SU­PER SO­LU­TIONS WE TAKE THE CON­FU­SION OUT THE EAR­LIER YOU START, YOUR MONEY OF RE­TIRE­MENT PLANS THE GREATER THE BEN­E­FITS Di­rect relief from bills

Aus­tralians are em­brac­ing au­to­matic ac­count pay­ments but we should do so with cau­tion, writes

The Courier-Mail - - YOUR MONEY -

SET-and-for­get di­rect debit pay­ments are ris­ing but Aus­tralians are be­ing warned to check what pay­ments are go­ing out of their ac­counts.

The Aus­tralian Pay­ments and Clear­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s lat­est fig­ures show in 2013 more than 2.4 mil­lion di­rect debit pay­ments are made ev­ery day – al­most dou­bling in the past 10 years from 1.3 mil­lion in 2003.

On av­er­age, $19.2 bil­lion is au­to­mat­i­cally trans­ferred from Aus­tralians’ ac­counts daily, up from $8.6 bil­lion in 2003.

APCA chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Hamil­ton says di­rect debit pay­ments – a ser­vice that al­lows a provider to au­to­mat­i­cally with­draw money for a cus­tomer’s ac­count at set times – is a re­li­able and prompt pay­ment method and he ex­pects its use will con­tinue to in­crease.

“Di­rect deb­its are never the only pay­ment op­tion, if you want to con­trol your fi­nances and pay when you want to pay then you can al­ways have an op­tion that does that, like us­ing BPAY or a card,’’ he says.

“I think di­rect deb­its are go­ing to con­tinue do­ing what they are do­ing now, which is steadily in­creas­ing at a lit­tle bit above the gen­eral rate of eco­nomic ex­pan­sion in Aus­tralia and it’s grad­u­ally be­ing used by more peo­ple.”

ING Di­rect’s man­ager of ev­ery­day bank­ing, Tim Newman, says mer­chants are en­cour­ag­ing more Aus­tralians to set up au­to­matic pay­ments.

“From the mer­chant’s per­spec­tive, it gives them more cer­tainty over the pay­ment be­cause you are not re­ly­ing on some­one to do some­thing ev­ery month or quar­ter,’’ he says.

“In some cases you are see­ing some mer­chants and util­ity providers of­fer­ing a dis­count or a dif­fer­ent pric­ing plan if the cus­tomer sets up a di­rect debit.”

Newman says it is im­por­tant cus­tomers keep on top of their di­rect deb­its.

“Keep an eye on your ac­counts and be aware of what’s com­ing out of your ac­count,’’ he says. “You need to know when and how much money you have in your ac­count, so you don’t have those in­stances where you miss a pay­ment and po­ten­tially oc­cur fees on both sides.”

A MoneyS­mart spokesman says di­rect deb­it­ing “re­duces the has­sle fac­tor” when pay­ing bills but warns peo­ple will get hit if there isn’t enough money in their ac­count.

“Peo­ple are be­com­ing more com­fort­able with elec­tronic bank­ing rather than tak­ing a bill down to the post of­fice,’’ he says.

“Di­rect debit works best where it’s a reg­u­lar pre­dictable amount and you can af­ford to leave a cush­ion in your ac­count, so even if you don’t re­mem­ber ex­actly when a bill comes in it’s not go­ing to bounce.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.