Autopay - Never Lose Phone Service!
Autopay is an great option for paying your prepaid
wireless bill if you have a credit card, debit card, or checking
you can setup with your carrier.
There are typically two main flavors of autopay that you can
choose from. The first one is the most common given how
pervasive monthly plans are. The second option is
tremendously convenient for pay-as-you-go plans.
- This feature makes the most sense for Monthly
where there is a specific date each month that you have to pay a
amount of dollars (ex. $50). Basically, you'll setup your
your credit card, debit
card, or bank account the full amount of your
monthly charge. On that day each month, your wireless carrier
will charge your card or bank account ensuring that you never miss a
payment. Note that some carriers will actually process the
charge a number of days in advance to help ensure that if there's a
failed transaction that there is still time to recover to avoid your
service from being shut off.
- The greatest benefit with this feature is that you never
worry about going to a store to make a payment in time for your
monthly payment/anniversary date. In turn, this means that
phone service is never
disrupted. Picking up your phone the
after you've missed a payment only to find that it doesn't work is an
experience no one ever wants to have!
- Important Note: A number of
carriers offer monthly plan discounts (ex. $5 off) if you signup for
autopay. They do this because there's a much greater
probability that you'll pay every month, which ultimately means more
revenue for them. Also, if you want to discontinue service,
it's also more likely that it will take you an extra month or two to
cancel autopay and discontinue service!
2. Low Balance Replenishment (a.k.a.
Low Balance Auto Topup)
- This feature makes the most sense if you have a classic Pay-As-You-Go
(PAYG) or a now rare Daily
Plan, where you don't have a fixed amount of money
that you know you're going to spend each month. Basically,
setup your credit/debit card or bank account to be charged each
time your prepaid wireless account balance hits a certain threshold.
When the threshold is met, your wireless carrier will add a
certain amount of dollars (that you've pre-selected) to your prepaid
balance. For example, when your account reaches $5 or less,
will be added to your account. You can usually select your
from a fixed list (ex. $20, $30, $50, or better, from an open range
(ex. $10 to $100).
- The greatest benefit of this feature is that you never have
worry about not having any money on your account. And if you
don't use your phone regularly, you don't have to worry about
monitoring your account balance to make sure that your phone doesn't
expire (and you lose your phone number!).
- Keep an eye out that your carrier not only includes hitting
passing the threshold (ex. $5), but also that the replenishment is
triggered when your account reaches $0. This might sound odd,
but this detail actually changes the core functionality in a meaningful
way. The best example of
happening is that you don't use the money on your phone within the
allowed time (ex. 60 days), and the money on your account is
automatically swept (i.e. expired/removed) from your account, taking it
immediately to zero. In this case the balance doesn't
hit or cross the threshold, at least not in a natural way that would
happen if you were just using the phone. If the service
triggering the auto topup when funds expire like this, there's
absolutely no risk that your phone will ever be shut off, and you will
never lose your phone number. This detail might
odd, but having developed such replenishment programs, I know that this
particular functionality is something that specifically needs to be
considered and built. And in my opinion, it's a great benefit
to you, the customer, to have it work this way for a truly "set it and
forget it" experience.
There is a third category of Autopay where you define a particular day
where your card/account is charged, and with how much money.
This can be helpful when you're trying to coordinate a
payment with your payday, however, I'm not a big fan of this approach.
The monthly payment date approach makes a lot more sense.
With this feature, if you don't continuously use the funds,
while you won't lose your money, you could end up piling up a ton of
money on your account, which you could be using for other things.
Generally speaking, autopay is an excellent option, and also has the
benefit of getting additional points on your credit card.
wireless carriers will also give you bonus minutes or dollars for
setting up autopay. This is because the chance that you'll
continue using your phone, never run out of minutes or get shut off is
much higher...a good thing for wireless carriers. Not to
that direct payments
(i.e. credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts) are typically lower
cost for carriers than selling replenishment products in retail stores.
i.e. They make more profit from you!
Lastly, look out for additional steps to setup autopay. Due
laws regarding getting your approval to automatically charge your
card/bank account (known as Regulation E = RegE), you'll have to
authorize the recurring
if the amount of your plan changes, you may be required to reauthorize
(i.e. re-enroll in autopay).
Some carriers make this easier than others, but this is a
necessary step, so make sure that you don't miss this step or you may
think you're setup for autopay when you're not!
Visit the following pages to learn more about different payment devices:
Or visit the Adding
section to learn about different ways to pay.