Amanda L. Grossman is the creator of FrugalConfessions.com, a blog about “the art of enjoying the many pleasures and luxuries of life at a fraction of the cost others will pay.” You can find her on Twitter @FrugalConfess.
Nothing can ruin a day more than an expected or unexpected reminder of the amount of debt you are in. It’s happened to most of us: coming home to be confronted by a credit card bill in the mail on an otherwise perfect day when the sun is shining, our boss has given us a compliment and we feel like we are headed in the right direction.
Even if we knew that the bill was coming, even if we were keenly aware of how much debt we were in, it would have been nice to handle it on our own terms. That’s why this post is about how to pay credit card bills online – for your convenience and peace of mind.
We all know that putting our heads in the sand about a credit card bill (or any bill) is not healthy and usually ends up with the snowball of debt interest working against us. However, having a bit more control over when and where we deal with it would be nice.
This is where online credit card management and payment can come in. While we are still not able to choose when the bill is due (or hit the reset button to before we took that wonderful, albeit expensive, trip), we can sign-in and see the debt when we are prepared to do so, sign-up for automatic payments if we don’t want to be so hands on, and stop the flow of nagging debt reminders to our mailboxes.
Linking Your Credit Card Account to Your Bank Account
There are two ways to link your credit card account to your bank account in order to start making payments online.
The first is by going through your bank where your checking account is located and using their bill payment system. The basic premise is that you set up a one-time or recurring payment through your bank by either finding the payee in their system (banks typically have all of the information for large companies that are lenders to many people, such as mortgage lenders and major credit card companies), or you enter the payee information manually. The information you will need is the name of the company, the address/zip code, and an account number where the money will be wired.
The second way to link your credit card account to your bank account is through your credit card’s website. You will need all of your bank account information to do this, such as the bank’s name, address, your checking account number and the routing number.
How to Pay Your Monthly Credit Card Bill Online
Once you have linked your checking account to your credit card account, you are ready to make your first online payment. Your online payment can be set to automatic or manual, depending upon what you would like to do. If you have a habit of forgetting to pay bills (and also are good with keeping enough money in your checking account to cover the expense), then go ahead and set up automatic payments. With most automatic payment systems you can allocate the minimum payment due, the actual payment due, or an amount you prefer to pay.
An example of online credit card bill payment
Remember that if you decide to pay the actual amount due each month you will need to account for potentially fluctuating payments coming out of your checking account depending upon the variability of your personal credit card spending month to month. If you wish to pay manually, then you will need to remember the due date of the credit card bill each month (which may float to different days depending upon how many days are in that month), as well as log-in when you are prepared to make the payment.
Choosing When to Pay Your Credit Card Bill Online
There is a due date for paying a credit card bill, and of course we all know what happens when we forget or miss payment by this date (increased debt!). However, you are in control as to when you would like to pay it (up to and including the day it is due). There are some strategies and variables involved with deciding when to pay the credit card bill that you should think about before hitting the “payment” button.
For example, if you have an interest-bearing checking account, then you would not want to pay your bill until the day it is due (or one day prior for good measure) in order to reap the most amount of interest off of your money. Are you notoriously bad with managing money in your checking account? If so, you will probably want to pay the bill as soon as your paycheck comes in so that it clears and you know you will not over withdraw on your account or forget to pay the bill all together.
Setting up online credit card payments does not guarantee lowering your debt load, as we all know that we are in charge of that whether the bill comes in the mail or in our inbox. However, knowing how to pay credit card bills online can put you more in control of your debt situation. When you feel in control, then you are empowered to make things happen. Who knows how much more quickly you can pay down that debt when you are feeling on top of the world?
What about you? Do you pay your credit card bills online? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments below.
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