top-rated online bill pay services for 2011 are ranked by consumer site TopTenREVIEWS . ConsumerSearch.com also ranks several independent online bill pay companies.
- Complaints involving national banks are handled by the Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks . Complaints involving bill pay services offered by credit unions are handled by the National Credit Union Administration.
- The FDIC has detailed information on online banking regulation and where to file complaints.
- Not all domestic banks or those chartered outside the U.S. are insured by the FDIC, and customers may not be reimbursed by regulators should the bank fail. Check a bank's status using the FDIC's Bank Find tool.
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