Did you know that the average American household pays about 200 bills per year? At $0.33 per stamp, the new rate effective January 1999, that comes to about $66 per year to mail bills. Add to that the costs of check printing and an occasional late fee, and the total goes up to about $100 per year for each household, just for the privilege of paying bills.
The National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) is advising consumers to consider paying their bills electronically. In addition to the obvious savings on postage, consumers save time and eliminate the risk of having their checks lost or stolen. NACHA has determined that the average household pays bills twice a month, at an hour each sitting, spending 24 hours a year doing something theyd rather not do in the first place.
There are several ways to pay bills electronically. One is Direct Payment. With this method, consumers authorize a company to debit their bank account electronically to pay the bill. This is most useful for recurring bills like utilities, television and Internet services, insurance, and loan payments such as mortgages or home equity loans. NACHA estimates that 1.18 billion bills were paid using Direct Payment in 1998.
Another way to pay electronically is to use such technologies as telephone banking, PC banking, Internet banking and personal financial management software. Check with your bank to find out which of these services they offer. Electronic payments are on-time, accurate and offer a high level of privacy and security. NACHA estimates that in 1997, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 283 million bills were paid using these technologies.
You can visit NACHA on the Internet at www.nacha.org.