Her son says it's dangerous to still be writing checks
Why You Should Pay Your Credit Card Bills Online
by Howard Dvorkin
A 401k Loan to Pay Off Debts
How to Break Bad Financial Habits
What Does My Debt Cost Me?
Question: I just turned 50, so I must be officially old. My son came home from college and picked up the mail. He was horrified that I still receive my credit card statements on paper, and then mail back a paper check.
My son insists I should sign up for online statements and payments. I'm not computer illiterate, but I like paying the old-fashioned way. I think it keeps me on budget. I pay off my three cards each month and run up my reward points balances.
I'm afraid if I set up automatic online payments, I'll start spending more on my cards without really noticing it. I've seen this happen with my son. Am I right about this, Howard? Or am I just another old person trying to justify why she doesn't want to embrace technology?
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers...
Let me just say I'm closer to your age than your son's, and I "embrace technology" every day by overseeing Debt.com. Yet I 99% endorse the way you pay your bills.
For starters, you're not alone, Sandy. "93 million credit card holders are still receiving financial statements through the mail," says a CreditCards.com report from last month. "That includes 43 million who prefer to only receive and review their monthly financial statements on paper."
My 1% reservation about paying by mail is summed up by CreditCards.com analyst Matt Schultz...
"With fraud and ID theft rampant around the country, if you're only checking your credit card and bank statements once a month, you're not being diligent enough. It's a good idea to check those accounts online at least once a week."
Identity theft is a huge problem, affecting more than 12 million Americans each year, so I suggest you set up online accounts to monitor your credit card purchases mid-month, but still pay the bills via mail.
As for me, I pay my bills online. However, I care less about how someone pays their bills than making sure they pay on time. With credit card interest rates hovering around 15 percent and late fees at around $25, it's more important to be timely than high-tech.
Are you heading for debt trouble? This simple checklist can help you.
One of the best ways to use the Web is through a "personal finance manager." These online tools let you automatically monitor your bank and credit card accounts, then draw up a spending plan and watch it ebb and flow in real time. Best of all, they're free.
My favorite is PowerWallet, which is why they're a Debt.com partner. Check it out, Sandy, and you might just be able to turn the tables on your son and show him some helpful tech he didn't know about.
Have a debt question? Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell : How to Dig Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.
Take the Next Step:
- Get more rewards on everyday spending. Earn extra points or cash back on gas and groceries. Apply today USAA Cash Rewards® American Express® Card.
- Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
I often wonder if I should be seeking professional help to get my debt under control! Tell us: Yes, I'd like to find out if I am a good candidate for credit counseling or No, I don't think I need couseling but I would like to find out how I can pay off my credit cards more quickly.
More Debt Tips & Tools
- 6 smart strategies for paying off your credit cards
- 5 great second jobs to bring in extra cash
- Pay down debt now or save: Here's how to choose
- Can I get a debt consolidation loan with bad credit?
- Easy ways to build an emergency fund
- Key steps to break away from "keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome
- When you're seriously upside down on your auto loan
- This week's Readers' Tips
- Reduce your debt step by step
- Am I a good candidate for credit counseling?
- Do I have a debt problem?
- Compare personal loan rates
- Get free answers to financial questions
- Get free answers to legal questions
- Calculate the real cost of your debt
- Debt pay-down calculator
- Calculate the true cost of paying just the minimum