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Bills You Shouldn’t Put On Autopay

5 minute read

By Katie Ormsby

Key Takeaways

  • Putting bills on autopay is convenient, but it can backfire.
  • For one thing, it’s easier to miss when you’ve been overcharged.
  • And you’re more likely to keep paying for things you don’t use.

Since paying bills is a task many of us could do without, it makes sense that so many people use autopay. That isn’t necessarily an issue for bills that don’t fluctuate from time to time like a mortgage. However, autopay can cause trouble.

When bills are “out of sight, out of mind,” you can miss things. For instance, you could pay more than you owe or overdraw your bank account. Here are 10 bills, in particular, you might want to avoid putting on autopay.

Phone

While it’s tempting to put your cellphone bill on autopay, you might want to take a more hands-on approach. That’s especially true if you’re not on an unlimited plan. As a bill that varies from one month to the next, you might get caught off guard by a bigger-than-expected bill and wind up with an overdraft fee from your bank.

Additionally, you might miss billing errors or unexpected price increases. Those with unlimited plans might want to skip autopay for those reasons. If you look over your bill, then you can contest mistakes and recognize when it’s time to negotiate a lower monthly bill. No one wants to pay more than absolutely necessary, after all.

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Utilities

Utility bills are another category you might want to skip putting on autopay. That’s because your water, electricity, and gas usage varies throughout the year. For example, you probably water your lawn more in summer and crank up the heat come winter.

Beyond missing mistakes or incurring overdraft fees, you might miss telltale signs of problems lurking in your home: an unexpected spike in your water bill could indicate a leak, while a surge in your electricity bill could be an old appliance using too much energy.

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Credit Cards

Unless you only use your credit card to cover recurring expenses that never change, your credit card bill is practically guaranteed to fluctuate every month. So, it’s a good idea to look over your statement before paying.

You’ll be more likely to catch mistakes as well as weird activity that indicates your card’s been compromised and needs to be canceled. That’s why analyzing your credit card bill line by line is important — even if it’s tedious.

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Streaming Services

Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify are another reason checking your credit card statement is a smart move. Since they tend to require autopay, your credit card bill is the place to spot ones you hardly ever use.

It’s all too easy to continue paying for streaming services you haven’t used in ages — or in some cases, streaming services you even forgot you had. If you have to autopay with a credit card, then don’t put that card on autopay.

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Cable/Satellite

Cable and satellite bills are notorious for creeping up month after month. Sometimes they even jump by pretty significant amounts. $5 here and $20 there can really add up. For that reason, you may want to pass up autopay.

It might be annoying to write a check or log into your account every month to pay, but it’s a good way to keep track of price changes. Then you can negotiate when it gets too expensive, change plans, or cancel altogether.

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Subscription Boxes

From beauty boxes to meal delivery kits, there are several types of subscription boxes you might receive. If you use autopay for them, then you might not assess whether you’re getting your money’s worth often enough.

Take a beauty box, for example. While many cost somewhere between $10 and $20 a month, that’s only a good deal for subscribers who use all of the items. $100 to $300 a year is pricey when the contents go mostly unused.

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Car Insurance Premiums

Many people pay their car insurance premiums one or two times per year. Either way, it’s an infrequent bill. Since infrequent bills are, well, infrequent, it’s easy to forget about them. If you put them on autopay, then you run the risk of them hitting your account when the balance is too low.

You’re, unfortunately, looking at an overdraft fee should that happen. Overdraft fees add up, so it can be worth it to skip autopay and instead manually pay your car insurance premium when the time comes. It also helps you spot price increases and know when it’s time to shop around.

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Gym Membership

People get gym memberships with good intentions. However, life gets busy, and it can be hard to find the time to visit the gym regularly. As a matter of fact, USA Today says 67% of gym memberships go unused.

So, it’s incredibly common for people to throw away money on gym memberships. If you take the time to make manual payments, then you’re more likely to assess whether or not you’re using it or need to cancel.

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News Subscriptions

Subscribing to online newspapers, magazines, and newsletters can be a great way to keep up to date with everything from politics to entertainment. But you might want to think twice before opting for the autopay option.

Back in the day, it was easier to recognize when you weren’t using a subscription because newspapers or magazines piled up. In the digital age, making the payment yourself is a chance to catch when it’s time to cancel.

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Internet

Much like phone bills and cable bills, internet bills have a way of inching up until you’re paying way more than you originally did. But logging into your account or writing a check every month ensures you keep an eye on the price.

That way, you can avoid overdraft fees should the price increase. And you can keep track of how much more you’re paying and decide if you need to negotiate a lower price or shop around for a better price with a new provider.

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Katie Ormsby

Contributor