PAYING BILLS ON THE ROAD
Worried about paying your bills in a timely manner while travelling? Here are some ideas to help you decide how to pay your bills while you are on the road - as a Full-Timer or travelling for an extended stay.
- Have all of your bills automatically deducted from your checking account.  Almost all companies provide this service because it is most cost-effective way for them to collect their money.  We do this for our Discover and MasterCard.  We get a notice every month from Discover and MasterCard advising us of the amount that will be automatically withdrawn to pay the total due every month from our checking accounts.   Our only concern then is to make sure that we maintain an adequate balance in our checking account to pay the bills!
Do you need to be concerned about a your billing company making a mistake and withdrawing too much from your account? Absolutely, but the risk is about the same as by paying by check.  Big problems can happen when paying by check also, since the amount is manually keyed and then electronically transferred.  When we were paying by check, Discover cashed our $400 for $4000, and the gov't cashed another for $10,000 more than the check amount.  So, you are not safe from overdrafts on your account if you pay by check either! We have all of our bills automatically deducted from our checking account and are very happy with the service.
- Utilize one of the new electronic bill-paying services.  There are several variations of this service.  Most require that you have your bills sent directly to them.   Some will automatically pay your bills as your direct (amount and date) and post your bills on their secure web site for you to view.  Others will either e-mail you a copy of your bill or post it on the web site BUT you have to approve the bill before it is paid.  The obvious problem with your having to approve the bills before they are paid is timing - and the added cost of internet access.  If you elect to use one of these services, in addition to shopping for cost, be ABSOLUTELY SURE that the service will cover any late charges - if you approve payment on time or if you agree to automatic payment.
- If you have an account at one of the larger brokerage services, check with them to see if they offer a bill-paying service.  This service may be free or at a reduced cost, depending on the size of your account.
-Submitted by Bob Cook