Jan 29, 2019

Question of the Day: How do most Americans pay their bills: online, automatic, or other (by phone/by mail/in-person)?

Answer: Other (In person, by mail or by phone)


  • Why do you think such a large percent of people still pay bills using these "old school" ways? 
  • Do you know how your parents/guardians pay their bills? 
  • What might be one risk with setting up your credit card bill to be paid automatically from your checking account? 
  • The mean number of bills paid per consumer is 21. How do you think people keep track of all of these bills so they don't miss one? 

Here's the ready-to-use slides for this Question of the Day for your classroom.

Behind the numbers (from Federal Reserve Bank of Boston): 

Most bills are paid by using a card or electronic methods. In a typical month in 2017, consumers on average paid 12.9 bills automatically or online, and 8.4 bills by mail, in person, or by phone. This means that they paid 6 in 10 bills using methods that don’t require a paper check 7 Statistically significant at the .05 level. 15 or cash. However, the share of bills paid online did not increase from 2015 to 2017. As noted above, bills represent about 30 percent of consumer payments overall.


Your students will learn when to use different forms of payment in this NGPF Project: Payment Decisions 

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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