A bank account simplifies the process of paying bills. But if you or your significant other don’t have an account, there are other ways to pay. Each option has pros and cons. Paying cash in person is usually free, but does take time. Other methods, such as money orders or prepaid debit cards, are more convenient but also carry fees. If you plan ahead and remain organized, you can minimize the time and money you spend paying bills.
Pay in person. Contact the companies to which you routinely pay bills, such as utilities and phone companies. Ask if they have a local office that accepts cash payments. Be sure to ask for a receipt when you pay so you have proof that someone received your payment. While many companies accept cash payments in person, not all do so for free. For example, if you visit certain wireless phone retailers to pay a bill, you might have to fork over an additional processing fee.
Mail a money order. You can get money orders at post offices, convenience stores, major grocery stores and certain banks for a small fee, usually $1 or $2. Specify the exact amount of the bill when purchasing the money order. Fill out the payee information and sign it right away. Be sure to write your full name, address and account number on the money order, and include a payment stub in the envelope so that your payment gets properly applied to your account. Also, keep your portion of the money order so you can get a new one if it gets lost in the mail.
Use a prepaid debit card to pay bills online or over the phone. These cards come preloaded with whatever dollar amount you pay into it. You can buy a prepaid debit card at major drug stores and convenience stores. A prepaid debit card has a major credit card logo on it, which lets you to use it most places where that particular credit card is accepted. Read the fine print to learn exactly how a prepaid debit card works and to understand its fees before buying one. Card providers might charge you to activate the card, reload additional money, or contact customer service. You can only use the card for the amount of money you have in the account.
- Avoid mailing cash to pay a bill. It might end up in someone else’s pocket other than the company you’re trying to pay.
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