E-bills.  What is an e-bill and how does e-billing work?

As postal fees continue to rise more and more every year, e-billing is a cost effective and money saving feature for large national billers, who spend millions of dollars annually on printing and mailing cost for paper bills.  

The good news to consumers is that e-billing is also a very convenient feature for them, as well, especially when combined with a configurable auto-pay feature.  With auto-pay enabled, paying bills happens automatically, but consumers do not have to lose control of how their bills get handled and when their payment is sent to the biller.  And if you enable e-billing and decide you'd prefer to go back to receiving paper bills instead, it's typically easy to turn off.

Almost every major biller in the country offers their customers the ability to turn off paper billing and enable e-billing at the biller website.  Look for the payment page or statement page at your biller website and there you will usually find an offer from the biller to switch to electronic bill delivery.

As an alternative to setting up e-billing at your biller site, if you use your bank's bill pay service, or a third party bill payment service like MyCheckFree to pay your bills, your biller will deliver your e-bill directly to those sites as well.  This is an option that many people prefer, because it allows them to have a single site to pay and manage all of their bills.  This is useful because you only need to learn the mechanics of a single bill payment site, as opposed to having to manage your way through the nuances of each and every biller site that you have account relationships with.

After you instruct your biller to turn e-billing on, you will often receive one more paper bill before the service is enabled.  Once the biller has switched you over to e-billing, they will stop sending you paper bills in the mail.  

Most e-billing services will send you a notification via email when a bill arrives, and will include some type of link back to the bill payment site so that you can view the details of the bill, print a copy (if you desire), and generate the necessary payment instructions to have the bill paid.  Historical bills will be saved for some period of time, in the event that you need to go back and review previous statements or bills.

Some bill payment provider offer configurable auto-payment features which can be easily set or adjusted.  These might include options that:

  • Inform the bill payment service when you wish to be notified via email (bill has arrived, bill is due, payment has been made).
  • Instruct the bill payment service to automatically generate a payment on your behalf when a new bill arrives.
  • Set limits on your auto-payment instruction, like not automatically generating a payment if the bill is over some threshold amount that you set.
  • Let you set the amount of a payment (Total balance, minimum payment due, some other set dollar amount).
  • Allow you to determine when the bill gets paid (on the due date, as soon as possible).

If you try e-billing and decide you don't like it, it's very easy to turn it off and set your preference back to receiving paper bills.