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Never Write a Personal Check Again

A really interesting trend I’ve been following in personal finance is the continuing evolution of electronic payments. It seems like everyone is getting into the act to reduce costs and preserve resources, not to mention the added convenience and security of moving money electronically from sender to receiver.

You may have noticed that the government started to phase out paper checks for federal benefits two years ago. By March 1, Social Security benefits must be deposited electronically, either through direct deposit to a bank account or a prepaid debit card.

Why? The government estimates that switching to electronic payments will save more than $1 billion in the next 10 years.

You could also save some money (though on a much smaller scale) if you follow suit and make most of your payments electronically. Technological advances are making it easier than ever to leave your checkbook in the drawer and save a few stamps.

People have had the ability to pay their bills online, either directly with the service provider or through the bank, for years. But now it’s just as easy to send electronic payments to friends or family.

Pinnacle recently launched a few new features that make electronic payments even more convenient:

  • Person-to-person payments. Let’s say you owe a family member in another state some money, or you chipped in with coworkers on a present for a baby shower. Instead of sending a check or waiting until you have exact change, you can pay them online. Popmoney, a new feature of Pinnacle’s online BillPay, lets you make payments to individuals using only their email address or mobile phone number.
  • Same-day electronic payments. If your credit card bill is due today, sending a check through the mail won’t cut it. The late fees and finance charges could rack up to $50 or more. Avoid those fees by making the payment electronically the same day.
  • Overnight checks. Not all vendors are equipped to accept same-day electronic payments. In those cases, an overnight check may be in order. Overnight check payments can be sent to any biller within the 48 contiguous United States.

These enhanced payment capabilities are available for a fee through Pinnacle’s online BillPay system, where you can also pay most of your bills electronically for free. If you’re not already signed up for online banking or personal BillPay, you can get more information and enroll on our website.

Mike Hammontree can be reached at (615) 744-3713 or mike.hammontree@pnfp.com.

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