Joel Meyerowitz Revisits Ground Zero
Looking northeast from the center of Ground Zero, the chaos of destruction near the North Tower in October 2001 contrasts with the clean and somber design of the memorial's reflecting pool Joel Meyerowitz; Joel Meyerowitz for TIME

What's the Best Way to Pay Bills Automatically?

May 09, 2014

Q: How should I pay bills: have creditors pull funds from my bank account or use my bank's bill-pay service? -- Emmett McAuliffe, St. Louis

A: The answer depends on whether you care more about convenience or control. If it's control, pay your bills via your bank. That makes it far easier to stop, change, or delay a payment, says Hoboken, N.J., planner Victoria Fillet.

What you gain in control, though, you may lose in convenience, notes Lauren Prince, a planner in New York City.

Related: 7 ways to improve your credit

Though bank auto payments may work well for recurring fixed amounts, you still have to stay on top of bills that vary from month to month -- say, from credit card companies or utilities.

If you travel frequently or are forgetful, authorizing reputable creditors to initiate electronic fund transfers for amounts due is better than being delinquent, adds Prince.

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