Radio program Talking Technology’s Trever Long and Nick Bennett interviews Gobbill’s CEO about bill payments and making it easier to switch banks and service providers.
Talking Lifestyle is a commercial radio station in Sydney, Australia owned by Macquarie Radio Network. It currently broadcasts from studios in Greenwich, New South Wales in Sydney’s North Shore. Former call sign 2UE 954 covering Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane & Perth.
Consumers are using more direct debits than ever. But with 1 in 3 Australians experiencing financial stress, direct debits can be risky.
While some providers make pausing a subscription easy, many providers and banks make cancelling direct debit excessively difficult.
The Bank Code Compliance Monitoring Committee published a report in October 2017 stating that when consumers asked cancel direct debits, 54% of bank staff gave the wrong advice to consumers, stating that consumers had to contact billers directly. This is still unacceptably high since the previous report. Seven banks told the committee they collectively received more than 15,500 direct debit cancellation requests a month.
If you’re working to a tight budget, you could save hundreds or even thousands by changing your everyday household service providers. With rising electricity prices, now more than ever it’s time to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. Is that 10% off an an actual saving or are there hidden costs? Does the price include uneccessary extras? Do the research and you could be rewarded.
Mr. David Baybrooke spoke to Gobbill about how he avoided high electricity prices simply by shopping around. “I switched electricity providers and saved $178 per quarter,” he stated. “I changed from Origin to AGL. A substantial saving there!”
“Shopping around for the best prices is an absolute must I think. On a reduced income, I find price comparison essential!”
Advice for Gobbill users?
“Online research,” says David. “Always looking for great deals! I’ve been looking at Big Switch and I’ve also been helped by a comparison service to find the best rates. Lots of effort put in.”
If you have shopped around and saved Share it with us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more?
Read our blog on how to get the most from your billers here.
Gobbill processes 3 times more bills in the last month of each quarter, with installments such as council rates and some electricity bills coming up for payment. This makes this period the ideal time for scammers to target individuals with fraudulent bills.
It’s always good to keep a close eye on your email inbox. Statistics show that online scams are a growing issue, with huge losses to scams over August this year. Australians lost $12.5M in scams last month (August 2017), which is almost double compared to the same time last year. Email fraud makes up an estimated 27% of all scams, with an estimated total of $3.4M lost last month. The hardest hit by scams are older women. Apart from being aware and cautious of scams, keep yourself protected with Gobbill to help check and pay email bills.
August 2017 – Number of reports by Age and Gender
Gobbill is a partner of the Commonwealth Government Stay Smart Online program. In recent months, the Government Cyber program has issued a number of alerts of new phishing emails carrying malware. The emails pretend to come from a number of Australian institutions including Telstra, Origin Energy and AGL.
Find out more about Gobbill. It’s free to use service that protects you from email bill scams.
Each month our team adds a range of new features to make Gobbill even better! Take a look at our new features below.
*Where possible with billers send email receipts.
Other recent features:
Everyone deserves a free holiday, and with the right rewards credit card you can accumulate enough points to travel for next to nothing. Want to learn how? The first step is to find the right credit card for you. Steve Mickenbecker from Canstar shares his expertise with Gobbill.
Know yourself before you fly into a rewards credit card
Choosing a credit card is one of the earliest financial decisions many young Australian adults will make. Rewards cards are one of the options that should be considered – but they are not right for everyone. Choosing the right credit card is not just about knowing about the cards on offer. It is also about knowing yourself and your financial behaviours.
Do you lose control of your credit card? For some people, no credit card will be right. If you struggle to save because the plastic in your pocket makes spending too easy, stick with a debit card and save before you spend.
Do you leave a debt balance on your card most months? Having passed the “qualify for a credit card test”, now you need to answer a question about your repayment behaviour. If you struggle to repay the full balance every month and end up leaving a debt on your card, you will be paying interest. Typically rewards cards carry higher interest rates, in the order of double that of the lowest rates on the market. The rewards you earn are unlikely to compensate you for the higher interest you are paying. A low rate card is may be a better option.
If you repay in full every month, which type of rewards are for you? If you are a regular payer of the full balance on your credit card then a rewards cards is an option. But you are now faced with the choice of frequent flyer cards or cards that earn you shopping coupons, merchandise or cash back. Frequent flyer rewards take a long time to earn if you spend less than $1,000 per month on your credit card. Shopping coupons and the like can be earned earlier and more frequently, and potentially pay their way as you go rather than waiting years for a flight.
For bigger spenders though, there is something satisfying about paying for flights for an overseas holiday every couple of years or for the odd long weekend at Noosa.
Whether flights or vouchers, don’t pay too high an annual fee
With some cards you pay a fee for the card and a fee for the rewards programme. There are a few free rewards cards, some quite low cost, lots around $400 and a few a lot more than that. What is too much however, depends on how much you spend on your card and the rate at which your card earns rewards.
If your spend is $1,000 per month, the rewards you earn will not cover a high cost card, so you may benefit by looking at the lower end of the scale. However, if you are spending $10,000 per month, a high cost card can be the right choice if it earns high rewards and other benefits.
So now that you understand about you, how do you choose a specific card?
In a nutshell the choice of a specific rewards card comes down to five sets of factors:
Easy to say fast but a lot to consider when you see the myriad of cards on the market. Canstar compares over 200 credit cards from 64 providers on its website, meaning that the consumer has no shortage of choice ….. but in some ways too much choice.
Steve Mickenbecker, Canstar Group Executive, Financial Services.
Source: Photo – Singapore Airlines First Class
“It’s our pleasure to upgrade you to first class. Have a lovely flight.” These are the words that we’d all like to hear on a 23 hour flight to London, but it rarely happens. Everyone deserves an upgrade once in a while. Maybe even a free holiday…
A sure way to feel like royalty while travelling is to earn and spend reward points wisely. Earning reward points is like money on the ground, but most people just don’t have the time (or the insider knowledge) to pick it up. In addition, the reward scheme and how you spend points can determine whether points are valuable.
The first step is to find the right credit card to earn points. So we asked several experts for their advice. Our expert this week is Steve Hui.
Steve Hui is the CEO of iFlyFlat, a Sydney based travel concierge service that helps people to fly business and first class using points. We asked Steve for a few tips…
What should you look for in a credit card that earns reward points?
Remember that not all cards are created equal. There’s a range of different cards out there earning different kinds of points. The first step to picking the right card is understanding what kind of points you need to collect, and that comes from decided which destination you would like to travel to. For every destination, different airlines require different points to fly there – so pick the right points for the right destinations.
Then you can compare cards within that range to find which one will earn you the most points per dollar.
Are there good ways to find and compare cards?
As we know, there’s a range of airlines and cards to choose from. Once you have chosen what type of points to collect based on your travel intentions, it’s time to compare the card benefits. There’s a number of factors to consider;
1) Based on your spending habits, can you pay with mostly with AMEX or only VISA/Mastercard? (AMEX cards may earn more airline points per dollar)
2) Is the card capped as to a certain number of points?
3) Are there bonus points for certain retailers that you regularly use (e.g. Specific supermarkets and petrol stations)?
4) With my spending, will this card help me achieve my travel goal?
Which card do you use and what do you use it for?
Most of my points come from both a personal and business American Express card with each AMEX card earning between 2x to 3x points on every single dollar. The benefit of AMEX points is the increased flexibility. My AMEX points can be transferred to 10 different airline partners including Qantas, Emirates, Singapore and Virgin. Further, my points do not expire and are uncapped, so I can earn as much as I spend.
Remember to choose the card that works for your situation. Pay close attention to the points per dollar earnings and any caps/restrictions. Personally, I don’t worry about the annual fees very much, because the value of flights I redeem with my points far exceed the annual fee by a factor of 10x.
Great insights from Steve at iFlyFlat. In addition, paying expenses online with a reward-friendly credit card is a great way to get those points moving. Using Gobbill, you can link your credit card to make payments automatically. This can earn you reward points much faster and, of course, you don’t have to spend time actually paying the bills.
Gobbill also makes changing credit cards to earn bonus points a breeze. Want to pay one biller with a different credit card? Easy just change the details in Gobbill. In no time, you’ll be enjoying your free flight upgrade or holiday.
Acknowledgments to Steve Hui, Chief Executive, www.iFLYflat.com.au – The Points Whisperer.
Want to dispute a bill? Low on cash towards the end of the month? Too late, your account has already been debited. While direct debit can save you the hassle of bill payments, being locked into fixed automated payments can also get you into trouble.
With direct debit, billers don’t need to contact you or ask for permission before withdrawing funds. This gives a third party control over payments, potentially leaving you with extra fees or bills for products you no longer use. So, if you’re thinking about setting up a direct debit, make sure you understand the pros and cons. Read our article about direct debits.
Ms. Ocea Smith spoke to the Gobbill team about her bad experience with direct debit. “I find it frustrating when it comes to direct debit and there’s a public holiday…The trouble I had was with Vodafone, who direct debited from my account on the 5th of every month. A while back it was taken early due to a public holiday and I didn’t transfer in time.
Sometimes they [billers] decide to deduct early while others wait for the closest business working day. I really wish they would confirm so I can be sure my end is all okay. All I would need to do is transfer between my accounts. Instead I’ve been caught with fees for bounced payments.…So I received a dishonour fee from my bank of $40! I complained to my bank and it was revoked, which was great.”
Do you have a horror story about direct debit? Share it with us here: email@example.com
Direct debit can be a great way to organise your finances, but what are the risks? Make sure that you understand the pros and cons of direct debit before making a commitment to payments that may have hidden strings attached.
Don’t set and forget
Keep yourself informed of the direct debits associated with your bank account. Signing up for a trial can seem like a great way to access a free product, but if a biller only accepts direct debit ensure to cancel your subscription before the trial period has ended. Alternatively, if you are a customer who prefers the convenience of a ‘rolling’ policy (a policy that is automatically extended each year), review these payments regularly to confirm that you still require the services. Customers are often hit with charges for products they no longer use without notification from their provider.
Giving control to a third party can be risky
As direct debit payments allocate billing control to the biller and give your bank account details to a third party, it is vital that your service provider is a trustworthy organisation. Customers are not required to provide approval for payment, even if a bill is out of line with prior spending.
Monitor your bill payments
Using direct debits as a method of bill payment does not mean that customers can avoid monitoring bill amounts. To remove the potential of being overcharged, it is important to be vigilant about what is taken from your account. Monitor withdrawals from your biller and ensure that bill amounts are in line with your spending habits.
Cancelling can be a process
Depending on the biller and direct debit system, cancelling a direct debit can be a difficult process. When your direct debit is set up, ensure that you retain authority to end the debit unilaterally. Many banks are unwilling to stop direct debit at a customers request, meaning that a business may take several or more months of payments before the process is stopped. To cancel, customers will often be required to write a letter to the bank and merchant to stop the debits. Before setting up a direct debit read the Terms and Conditions and educate yourself on how to cancel in case you no longer require the service or product. Or alternatively, set up an alternative way to pay.
Paying bills with a credit card has benefits
Direct debit payments do not give users the opportunity to access rewards. For those looking to maximise their bill payment benefits, pay bills on a credit card where possible to gain cash and travel rewards. If your biller charges an inconvenience fee for credit card payments, this is the circumstance to look into a debit card or direct debit option. For billers that do not charge extra for the use of a credit card, do the research on what card will be most useful for which bill – do you want to use a card to increase points? Money flow? Choose what credit card gives you the best benefits for your preferences and go.
Careful of the extra fees
Utilising direct debit as a payment service can reduce the possibility of being charged late fees and get you pay-on-time discounts. However, if your bank account does not contain enough funds to cover the bill total, you may get charged a fee by both the financial institution and the biller. To manage this issue, it is important for users to either link direct debits to their primary bank account or set reminders to transfer funds before bill due dates.
An alternative bill payment service like Gobbill can assist in avoiding the potential shortfalls associated with direct debit payments. The new online service issues payment reminders before a bill due date, gives users increased flexibility to pay bills using a credit or debit card, allows users to maintain control over bill payments and automates the bill payment process.