Post no bills

This item appears on page 14 of the February 2011 issue.

Regarding the payment of bills while traveling (Dec. ’10, pg. 12), my husband, Foster, and I have for 10 years been clients of Paytrust. For the sum of $10.95 per month, we are currently having about 15 bills regularly paid by them.

You can direct Paytrust to 1) “pay $XX on the XXth of each month to so-and-so” (good for mortgages, car payments, etc), 2) indicate that when “this bill is received, pay total amount” (or the minimum or whatever you choose) “so many days before due date” (we find this useful for utilities, insurance premiums, etc.) or 3) “wait until we give you payment instructions” (we use this option for credit cards).

Paytrust e-mails you when the bill is received (or 10 days after they fail to receive it on the expected date), e-mails you a list of payments for each upcoming week and e-mails you when the payment is actually sent. It also warns you if a due date is approaching and you haven’t given instructions.

You can look at each bill on their website, look at all scheduled payments and look at payments already made, going back some months. If you pay $25 at the end of each year, they’ll send you a disc containing all data of payments made during the year. We never do this, however.

You can e-mail them at any time and say, “Send a check in the amount of $XXX to so-and-so at such-and-such address.” This is great for unforeseen events arising, like kids’ needing a loan. It will go out in the next day’s mail.

Here are the reasons we prefer using Paytrust to having each company to whom we owe a sum automatically take it from our account: 1) It’s much more versatile. 2) For each entity that has access to your account, the chance of mishap is multiplied, we believe. We restrict this to one entity, and for 10 years we’ve never had a problem (almost 2,000 payments made without error). 3) They will pay electronically, if possible, or write and mail a check if necessary. 4) You can add multiple banks for funding, varying payments between banks at any time, depending on balances. 5) All info, past and upcoming, is available on one secure website.

We are frequent travelers, and we find this system simple and invaluable while on the road, but it also dramatically decreases the volume of mail we receive while at home.

Vallejo, CA