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Bills are unavoidable—that is the downside. The upside is there are plenty of avenues to pay for them, from cash to checks, from bill pay to credit or debit cards. With each, there are benefits. Cash, checks and debit cards can prevent incurring debt. And, credit and debit cards can save you administrative time and simplify your account management. What are the specifics on how plastic may get you a leg up on paying your bills?

You get to take back your time.

When you set up automatic payments online with your credit or debit card, you get back the time you spent writing out checks and putting them in the mail. Even if you opt for one-time payments rather than recurring, you can make payments in a matter of minutes (sometimes seconds!). Plus, you can track your finances and payments electronically, saving you even more time.

You let tech take the wheel, while you watch the brakes.

Utilities, cell phones, cable, insurance—paying them automatically with your credit or debit card helps remove the risk of a late or missed payment. You can opt to make one-time payments, too. Regardless of which card you opt to use, always make sure you have enough funds in your account to cover the payment.

While credit and debit cards share many of the same benefits when it comes to using them to pay your bills, credit cards offer their own advantages, as well.

You can grow your credit score.

Credit cards play a big role in how you develop and maintain credit. More specifically, when you make a charge on your card, then make payments on time, you're helping move your credit score in the right direction. By using your credit card to pay bills, you're doing exactly that—provided you pay off what you charge on time and in full.

You can rack up major rewards.

Many credit cards (and some debit cards) offer rewards. Typically, for every dollar you spend, you'll receive a certain amount of compensation back. That can be in the form of cash back or points you can redeem for travel, gift cards and more. Paying your bills with your credit card can really increase your credit card rewards points or cash-back incentives.

Convinced? Consider the following as your start paying with plastic. As you set up a credit or debit card bill payment, help ensure it runs smoothly by:

  1. going to your biller's company website and ensuring its payment services site is secure. Typically, websites that display a padlock symbol in the address bar and have a URL beginning with "https" are safer
  2. deciding whether you want to make a one-time or recurring payment (recurring payments can alleviate a lot of administrative work on your end every month)
  3. printing payment receipts or having them emailed so you can check charges in the event of a dispute
  4. reviewing your accounts and statements regularly to ensure your bills are being processed accurately and there aren't any suspicious charges.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.